What You Need to Know
By law, if you are a federal employee who is represented by a union, you have the right to request union representation at any investigative interview conducted by an agency representative if you reasonably believe that interview might result in disciplinary action being taken against you. You may request union representation at any time prior to or during that interview. This is often referred to as the “Weingarten right” and may be found at 5 U.S.C § 7114(a)(2)(B).
By law, if you request union representation, the agency may choose to:
- Suspend questioning, grant your request for union representation and then resume the interview;
- Discontinue the interview; or
- Offer you the choice to proceed with the interview without a union representative or to forego the interview.
You may have additional rights under the collective bargaining agreement between your union and the agency. For Forest Service employees in bargaining units represented by the National Federation of Federal Employees, those rights may be found in Article 4, Section 3, of the Master Agreement between the Forest Service and NFFE. Forest Service employees in bargaining units represented by the American Federation of Government Employees or the National Association of Government Employees should refer to their respective collective bargaining agreements.
All Forest Service collective bargaining agreements may be found on the HRM Labor Relations webpage. The website also provides assistance in determining whether you are a bargaining-unit employee and, if so, which union represents you. The current list of organized units may be found on the HRM Labor Relations webpage under Union Agreements and Information/Collective Bargaining Agreements.
Supervisors, special agents and any employee empowered to conduct investigative interviews of bargaining unit employees are hereby advised of employees’ right to request union representation and management’s subsequent obligations prior to continuing.
Management will post a copy of the annual Weingarten notice on the HRM Labor Relations webpage under References & Guidance and on employee bulletin boards at all unit locations where there is a union with exclusive representation rights. Supervisors must provide this annual Weingarten notice to new bargaining-unit employees within 30 days of their reporting date.
- Annual USDA Weingarten Notice
- Federal Labor Relations Authority
- HRM Labor Relations webpage
- Labor Relations Specialist Contacts
- Union Officials (under Union Contact Information)
Help is Available
You can contact your local Labor Relations Specialist for additional information or your union representative if you are a bargaining unit employee. Contact information for both is located on the HRM Labor Relations website.