Freedom Foundation

Union defeated in court to stop disclosure of public records

After an initial bluster, AFSCME Council 2 folded this week when the Freedom Foundation stood up for its rights and the rights public employees in Grays Harbor County. 

On May 7, the Freedom Foundation filed a public records request with the county, intending to inform county employees of their First Amendment right to opt out of union membership.  

Unsurprisingly, unions want to keep their members in the dark about such rights, so when the Washington State Council of County and City Employees (AFSCME Council 2) learned the county intended to honor the Freedom Foundation’s request, it filed a lawsuit against Grays Harbor County and Freedom Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Jami Lund seeking to prevent their disclosure.  

The union filed its lawsuit on a Friday afternoon and simultaneously sought a temporary restraining order. The initial hearing was set for the following Monday at 1:30 p.m., giving the Freedom Foundation less than 24 business hours to respond. 

Freedom Foundation attorneys gave the union an opportunity to dismiss its frivolous action, but the union refused.  

Accordingly, Freedom Foundation attorneys appeared in Grays Harbor County Superior Court on June 4 to defend the organization’s information request and the interests of public employees who have a right to know about their free speech rights. 

The judge quickly agreed the union’s case had no merit, concluding it had failed to prove there was even a “likelihood” it could prevail in the case, and denied the union’s request for a temporary restraining order. 

The next day the union moved to dismiss its entire lawsuit. 

This major victory helps ensure Washington’s commitment to open government is upheld and affirms what the Foundation has always known: Public employees have a right to know about their First Amendment rights.