In 1975, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling known as the "Weingarten decision". It is one of the most powerful protections available to union members and if you are a union member, union steward, or union officer, you really need to be aware of the protections afforded by this monumental decision.
One of the first things you should know is that to be afforded the protections guaranteed by the Weingarten decision, union members must ask for a union steward/officer to be present during investigatory interviews. If a union member fails to ask for a representative, the protections afforded by the Weingarten decision do not apply.
Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, when an investigatory interview occurs, 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. The employer must do at least one:
a. Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
b. Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
c. Give the employee a choice of:
1. Having the interview without representation
2. 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.