Freedom Foundation

OSEA’s Membership Decline Among the Nation’s Largest

Six months ago, the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon office expanded its focus to include actively outreaching to the Oregon School Employees Association (OSEA).

Since that declaration, OSEA members across the state have received tens of thousands of mail pieces, emails, texts and in-person visits informing them of their newly affirmed rights to opt out of their union and cease paying union dues under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.

While talking out of both sides of his mouth, then-OSEA President Tim Stoelb couldn’t seem to agree with himself on the impact of the Janus decision or the effectiveness of the Freedom Foundation’s outreach efforts.

Before Janus, Stoelb said in his 2017 “State of Our Union” speech, “What does [Janus] mean for us? I don’t think I have to go into too many details to convey my fears. It will be devastating.”

In the year since it was issued, however, Stoelb has characterized the Freedom Foundation’s efforts to inform OSEA members of their newly affirmed rights as “fake news,” while almost in the same breath admitting the union has been forced to close three field offices, drastically cut back spending and accept a $400,000 handout from its parent organization, the American Federation of Teachers, just to make ends meet.

Thankfully, the release of OSEA’s newest financial statement helps clear up any confusion that may still remain about the union’s financial wellness. The state filing shows that of the approximately 23,000 workers OSEA claims to represent, only 15,130 are dues-paying members.

As a direct result of our outreach, OSEA has seen its membership decline by a whopping 36 percent since the Janus decision.

The tax filing also shows that they collected nearly $1 million less in dues and membership fees.

Fittingly, Executive Director Rick Shidaker saw his still-inflated salary slashed by $8,000.

This all occurred in spite of OSEA’s militant efforts to suppress the Freedom Foundation’s activities. Members of the union’s leadership team responded to our outreach with mass emailing to their members attempting to defame and attribute false motives to our organization.

OSEA’s very own state secretary, Mary Hofer, even went so far as to submit an op-ed to the Bend Bulletin that surprisingly was not meant to be interpreted as satirical, even though it cartoonishly impugned our motives and showcased her apparent distaste for billboards.

Further, OSEA was the culprit behind what is the most anti-Janus piece of legislation to be introduced in the Oregon Legislature, House Bill 2643. The bill would have taken away employees’ rights to stop paying union dues.

Instead, the state would have automatically taken a portion of the employee’s salary that was equal to union dues and given it straight to the union. Luckily, the bill never even received a committee hearing.

These actions did nothing but waste OSEA’s dwindling resources. The indisputable fact is that its offices are closing, its revenue is drying up and, most importantly, its members are leaving in droves.

With so much on its plate, it’s reasonable to speculate about whether Stoelb’s departure as president was voluntary or if his superiors demanded he walk the plank before the ship sank entirely.

Perhaps the only part of OSEA’s future that’s certain is that the Freedom Foundation will remain a big part of it. We will continue our mission to ensure all OSEA members, all public employees, are informed of their rights to free themselves of union bondage.