By union standards, former SEIU 925 Director Kim Cook’s comments about the Freedom Foundation in a recently posted YouTube video veer remarkably close to honesty. Admiration even.
Addressing some of organized labor’s biggest names during a presentation at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Murphy Institute in November, Cook spoke about the Freedom Foundation’s outreach efforts with grudging respect.
“The amazing thing that the Freedom Foundation did was hire a team of canvassers to go door-to-door,” she said. “They knocked on our members’ doors and handed them the drop (opt-out) card. It was amazing.”
Cook, currently an associate faculty member at The Worker Institute, Cornell University, also showed attendees three separate Freedom Foundation mailings, read key sections from two of our fundraising letters and showed three Freedom Foundation-produced videos, which she described as “sickening.” (Translation: “Devastatingly effective.”)
The theme of the event was preparing for a ruling in Janus v. AFSCME that would extend right-to-work protections to the entire country by making union dues or agency fees voluntary instead of a condition of employment in the public sector.
Cook, of course, seems like a curious choice to advise her peers on the subject. Over the past three years, thanks in large measure to the Freedom Foundation, more than 60 percent of the home-based childcare providers represented by SEIU 925 have opted out of the union – no doubt hastening her move into academia.
On the other hand, no one in the room was better qualified to discuss the full range of weapons that can be deployed by the Freedom Foundation since no one been on the receiving end of more of them.
Leaving aside Cook’s feeble attempt to claim some sort of victory in the battle – a claim she made no real effort to document, by the way – her speech had to be sobering news to her colleagues.
Filtering through the union-speak, Cook’s message was chillingly clear – The Freedom Foundation is very good at what it does, and its tactics work. Things were bad enough for the unions after Harris v. Quinn, but Janus has the potential to be far worse – and the Freedom Foundation created the model everyone else will be following.