The unions representing the nation’s public employees this week observed, but most assuredly didn’t celebrate, the 100,000th government employee to opt out of union membership and dues thanks to the determined efforts of the Freedom Foundation.
In total, it’s estimated the Freedom Foundation has already cost public-sector unions a whopping $150 million, and the number is increasing exponentially now that the organization has gone nationwide.
But first a little background.
Almost from the moment President Kennedy put his signature to an executive order allowing federal government employees to organize — a move resisted even by liberal scion Franklin Roosevelt, by the way — public-sector unions have been among the most generous benefactors of the American Left.
With someone else’s money.
In almost half the country — the 23 states without right-to-work protections for unionized workers — the arrangement became a license to steal.
Unlike conservative political candidates, who must solicit donations one at a time from those who choose to give voluntarily, liberal office-seekers have long enjoyed the luxury of cashing huge checks from unions whose members were given little choice in whether to join or how their dues dollars were spent.
That began to change, however, in 2014, when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Harris v. Quinn, ruled that “quasi-public employees” — such as Americans collecting a modest stipend from Medicaid to provide in-home care to a low-income, disabled loved one — could no longer be required to share their income with a union whose services they didn’t need and never asked for.
The court extended the same privilege to all government employees when it ruled four years later in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory union membership, dues, and fees in the public workplace are a violation of workers’ First Amendment rights.
On paper, the rulings should have freed millions of unhappy public employees. But unions like the Service Employees International Union, the American Federation of State, Municipal and County Employees, the Teamsters, and assorted teachers’ unions, anticipating both decisions, responded with a well-coordinated campaign of misinformation, disinformation, harassment, and even criminal activity to keep their newly freed members in harness.
At their most benign, these actions included simply not informing workers about the impacts of both Harris and Janus. And when they learned the truth anyway and attempted to exercise their opt-out rights, the unions would either disregard the request or drag their feet until the worker was forced to take legal action.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, meanwhile, there are numerous examples currently being litigated in which a union operative clearly forged a worker’s signature on a union membership or dues authorization form and continued siphoning dues from his or her paycheck until the fraud was uncovered.
In the whole country, only one organization exists that is solely focused on deploying a full range of tactics to force government unions to follow the Constitution and respect the rights of the workers they claim to represent.
The Freedom Foundation, founded in Olympia, Wash., as a traditional think tank advancing the ideals of individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government, narrowed its focus in 2014 and began to concentrate exclusively on government unions and the stranglehold they have on the governing process at every level.
Following the Supreme Court’s Harris ruling, the organization fought back against the unions’ bullying tactics by deploying an army of paid canvassers who visited Medicaid caregivers and daycare providers in their own homes to inform them about their opt-out rights.
And when they decided to exercise those rights only to be challenged by the union, the Freedom Foundation’s team of in-house attorneys provided them with pro bono representation.
The formula worked. So well, in fact, the organization soon opened branch offices in Oregon and California, followed later by Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Earlier this year, the Freedom Foundation expanded its outreach activities to all 50 states and has become the nation’s recognized leader in the fight against government employee union oppression.
That’s money back in the pockets of public employees and out of union coffers. Money no longer available to advance a government-growing, high-tax, radical-Leftist agenda that has recently been expanded to include defunding of the police and compulsory teaching of Critical Race Theory in public schools.
It’s been a long, tough road and there’s still a lot of fight left in the enemy, but with government unions on the defensive and more and more public employees across the nation choosing freedom with our help, the trend line is definitely moving in the right direction.
The Freedom Foundation is looking forward to assisting the next 100,000 public employees leave their union. But for now, we celebrate with the tens of thousands who’ve already claimed their freedom.