Thursday, May 31, 2007, 5/31/2007 11:01:00 AM

St. Cloud Must Turn Over to Union City's Records Regarding Its Payments to Non-Union Workers

By Todd
In a not-so-surprising story, the St. Cloud Times is reporting that a judge in St. Cloud, Minnesota has agreed with a union seeking a city's records regarding how much it has paid non-union workers on city jobs.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 292 asked the city to turn over payroll records of employees of Design Electric, the company hired to complete the project.
The city balked at turning over the records out of concern that doing so would violate the state Data Practices Act and could lead to a lawsuit from Design Electric.

Stearns County District Court Judge Thomas Knapp, in an order filed Tuesday, ruled that the city had to produce the records for the union, saying that the city's previous refusals violated the Data Practices Act.

The union, which has sought similar records from the city in the past, wants to verify that the city is paying "prevailing wages" for that project and to gather information about what wages are paid for such projects in the St. Cloud area, according to previous statements from Marshall Tanick, an attorney representing the union.

Design Electric gave the payroll records to the city, but they marked them as confidential trade secrets, according to a previous interview with City Attorney Jan Petersen.

That put the city in a bit of a dilemma, Petersen said at the time the union sued the city.

Disclosing trade secrets could get it into trouble and not disclosing public data could get it in trouble as well. Petersen said previously that the city would comply with the judge's decision.

Knapp ruled that the certified payroll records are public data and must be released.

From this blogger's standpoint, the judge exercised some restraint in not sanctioning the claim of trade secret protection by the contractor. How can a contractor claim that its invoices to a city with a duty to disclose its contracts and performance efforts are that contractor's trade secrets? At best the parties might've entered into an NDA between themselves but that, too, would be suspect. How can a city enter into a private agreement not to disclose certain things that they are duty-bound to disclose?

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

back to top