Freedom Foundation

Teamsters 117 Throws A Temper Tantrum

In response to the Freedom Foundation informing state employees about their newly affirmed First Amendment right to end payments to Teamsters 117, the union has asked the state to punish the Department of Corrections.

As absurd it sounds, you read that correctly.

The Department of Corrections, like all government agencies, has developed communication systems for its employees, and — being paid by the taxpayers — Washingtonians are permitted to contact them using the phone, mail or email. Accordingly, the Freedom Foundation will occasionally send email messages to public employees with information about their right to opt out of union participation under last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME.

Last summer, for example, we sent a brief, informative note to all employees in the DOC advising them about their right to decide whether or not to fund the union enterprise. It was brief, factual and specifically about their workplace. See a copy here.

The union bosses went ballistic.

They first insisted the DOC block all email messages containing information they didn’t want their members seeing. The agency’s administrators correctly noted that recipients of the message could remove themselves from the Freedom Foundation mailing list, and that they had no legal right to stop these messages.

The DOC even went so far as to send an email to all employees warning them to only use work computers for work purposes and to opt out of receiving our messages if they were offended by the prospect of being advised of rights their own union seeks to suppress.

Teamsters 117 wasn’t satisfied. And small wonder.

The union confiscates $11.5 million dollars every year from 17,000 employees statewide, and letting those workers know they are back in control of their money puts the whole scheme at risk.

Consequently, the union’s attorneys filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the Department of Correction asserting that, “by failing to affirmatively block the Freedom Foundation’s e-mails, the employer interfered with protected employee rights.”

The complaint was rightly dismissed for “lack of facts demonstrating that the employer actually encouraged the Freedom Foundation to send such e-mails.”

Contrast with union’s power to communicate with employees

Unions have used their power to solidify their monopoly on communicating with their dues payers. Union-owned politicians pass laws giving unions access to employees. Elected officials on governing boards compromised by having their campaigns union-funded are affirming bargaining agreements with those unions. The unions commonly have a culture of intimidation tactics. As a result, union operators have extraordinary power to communicate with public employees for their own financial gain.

These include:

  • captive-audience meetings with every newly hired government employee at which the unions deliver a one-sided, high-pressure sales pitch whose attendees are routinely lied to;
  • while the unions fight ferociously to protect the privacy rights of their members from organizations that might offer a different perspective, they expect full access to every scrap of personal information about government employees — including their Social Security numbers — in order to push their agenda;
  • taxpayer-funded “release time” for union agents to sell their services and “educate” employees during working hours; and,
  • use of the agency’s internal mail system and workplace bulletin boards for their propaganda.

Since the Freedom Foundation email was sent, several hundred employees have let us know that they opted out of Teamsters, and many more stopped paying without letting us know.

Teamsters 117’s temper tantrum isn’t about fairness or even our message. It’s about their empire-building enterprise losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in union dues they had already written into their budget.

But the workers are now back in the drivers’ seat, and these and many others in Teamsters 117 workplaces are grateful for the information we provide:

“Thanks for the information.  I have been following this somewhat since I heard it was going to court.  I happen to agree with the outcome.”

“Thank you for the information you have provided so far. I was not aware”

“They have already stopped taking out dues what I want to know is how to recover the money that was taken out of my paycheck all those years. Thank You.”

“Thank you.  Already done!!!”