Commentary: Bee Posting Does More Harm Than Good


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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, March 21, 2008

The Sacramento Bee has posted a database on its website listing the names, salaries, and workplaces of all California state employees.  In doing so, the paper is turning a cold and callused shoulder to state workers who are furious that the online report invades their privacy.  Scores of state employees who are victims of domestic violence say they fear for their safety because the Bee’s database could allow their attackers to track them down.

Local 1000 supports greater access to information about state spending, but publishing the names of thousands of state workers making less than 50-thousand dollars a year is of no value in shaping public debate.

We’ve asked Bee editors to remove the names from their database. They’ve said no, even when a worker’s personal safety is at risk. This isn’t just a callused response, it’s crass commercialism.

Ms. Rutland says the Bee doesn’t publish to annoy, titillate or endanger anyone; she says it publishes to inform. Well, I and thousands of other California State workers say, the Bee is just trying to sell a few more newspapers.

 

Yvonne Walker is Vice President for Bargaining at Service Employees International Union Local 1000, a union representing 92,000 California State employees.