If this thought crosses your mind when dealing with workplace issues, it's time to contact your union rep. Union members have rights that employees in non-unionized workplaces don't, and one of these rights is to have representation during any meeting with administration that might lead to discipline.
It's kind of magical, actually, because you can invoke this privilege right in the middle of a meeting.
Say you're called down to speak to an A.P. or the principal about something and you're suddenly ambushed with accusations of inappropriate comments you made in the classroom. If you believe a discussion with an administrator could in any way lead to discipline, you can stop the meeting and request union representation before you agree to continue the discussion.
Legally, the administrator has to abide. If they refuse, you can just refuse to say anything further until they do. It's your legal right. Even better, you can't be punished for requesting union representation or refusing to discuss the issue until you have a union representative present.
You basically have a union-made suit of armor, and this works for any situation with an administrator where you think you might face discipline. Follow this link for more information about Weingarten Rights.
What if an administrator says I'm not in trouble and they just want to discuss an issue?
Go to the meeting and discuss the issue. If at any point they change their mind and potential discipline is suddenly on the menu, it's time to stop the meeting and order a union representative. Basically, if you're tenured and there's not going to be an official discipline report or derogatory statement added to your personnel file, there's not much for the union to do since you're otherwise protected by due process as outlined in our contract and state law.
Proud alumnus, union member, and educator in District #201 since 2006.
Dr. Hentze is the author of High Finance with Hentze, a monthly blog that provides news about District 201's current financial state.