USPS Data Breach Highlights Union Hypocrisy

Recently, a United States Postal Service computer system experienced a security breach. The result: around 800,000 current and former USPS employees’ private information, including their names, email addresses, phone numbers, and home addresses were exposed.

Understandably, USPS workers and their union, the American Postal Workers Union, are upset. So much so that the APWU filed a complaint against the USPS with the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that enforces unfair labor practice charges.

According to The Hill’s report, APWU’s complaint argues that USPS officials did not notify the union soon enough after the data breach or bargain with the union over the impact of the problem.

In a statement to members APWU President Mark Dimondstein said, “While the Postal Service has been aware of the security problems for months, they kept you and your union leadership in the dark….The APWU is fully committed to defending the privacy rights of all our members.”

While APWU may be fully committed to defending their members’ privacy, they have no such respect for the privacy of non-members that they also represent or employees at non-union workplaces.

For example, the APWU is known for publishing USPS workers’ personal information that choose, as is their right, to not join the union or pay dues.

As the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation reported, “officials from the American Postal Workers Union Red Bank Local 986 posted on a public bulletin board the names, addresses, and Social Security numbers of workers who did not support the union.”

The above is not the only incident of APWU publishing the lists of non-union members private information, for more examples, see here, here, and here.

Further, the APWU, as an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, supports the NLRB’s proposed ambush election rule, which among many changes to union election process, would compel employers to hand over employees’ telephone numbers, home addresses, email addresses, work schedules and locations to union organizers with or without the employees’ consent.

APWU’s dedication to protecting their members’ privacy is admirable and we hope this incident will make the union more compassionate toward non-union workers’ right to privacy. A good start would be to establish a policy that prohibits the union from obtaining workers’ private information without their consent and the unwanted distribution of the personal information of any worker.