In a May 10, 2011 agency-wide email blast, TriMet’s general manager Neil McFarlane ordered TriMet employees not to talk to any media, traditional and on-line, about TriMet. It goes without saying that no unauthorized employee should speak on behalf of TriMet. Unfortunately, McFarlane’s order goes further.
In violation of Oregon law and without notice to the Union, McFarlane seeks to severely limit media access to any TriMet-related information. Employees are instructed never to talk to the media about TriMet and McFarlane appears to be threatening them if they blog or comment about TriMet related matters – even employees on their own time and using their own equipment.
TriMet is a public agency and our folks are entitled as citizens and union members to comment on matters of public and/or union concern. Besides, McFarlane’s verbiage makes it unclear to an employee as to when she/he would “cross the line” under this improperly implemented policy. When, for example, are employees who are blogging about TriMet related matters doing so in their “official” capacity vs. their capacity to speak under the legal protection accorded concerted activities? Blanket prohibitions such as this, which are clearly not thought out, are overbroad and infringe on mandatory subjects of bargaining as well as on labor and constitutional rights.