WFSE’s Devereux agrees to debate Janus and it doesn’t end well

WFSE’s Devereux agrees to debate Janus and it doesn’t end well

WFSE’s Devereux agrees to debate Janus and it doesn’t end well

It’s obvious now why union leaders — all of them, seemingly — have declined numerous requests dating back several years to debate the issue of compulsory dues with a representative of the Freedom Foundation.

Because they knew they’d lose. Badly.

And they did, too, when WFSE Executive Director Greg Devereux finally wandered into the lions’ den on Wednesday night against Freedom Foundation Labor Policy Director Max Nelsen on “The Impact,” a TVW-produced news talk program.

Why Devereux exposed himself to the beatdown he ultimately endured isn’t clear, unless he honestly believed the 30-minute regurgitation of liberal-labor talking points to which he subjected viewers would stand up to the barrage of facts marshaled adroitly by Nelsen.

It’s also possible Devereux knew how futile his performance would be, but he still felt pressured to offer even a meager defense of his actions in light of David Rolf’s recent unceremonious departure as president of SEIU 775 following a long string of humiliating defeats at the hands of the Freedom Foundation.

But whatever his reasons, there sat the perpetually scowling Greg Devereux, trying in vain to persuade anyone who would listen that the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this past summer in Janus v AFSCME all public employees to decide for themselves whether to affiliate with a union was somehow anti-worker.

“I would characterize organizations like the Freedom Foundation as fringe, extremist groups,” he groused. “Workers seeking a refuge to better themselves in terms of wages, pensions and healthcare. We’re not out there tricking people into signing up.”

Nelsen responded by relating an encounter he’d had only a day earlier from a state worker represented by Devereux’s WFSE.

“(She was) begging for help, legal assistance, because she had been tricked into signing irrevocable union membership forms prior to the Janus decision,” he said. “She wondered about her rights and wanted to exercise them. She used one of the resignation forms generated by the Freedom Foundation and was basically told by her union, ‘Sorry, you basically signed away your Constitutional rights before the Supreme Court decision, you have to keep paying dues.’

“That’s the kind of situation people run into all around the state,” Nelsen said, “and other than the Freedom Foundation, they don’t have anywhere else to turn.”

Game, set and match.

Anyone else want a piece of us?

Vice President for News and Information
Jeff is a native of West Virginia and a graduate of West Virginia University with a degree in journalism. He served in the U.S. Army at Fort Lewis, Wash., as a broadcast journalist and has worked at a number of newspapers in West Virginia and Washington. Most recently, he spent 11 years as editor of the Port Orchard (Wash.) Independent, which earned the 2011 Washington Newspaper Publishers’ Association’s General Excellence Award as the top community newspaper in Washington. Previously, he was editor of the Business Examiner newspaper in Tacoma, Wash., for seven years. Jeff lives in Lacey; he and his wife have grown twin daughters.