The Freedom Foundation scored yet another victory against SEIU last Friday. This is the third victory for Freedom Foundation over SEIU in cases related to public records requests aimed at informing certain partial public employees of their constitutional rights.
Last October, Freedom Foundation requested a list of family childcare providers from the Washington Department of Early Learning (DEL). DEL produced the list of approximately 12,000 names a couple of weeks later.
Several months after we received the public records, SEIU 925 learned of the production and sued DEL and the Freedom Foundation in an attempt to prevent us from using the records.
SEIU 925 forcibly represents all 12,000 family childcare providers in Washington and sought an injunction in court that would prohibit the use of the records and require the Freedom Foundation to return the records to DEL.
The only problem? The Public Records Act does not contain a provision giving a party a right to sue after a disclosure of public records. But why let a little thing like the law stand in your way?
SEIU 925 responded by throwing everything – including the kitchen sink – at the court to try and obtain an injunction. As in the other public records cases, SEIU’s lawyers claimed the sky would fall if these records are subject to public records requests. (The unions go on and on about the danger to children if these records are disclosable, even though there has never even been a single case of harm to a child as a result of a public records request.)
Once again, the court saw through all their arguments and held that SEIU could not bring a lawsuit for an injunction after a disclosure of public records. And just in case SEIU appeals (and you can count on it), the court ruled against all of SEIU’s other arguments too.
These cases are extremely important to the unions because they seek exclusive access to nearly 50,000 total partial public employees who receive subsidies for providing some kind of healthcare or childcare in Washington.
SEIU 775 forcibly represents nearly 33,000 home healthcare providers and brings in nearly $20 million a year from them. SEIU 925 forcibly represents nearly 12,000 family childcare providers and rakes in $8 million a year from them.
An individual or group with the names and contact information of these providers can open these providers to a message different from what the unions spew out — which, of course, only presents the union in a positive light.
For example, a provider can send out legislative updates to all the other providers highlighting proposed legislation the union supports and condemning those it claims will harm providers (although protecting their own hides is a much higher priority for the union leaders).
In the case of the Freedom Foundation, we merely want to inform providers of their constitutional right to not pay union fees if they so desire.
These records are public records for a reason. Access to the names will ultimately provide more choice and transparency for providers. Unions fear both of these outcomes and see choice and transparency as a threat to their very existence.
The real question is, if that existence depends on suppression of the truth and fighting in court to abridge the rights of their own members, would it be such a great loss if they didn’t exist at all?