Texas Supreme Court Disciplinary Representation Ruling
The Texas Supreme Court ruled on Friday, April 5, 2013 that if public employees in Texas are called into a disciplinary meeting by their bosses, they no longer have a guaranteed right to bring along a union representative.
As union members, we consider this right commonplace. In fact, one’s “Weingarten rights” are named after a famous U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1975. Under those rights, if you make a clear request for union representation when you reasonably believe a meeting might lead to disciplinary action, the employer essentially must either grant the request or stop the meeting.
Here is the typical Weingarten card: "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, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Under Friday’s 6-3 ruling, the Texas Supreme Court, which has a long history of anti-labor rulings, managed to read the Texas Labor Code, which affords workers the right to unions “to protect themselves in their personal labor,” as not granting a right to union representation in a disciplinary meeting. In other words, the court doesn’t think the union should be allowed to carry out one of its fundamental purposes – to help workers stave off unreasonable, venal and false accusations of workplace rules violations.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Paul Green and joined by Justices Jeffrey Boyd, John Devine, Phil Johnson, Don Willett and Eva Guzman.
Despite a fine dissent written by Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson and joined by Justices Nathan Hecht and Debra Lehrmann, the ruling now means that it will be up to state agencies, cities, counties, school districts and other local governmental units whether to grant requests for union assistance in disciplinary meetings. --Courtesy of Ed Sills, Texas AFL-CIO
Local 440 Contract: Article 21 – Disciplinary Procedures
Section 4. Formal Administrative Investigation
“In the event of a Formal Administrative Investigation of alleged misconduct by a fire fighter that could result in disciplinary action against that person, the fire fighter shall be notified in writing that he or she is the subject of a Formal Administrative Investigation and the allegations against the fire fighter at least thirty-six (36) hours prior to the subject fire fighter’s initial interrogation by the Chief or officers assigned to the investigation. The fire fighter who is the subject of a Formal Administrative Investigation will be entitled to have a representative present at his or her interrogation or any subsequent meeting with the Chief or designee.”
Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine
Scott Galloway with the Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine met with our Executive Board recently to discuss some of the benefits their organization can offer our membership. See their comments below as well as the attached flyer.
Texas Health Resources and Texas Health Ben Hogan Sports Medicine are committed to the health of athletes across North Texas. We believe that Fire Fighters are athletes in the industrial setting. Our goal is to provide you with the tools to perform at the top of your game whether you are a high school, college, industrial or professional athlete or a “weekend warrior.” Unfortunately, injuries are common in athletes. No injury is too big or small. Texas Health has created a network of care for you across the Metroplex. Our team, including physicians on the medical staff and sports medicine staff, are experienced in treating injuries from soccer, basketball, football, baseball, softball, golf, volleyball, gymnastics, swimming, hockey, skiing and tennis. Whether your goal is to compete for a championship or just enjoy a round of golf, the Ben Hogan Sports Medicine team will help you get back in the game. Whether you are injured while serving the community or playing ball with your kids, we want to help you return to work and play!