NOTE: We recommend consulting with your BFT Site Rep if your administrator requests to meet with you individually for any meeting that is NOT an post-observation debrief. This applies to BOTH permanent and non-permanent (temp, probationary) teachers.
When am I entitled to a union representative in a meeting with an administrator?
Based on the 1975 Supreme Court ruling NLRB v. Weingarten and the California Educational Employees Rights Act, all BFT members are entitled to union representation in any meeting with a supervisor that could result in disciplinary action. These rights have become known as Weingarten Rights, and they are codified in our contract in Article 15.7.10 (see below).
How do I know if a meeting my result in disciplinary action?
If your administrator asks you for an individual meeting, you should assume the meeting is disciplinary and you should bring a union representative with you.
Who can be my union representative?
Any BFT member can serve as you union representative during a meeting; however, BFT Site Reps and other BFT leaders have had training in how best to represent a member in an individual meeting with an administrator.
What is the role of my union representative in a meeting like this? What isn’t their role in a meeting like this?
The representative has a few roles in a potentially disciplinary meeting with your supervisor:
S/he should help you gain clarity on the purpose of the meeting—the Supreme Court has ruled that management must inform a union representative of the subject of an interrogation or investigation as soon as they enter the room.
They should work to ensure clarity during the meeting—the union representative does have the right to ask clarifying questions during an interview. This means the representative can ask a supervisor to rephrase questions that are unclear.
S/he should take notes during the meeting.
At the end of the interview, union representatives can provide information to the member about next steps.
Union representatives must be allowed to confer privately with employees before an interview and at any time during an interview.
Union representatives cannot tell an employee what to say during an interview, but they may advise employees on how and whether to answer. They also cannot insist that the meeting be ended.
Union representatives cannot answer for the employee, and should not impede the interview.
What is the KEY advice for handling the meeting or interview with the administrator?
Until the situation is more clear (which does not occur until AFTER the interview), we recommend keeping all answers to questions very short and concise. Do not explain or elaborate.
Do not criticize yourself or make any broad negative statements about yourself in the interview. Keep your answers on point and only answer the question asked.
It’s very important to present a very calm and confident affect during the interview.
If you find yourself getting angry, frustrated or emotional during the interview you should ask for a break and talk with your Union Rep. You absolutely have a right to ask for a break during the interview or meeting.
What do I do if I’m already in a meeting and it seems like it’s veering towards potential disciplinary action?
If, during a meeting with a supervisor, you feel as though you’re being investigated for something or could be disciplined for something, you should invoke your Weingarten Rights—i.e. tell your supervisor politely but firmly something like, “If my response to this question could lead to me being disciplined in any way, I request union representation and that this meeting be postponed until my union representative arrives.” Once you say this, the supervisor has four options:
Stop questioning you until union representation arrives,
Stop and reschedule the meeting for a time when you can bring a union representative,
Call off the meeting altogether, or
Ask you to give up your right to union representation (a request you should always refuse).
What is the role of a union representative after a potentially disciplinary meeting?
After the meeting, union representatives should make sure to provide you with a copy of any notes they took during the meeting. If any disciplinary action was taken during the meeting (e.g. a Letter of Reprimand) you or your Site Rep should contact the BFT office. You have rights with regard to any discipline imposed.
What should I do if I want to communicate concerns about the meeting to the administrator?
BFT strongly suggests that you go over a DRAFT of any follow up communication you want to send with your Site Rep or a BFT officer. Until the situation is fully resolved you should not communicate with the administrator without checking with your Site Rep or a BFT officer first.
Relevant BFT/BUSD Contract Language
15.7.10 Teachers shall have the right to be accompanied and represented by a Union representative during a meeting involving potential disciplinary action against the teacher per the Weingarten ruling.