SECTION 1. Each employee in the unit of recognition shall have the right to join or assist the NWSEO, or any other labor organization, or to refrain from any such activity, freely and without fear of penalty or reprisal, and each employee shall be protected in the exercise of such right. Each employee shall have the right:
A. To act for the NWSEO in the capacity of a representative, and in that capacity to present the views of the NWSEO to elected or appointed officials of Federal, state, and local governments, the Congress, or other appropriate authorities; and,
B. To engage in collective bargaining with respect to conditions of employment as authorized by the President of NWSEO, this agreement, and applicable laws.
SECTION 2. The provisions of this Agreement shall not be construed to preclude an employee from being represented by an attorney or other representative, other than the Union, of the employee's own choosing in any grievance or appeal action or exercising grievance or appellate rights established by law, rule, or regulation, except in the case of the grievance procedure negotiated in this Agreement.
SECTION 3. Nothing in this Agreement shall require an employee to become or remain a member of the NWSEO, or to pay money to the NWSEO, except pursuant to a voluntary, written authorization by the employee for payment of dues through payroll deductions.
SECTION 4. Employees have the right, either individually or collectively, to petition Congress, or any member thereof. All employees shall be provided the full protection extended to them by law, regulation, and this Agreement. These rights will not be interfered with or denied.
SECTION 5. NWS management, or its designee, may question bargaining unit employees to ascertain necessary facts in preparation for third party proceedings under 5 U.S.C. 71, including unfair labor practices and grievances. The management representative shall tell the employee(s):
A. the purpose of the questioning,
B. that no reprisal will take place,
C. that participation is voluntary,
D. that the questioning will not exceed the legitimate purpose of the inquiry, and
E. that he/she may have a NWSEO representative present during the inquiry, upon request.
SECTION 6. An employee has the right to seek representational assistance on duty time from the local NWSEO steward or designee, subject to Management approval for both individuals. Procedures for approval of official time are found in Article 7.
SECTION 7. An employee has the right to refuse orders that would require him/her to violate the law or government-wide regulations. However, an employee exercising this right may be subject to disciplinary action.