Labor Action Frequently Asked Questions
Q. My supervisor wants to question me about some incident at my facility. Am I entitled to Union representation?
A.Under your "Weingarten rights", you are entitled to Union representation if the meeting involves an "investigatory interview". This means that if the supervisor begins to ask questions and you believe that some disciplinary action could result, you may request to have a Union representative present. For further information please visit our Weingarten rights page.
Q. How do I contact my Unit Officers and Floor Representatives?
A.A list of your Unit Officers and Floor Representatives is usually available on the MNA bulletin board at your workplace and may be listed in your bargaining unit newsletter. It is also listed on your bargaining unit Web page which you can find by logging in to the myMNA member-only area.
Q. How do I contact my Associate Director?
A.To find your associate director's contact information log in to the myMNA member-only area of the Web site, and click on the link for your bargaining unit.
Q. Where can I get a copy of my contract?
A.Your Floor Representative will have copies of your contract. The contract may also be posted on your bargaining unit’s web site which you will find by logging in to the myMNA member-only area.
Q. I need some help on how to file a grievance. Does the MNA provide any training?
A.The MNA has a Labor School that regularly trains members throughout the state on how to recognize, investigate, process and present grievances. Please consult the Massachusetts Nurse newsletter for a schedule of classes, or download a PDF schedule.
Q. Can I get a copy of my unit bylaws?
A.You can get your bargaining unit's bylaws three ways: 1) Your bargaining unit officers have a copy, 2) the MNA keeps copies at the main office in Canton, and 3) you can find your bylaws on your bargaining unit's Web page by logging in to the myMNA member-only area.
Q. I have just been elected as Treasurer. What forms do I need to fill out?
A.There are several forms that need to be completed. The MNA offers a Treasurer/Financial Officer training usually in the early Fall. Check the Labor School calandar for more information on the training. Also refer to the Labor Education Resources Union Finances page on this Web site. If you need more immediate help, contact the MNA Finance Division at 781.830.5789 for assistance.
Q. How do I contact the media about our contract negotiations?
A.The MNA has a Communications staff who will work with you on contacting the media. Contact your Associate Director to make arrangements.
Q. My employer refuses to reschedule me so that I can attend a Parent-Teacher conference for my daughter at school. What are my options?
A.Massachusetts passed a law that allows for parents to attend such meetings called the Small Necessities Leave Act. The July/August 2005 edition of the Mass Nurse newsletter has an article explaining specific purposes of the Act.
Q. How much time am I allowed under the FMLA? And is this leave a paid leave?
A.The FMLA allows for 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12 month period. The leave may be paid if you choose to use other paid leave as part of FMLA. The FMLA is covered more in depth in an article in the May 2006 edition of the Mass Nurse newsletter.
Q. I was injured on the job. What are my rights?
A.You may be covered by the Massachusetts Workers Compensation Act. This is a complicated law and the MNA suggests that those who are injured on the job contact a Workers Comp attorney. You can get more information including the Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Guide for Injured Workers, by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Dept. of Industrial Accidents available on-line at www.mass.gov, and there is a brief overview of the law in an article in the May/June 2008 edition of the Mass Nurse newsletter.
Q. Am I allowed to talk about the union at the workplace on work time?
A.If the employer allows employees to talk about other non-work related topics (the Red Sox, news items, TV shows, the weather, family matters, etc.) at the workplace and on work time, then they cannot discriminate against employees talking about the union in a similar fashion. Such a discriminatory ban against the Union is a violation of law. Nonetheless, none of this non-work related talk should interfere with your job. Please refer to article about "Talking Union" in the June 2006 edition of Mass Nurse newsletter.
Q. Am I allowed to review the contents of my personnel file?
A.You generally have access to review and copy the contents of your personnel file, subject to what your contract may define regarding requesting access and timeline.
Q. The employer refuses to provide us information to investigate a grievance, claiming HIPAA as their defense. What do I do?
A.HIPAA has been greatly abused by some employers who use it as an excuse why not to provide information to the Union. As a rule of thumb, any information that the employer has in its records that concern the employer/employee relationship should be available upon request. Personal medical or confidential information is generally covered by HIPAA. Failure or a refusal by the employer to provide such information could result in the Union filing an unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB. Please refer to the article about HIPAA in the September 2005 edition of the Mass Nurse newsletter for more information.
Q. We are planning an informational picket at the hospital. Do we need to file a 10-day notice? What if we are only going to leaflet?
A.The Union must file a 10-day notice of its intent to picket the hospital. This must be a full ten day (240 hour) period at a minimum and must include the time the picket will start and where it will be held. The notice must be sent to the employer and also to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. Leafleting a facility does not require any 10-day notice, as long as it is just leafleting and does not involve anything that resembles a picket.
Q. The employer always allowed us to park free in the hospital lots. The contract is silent on the issue and they now want to charge us to park there. What are our rights?
A.If the employer has provided employees free parking in a consistent manner over a period time ( at least 3-5 years), and the benefit of free parking does not conflict with any other part of the contract, and both the employer and the union have been aware of this practice and accepted it, it cannot be unilaterally changed. The condition has become in effect an unwritten part of your contract. It only can be changed through negotiations or by mutual consent. Please refer to the article about "past practice" in the November/December 2004 edition of Mass Nurse newsletter.
Q. When is my next union meeting?
A.The times and places of union meetings usually will be posted on the MNA bulletin board at the work site and/or in the bargaining unit’s newsletter. Often, this newsletter will be posted on the bargaining unit's Web site which can be located by logging in to the myMNA member-only area. Otherwise, check with your Floor Representative.
Q. I want to take a leave of absence from my position at the hospital so that I can become a member-organizer with the MNA. Can I do that?
A.Some MNA contracts include language that provide for a temporary leave of absence to take a position with the Union. Otherwise, you may have to apply for a Personal Leave if your contract provides for that.
Q. The employer wants to impose a total news blackout on our bargaining. Can they do that?
A.No. They are not allowed to impose conditions on the bargaining process. If they propose this as a ground rule at the start of negotiations, the MNA will decline to agree to that since it interferes with communications with the membership and it attempts to control what the Union can do during the bargaining process.
Q. What is the AFL-CIO, and is the MNA a member?
A.The MNA is an independent union and is not a part of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Unions) is an umbrella group of 56 labor unions representing 10.5 million working Americans. The current President is John J. Sweeney. The stated mission is “to bring social and economic justice to our nation by enabling working people to have a voice on the job, in government, in a changing global economy and in their communities.” Each state has an AFL-CIO federation and Central Labor Councils (CLC). The MNA is active in a number of the CLCs despite not being affiliated with the AFL-CIO.
Q. How do we become active in our local Central Labor Council?
A.Each of the five Regional Offices of the MNA have contacts with the local Central Labor Councils. These Regional offices will be able to inform you of the times and places when the CLC meets. The MNA has a strong and visible presence in a number of these CLCs. The CLCs provide important mutual support for labor unions during pickets, strikes and boycotts, as well as an outlet for labor information and training.
Q. When is the next election of Union officers scheduled?
A.Your local unit bylaws should contain information regarding the offices due for election and when that election is held. Please refer to the question about obtaining a copy of your bylaws.
Q. What is a “right to work” state?
A.A “right to work” state is one which prohibits forms of union security language in contracts. Those states are generally in the south or west of the country.
Q. What are union dues?
A.Union dues are defined by the NLRA as “…payments used to meet the union’s general and current obligations”. The payments are regular and periodic (monthly, yearly) and are not to be used for special purposes, like paying off a loan or mortgage taken out by the union.
Q. Who are the MNA officers?
A.The MNA officers are can be found on the Board of Directors page on this Web site. This page is updated as new officers and Board members are elected.
Q. My paycheck always seems to be wrong. What can I do?
A.Assuming that you have already gone to Payroll or Human Resources and they are unable to resolve the issue, you will likely have to file a grievance. Check your contract language regarding the timelines for filing grievances relating to your paycheck in order to protect your rights in this case. Please refer to the question about obtaining a copy of your contract.
Q. I have been very active in the union, and now I am getting negative comments from my supervisors and getting scheduled on holidays. Is this normal?
A.It is not normal and it is probably illegal. Assuming that your performance is at least average, you cannot be held to a higher standard than any other member. In addition, you should have the same holiday rotation as any other member on your unit. You should not be treated any differently because of your union activity.