Ruling favors state unions in public records fight

(Information from: The News Tribune,

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A state appeals court has sided with a coalition of state worker unions in a clash with a conservative group over what information about public employees can be released.

The News Tribune reports the nonprofit Freedom Foundation has been trying to notify state workers of how they can opt out of paying some union dues.

The three-judge panel ruled Tuesday that the workers have constitutional privacy protections that bar the Freedom Foundation from getting the names and corresponding birthdates through records requests.

The panel reversed a lower court’s decision refusing to grant a permanent injunction to the unions. It also said the disclosure of names and matching birth dates provides no useful information to the public about how government is operating.

A spokesman for the Washington Federation of State Employees, Tim Welch, called the ruling a victory for privacy.

The Freedom Foundation’s David Dewhirst said it was a bad ruling that could have sweeping implications for access to certain records.