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Right to Union Representation

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Teachers & PSRPs

United States labor law provides every union member with the right to representation and support from a union representative in disciplinary meetings with a supervisor. This also applies in situations where members may face investigation by other departments within CPS such as the Law Department. These rights, commonly known as ‘Weingarten Rights’, were affirmed in 1975 by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court decision established right to a union representative in any meeting with a supervisor where you feel the topic might lead to some type of disciplinary action or to a change in working conditions.

Invoke Your Rights

If you find yourself in a meeting or conference with your principal or an administrator, you make invoke your rights at any point. What starts out as a discussion about lesson planning, field trip policy, student behavior or any other topic can, at times, change unexpectedly to a situation where your supervisor is reprimanding you or bringing up the possibility of disciplinary action. Should that happen, you should invoke your Weingarten Rights by saying,

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 Union Representative be present at this meeting. Without a representative present, I choose not to participate further in this discussion.

You will find this message on the back of your CTU membership card. It’s a good idea to carry this card with you so you can easily remind yourself and your supervisors of your legal and contractual rights. It’s also important to invoke your rights as a habit in these situations. You don’t want to have to suddenly teach your supervisor these rights only when you need them most.

How to Get Union Representation

Your right to representation means that any union member that you choose may be present in the meeting. It is not up to your administrator to select the person to represent you. If you are comfortable with your delegate knowing your situation and believe that s/he has the knowledge and skill to assert your rights in the meeting, he or she may be logical person to select. Another educator in your building can also play this role if you so choose. If it seems to be a potentially serious matter or you would prefer an outsider, you can call CTU at 312-329-9100 and ask to speak to your Field Representative or look your rep up on the website at ctunet.com/rep. She or he has had special training which can help you avoid by giving you contract information and helping you avoid mistakes that could put you at risk should your principal or supervisor decide to take disciplinary action.

Chicago Teachers Union