In the three years since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory union membership, dues, and/or so-called “agency fees” in the public workplace violate the First Amendment rights of public employees, government unions have gone to great pains to dismiss the ruling.
In every sense of the word.
Union-beholden Joe Biden has made no secret of his contempt for the right-to-work protections enshrined in Janus, and his actions since assuming the presidency have only reinforced his words. In addition to his desire to pack the Supreme Court with enough liberals to overturn Janus, Biden envisions eliminating worker choice in the private sector, too.
For their part, union bosses have done everything in their power to keep public employees in the dark and uninformed about Janus and have adopted a wide variety of illegal resistance strategies to keep workers paying into the union coffers.
Not only have they imposed unilateral and arbitrary exit windows to hinder an employee’s opportunity to exercise their opt-out rights, but government unions like SEIU have been caught forging public employee signatures on dues cards.
This is not isolated to the West Coast, but it is happening across the country. And for the most part, the unions have gotten away with it.
That’s why on June 27, the third anniversary of Janus, the Freedom Foundation officially announced it is expanding operations into all 50 states to make sure no public-sector employee remains in the dark about their First Amendment rights not to fund a union’s political agenda against their will.
And when a taxpayer-funded employee tries to leave the union and is prevented from exercising that right, the Freedom Foundation is ready to take legal action to hold the union bosses accountable.
Currently, the Freedom Foundation is litigating more than 70 lawsuits against unions up and down the West Coast, with more to come as the expansion unfolds.
Don’t kid yourself: Unions wouldn’t spend literally millions of their members’ dues dollars to discourage opt-outs and punish those who try anyway if they weren’t scared witless by the knowledge of how many would leave if they didn’t.
As proof of this maxim, the labor shills never mention that the opt-out rate isn’t uniform throughout the country. While the number of defections has been fairly modest in most states, public employee unions on the West Coast are seeing a far different outcome, with around 100,000 government workers choosing to defy union coercion and exercise their opt-out rights since 2018.
Even better, the loss of their dues contributions has cost the unions an estimated $142 million over that same span, reducing the amount of someone else’s money they can use to buy political influence and line their own pockets.
Having developed a comprehensive outreach strategy in Washington state that includes door-to-door visits, targeted mail, email, and traditional media advertising, the Freedom Foundation has perfected a model that has proved successful in Oregon and even California.
In the months before COVID shut down the country, the Freedom Foundation began operations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and has already helped several thousand people stop paying unions at an annual loss of nearly $5 million.
Now, the Freedom Foundation is going national.
An expansion on this scale is a huge challenge, but it’s one we’re enormously excited to undertake.
Union bluster aside, we believe there’s ample evidence that, when given a fair choice and enough support to stand up to the bullies, workers will opt out in huge numbers.
If we’re wrong, it doesn’t cost the unions a thing. But if we’re right, it exposes and incapacitates a powerful, ruthless special interest that’s functioned for too long as a shadow government, buying and selling its elected leaders with someone else’s money while thumbing its nose at the law and the Constitution.
Seems like a clear enough choice.
Aaron Withe is the CEO of the Freedom Foundation, a national organization committing to fighting abuses by government employee unions.