We’ve all been in situations where an incident has occurred or someone has made a complaint or raised a question with administration regarding something you may have been perceived as having said or done. The first thing the principal wants to do is pull you into the office “just to talk.” Regardless of whether or not the administrator is a “good guy/gal,” anything having to do with explaining your actions (including student discipline) or comments should raise a red flag.
Many times education employees agree to answer questions about an incident(s) posed by a building or district administrator without union representation. That’s not a wise decision.
When the hair raises on the back of your neck, or you hear one of these phrases take it as silent signal that it’s time to find the first available union representative. Check out the phraseology!
- You may need a building rep when a building administrator says, “I just want to talk to you for a minute.” And then. . .You walk into the office and the parent and principal are seated on the same side of the table or two administrators are in the room.
- You may need a building rep when the administrator starts getting “hot-under-the-collar” with you and you’re alone.
- You may need a building rep when the administrator says, “Why did you talk to the union about this?”
- You may need a building rep when the building administrator says, “I’ve had some parent/student complaints about you.”
- You may need a building rep when the building administrator says, “I have some concerns we need to talk about.”
- You DEFINITELY need a building rep when the building administrator says, “Do you want a building rep?” THE ANSWER IS AWAYS, “YES!” Take it as a clue that the meeting is not going to be a happy event.
- You DEFINITELY need a building rep when the building administrator uses the following words in the course of the meeting: investigation, discipline, termination, employment status, or negative evaluation.
Things to remember:
- Know your Weingarten Rights—your right to Union representation.
- Never document an incident in writing at your administrator’s request. You can/should document in writing for your own records, but do not provide a copy to admin or to the parent. This can be used as an admission of guilt in a lawsuit.
- You always have the right to know what a meeting with the principal is about. If the administrator sends an email requesting a meeting, ask for the topic/subject of the meeting. If the administrator does not respond to your request, contact your union rep
- If you receive a “letter of investigation”, immediately contact your union president or UniServ rep.
- If your union rep cannot attend the scheduled meeting, ask your administrator to reschedule the meeting.
Union Representation Request
"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my Association Representative be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions." - Weingarten