Know Your Rights
As the City Council’s new staff union, ALE has as its top priority supporting and representing our co-workers. ALE seeks to advocate for staff to every extent possible if and when workplace issues arise. ALE is currently bargaining for its first contract, known as a collective bargaining agreement, and we are pursuing new on-the job due process protections. In the meantime, please know that all Council staff are protected by:
applicable collective bargaining laws which prohibit retaliation against an employee for becoming a union member, engaging in union business, or seeking union representation;
the Council's existing anti-discrimination and harassment policies, as well as strict guidelines concerning staff involvement in political campaigns.
In addition, now that Council Member Aides and Finance Staff are unionized, they have two new protections which are outlined below.
When a contract is secured, there will be added protections for staff. ALE is fighting for a strong first contract which improves our salaries and benefits, provides staff with a meaningful process to address grievances, establishes an overtime policy, protects us from harassment, intimidation, firings without cause, and other forms of abuse, and more.
If you have an employment-related question or issue, reach out to ALE at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right to Challenge A "Change to General Terms of Employment"
Because Council Member Aides and Finance Staff are represented by ALE, their general terms and conditions of employment –such as pay, full or part-time status, or benefits– should not be changed unilaterally. This means without negotiating with the union.
If you are facing a potential change to your basic terms of employment, such as a salary cut, reduction to part-time status, or firing, please get in touch with your union Steward or ALE immediately.
Right to Representation in Disciplinary Meetings
In the U.S., unionized employees are entitled to have a union representative present during any meeting with management (formal or informal) that the employee believes may lead to disciplinary action being taken against them. Also known as "Weingarten Rights," this right to representation was established by a 1975 US Supreme Court decision.
Weingarten also applies during investigatory meetings when a supervisor or management is questioning an employee to obtain information that could be used as grounds for discipline. The employee may terminate such a meeting until a time when a union representative can be present.
All Member Aides and Finance staff have the following rights:
You may request representation before or during the meeting. Upon such request, the supervisor or management has these choices:
Grant the request and suspend the meeting until a Steward or other ALE rep arrives,
Deny the request and end the meeting immediately, or
Give the employee the choice to either end the meeting, or to continue without representation.
If the supervisor or management denies your request for representation, you have the right to refuse to answer questions and to terminate the meeting immediately. You may do so by reading the following language:
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working condition, I respectfully request that my union steward, representative, or officer be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.”
1.) Management is NOT obligated by law to inform employees of their Weingarten rights – employees MUST ask for them.
2.) If you invoke your Weingarten Rights and request union representation, management must allow you time to obtain that representation.
3.) You can request that your union Steward join the meeting. You can also get in touch with ALE directly and request representation. Email email@example.com & we will respond within the day.
4.) If you feel that you need a union rep but are unsure if Weingarten applies-- you should always ask for representation. Don't hesitate to invoke your rights! If you're denied, ALE can help you determine if we should push back.