Janus puts worker choice, Freedom Foundation on center stage

Janus puts worker choice, Freedom Foundation on center stage

Janus puts worker choice, Freedom Foundation on center stage

News outlets across Oregon were eager to pick up on Wednesday’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, and rightly so. The ruling is a huge win for workers’ rights across the nation, especially in states like Oregon where public employees could previously be forced to pay union fees against their will.

As the Northwest’s recognized leader in the fight to give workers a choice, the Freedom Foundation was featured prominently in the coverage.

Here are just some of the stories: 

SCOTUS Ruling Prohibits Mandatory Union Dues For Public Employees

Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB)

“Aaron Withe, Oregon director of Freedom Foundation, said his group would run a major media campaign telling workers they can opt out of paying union dues. 

We anticipate membership to be declining between 20 percent and 30 percent in the next 12 months,” said Withe…”

Supreme Court ends mandatory union fees

Portland Tribune

“The opinion was a victory for several public-sector workers who challenged the mandatory dues in court.

Aaron Withe, Oregon director of the Freedom Foundation — a nonprofit conservative think tank that represents seven Oregon public employees in a legal challenge of non-member dues, said the opinion will allow members to have more influence over union activities.

Unions “will have to provide services that make members want to pay these union dues,” Withe said. “No longer will people with disagreements with what they are doing have to pay the union dues…

The Freedom Foundation case against the Oregon American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 75 is still moving forward regardless of the ruling, and plaintiffs now have a better chance of obtaining damages, Withe said.”

Public-Sector Unions Brace for Fallout From Supreme Court Decision on Fees

Wall Street Journal

“The Freedom Foundation is sending direct mail to more than 150,000 public-sector union members in Washington state on Wednesday, telling them how they can stop paying union fees. The Olympia, Wash., based group also sent several dozen canvassers to talk to workers at state and county offices and hand them pamphlets. 

We have folks all over the state,” said Maxford Nelsen, director of labor policy. He said the group eventually hopes to reach every public employee in Oregon and California as well.”

In addition, Freedom Foundation Oregon Director Aaron Withe penned an opinion piece telling the public what to expect following Janus:

Guest column: Janus is the start of the end for big government unions

By Aaron Withe

The Bulletin

“… this is just the beginning. The full effects of the Janus decision will be felt by the unions in months to come. Even though this newly affirmed right is unambiguous, don’t expect the unions to inform their members. Nor will the state.

The Freedom Foundation exists to inform government employees about these rights. And even after learning the truth and deciding to opt out, they then have to navigate a deliberately complicated process only to be denied their right to leave, which requires a lawsuit.”

True to our word, the Freedom Foundation has already begun informing Oregon’s public employees of their newly-acknowledged rights. The outreach began yesterday with an email notification to more than 90,000 public employees, a group which included state and local government workers and public school employees. The email informed the workers of the Janus ruling and directed them to a form they could use to leave their union and stop paying dues.

The response has been astounding, with over 800 workers completing opt-out forms within the first 24 hours, putting the exodus rate at over 33 opt-outs per hour. And the number still hasn’t slowed down since the Freedom Foundation’s message.

It just goes to show, government workers in Oregon have been as eager to exercise their constitutional rights under Janus as the media has been to report on it. And the Freedom Foundation has – and will continue to – play a major role in spreading the word.

Policy Analyst
Ben Straka serves as a policy analyst for the Freedom Foundation. His responsibilities include an array of policy research and reform efforts, primarily centered around labor relations, education and government transparency within the states. In addition, he provides support for the Freedom Foundation’s Outreach program and works closely with the rest of the team to hold local governments and public-sector unions accountable to state residents. Ben joined the Freedom Foundation in May 2016. He is a native of Eugene, Ore., and a graduate of Corban University, where he studied political science and business.