One of the strongest benefits of belonging to a union is the legal right to "just cause" and "due process" in cases where management seeks to discipline a nurse.
Among your rights is the right to union representation during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor or manager questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his or her conduct.
These rights are known as "Weingarten rights." These rights must be invoked by you and may be used only during investigatory interviews when you are questioned by a supervisor to obtain information which then could be used as a basis for discipline. You do not have Weingarten rights to union representation if a supervisor is meeting to discuss a clinical issue or other "direction of work" matters, as long as potential discipline is not involved.
Any time management asks to meet with you, you should ask the nature of the meeting and whether it is possible that you might be disciplined as a result of the meeting. You have the right to be told the purpose of the meeting prior to questions from management and the specific nature of the charge(s) being investigated.
A statement that summarizes "Weingarten Rights" is:
"If this discussion/interview could in any way lead to me being disciplined or terminated, I respectfully request that my union representative be present at the meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Your union representative has the right to be an active participant in the meeting and has the right to meet with you prior to the start of the meeting.
Remember, it’s your responsibility to be aware of these rights and to request them. Management is not required to inform you of these rights.