Freedom Foundation

Oregon Public Employees Concerned about their Privacy

Oregonians don’t take their privacy lightly.

The Oregon State Legislature, as usual doing unions’ bidding, last week passed House Bill 2016, requiring government employers to regularly provide unions with updated lists of employees’ personal contact information, including cell numbers, work locations, salaries, personal email and home addresses. Much of this information is currently exempt from public disclosure.

There are absolutely no limits on how unions might use this information or distribute it once they have it. With this etched into law, even union nonmembers will have their personal information handed over every 120 days, whether they approve or not.

HB-2016 takes effect all across the state, no matter what various government employers have previously negotiated with the unions representing their employees.

The unions’ hypocrisy is breathtaking. They often advocate for measures to make government less transparent, and one of the main issues they rail about is the public’s right to know who works in government. When government unions talk about reforming public records laws, what they have in mind is an arrangement in which they’re the only ones with the ability to communicate with public employees.

Unions regularly argue against government entities releasing public employee names and work email addresses to the Freedom Foundation on the grounds that disclosing the information will lead to harassment and potential harm to employees. The fact that unions are working to obtain even more personal information about public employees than what is available to the general public shows oft-repeated concern for employee privacy is phony.

The unions’ true goal is to monopolize the ability to communicate with public employees and prevent the Freedom Foundation from continuing to notify public employees of their constitutional right to stop paying union dues.

In its original form, HB-2016 also attempted to prohibit the Freedom Foundation or any other outside group from obtaining disclosable public employee information.

Not only that, but the bill would have prevented the Freedom Foundation from even emailing public employees about their rights at work.

Over the objection of union leaders, that section was removed from the bill.

Recently, the Freedom Foundation emailed public employees to warn them about HB-2016 and let them know their personal information will be given to their union.

Needless to say, many employees were less than pleased, and many responded by dropping their union membership altogether.

When public employees find out what their union is really up to, it angers them. And angry members frequently become ex-members.

As if there was any doubt, HB-2016 confirms unions’ absolute hypocrisy.