The Right to Union Representation –
What Every Member Needs to Know
Because you are covered by a union contract and are a dues-paying UFF member, you have the legal right to have a union representative present in a meeting with a supervisor if you believe that some form of discipline may result from such a meeting. However, you must clearly state your concern and clearly request union representation.
Q: Does this right apply to all meetings with administrators?
A: No, only those that conceivably will lead to discipline-anything from reprimands to non-renewal or dismissal.
Q: What if I am meeting on a curriculum matter and then the subject changes to one that might lead to discipline?
A: Stop the “interview” and request union presence.
Q: Can I bring my spouse or a lawyer friend?
A: No, the law entitles you to union representation. You’re not entitled to other representation or simply to witnesses.
Q: Do I have the right to call in a particular union member?
A: Generally a grievance representative will be called. The idea is to provide you with union representation, not just the moral support of a fellow union colleague.
Q: What is the role of the union representative during such a meeting?
A: The representative is there to assist the faculty member, and to protect contract rights. The union representative has the right to speak on the member’s behalf and to meet with the member privately before the interview with management.
Q: Can we give up our right to union representation?
A: There are two ways to give up those rights: By contract language or by inaction. Of course, your collective bargaining contract does not waive your rights to union representation. However, once on the spot, you might get bullied into waiving your right or not asserting your right. In such a case you have little recourse later.
Q: What should I do if I suspect discipline arising out of a meeting with management?
A: Keep the following statement in front of you and politely but clearly state it:
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or could affect my personal working conditions, I request that a Union Representative be present at this meeting.”
Say this, repeat it, and then do not engage in any further discussion except to reschedule, if necessary.