In early March, The Sacramento Bee compiled a salary database of all state employees, which is accessible for free on its website. In the following weeks, several complaints were received, primarily from workers’ unions who disagree with posting so much public information, including the first and last name, job title or agency and the base pay of employees.
The Bee’s decision to compile the database and keep it running was a wise one, and the concerns of the workers’ union do not outweigh the importance of making this information readily available.
Most importantly, the database does comply with the law, as the employment information was all public information to begin with. The only difference is that readers can stop at one destination to find the information, as opposed to searching individual public sources.
In their argument against the online database, union groups have said the information presents “legitimate safety concerns,” especially for state workers who deal with domestic violence or related safety issues. However, their safety is not being compromised by the database since the information can be found elsewhere. Also, there are resources already available for union workers who have safety issues.
It is true that having so much public information that can be accessed in a matter of clicks on a computer is somewhat frightening, but The Bee did not expose any information that wasn’t already available. There are endless possibilities as to how the information can be manipulated in a productive way – the database is an invaluable resource when it comes to studying economic trends related to the recession, and can be useful to study certain industries or levels of employment. The Sacramento Bee did the right thing by posting this information, as it falls within its duty to report the news in an unbiased and thorough manner.