Kim Cook must have mixed emotions about the Freedom Foundation.
On the one hand, if not for the organization’s efforts to inform home-based family child care providers represented by SEIU 925 about the 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Harris v. Quinn that recognized their right to opt out of all union dues and fees, Cook might still be the union’s president.
On the other hand, she currently earns a living traveling around the country warning other unions not to make the same mistakes she did.
In that sense, she owes the Freedom Foundation a huge debt of gratitude.
Cook, who holds the title “president emeritus” SEIU Local 925 (a Latin term meaning “phased out by the national leadership when more than 60 percent of her union’s membership heeded the Freedom Foundation’s call to defect”) is now an associate at Cornell’s Worker Institute.
In an article headlined “Dissecting the Post-Janus Assault,” published last month by the group’s in-house publication, The Unionist, Cook was at her conspiratorial worst, writing:
“The Janus Supreme Court case, just like the so-called ‘right-to-work’ laws, isn’t about freedom to choose—they are about taking away workers’ freedom to have a say and some power to improve our lives. Anti-union forces, from the right-wing think tanks like the Freedom Foundation to big businesses to lobbyists to others, see unions as the single greatest obstacle to unbridled profit and control.”
That the Freedom Foundation’s chief adversary is government employee unions, which are funded by taxpayers and rely not at all on profits, unbridled or otherwise, never seems to occur to any of these people. More likely, since it’s a lot easier to turn faceless corporate bigwigs into a bogeyman than your hardworking, overtaxed neighbors, they simply rewrite the narrative at their whim.
Give Cook credit for one thing, though. She’s inadvertently willing to give credit where it’s due. Her article later observed:
“The Freedom Foundation used every conceivable method for talking to Local 925 members —they got lists of union members through public information requests, and then used mail, email, telephone, website, videos to get their pro-business, anti-union message out. Most appalling, they went door to door, visiting members at home!
“I recognize all those tactics because they’re the ones we use—at election time, and during new organizing drives. At our union, we recognized Harris as an organizing opportunity, and we used those same tactics.”
On this point, make no mistake: She’s absolutely correct. Like no other advocacy group in the nation, the Freedom Foundation is willing and able to use every tool in our tool box — including a few we learned from the unions — to reach and free public-sector workers from the grasp of union bosses like Kim Cook.
In what alternate universe should unions have unfettered access to the workers from whose paychecks the unions drain their nourishment? Why is the contact information for these employees considered a matter of public record when a union files a request for it but an invasion of privacy when it’s the Freedom Foundation doing the asking?
Who honestly believes union operatives are welcomed into the home of every forcibly organized government employee in the Pacific Northwest with open arms when it comes time to sign a membership form while Freedom Foundation canvassers bearing the truth about his or her Constitutional rights are seen as interlopers?
Do we file lawsuits and play hardball — just like the unions do?
You bet your life we do. We’re proud of it, and we intend to keep right on doing it.
Thank you, Kim Cook, for noticing — and for helping make us famous.