Freedom Foundation crashes UTD’s annual picnic

Freedom Foundation crashes UTD’s annual picnic

Freedom Foundation crashes UTD’s annual picnic

On March 16, United Teachers of Dade held its annual districtwide picnic at Tropical Park in Miami. The event tends to be widely attended, because union members can bring their families out for a sun-filled day with bounce houses, BBQ and a local Toyota dealership gives away a car.

Anticipating a large, fairly captive audience, the Freedom Foundation hired a plane to circle above the picnic-goers with a simple message:

“Karla Mats gets $284,000. You get a picnic. We deserve MDEC.”

Karla Hernandez-Mats is the president of United Teachers of Dade and was the 2022 running mate during Charlie Crist’s failed attempt at recapturing the Florida governor’s mansion.

MDEC refers to the Miami Dade Education Coalition, the alternative professional organization for educators and other employees of the Miami Dade school district the Freedom Foundation helped establish during the summer of 2023.

A group of teachers approached the Freedom Foundation after the Freedom Foundation helped Florida enact some of the most sweeping government union reforms since Wisconsin passed Act 10 more than a decade ago.

The Freedom Foundation and MDEC then embarked on a successful campaign to force UTD to a decertification vote after the union, affiliated with both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, failed to meet the state’s 60 percent membership threshold.

Freedom Foundation staff invested hundreds of man-hours canvassing Miami teachers, collecting signatures to put MDEC on a ballot alongside UTD, in an effort to vote out the national union and establish a local, nonpartisan workplace representation organization.

On March 11, the Freedom Foundation and MDEC leadership submitted more than enough signatures to the state to qualify MDEC for a spot on the union certification ballot.

So when it came time for UTD’s annual picnic, Freedom Foundation decided to crash the party and let its members know just how much of their hard-earned dues money was going to enrich their president – and the reaction was humorous, to say the least.

After the first circle the plane made above the picnic crowd, the organizers turned up their music significantly to try to drown out the sounds from overhead, in an attempt to avoid people noticing the banner above them.

Undaunted, the Freedom Foundation sent a couple staffers to scope out the scene, and we observed several groups of people pointing at the sky and discussing the banner’s message.

Meanwhile, one of the founding members of the alternative Miami Dade Education Coalition began receiving text messages from picnic attendees with joking approval, saying things like, “You guys are out of control! A lot of people here are talking about the plane!”

One friend called an MDEC member later to tell her a lot of people were already complaining about the picnic because the union was being cheap about food portions and the ability to have seconds. Seeing this plane flying overhead telling everyone the union president’s salary only added insult to injury.

“I’ve had it!” the caller said. “I tried to support United Teachers of Dade, but I’ve had it and I’m flipping sides and joining MDEC instead.”

All in all, it was quite a successful day for the Freedom Foundation and the MDEC. A beautiful day for a plane ride, and even helped people make their decision to part with the corrupt teachers’ union.

Vice President of Communication and Federal Affairs
Ashley Varner brings a variety of public affairs experience and a tough skin to the Freedom Foundation team. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation, Ashley spent many exciting, turbulent and wonderful years as a media spokesperson and state government liaison at the National Rifle Association. Following her tenure at the NRA, Ashley joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), where she worked with state and local lawmakers across the country on a diverse set of policy and communications issues. A grassroots activist from a young age, Ashley joined her first of many political campaigns before graduating high school and organized protests across the street from her own professors at the University of Missouri. When not rabble-rousing against Big Government, Ashley enjoys cooking, mafia movies, and has seen most of the 1970s and 80s classic rock bands still on tour. She loves the Chiefs, hopes someday she can love her Mizzou Tigers again, and she was a Kansas City Royals fan and Patriot Act opponent before either was cool.