Meeting with Administration- When to Ask for a Rep
Q: When should I ask for a union rep?
A: When you reasonably believe you could be disciplined or have changed working conditions. Seek a union rep immediately if you are:
- Informed of a meeting with your administrator and urged to bring a union rep.
- Notified that you need to attend a Labor Relations Due Process conference.
- Asked questions by your administrator that seem disciplinary – stop the meeting immediately and ask for a rep!
- Asked for a written statement – Inform your administrator that you will respond shortly and contact your Union Rep or MFT Business Agent ASAP to have it reviewed.
- Placed on administrative leave (A letter will be given to you or will follow in the mail – go home if directed and do not contact colleagues or students after that).
Q: What are my rights to representation when meeting with an administrator?
A: You need to speak up to get a steward! If you believe discipline might reasonably result from the meeting or the administrator confirms that it is possible if you ask. If the administrator states that it is not disciplinary, then you need to remain vigilant and ask for a steward if it begins to feel disciplinary. Administrators will usually advise you to bring a union rep to the meeting, but it is not their job to act as your advocate - so remain vigilant about your rights.
Q: Can I delay a meeting to get a rep?
A: You cannot unreasonably delay a meeting. You can request to reschedule. The steward can take notes at your meeting. Once you have the steward present, you and the steward are allowed a brief time to talk before the meeting continues. If there is serious conduct or possibly criminal conduct involved, then you may be best advised not to answer any questions without consulting with MFT ASAP.
Q: Does the administrator need to tell me I can have a union rep?
A: Best practice is that an administrator will suggest you bring a rep. Bottom line, you need to stop responding and request a union rep before continuing the meeting if you believe that discipline may occur. You may ask if there “could” be discipline. The administrator should be candid if there is a possibility even if it depends upon the outcome. If you are concerned, we urge you to speak up. You don’t have a right to a rep if you are directly told that the meeting is not a topic that could lead to discipline.
Q: When should I immediately contact MFT for advice?
A: Contact MFT immediately whenever you have been notified of a Due Process conference, placed on administrative leave, or are aware of allegations of serious conduct. Serious conduct can include allegations of physical force, maltreatment (emotional, physical, or sexual abuse), extreme conduct (vulgar language especially combined with anger), intoxication, job abandonment, etc. If you are asked to give an oral or written statement to an administrator, police officer, representative from MDE. Anytime you receive correspondence related to your employment, don't hesitate to contact us.
Q: What is a "Due Process" conference?
A: A due process meeting is a conference called by the Employee Relations to ask you questions. You will receive a notice in writing from Employee Relations with the date/time and attendees. It will help if you communicate to your business agent some idea of what could arise at the conference. The advice from MFT will be more effective. If you are asked to provide an oral or written account for an administrator, please check with a union rep before doing so, unless there are extremely urgent circumstances (e.g., child cannot be located). Committing your recollections to writing as soon as possible will be more reliable.
More background: Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill, 470 U.S. 532 (1985) was a case decided by the United States Supreme Court involving a public employee who was dismissed without a pre-termination hearing. It established the right:
- to be apprised of the employer’s charges, evidence, or allegations; and
- to be afforded an opportunity to respond before the decision is made.
Q: Do I have a right to know the charges, evidence or allegations before the due process meeting?
A. The District has the right to pursue an investigation confidentially. Neither you nor MFT has a right to compel the investigatory information the district may have. You have a right to have union representation with you should the District determine it needs to talk to you.
It is usually in your interest to attend and respond on the record before they decide. If there are serious allegations that could involve outside authorities/agencies, (liberty interests), then immediately contact a union rep or MFT directly for more specific advice.
This is not a final conclusion of your due process rights – you have extensive challenge rights that will depend upon the merits and timeliness of seeking MFT’s assistance. The district is allowed to reach its decision and you may have grievance rights. Talk to your MFT rep about that. Your due process rights end when any challenge rights you have are exhausted, not at the end of the due process conference.
Q: Do I call for a sub while I attend a Relations Due Process conference? (Teachers only)
A: Refer to your meeting notice for directions and how to code the system to obtain a sub. Let the office know that you have taken steps to arrange coverage, since your obligation is to attend the meeting without being responsible to return to the site if the sub does not show up.
Q: Can I have a lawyer present at the Employee Relations Due Process conference?
A: The MFT will represent you at the conference. There are significant legal rights subsequent to an employment decision. In particular, your issue could go to an independent legal hearing (called an arbitration) that would be the final, binding conclusion to the matter. The District and the employee are both usually represented by legal counsel at an arbitration.
Q: When does the union provide legal representation to members?
A: MFT will specifically advise you when you legal representation will be provided to you. You will need to be a member (not fairshare) to receive legal representation for individual matters other than “defending the contract” which may include:
- Police interview – indicate you’ll be in contact soon and call MFT immediately.
- Minnesota Dept of Education (MDE) interview on concerns of maltreatment of a student, (when you are the subject of the investigation).
- Board of Teaching or other licensing agency investigations, (you must maintain a "reserve membership" if your employment ends - ask for the application from the MFT office).