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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Teachers’ Union Wins Email Privacy Case

posted by on January 23 at 13:01 PM

A superior court judge has ruled in favor of the Seattle Education Association (SEA), which filed an injunction to quash a public disclosure request filed with the Seattle School District last October.

The union argued that requested emailsócommunications between union representatives about contracts and teacher grievances, sent through their district email accountsócould unfairly impact future collective bargaining with the district.

Indeed, the judge agreed and the requested emails have been sealed. According to the court, the emails are not “public records” even though they were sent over the district’s public email server. Typically, public agencies’ emails are subject to disclosure requests.

Because the ruling does not address future disclosure requests, Seattle Public Schools Spokesman David Tucker says the district will comply with future requests, unless a court says otherwise.

RSS icon Comments

1

F*ing unions

Posted by non | January 23, 2008 1:12 PM
2

I think, in this situation, they were correct. Releasing emails that discuss grievances and other union bargaining issues would be inappropriate.

Posted by Phelix | January 23, 2008 1:21 PM
3

Well, don't hold your breath kids.

The folks at the National Labor Relations Board, you know the ones who are supposed to be looking out for workers (unless of course, a GOP administration packs the board with pro-business, anti-union flacks), just ruled that employers can restrict the ability of workers to use the company's email system to transmit or receive union-related communications: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/us/23labor.html.

The only bright spot is that employers also have to have a blanket ban on employees emailing each other for ALL "non-job related solicitations from outside orgs" (meaning I suppose, no internal emails about the upcoming Girl Scout Cookie sale, or your attempt to sign up sponsors for your "walk for breast cancer"), in order to also block union communications. But in any case, the rule sends a chilling message to members of bargaining units, or those wishing to create bargaining units, namely, that if you want to discuss working conditions with your fellow employees, better find a dark janitor's closet somewhere - and yeah, don't even think about turning on the lights, 'cause then you're spending company money too.

But, of course employers still have the right to hold mandatory "captive audience meetings" where they can indoctrinate employees about any subject they choose, irrespective of whether the subject at-hand has any bearing on work-related activities.

Posted by COMTE | January 23, 2008 1:35 PM
4

The steward/member relationship should be just as respected as priest/penitent. This is a good ruling.

That said, knowing that the district can look at my email at any time, I sure wouldn't be discussing bargaining strategy.

Posted by Ryan | January 23, 2008 10:14 PM
5

This is a very bad decision and has nothing to do with Unions in particular. When a disclosure request is made for Whitehouse e-mails couldn't the same argument be made?

Duh, anything you send on your employer's e-mail system can be read by your employer. Thinking otherwise is silly.

Posted by mikeblanco | January 24, 2008 4:38 AM

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