Vancouver School District, Teachers’ Union Conspire to Suppress Lawful Emails

Vancouver School District, Teachers’ Union Conspire to Suppress Lawful Emails

Vancouver School District, Teachers’ Union Conspire to Suppress Lawful Emails

Government employee unions go to great lengths to keep the Freedom Foundation from notifying the employees they forcibly represent of their rights.

The reason is obvious: When people know their constitutional rights, they frequently exercise them.

When public employees learn — often for the first time — from the Freedom Foundation that they have the right not to be a union member and to pay no dues or fees, union coffers shrink — as do the pocketbooks of the unions’ favored politicians.

Unions use the incredible political clout bought with their members’ own money to keep them in the dark and bully them into submission.

Case in point, the Vancouver (Wash.) Education Association (VEA).

The Freedom Foundation had been sending emails to teachers employed by Vancouver Public Schools (VPS) notifying them of their First Amendment right to decline union membership and dues deductions.

That is… until the union stepped in.

Once teachers began opting out through, VEA had to do something to stem the tide of those dropping their membership and keeping their hard-earned money in their own pockets.

In typical union style, VEA persuaded the school district to do its dirty work. Unfortunately for the union and VPS, the Freedom Foundation caught them red-handed.

After emails coming from the Freedom Foundation-operated email accounts stopped being delivered to teachers’ inboxes, the Freedom Foundation submitted several public records requests to VPS to find out why.

Emails between union officials and VPS administrators revealed, to no one’s surprise, the union had instructed the school district to block the Freedom Foundation’s emails from ever reaching teachers’ email inboxes.

Of course, VPS did so, no questions asked. The union’s emails to teachers, however, were delivered without issue — even emails that castigated the Freedom Foundation and promoted union politics.

The sole reason for blocking the Freedom Foundation’s emails was that they informed teachers of their constitutional rights and how to exercise them. Simply put, VPS blocked the Freedom Foundation’s emails because they were communicating a political message with which the union disagreed.

This is blatantly unconstitutional. The First Amendment prohibits government from censoring or suppressing speech based solely on the viewpoint of the speaker.

A Freedom Foundation attorney sent a letter to VPS alerting the district of its unconstitutional email-blocking policy and demanding it immediately cease and desist.

The Freedom Foundation was ready to defend its rights in court if necessary.

As bullies often do when confronted, VPS backed down, changed its policy, and informed the Freedom Foundation its emails would again be permitted to reach teachers’ inboxes.

VPS ultimately did the right thing … after getting caught doing the wrong thing.

Which begs the question, how many times across the country are government employers never held accountable for doing a union’s dirty bullying work? Government employers commonly cede to union demands because they either agree with the union (and possibly receive campaign donations from unions when the employer is an elected official, such as a governor) or because they’re being coerced by the union and don’t have the fortitude or resources to fight back.

It’s simply easier and cheaper to keep peace with the union.

Either way, no one is looking out for the workers themselves. Or the taxpayers who pick up the tab for it all.

Except the Freedom Foundation.

Government workers should not be afraid to call out their employers when they toe the union line to keep the peace. Public records requests are often a great way to do that, as they were used here to catch VPS and the teachers’ union with their hands in the cookie jar.

Senior Litigation Counsel
James serves as the Foundation’s Senior Litigation Counsel. Prior to joining the Freedom Foundation, James served several years as in-house counsel for a company in Ohio where he garnered experience in commercial litigation and corporate law. He earned his law degree from Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia where he graduated with honors and served as the International Editor on the Regent Journal of International Law. While in law school, James clerked at The Alabama Supreme Court and The Supreme Court of Virginia. Additionally, he served as an intern with the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the American Center for Law & Justice, and Americans United for Life. He also worked as a graduate assistant, served on the Honor Council, and was a Blackstone Fellow in the Alliance Defense Fund Blackstone Fellowship. James also earned a Master’s Degree in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California and a Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy and Comparative Religion from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. James is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio and cheers passionately for the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals. However, his family connections down South spawn loyalty to the only legitimate college football team in the State of Alabama—the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. James also enjoys involvement in church, exploring the United States, poker nights, movies, time with friends and family, and passionately advocating freedom-loving ideas wherever he goes.