Freedom Foundation has a model for freeing public-sector union employees
By Kirby Hartley
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, pundits offered countless theories on why Michigan and Wisconsin had flipped from Democrat to Republican, effectively clinching victory for Donald Trump.
But most ignored a critical distinction the two states had in common: In the four years since the previous presidential election, both had adopted right-to-work legislation.
Government workers in those states, no longer forcibly unionized, had defected in droves, weakening the unions and depriving the Democrat machine of its vaunted “ground game” on election day. And it made a noticeable difference.
Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that, in effect, extends the same protections to government workers in every state.
Which raises the question: Could Maryland be the next Michigan or Wisconsin?
Absolutely. But only if activists here are willing to work to make it happen.
Freedom Foundation has freed 46,000 civil servants from their union since the Janus decision, and did so successfully in the deeply blue states of California, Oregon, and Washington, and this is getting results nationally.
Founded in 1992 as a traditional think tank working to promote free markets and limited, accountable government, the Freedom Foundation made a conscious decision five years ago to concentrate its efforts on the largest single obstacle to those ideals — public-sector unions.
And while other policy organizations are content to point out problems and wait for others to solve them, the Freedom Foundation isn’t afraid to be part of the solution.
In 2014, for example, when the Supreme Court in Harris v. Quinn made mandatory dues and fees optional for home-based healthcare and childcare providers being subsidized by Medicaid, the Freedom Foundation responded with a multi-pronged offensive to inform the workers about the rights their union was desperately trying to suppress.
The strategy included an aggressive email, direct mail and social media campaign, but that wasn’t all. The organization also recruited an army of paid canvassers who fanned out across the region to personally visit caregivers in their own homes.
In addition, the Freedom Foundation has hired more attorneys than any other policy organization its size in the nation and actively challenges union abuses in court. The scope of those operations increased dramatically in the wake of Janus, and the organization is currently engaged in 50 different union-related legal actions — some of which will ultimately wind up in the Supreme Court and have national implications.
And the results have been nothing short of overwhelming. In Washington, SEIU 925, which represented childcare providers, has seen its membership shrink by more than 65 percent, and its former president now travels around the country warning union leaders about the Freedom Foundation. In addition, Washington state’s largest public sector union, WFSE/AFSCME, representing state employees has lost 24 percent.
In Oregon, the state’s largest union, SEIU 503, has lost 26 percent of its membership while the Oregon State Education Association has lost 31 percent.
All told, member defections in states where the Freedom Foundation is fighting back have cost the unions an estimated $36 million in dues — money they would have used to promote their socialist, government-growing agenda.
It’s costly, labor-intensive work, but it produces tangible, measurable results.
How can you help?
Sharing our opt-out message at www.optouttoday.com with a friend or family member who works for the state or local government is a quick way to save them $1,000 a year. It’s their constitutional right to opt out, and it only takes five minutes to exercise that right.
The unions and the state aren’t informing them, so someone else must.
Our goal is to get 100,000 people out of the unions by year’s end, and we’re well on our way.
Contact Kirby Hartley, our representative here on the East Coast, at (434) 326-1848 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more, or visit www.freedomfoundation.com/donate to gift a tax-deductible contribution to our fight to “proclaim liberty to the captives.”