KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Notify your Building Representative(s) and the LCTA office to understand your rights as an educator.
If you suspect or feel uncomfortable about a work situation, discussion with a co-worker or supervisor or an interaction with a student, Notify your Building Site Leader.
DO NOT sign, say, or agree to anything.
DO NOT make a verbal or write statements.
There is no such thing as an "unofficial" or "informal" conversation or meeting with your superiors.
REMEMBER: Prior to answering questions or making a statement to an administrator, law enforcement, DCF or FL DOE investigator
ASK: What is the purpose of the meeting? What are the possible consequences of this meeting or discussion?
STATE: "I am willing to cooperate with the investigation; however, I am requesting that the investigation be rescheduled at a time when I can have a representative of my choice present."
Be polite but remain silent. Contact your building rep, union president or the LCTA office: 850 942-0671
Here is some practical advice, which you should use to protect your rights until your rep arrives:
• If confronted with charges, remain calm and courteous.
• Ask for your Union/Association Representative to be present. If your rep is not available, ask to reschedule the meeting.
• Listen carefully to accusations. Then ask for time to think or to secure information.
• Record everything. Make detailed written notes of the events which occur in any confrontation or accusatory session, or of any other action which appears to be related. Take down every detail, including names of witnesses and others involved, time, date, what was said. Do it right away while the events are still fresh in your mind. Print out and make copies of any relevant correspondence or documents.
• In the event of a confrontation or threat to your job, do NOT resign or sign any papers or agreement.
Notify your Building Representative(s) and the LCTA office immediately!
Read about your Weingarten Rights
Q&A (Excerpts from the FEA web site)
Q: What should I do if I suspect discipline arising out of a meeting with management?
A: Keep the following statement in front of you and politely but clearly state it:
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or could affect my personal working conditions, I am asserting my Weingarten Right and request that a Union Representative be present at this meeting.”
Say this, repeat it, then do not engage in any further discussion except to reschedule, if necessary.
Q: Does this right apply to all meetings with administrators?
A: No, only those that conceivably will lead to discipline-anything from reprimands to non-renewal or dismissal.
Q: What if my principal calls in the AP or other admin?
A: You are entitled to have a building representative present. Do not be afraid to request it!
Q: What if I am meeting on a curriculum matter and then the subject changes to one that might lead to discipline?
A: Stop the “interview”. Request union representation, even if it means continuing this portion of the meeting to another time.
Q: Can I bring my spouse, a lawyer, or a friend?
A: No, the law entitles you to HCTA representation; normally an elected building representative or, in some cases, a dedicated staff representative. You’re not entitled to other representation or witnesses.
Q: Do I have the right to call in a particular union member?
A: Generally a building representative will be called. The idea is to provide you with skilled union representation, in addition to the moral support of a union colleague. Most building representatives have attended trainings and are expected to be very familiar with the current contracts and changes within the school district.
Q: What is the role of the union representative during such a meeting?
A: The union representative is there to assist the member, and to protect the Collective Bargaining Agreement rights. The union representative has the right to speak on his or her behalf and to meet with the member privately before the interview with management. In many cases, the representative will also take notes in order to have a record of what was said or promised in the meeting.
Q: Can we give up our right to union representation?
A: There are two ways to give up those rights: By contract language or by inaction. Of course, your collective bargaining agreement does not waive your rights to union representation. However, once on the spot, you might get bullied into waiving your right or not asserting your right. In such a case you have little recourse later.