At this rate, it won’t be long before the Freedom Foundation is using more of Santa’s helpers than Santa is.
Once again, the organization is continuing its longstanding holiday tradition of deploying canvassers to state office buildings, hoping to inform public employees of their recently affirmed right to keep their job while declining union membership, dues, and fees.
And, as always, the Freedom Foundation staffers will make the encounter even more memorable by making their pitch while attired as Santa Claus. Or Mrs. Claus. Possibly an elf.
The difference this year is in the scope of the operation.
In keeping with the Freedom Foundation announcement this past fall that its outreach footprint was being expanded to all 50 states, information teams will be showing up at state, county, and local offices all up and down the eastern seaboard in addition to the West Coast.
“It wouldn’t be Christmas without Santa Claus,” said Freedom Foundation Policy Associate Erin Volz — a veteran outreach elf herself and the coordinator of this year’s week-long east coast excursion. “And he wouldn’t be Santa Claus unless he were spreading holiday cheer.”
“Personally,” Volz continued, “I can’t think of anything more cheerful than being able to keep more of your hard-earned money rather than handing over a portion of it every payday to a union you never asked for, don’t need, and disagree with philosophically.”
The Freedom Foundation began its seasonal forays to public offices even before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 ruled that public employees could not be forced to support a union. Not surprisingly, unions themselves were reluctant to pass along the good news to their dues-paying members, so the Freedom Foundation decided to take the reindeer by the horns — first in Washington, then later in Oregon and California, and eventually to Pennsylvania and Ohio.
This year, festively attired canvassing teams will be handing out candy canes and union opt-out forms in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine.
“If we keep working our way north, we may have to see if the toymakers in Santa’s workshop are unionized,” Volz joked.
To the unions, however, the visits are no laughing matter. More than once over the years, they’ve pressured personnel departments to evict the Freedom Foundation staffers from the premises.
And the Freedom Foundation has responded by filing a lawsuit — at least one of which is still pending years later.
“We have as much right to hand out literature and answer questions in a public building or on public grounds as any citizen does,” Volz said. “It’s all the more unconstitutional to keep us out when you consider that unions are given the run of the building in most cases. We’re entitled to present an alternative point of view.”
In the case of the Freedom Foundation’s ongoing lawsuit against Washington’s Department of Ecology, lower court judges have found that unions have special privileges because of their contractual relationship with the public employees.
The Freedom Foundation has appealed to the Supreme Court.
“If things go as they usually do, there may be more fireworks this year,” Volz said. “But it’s worth it if we free hundreds of public employees in states where we’ve never been active until now.”
Jeff Rhoads is the Vice President of News and Information of the Freedom Foundation.