Court Permission Sought to Alert More Than 12,000 Workers that Union Organizers Illegally Obtained Personal DMV Records
**Philadelphia, Pa. (September 19, 2007)** – The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation today filed a motion in federal court seeking to inform more than an estimated 12,000 individuals that union organizers have surreptitiously violated their privacy rights under federal law.
The Foundation filed the motion to intervene in *Pichler v. UNITE* in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania after the court ordered the union to pay damages because union organizers unlawfully used the license plate numbers of over 1,500 Cintas Corporation employees to access their personal information in official Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records. Union operatives conducted an additional 12,100 searches on individuals who may be employees of other non-union companies targeted by the union. Those individuals are unaware of this illegal invasion of their privacy.
The *Pichler* lawsuit, currently on appeal by union lawyers at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, revealed that UNITE union organizers violated employee rights under the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) of 1994. That federal law bars anyone from using motor vehicle records to obtain individuals’ personal information with limited exceptions. The union must potentially pay $2,500 per violation if the District Court’s decision is affirmed.
Union organizers illegally obtained the home addresses of Cintas employees for the purpose of conducting “home visits” to pressure and browbeat those workers into signing union authorization cards. The union intended to use these cards to bypass the secret-ballot election process for determining whether the employees wanted to unionize.
The U.S. District Court determined that union operatives conducted surveillance of numerous parking lots used by workers, collected license plate numbers, and conducted more than 13,700 searches of driving records. Cintas employees were alarmed to learn of this invasion of their privacy and filed their successful class-action lawsuit against the notoriously abusive union.
The Foundation’s motion seeks to modify a protective order in the case, which paradoxically prevents any of these other 12,100 Americans from being notified about the violation of their rights. The Foundation is seeking the right to do a one-time mailing under court supervision to each citizen the union operatives targeted. Ultimately, those 12,100 victims could be entitled to over $30 million in liquidated damages from the UNITE union.
“Thousands of employees deserve to know that UNITE union organizers may have violated their privacy by rifling through their DMV records,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Citizens should not be prevented from learning that union operatives are secretly using their private personal information.”