There has been somewhat limited coverage in the local news about The Freedom Foundation’s public information requests, but here are some articles and web posts that we found:
- May 11, 2016 article by Josh Kerns for KIRO news: “Conservative group requests personal information of state employees” http://mynorthwest.com/289340/conservative-group-requests-personal-information-of-state-employees/
- April 29, 2016 KPLU story by Ashley Gross: “State Employees Upset About Freedom Foundation’s Requests For Their Birth Dates” http://www.kplu.org/post/state-employees-upset-about-freedom-foundations-requests-their-birth-dates
- October 3, 2015 article in The Olympian: “Freedom Foundation has unions in its sights” http://www.theolympian.com/news/politics-government/article37688049.html
The union representing state workers (WFSE) and other unions including The Teamsters, sued to protect their members’ privacy. UFE and our affiliates, WEA/AFT are watching the legal process closely. On May 27, 2016, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson issued a preliminary injunction blocking release of state workers’ date of birth to the Freedom Foundation. The order will be in place until June 27 so that a hearing can be held on the motion for a permanent injunction. WFSE reported on their website that The Freedom Foundation’s possible use of the private information for commercial purposes played into the judge’s ruling.
On their website, The Teamsters’ reported that their arguments in court were based primarily on four legal theories:
- The Freedom Foundation planned to use this information for commercial purposes,
- The disclosure of this information would violate our members’ statutory right to privacy,
- Providing this information would be an unlawful use of state resources, and
- This action, if performed by the state, would indirectly facilitate an unfair labor practice.
The Teamsters also highlighted the possible commercial use of the information requested :
The Freedom Foundation claimed that information, such as members’ dates of birth and work email addresses, is important for non-commercial purposes. This thinly-veiled argument seemed to be settled when the group’s attorney stumbled when confronted about the legitimate purpose of the information. Judge Wilson ultimately held that the Freedom Foundation’s postings on its own website pointed to possible commercial use of the information they requested, which was the basis for her decision in granting the preliminary junction. (For the full web post see: http://www.teamsters117.org/judge_issues_preliminary_injunction_doc_members_protected)
For current information about the injunction filed by WFSE, see their website:
If you do a Google Search of The Freedom Foundation, formerly known as the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, note that most of the results are from their website.