The dismissal of a little-known case in Grays Harbor County this week sends a clear message protecting the right of residents to work without being forced to join a union.
The case started simply enough. The Freedom Foundation filed a public records request May 7 seeking information on public employees in Grays Harbor County so it could inform those workers they have a right to their jobs without having to join a union. But when the Washington State Council of County and City Employees — a union representing about 16,000 public employees state wide —learned of the request it moved to block the request.
The union quickly filed a lawsuit against that county, as well as the Freedom Foundation, in an attempt to subvert public employees’ 1st Amendment right to opt out of union membership. The lawsuit included a request for a restraining order on the release of the requested information.
Fast forward to this past Monday, June 4. The case was on the docket in Grays Harbor County Superior Court.
Freedom Foundation attorneys argued the union’s lawsuit was frivolous and that public employees have a right to know they are not legally required to join the union to work. The judge agreed, noting the case was without merit. The very next day, on Tuesday, June 5, the union moved to withdraw its case.
The Freedom Foundation considers the win a major victory.
And while the dismissal of the case has little bearing in court proceedings that may arise in Eastern Washington, it highlights the right of public workers to be employed without having to join a union everywhere in Washington.
Besides, with Washington’s skyrocketing minimum wage, public salary schedules and other employment laws protecting workers today, public employees should be able to make up their own minds if joining a union is right for them as individuals, without the coercion of a union.