For Beth Stuckart, leaving SEIU 503 seemed like an almost impossible goal. Not only did the union support political candidates and causes with which she disagreed, but it also spent her money in ways that directly violated her sincerely held religious beliefs.
Then she received information in the mail from the Freedom Foundation and promptly contacted the organization for help obtaining a religious accommodation that would allow her to redirect her union fees – which were mandatory at the time – to a charity she actually believed in.
After nearly a year of Freedom Foundation attorneys’ efforts on her behalf, SEIU 503 finally capitulated and allowed Beth to obtain a religious accommodation in accordance with her legal rights.
Beth was so pleased with the work done by Freedom Foundation and the Foundation’s staff attorney James Abernathy that she sent us a thank you letter to express her gratitude:
“Dear Freedom Foundation:
I would like to thank all the good hard-working people at the Freedom Foundation for helping me obtain religious objector status.
I am an employee for the State of Oregon who has worked at the Department of Revenue for 35 years. As a Christian, my beliefs dictate who I vote for and support. SEIU used my dues to endorse and support political candidates whose beliefs were in direct opposition to my faith.
Many years ago, a Christian co-worker shared with me how she was able to get out of SEIU. She had given me information on the matter, but I never followed up on it because it appeared to be very difficult to leave the union. I instead decided to become a fair share member. As SEIU continued to support causes and candidates that contradicted my beliefs I felt I needed to do something.
Over a year ago, I received information in the mail about the Freedom Foundation. This was a blessing, because now I had the Freedom Foundations help with my endeavor to leave the union.
I met with Aaron Withe, the Oregon director of Freedom Foundation at his office, after which I wrote a request to SEIU to become a religious objector. After sending the request, SEIU responded by asking for more specific information. After repeating this process several times and still being met with the same response, attorney James Abernathy on behalf of the Freedom Foundation stepped in and sent a letter that got SEIU’s attention. The Freedom Foundation and SEIU then corresponded back and forth until I finally received the great news nearly a year later. I had finally been given religious objector status.
I am so grateful to the Freedom Foundation for supporting my right to express my religious faith and beliefs. The Freedom Foundation pursued my desire to leave the union with passion and persistence. After seeing the SEIU become less employee-friendly and more political over the years, I only wish that I would have pursued this sooner. No longer would I have to provide financial resources towards causes and candidates that I do not support.
I will always remember June 6, 2018, as my day of independence. This was the day I obtained my religious objector status and became free from the union. In addition to that, James Abernathy insisted that SEIU pay back all dues collected after I had already requested to leave the union.
After being reimbursed for the dues I paid between June 2017 and June 2018, I then donated the money to the Marion Polk Food Share to help those in need. Now I’m taking the previous amount I had paid for dues and donating that towards several causes that support my beliefs and values.
Thank you to the Freedom Foundation for all their support, hard work, and efforts on my behalf. I will always be proud of my religious objector status and celebrate the Janus decision by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing others the right to leave their union.
My challenge with SEIU was absolutely worth the fight because there is no better feeling than to stand for your principles. Thanks to all those at the Freedom Foundation who have helped me and others who cannot possibly fight the union on their own.
The Freedom Foundation will forever have my gratitude.
You are all the best. God bless America and God bless the Freedom Foundation.”