The Freedom Foundation has announced plans to share its message of worker rights with an even wider audience and named a point man to lead the effort.
Aaron Withe, formerly director of the group’s operations in Oregon, has been appointed national director and will coordinate the opening of branch offices in other states.
The Freedom Foundation was founded in Washington state in 1991 as a traditional think tank promoting the ideals of free markets and limited, accountable government. In 2014, however, new CEO Tom McCabe focused the organization’s resources entirely on the chief impediment to those values — public-sector unions and their grip on the governing process.
By 2015, the Freedom Foundation had opened a branch office in Oregon office and, two years later, moved into California.
The group’s specialty is informing public employees about a series of recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that make union membership and dues deductions voluntary in the government workforce.
As a direct result of the Freedom Foundation’s work, more than 60,000 public employees have opted out of their union in just the past 18 months.
Withe started with the Freedom Foundation in 2015 as an Oregon canvasser, visiting government employees in their homes and offices to educate them about their First Amendment rights to opt out of union participation. Within a year he was in charge of the entire outreach program in the state and, in 2017, was named Oregon director.
Under Withe’s leadership, SEIU 503 — Oregon’s largest public employee union — has seen its membership shrink by more than 25 percent. Likewise, the Oregon School Employees Association has lost a whopping 36 percent of its dues-payers, among the largest declines in the nation.
Withe also serves on the Oregon Advisory Committee on the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights and earlier this year earned the Taxpayer Association of Oregon’s annual Thomas Jefferson Award for advancing the ideals of individual liberty and limited government.
“There are hundreds of thousands of public employees around the country who have no idea of their newly affirmed rights under Janus,” Withe said. “It takes the Freedom Foundation’s singularly focused program to inform all of these workers and assist them in actually getting out of dues that they often never consented to.”
“The Freedom Foundation has a model for fighting the unions and winning,” Withe said. “It’s worked so well on the west coast that we’re being asked to export it to other states. That’s bad news for the unions, but great news for workers.”