Freedom Foundation

After A Year with The Freedom Foundation, Ohio Government Unions Feeling the Heat

It’s been a little more than a year since the Freedom Foundation first expanded into Ohio, bringing with it a battle-tested strategy to ensure every public employee in the Buckeye state understands the message that too few too are telling them — that they can leave their union and stop paying dues if they wish.

In that time, the largest union representing state employees — the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) — has published no fewer than 16 blog posts directly attacking the Freedom Foundation.

Most are inaccessible to the public, but with web addresses like “www.ocsea.org/news/Detail/take-action-stop-freedom-foundation/”, it doesn’t require much imagination to fill in the blanks.

Clearly OCSEA has gotten the word about the Freedom Foundation from its counterparts in other states, and its fears are well-founded.

According to payroll data recently obtained via a public records request from the state’s Department of Administrative Services, virtually 100 percent of the union’s membership losses since Janus have come since the Freedom Foundation moved into Ohio.

To be more specific:

  • OCSEA automatically lost more than 2,000 non-member “agency fee-payers” following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 affirmation in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory union membership and dues are a violation of the First Amendment. These losses were partially offset by a slight increase in formal members.
  • However, from that time until November 2019, the union’s membership remained steady and even rose slightly.
  • Beginning in November 2019 (the first month of the Freedom Foundation’s move into Ohio), OCSEA membership began declining for the first time since Janus, and the union lost nearly 1,500 dues-paying members over the course of the next year.

Apparently, the union didn’t have much to fear until the Freedom Foundation came to town.

The newly obtained data also confirm the long-suspected reality that OCSEA leaders aren’t just smearing the Freedom Foundation for the fun of it — in reality, they’re attempting to protect their rapidly shrinking bottom line from the first real threat they’ve faced since Janus.

Although OCSEA has made it abundantly clear the Freedom Foundation is that threat, we have to point out that it’s hard-working Ohioans — not us — who choose to leave the union and keep more of their money in their own pockets. It’s their constitutional right — we’re just making sure they can exercise it.

But you know what? We’re happy to keep taking the punches for them.

And if the Freedom Foundation’s first year in Ohio is any indication, it looks like we’ll be dishing out a lot more than we take.