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A Union Contract Never Discriminates

Rosalyn

ROSALYN HACKWORTH
Secretary-Treasurer

A union contract does not discriminate. A union contract does not take into consideration your skin color, religion or any other personal reasons.
A union contract is a legal document containing provisions related to workers’ rights and benefits. Contracts are the result of bargaining between the union (on behalf of its members) and the employer.

A union contract lays down the rules for both sides so that everyone is treated equally. Collective bargaining refers to negotiations between an employer and a group of employees to determine conditions of employment such as wages, working hours, overtime, holidays, sick leave, vacation time, retirement benefits, health care, training, grievance methods, and any rights to company participation.

Your contract gives you rights – most importantly – Weingarten Rights. In essence, it’s the workplace equivalent to your Miranda rights – you have the right to remain silent.

In 1975 the United States Supreme Court, in the case of the National Labor Relations Board v. J. Weingarten, Inc., upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that employees have a right to union representation while interviewing workers during an investigation of wrongdoing.

During such an investigation, the Supreme Court ruled that the following rules apply:
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:
• grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and (prior to the interview continuing) the representative has a chance to consult privately with the employee;
• deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
• give the employee a clear choice between 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 July 2000, the NLRB under the Clinton administration extended the Weingarten Rights to employees at non-unionized workplaces. On June 15, 2004, the NLRB under the George W. Bush administration effectively reversed the previous ruling by a three to two vote.

This is how a union contract doesn’t discriminate – it is intended to keep employers from discriminating. 