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Know Your Rights

Stay informed! Learn about your rights at work. This section provides basic information about workplace rights.

If you have questions, talk to your Teamsters Local 117 Business Representative or call Teamsters Local 117 at 206-441-4860.

For information on legal resources, click here.

YOUR RIGHT TO ORGANIZE - JOIN A UNION
It is your right to form and support a union at your workplace. Your rights to organize are set forth in Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act: "Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection . . ."

This means that you have the legal right to help organize, to join, and to support a Union of your own choosing. This includes but is not limited to such activities as:

  • wearing Union stickers, pins, or buttons
  • filling out a Union authorization card
  • getting others to fill out cards during your break
  • attending Union meetings
  • passing out Union literature during your break
  • talking about the Union to other employees.

If you believe that your right to organize has been violated, talk to your Teamsters Local 117 Business Representative or Shop Steward or contact Local 117 at 206-441-4860 immediately.

YOUR RIGHT TO FAIR TREATMENT

Seven Key Tests to Just Cause:
Your Teamsters collective bargaining agreements provides you with the right to fair treatment at work. Without your union contract, you would be employed “at will” which means that the employer could issue discipline or terminate your employment for any non-discriminatory reason, or for no reason.

The “just cause” provision in your contract protects you against unreasonable discipline. The basic elements of just cause have been reduced to seven tests. A "no" answer to one or more of the questions below means that just cause either was not satisfied or at least was seriously weakened.

  1. NOTICE: "Did the Employer give to the employee forewarning or foreknowledge of the possible consequences of the employee's disciplinary conduct?"
  2. REASONABLE RULE OR ORDER: "Was the Employer's rule or managerial order reasonably related to (a) the orderly, efficient, and safe operation of the Employer's business, and (b) the performance that the Employer might properly expect of the Employee?"
  3. INVESTIGATION: "Did the Employer, before administering the discipline to an employee, make an effort to discover whether the employee did in fact violate or disobey a rule or order of management?"
  4. FAIR INVESTIGATION: "Was the Employer's investigation conducted fairly and objectively?"
  5. PROOF: "At the investigation, did the 'judge' obtain substantial evidence or proof that the employee was guilty as charged?"
  6. EQUAL TREATMENT: "Has the Employer applied its rules, orders and penalties even-handedly and without discrimination to all employees?"
  7. PENALTY: "Was the degree of discipline administered by the Employer in a particular case reasonably related to (a) the seriousness of the employee's proven offense, and (b) the record of the employee in his service with the Employer?"

WEINGARTEN RIGHTS: Your Right to Union Representative in Disciplinary Cases
As a Teamster, you have the right to Union representation during an “investigatory interview” that could lead to disciplinary action. These rights are called your Weingarten Rights. If you are called to a meeting with management and you think that the meeting could lead to disciplinary action, request that your Business Representative or Shop Steward be present at the meeting. If a Union representative is not available, ask that the meeting be rescheduled. If your employer insists on conducting the meeting without the presence of a Union representative, inform your employer that the company is violating your Weingarten Rights and call your Business Representative immediately.

Download a PDF posting for your shop on your Weingarten Rights here.


YOUR RIGHT TO A SAFE WORKPLACE
Under Washington State law, your employer is required to provide a safe and healthy workplace for you and your co-workers. However, not every employer complies with the state’s standards with respect to safety in the workplace.

If you suspect a safety violation at your workplace or if you or one of your fellow Union members is asked to perform work that is unsafe, you should call your Local 117 Business Representative immediately. Your Business Representative can consult with Local 117’s legal team, pursue remedies through direct action, litigation, the grievance procedure, and if necessary file a complaint on your behalf with the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

The Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is responsible for establishing and enforcing state law with respect to safety in the workplace in accordance with the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA ). The rules relating to the law are outlined in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC). L&I provides many different services:

  • Workplace safety and health, including inspections and enforcement, consultation, technical assistance, training, education and grants (WISHA).
  • Workers' compensation (or industrial insurance), including claims management, rate setting, medical payments, and research.
  • Specialty compliance services, including contractor registration, electrical inspections, boiler and elevator inspections, apprenticeship programs and employment standards.

As your exclusive, certified representative under your collective bargaining agreement, your Local Union can interface with the Department of Labor & Industries on your behalf to ensure that your rights under the law are protected.

What are my rights if I get injured on the job?

If you are injured on the job, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I). L&I will cover the costs of a claim for a workplace injury regardless of whether the accident was your fault or your employer’s fault. Your Local Union’s Business Representative can guide you through the process of filing a claim and help ensure that your rights under the law and your collective bargaining agreement are protected. (add L&I contact info and hyperlink)

If you are injured at work, you should:

  1. Seek medical attention immediately – If you are injured on the job, seek medical attention immediately. Go to the emergency room or a doctor even if you think your injury is not serious. You have the right to choose your own doctor and are not required to use the company doctor for medical treatment.
  2. Inform your Business Representative – Let your Union Business Representative know that you have been injured at work. Your Business Rep. can help ensure that the L&I paperwork has been filed and that you receive any applicable time-loss benefits under the law, coordinated with any benefits that may be available under your collective bargaining agreement. Your Business Rep. can also help address unsafe working conditions at your workplace that may have caused the accident.
  3. Inform your employer – Let your employer know that you are injured. An employer needs to know about injuries and be familiar with the situation when the L&I paperwork arrives so that the employer can help you plan your return to work. The employer will also have to complete the employer section of the accident report form that your doctor sends. If you don’t let your employer know about your injury and you need to file a claim later, it may be denied.
  4. Inform the doctor that your injury was work-related/fill out the industrial injury report – Be sure to inform your doctor that your injury was work-related. Describe the incident that caused the injury in as much detail as possible. If English is not your native language, be sure to request an interpreter. Make sure that your doctor fills out an accident report and any other L&I paperwork and submits the paperwork to L&I. L&I must receive your claim within one year of your injury date and within two years from the date of your doctor’s diagnosis for a work-related disease.

Your employer may not retaliate against you for filing a claim or for seeking benefits. If you feel that you are being discriminated against for filing a claim, call your Local Union Business Representative immediately.

YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT

When you have a newborn or newly adopted baby, or when a loved one is seriously ill, your most important job may be at home rather than at work.

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 provides workers up to 12 weeks of unpaid and job-protected leave for certain family and medical reasons. The FMLA applies to all private-sector employers with 50 or more workers and to all public agencies—state, local and federal.

To be eligible for leave under the act, a worker must have worked for the same covered employer for a total of 12 months, and must also have worked for a total of 1,250 hours or more in the previous 12 months.

You may take leave for the birth and care of a newborn; for adoption or foster care of a child; to care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a serious health condition; or for your own serious health condition. If you qualify for FMLA, your employer cannot fire you for taking leave.

If you think you have been denied FMLA leave, or if you think your employer has violated the act, you may file a complaint by contacting the nearest office of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. The complaint may be filed in person, by letter or by telephone, but it also must be made in writing. There is a two-year statute of limitations—three years if the violation was willful.

TEAMSTERS 117 LEGAL RESOURCES

For more information on the legal resources available to Teamsters 117 members, click here.