The U.S. Supreme Court will issue its decision in Janus v. AFSCME sometime before the end of June, but the Freedom Foundation isn’t waiting around to start helping public employees understand their constitutional rights.
Government unions expect to lose in Janus and, if they do, public employees around the country will be free to choose for themselves whether to financially support a union.
One of the ways government unions are working to maintain their dues collection after Janusis by pressuring public employees to sign revised union membership forms. These forms limit the ability of signers to resign from the union to narrow annual window periods as short as 10 days.
To warn employees about unions’ tactics and inform them of their current ability to pay a reduced fee to the union instead of full dues, the Freedom Foundation this month began an email outreach campaign to more than 100,000 public school employees and state workers in Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska.
The response to date has been tremendous. Many employees are hearing about their rights for the first time and asking to pay the reduced agency fee instead of full union dues. Others are shocked to learn about their union’s attempt to deprive them of their constitutional rights.
So far, government unions have responded to our outreach with panic and hysteria. One (former) union member from California sent us the following message:
Dear Freedom Foundation,
Keep up the good work! I just wanted to share that I was pleasantly surprised to receive your e-mail. Following your e-mail, I received the one below from the local union, they are frightened!
I just wanted to send a note of encouragement and I wanted to say thanks for helping to spread the word.
An Agency Fee Payer
“Anti-union Attack Happening Now”
As of this morning, our union is being directly targeted by the anti-union, anti-public education “Freedom” Foundation. They are sending emails encouraging members to opt out of union dues. This is a direct attack designed to make our union weaker and make it easier to privatize our public schools.
The emails are being sent to SDEA member District emails from an address that appears as “Opt Out Today.” Opt Out Today is part of the “Freedom” Foundation. This foundation has been accurately characterized in recent media reports as “door-to-door union-killers.” They are corporate-funded lobbyists who support privatization of public schools. If you received this email, know that it is part of a campaign by a known anti-union group designed to weaken our union, and it is happening statewide and across the West Coast. These people are not our friends, and they are no friends of public education.
Opting out of the portion of union dues that supports political activity will simply make it easier for privatization groups like the “Freedom” Foundation to elect politicians who want to weaken our unions and pave the way for charter expansion. Their campaign is cynical, it is anti-worker, and it is anti-student.
Three Steps to Fighting Back
1. Mark the Opt Out Today email spam.
2. Forward this SDEA email to every SDEA member you know.
3. Make sure you have completed an SDEA union membership recommitment form. Nearly 4,000 SDEA members have already recommitted to our union by filling out our new form. If you haven’t yet, now is the time. These attacks are going to continue. Let’s stand union-strong and send a strong signal to these privatizers: NOT ON OUR WATCH.
To be sure, email outreach is just one component of our plan to reach public employees. Should the Supreme Court rule in workers’ favor, we’ll have our work cut out for us to educate public employees about their rights and to help them fight through the scams, tricks and legal hurdles government unions are already preparing. It won’t be easy but, with your support, we’re in this for the long haul.