Our Contract Enforcement Department (CED) recently filed a grievance against Salud Para La Gente in response to unethical behavior by one of their management lawyers, Patrick Stokes. You can read a copy of the grievance here.
It’s not uncommon for managers to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on lawyers who specialize in harassing and intimidating union-represented employees. So what can we do to protect ourselves from union-busting attorneys?
Know your contract.
Union contracts protect employees with “just cause” standards. Management lawyers hate having to prove “just cause” for discipline because it means that union-represented employees must be fairly investigated, and there must be actual evidence of work rule violations. Without a union, bosses could fire workers for virtually any reason, which is often difficult to challenge.
Bring a steward.
When management wants to question union-represented employees about something they did or did not do, we have the right to representation by a union steward. Stewards are co-workers who are elected to serve as union representatives in the workplace. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine if management is questioning you about something that you could be disciplined for. If you’re not certain, just stop the conversation and tell your boss that you’d be happy to answer his/her questions after you contact your union steward.
Don’t be intimidated by lawyers.
Sometimes management will hire high-priced lawyers to come in and interrogate employees. Despite what they may say, we have found that these lawyers are never impartial. They work for, and are being paid by management, so do not trust them!
Immediately contact your Steward or CED before engaging in any conversation with a management lawyer. They will often take an employee’s statements out of context, or as an admission of guilt, or they will literally make up something that was never said, which goes into a written report that can be used as evidence to justify discipline. Since management lawyers are not above lying, you should always have a steward with you to help you understand the questions, take good notes, and push back on any unethical intimidation tactics.