Friday, January 19, 2007

Union sues over release of records to Ch. 7

A judge today (Jan. 19) rejected a plea by union leaders who wanted to stop San Francisco's Muni transit agency from releasing complaints about bus drivers to KGO ABC7 reporter Dan Noyes. But San Francisco Superior Court Judge Patrick Mahoney said personal information in those complaints can be redacted by Muni until a full hearing can be held next month.

"This is a first for us," Noyes said during the 6 p.m. news. "We've never had someone try to get a temporary restraining order to keep us from obtaining public documents."

Noyes asked for a list of the 25 drivers with the most complaints and a copy of those complaints. He said Muni was ready to turn over the complaints when the Transit Workers Union filed for a temporary restraining order to stop the release of the documents.

"We're concerned about you getting an advantage where you get personnel records and files and documentation and things that you would never get otherwise in our society and you think you can because they're government workers and that's not fair," union attorney Ed Nevin (right) told ABC7.

This isn't the first time a union representing government employees has gone to court to stop a news organization from getting public records. Attempts by newspapers to get the salaries of public employees were fought by unions in San Mateo County (2003), Marin County (2006) and Oakland (2004). The state Supreme Court has said it intends to hear arguments in the Oakland case, which concerns the Contra Costa Times' request for the salaries of all employees who make more than $100,000.

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