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Steve Bellone signs order to protect information about Suffolk workers

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is seen on

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone is seen on July 5 in Amityville. Credit: Barry Sloan

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed an order Monday to prevent the release of county employees' personal information following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that labor unions say could diminish membership.

Bellone said the order would protect county workers from "harassment and intimidation" by groups seeking to capitalize on the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME.

"This executive order sends a clear message, we will do whatever it takes to protect our workers and fight back against the attacks to weaken our unions," Bellone, a Democrat, said in a statement.

However, employee home addresses and personal phone numbers already are exempt from public disclosure under the state Freedom of Information law. Only names, titles and salaries are public.

Conservative groups said the executive order was meaningless because of the existing law.

“County Executive Steve Bellone’s Executive Order is a silly publicity stunt and a waste of time,” said Brandon Muir, executive director of Reclaim New York, a Manhattan-based conservative advocacy group.

But unions and Bellone say they want to ensure workers' privacy. They say  they fear a push by conservative groups to target union workers in campaigns aimed at getting them to  opt out of paying dues in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. 

The court decision issued last month prevents workers from being forced to contribute to labor unions that represent them in collective bargaining. The court’s majority said public-sector unions aren’t entitled to any money from employees without their consent.

Daniel Levler, president of the Suffolk County Association of Municipal Employees, said Bellone's order "sends a bold message to big corporations and right-wing groups seeking to dismantle public sector unions and thus the middle class."

The order also requires Suffolk County to notify the relevant union within 30 days of the hiring, rehiring or promotion into a union bargaining unit. As part of the notification, the county will provide the union with the employee's name, address and work location

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Westchester County Executive George Latimer, both Democrats, have signed similar orders.

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