A lawsuit filed by the union watchdog group Americans For Fair Treatment (AFFT) alleges that the US Postal Service may have shared the private information of as many as 68 million households with labor unions. The information was gathered by customers who requested free Covid tests.
Joe Biden touted his “free Covid tests” and encouraged tens of millions of Americans to sign up. The required form included asking for full name, email address and postal address. Because consumers wanted to receive the kits, the information was likely accurate and complete.
But was this scheme really a massive data collection to help Democrats and unions?
AFFT discovered language unique to the Covid test initiative that states that USPS is allowed to ‘disclose your information to third parties without your consent’, including ‘labor organizations as required by applicable law.’
The Policy Act Statement reads in part: (emphasis added) “We do not disclose your information to third parties without your consent, except for act of your behalf or request, or as legally required. This includes the following limited circumstances: to a congressional office on your behalf; to agencies and entities to facilitate or resolve financial transactions; to a U.S. Postal Service auditor; for law enforcement purposes involving crimes of fraud against the Postal Service; to labor organizations as required by applicable law; incident to legal proceedings involving the Postal Service; to government agencies in connection with decisions as necessary; to agents of contractors when necessary to fulfill a business function or provide products and service purposes; and to other federal executive agencies pursuant to 39 U.S.C 411.”
Last February AFFT filed a Freedom of Information Act request to USPS asking how it came up with this disclaimer allowing personal data to be shared with labor organizations, and requesting ‘all records concerning USPS’s disclosure to any labor organization of information it obtained through the COVID-19 test webform.’
‘The public should understand why USPS has departed from its published Privacy Act notice just for the COVID-19 webform but for no other situation,’ the nonprofit’s request said.
‘AFFT seeks to learn and educate the public about why USPS would provide sensitive information that is covered by the Privacy Act to labor organizations and the extent to which it has done so.’
At first, the postal service claimed in its response that there were ‘no responsive records’.
It later released nine pages of emails between USPS staffers that were so heavily redacted, only the dates and correspondents’ names were visible.
In April, AFFT sued in a Washington, DC federal court, claiming USPS conducted an ‘inadequate search’ and reached an ‘arbitrary and capricious’ decision not to disclose more information.
AFFT’s lawyer, David Dorey, said postal officials are ‘hiding behind a legal smokescreen’ and ‘stonewalling’ his clients.
‘I am personally unaware of any statute that would authorize the post office to give Americans’ personal details to labor unions. We have looked,’ he said.
Dorey is senior litigation counsel for The Fairness Center, a law firm that says it provides ‘free legal services to those hurt by public-sector union officials’.
‘They are avoiding our client’s simple questions: Why does USPS say it can without consent share Americans’ personal information with union officials, and what has it actually done with that information?’ he added.
‘Why not answer the question? If you haven’t done anything with this information, why not just say that? I would love to know. But instead they’re hiding behind legal process.’