The Time Is Now

Support local, independent reporting.

Help the city we love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

JOIN NOW

Unions for 30,000 State Employees File Unfair Labor Practice Complaints Against State After Vaccine Data Breach

“[The state] failed to keep those promises in a spectacular manner by sharing this highly sensitive information with the state’s two largest media outlets.”

Unions representing more than 30,000 state employees in five bargaining units filed unfair labor practice complaints with Oregon’s Employee Relations Board on Oct. 27 after the state’s Department of Administrative Services inadvertently released state employees’ unredacted vaccine status information to The Oregonian and the Salem Statesman Journal last week.

“The violations of the law as a result of the state’s course of conduct described above was egregious and flagrant,” the complaints say. “The state had very clearly and consistently promised employees that it would protect their privacy and it clearly understood its obligations, yet it failed to keep those promises in a spectacular manner by sharing this highly sensitive information with the state’s two largest media outlets without even being asked for the information.”

The bargaining units outlined in the complaints include Service Employees International Union Local 503, which consists of approximately 24,000 employees; two American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees units representing about 1,900 Oregon Department of Corrections employees and 3,140 “Central Table” employees; the 1,121-member unit of the Association of Engineering Employees of Oregon; and 28 firefighters with the Kingsley Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 3340, who are employed at the Kingsley Air Force Base.

Attorney Jason Weyand, who represents all five aforementioned units, confirmed the unfair labor practice complaints to WW on Thursday.

The complaints say the state violated the medical privacy rights of 43,000 employees, and that the violation justifies a civil penalty of $1,000.

“Whether or not they intended to get vaccinated,” the complaint says, “many bargaining unit members were deeply troubled by having to share their private medical and religious information with the state, in part due to general privacy concerns, but many employees were specifically alarmed about the possibility of the state disclosing their vaccine or exception status to the public or people within the state workforce that should not have access to the employees’ personal information.”

Through a spokesman, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declined to comment on the complaint filings.