Outgoing union leader offers feeble retort to lawsuit

Outgoing union leader offers feeble retort to lawsuit

Outgoing union leader offers feeble retort to lawsuit

Two days after being hit with yet another Freedom Foundation lawsuit, SEIU 503 posted a statement on its website in the hopes of convincing its remaining members of… well, that’s the problem. The message was so muddled it’s hard to tell what the union wants its members to believe.

For starters, the statement didn’t even address what the lawsuit is about, or who is bringing it.

The answer, to correct SEIU’s glaring omission, is that 14 homecare workers – the union’s own unwilling members – are suing the union and its leaders over their alleged violations of the workers’ constitutional rights under Harris v. Quinn.

SEIU’s statement also failed to offer its members even the tiniest assurance that their leaders aren’t actually breaking the law. While casually referring to the lawsuit as “junk,” it steered clear of addressing the substance of the complaint – leading most union members, who, despite what their leaders may believe, are smart enough to read between the lines, to suspect they probably are.

But the union’s statement still had to say something, so SEIU leaders stuffed it chock-full of lies, half-truths and personal attacks.

First, a half-truth. SEIU noted that two similar cases brought by the Freedom Foundation had been previously dismissed by the court. It failed to explain, however, what a dismissal means.

Take Berman v. Brown, for example, a Freedom Foundation-filed case that also involved SEIU’s refusal to allow homecare workers to opt out of paying union dues under Harris.

Rather than risk having its entire scheme be declared illegal, SEIU leaders allowed the plaintiffs to leave the union and promptly refunded them all of the dues money it had improperly confiscated from their pay.

Sounds like a win for the homecare workers – which is the whole point.

Next, an outright lie.

“… (T)he Freedom Foundation hasn’t put a dent in SEIU 503’s membership numbers…”

Actually, SEIU 503 has lost more than 40 percent of its dues-paying members among homecare and personal support workers since the Freedom Foundation launched its comprehensive campaign to educate those workers about Harris v. Quinn.

If SEIU were honest, it would acknowledge that this group of Harris-affected workers has been the primary focus of the Freedom Foundation’s outreach, and the union’s declining membership numbers among this select group show just how effective the opt-out campaign is.

Finally, personal attacks. In unfortunate but classic SEIU style, the union’s statement shamefully attacked the character of the lawsuit’s lead attorney for his involvement in an unrelated religious liberty case.

To summarize, the SEIU leaders clearly don’t have much respect for the intelligence of its members, or its leadership would explain what’s going on instead of hiding behind lies and scary rhetoric. The fact is, SEIU 503 is getting sued for allegedly violating its own members’ constitutional rights.

If you believe you’re justified in doing so, then say it. But SEIU members should be insulted by their union’s recent statement that so obviously tries to distract from the real issue.

SEIU’s outgoing executive director, Brian Rudiger, claims the lawsuit’s goal is to “manipulate a group of workers” to help the Freedom Foundation’s fundraising purposes.

His cynicism may lead him to believe that. But we can guarantee you, the 14 care providers suing him for refusing to stop taking their hard-earned money for the last four years don’t feel “manipulated” in the least.

They do, however, expect their constitutional rights to be honored.

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.