I found my union card today and with it was a little Weingarten Rights card—explaining my right to have union representation during an interview by my employer. I didn’t particularly like the text of it, so this is from Wikipedia:
RULE 1: The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.
RULE 2: After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options. The Employer must either: grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; deny the request and end the interview immediately; or give the employee a choice of having the interview without representation or ending the interview.
RULE 3: If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.
In 2000, Weingarten Rights were extended to non-union employees (in the form of the right to have a coworker present during investigatory meetings). This was later rescinded in 2004.
Some protected activities still do exist for non-union employees:, including:
- Free To Discuss Discipline, Wages and Benefits
Non-union employers cannot prohibit employees from discussing work conditions, wages or discipline. In Double Eagle Hotel & Casino, an employer violated the NLRA by promulgating a work rule that prohibited employees from sharing such information with each other or persons outside the company. Such a rule, according to the Board, “plainly infringes on upon Section 7 rights.”
- Email Complaints About Company Policies
Non-union employers cannot terminate employees for sending mass emails complaining about new company policies. An employee’s “effort to incite other employees to help him preserve a vacation policy which he believed best served his interests, and perhaps the interests of other employees, unquestionably qualified his communication as being in pursuit of mutual aid or protection.” Even if the email does not request other employee participation and is sarcastic in nature, such communications remain protected under the NLRA.
- Non-Union Employees Are Free to Walk Off The Job To Complain About Supervisors or Other Job Conditions
Another common trap is when non-union employees walk off a job to protest certain job conditions. Most employers naturally (but incorrectly) presume that they may terminate non-union employees for abandoning the job. But that is not always the case. If, for example, employees engage in a work stoppage due to a legitimate job complaint, the NLRA may protect such conduct. In Trompler, Inc., an employer was held liable for back pay and reinstatement for terminating six employees who walked off the job in response to unanswered complaints about their supervisor.Such a work stoppage may qualify as “protected concerted activity” under Section 7 of the NLRA.