Union members have a right to representation at all meetings that are disciplinary or may become disciplinary. In California, labor law provides an even broader right to representation. Here, workers are entitled to representation that extends to all matters within the scope of representation. In addition, workers are not required to utter certain magic words to request representation; you must ask for it.
As a rule of thumb, if a supervisor or manager asks you to meet, you should always ask what the meeting is about, if it's disciplinary, or could lead to discipline.
A gray area exists when someone in your chain of command says they want to talk to you about work performance or behavior but insists it is not disciplinary. Such conversations can turn disciplinary during the meeting or further down the line, depending on your conduct. As a result, you may be entitled to representation. Whenever in doubt, please reach out to UPE for clarification and assistance.
Union members are also entitled to know what they are being interviewed about. Management or HR often only want to reveal details after interviewing a worker. However, union members have a right to representation by their union, and a union has a right to enough information to provide meaningful representation to our members during the interview. At the very least, the member and UPE are entitled to take time at the start of an interview to discuss the matter further once information has been provided.
Union members have a right to representation. You need to assert the right and reach out to UPE. UPE is here to ensure our members' rights are protected and treated fairly in all dealings with their employer.