Benjamin Olson has seen the issue from both sides and he knows which is telling the truth.
That's why these days he's working to inform other home-based healthcare providers like himself of their right to opt out of union dues and fees.
Olson, featured in a new series of television ads running on local cable systems in the Seattle and Puget Sound region starting this week, used to see things differently. In fact, he was such an enthusiastic supporter of SEIU 775, which represents Washington homecare providers in collective bargaining talks with the state, that the union deployed him to persuade other providers to sign their membership cards.
That all changed, however, when SEIU 775 included him on a bus trip to Olympia to lobby Washington state lawmakers on behalf of the union's political agenda.
He was struck by how little of what the union spends its time doing had anything to do with the issues he and his wife Tammy faced every day caring for their son Sean.
Then he heard from the Freedom Foundation about a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said home-based healthcare and childcare providers were not state employees in the conventional sense and could no longer be compelled to join a labor union.
With the Freedom Foundation's help, the Olsons opted out immediately … then started helping others do the same.
The move saved the family $2,000 a year in dues.
"Having the union take our money was a real hardship on us," Tammy Olson says during the TV spot.
"Now we use it on things that matter to our family," Benjamin Olson explains, "like groceries, gas and medical bills."
"The union hasn't helped us, and we're better off without them," Tammy Olson said.
"Benjamin and Tammy's story is so powerful, and yet it's typical of what we hear from care providers every day," said Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe.
"All they want to do is take care of their loved one," he said, "and under Medicaid, the state allocates a bit of money to money to help defray their costs. But when the union sees a pile of cash, it doesn't care what it was intended for. All that matters to the union bosses is how they can cut themselves in for a piece of it."
Since 2014, more than 10,000 caregivers in Washington and Oregon have opted out of the union, and that number grows every day as more and more of the barriers erected between the unions and their members are eliminated.
"When people hear the truth, they want no part of the union," McCabe said. "That's why the union is so desperate to keep these people in the dark, and why Benjamin Olson and the Freedom Foundation are so determined to tell them the truth."