KING COUNTY LOSES SECOND MOTION TO HIDE UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES FROM PUBLIC SCRUTINY
Faced with global criticism of the union-busting tactics employed by the
King County Department of Development and Environmental Services
(DDES), King County recently filed two motions with the Washington
State Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) seeking to bar the
media and public from an unfair labor practice hearing and also seeking
a gag order to prevent the union from publicizing the county's abuses.
The first motion was aimed at keeping members of the media and public
from attending the hearing. King County Deputy Prosecutor Diane
Hess-Taylor was upset that a KIROTV news team and a group of protesters
(not affiliated with the union) attended an earlier stage of the
hearing. She filed a motion seeking to exclude "certain" members of the
public and media from attending the full hearing on March 30 and 31.
That motion was denied on March 13 as beyond the authority of PERC and
an unconstitutional prior restraint on free speech and expression (King
County, Decision 6994 PECB 2000).
"I never understood where Ms. Taylor thought she had the authority to
hide this matter from public scrutiny" said Ray Goforth, Union
Representative for the International Federation of Professional and
Technical Engineers, Local 17. Local 17 is the union prosecuting King
County for unfair labor practices.
The second motion filed by Prosecutor Diane Taylor was for a gag order
on IFPTE Local 17 itself. King County complained that Local 17 was
publicizing its charges against the County and asking its union members
and supporters to e-mail King County Executive Ron Sims about the
illegal actions. The King County Executive office reportedly received
more than a thousand e-mails from Local 17 members, other unions and
human rights groups from around the world.
"The attempted gag order showed an arrogance and contempt for the
democratic process rarely seen from the King County Prosecutor's
Office," said Goforth.
The King County Coalition of Unions (composed of all the labor unions
which represent King County employees) sent a letter to King County
Prosecutor Norm Maleng asking for a formal repudiation of the attempted
gag order. To date, the prosecutor's office has not responded.
After the deluge of global criticism for their attempt to censor Local
17, Deputy Prosecutor Diane Hess-Taylor withdrew her motion for the gag
order without comment on February 25.
"We're confident that we will prevail on the merits of our case" said
Goforth. "I can only guess that the prosecutor's attempt to censor
Local 17 and hide this case from the media stem from an understanding
that they are in the wrong. If that's the case, then the prosecutor
should stop wasting public resources with nonsensical motions and
settle this matter. King County must cease its harassment of our union
activists and hold those who committed these abuses accountable,"
Contact: Taryn Gerhardt,
(206) 328-7321 ext. 118
Ray Goforth, Union Rep.
VOICE (206) 328-7321 ext. 105
FAX (206) 328-7402
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