40 Percent Of Oregon Caregivers Leave SEIU After Freedom Foundation Outreach

40 Percent Of Oregon Caregivers Leave SEIU After Freedom Foundation Outreach

40 Percent Of Oregon Caregivers Leave SEIU After Freedom Foundation Outreach

State payroll data recently obtained by the Freedom Foundation via a public records request show that, as of May of this year, 11,399 of Oregon’s 28,667 homecare and personal support workers have rejected union membership and no longer pay any dues or fees to SEIU 503.

The numbers indicate for the first time the success of the Freedom Foundation’s work to educate Medicaid-subsidized caregivers of their right to cease paying union dues and fees.

Workers who actually can are abandoning SEIU 503 in huge numbers. The Freedom Foundation’s ‘Decline to Sign’ program, which informs these workers of their right to opt out of union dues and fees, has cost the union thousands of members and millions of dollars – whether they choose to admit it or not.

In states like Oregon, the SEIU has for years been in the lucrative business of cashing in on union dues skimmed from the pay of home-based caregivers who receive Medicaid reimbursements from the state.

And back in May of 2014, business was booming. Virtually 100 percent of the state’s approximately 28,000 caregivers – known as homecare or personal support workers – were paying monthly dues to the union’s statewide chapter, SEIU 503.

Now three years later, 40 percent of caregivers have chosen to forego dues-paying membership.

While the steep decline in caregivers’ financial support of SEIU 503 is significant, it’s not entirely surprising. Keep in mind that many “partial-public employees” like homecare and personal support workers likely never felt the love for SEIU in the first place – they simply had no choice but to pay union dues or be fired prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2014 ruling in Harris v. Quinn.

In Harris, the Court declared the mandatory dues requirement for “partial public employees” unconstitutional, and for the first time gave Oregon caregivers the right to choose for themselves whether to financially support SEIU 503.

But while caregivers’ ability to leave their union began with Harris, it certainly didn’t end there.

After all, what good is a constitutional right if you don’t even know it exists, or how to exercise it?

In 2015, the Freedom Foundation set out to solve just that. Building upon its tried-and-tested model of labor reform that has proven wildly successful in neighboring Washington state, the Foundation launched a multifaceted campaign to ensure that every Harris-affected caregiver in Oregon is equipped with the proper knowledge and resources to exercise their constitutional right to cease paying union dues.

At the core of the Foundation’s labor reform model is a comprehensive grassroots campaign to inform caregivers of what their union doesn’t want them to know.

Door-to-door canvassers personally speak with unionized caregivers throughout Oregon on a daily basis, explaining their rights under Harris v. Quinn and providing informational material with detachable opt-out forms that caregivers can use to cease paying SEIU dues.

Other components of the outreach include direct mail, email, social media, an informational website for union members, a weekly radio show, and even TV advertisements featuring former SEIU members.

Not only has the campaign’s effectiveness been shown in the numbers, but SEIU itself has lent credibility to the Foundation’s efforts by fighting tooth-and-nail to suppress our ability to reach their members with the truth.

Shortly after the Foundation expanded into Oregon, SEIU 503’s allies in the State Legislature amended state public records laws to try and prevent the Foundation from communicating with Harris-affected workers, though it failed to stop our outreach efforts . And if that weren’t dramatic enough, SEIU 503’s paranoia came to a head earlier in 2017 when it squandered $500,000 in a last-ditch effort to keep a membership list away from its own members.

No wonder caregivers want to leave.

The union leaders also employ deceptive, sometimes downright nasty scare tactics designed to discredit the Freedom Foundation. Anti-Freedom Foundation emails hit their members’ inboxes the day we moved into Oregon, and there’s no shortage of union-created front groups whose sole purpose is to attack our credibility.

But caregivers don’t care about that; they care about the truth. And the truth is that the Freedom Foundation’s efforts are putting money back into their pockets – money that can be used on food, gasoline, prescriptions and a whole laundry list of items more important to them than the lavish salaries and extreme-liberal political agendas of the union leaders.

And as the new membership numbers show, the campaign has been paying off.

Just not for the union.

The recent data indicates that, in May 2017 alone, its diminished membership cost SEIU 503 nearly $400,000 in lost revenue. Calculated annually, that’s nearly $4.8 million per year kept in caregivers’ pockets rather than being forked over to SEIU and used to advance the union’s hard-left political agenda. 

And that’s assuming the numbers don’t continue to grow.

Policy Analyst
Ben Straka serves as a policy analyst for the Freedom Foundation. His responsibilities include an array of policy research and reform efforts, primarily centered around labor relations, education and government transparency within the states. In addition, he provides support for the Freedom Foundation’s Outreach program and works closely with the rest of the team to hold local governments and public-sector unions accountable to state residents. Ben joined the Freedom Foundation in May 2016. He is a native of Eugene, Ore., and a graduate of Corban University, where he studied political science and business.