Many of you will remember the efforts starting in 2016 to keep the Freedom Foundation getting all sorts of personal information about you through the Public Records Act.
WPEA, later joined by a coalition of other unions, filed suit for a permanent injunction to keep your private contact information and other identifying information out of these blanket public records requests. This was followed by a series of court hearings, from the Thurston County Superior Court all the way to the State Supreme Court in 2018. Just last week, we finally got a ruling on the case. Unfortunately, we lost the case. It was a 5-4 decision when our state lawmakers and courts have been reluctant to consider any new exemptions to the Public Records Act.
Fixing this issue with the Public Records Act and safeguarding your privacy, is our number one non-economic issue in the coming legislative session. We are incredibly frustrated and disappointed that it has come to this but we are still fighting to protect your privacy rights.
How you can help:
Contact your legislators and tell them it is time to pass a bill to protect your personal information from public disclosure. Here are some points you can include:
“The disclosure of names and birth dates to the public will occur without employee consent and will inevitably make these employees vulnerable cybercriminals searching for personal details at cut-rate prices online.”
Statement from WPEA President Kent Stanford:
“On behalf of our members and public employees statewide, we are deeply disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision today. Washington State’s founders provided strong privacy rights for all our citizens in our Constitution. Public employees are also citizens and should not have to give up those vital protections when they choose to serve the public good. Despite this decision, we’re proud that we went to court to protect our members’ privacy.
Public service employees already face low wages and harassment on the job. It is unconscionable that they must also deal with increased risk of data breaches, doxing, and identity theft, just because they’ve answered the call to serve the people of Washington.
We respect and value governmental transparency, but this is a blatant attempt by secretly-funded, politically-motivated, anti-public service special interests to intimidate and destroy the privacy of public employees in order to fuel their extreme anti-worker ideology.
It is time for the legislature to pass stronger protections for public employees’ personal information.”
To view an article about the decision please click here: