Freedom Foundation Catches The State And SEIU Red-Handed Violating Individual Providers’ First Amendment Rights

Freedom Foundation Catches The State And SEIU Red-Handed Violating Individual Providers’ First Amendment Rights

Freedom Foundation Catches The State And SEIU Red-Handed Violating Individual Providers’ First Amendment Rights

The Freedom Foundation scored another victory this week in its quest to protect the First Amendment rights of the state’s individual homecare providers.

Individual providers, who receive Medicaid funding to provide care to the elderly and disabled, had been forced under the collective bargaining agreement between Washington state and SEIU to listen to SEIU representatives who regurgitate the union’s views on matters of public concern, solicit membership and request donations to political committees.

The CBA provides SEIU representatives sole and exclusive access to providers when they undergo required contracting appointments, basic training and continuing education classes.  Providers were forced to sit through such propaganda sessions — until the Freedom Foundation sued, arguing that the meetings violated providers’ First Amendment right against compelled speech.

On April 4, in direct response to the Freedom Foundation’s lawsuit, the state and SEIU agreed to a settlement under which providers’ meetings with union representatives would no longer be mandatory. Instead, both parties agreed that “individual providers will not be required to meet with union representatives and will suffer no discrimination or retaliation as a result of their choice to meet or not to meet.”

Moreover, union representatives will be prohibited from “urging support or opposition to any political candidate or ballot measure.” For the first time in the history of collective bargaining between SEIU and the state of Washington, providers are now explicitly provided the choice to listen to pro-union speech. Or not.

Simply put, the Freedom Foundation caught the state and SEIU red-handed violating providers’ First Amendment rights. And they knew it.

Not only is this a victory for providers’ First Amendment rights, it is also an acknowledgment from the state and SEIU that they knew they were violating the law. The government simply cannot force people to receive political speech, in a coercive atmosphere, in a manner calculated to directly benefit SEIU.

The state’s wholesale revision of the mandatory meetings provisions serves as a concession of its wrongdoing. The Freedom Foundation will continue to fight to ensure that providers’ rights are protected to the fullest extent.

Litigation Counsel
Stephanie Olson serves as the Foundation’s Litigation Counsel. Stephanie graduated from the University of Washington School of Law with Honors, where she served as the Symposium Editor for the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy and the Articles Editor for the Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts. She also externed at the Western District of Washington United States District Court, competed on UW’s national American Association of Justice Mock Trial Team, and served as President for the Federalist Society UW Student Chapter. Stephanie gained litigation experience while working at UW’s Innocence Project Clinic, the Washington State Attorney General’s Criminal Litigation Unit, and the Washington Appellate Project. She also became a Blackstone Fellow through the Alliance Defending Freedom Blackstone Fellowship. Additionally, Stephanie is a published author in the Ephemeris Journal of Philosophy, the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section blog, and the University of Washington’s Law, Technology & Arts Blog. Prior to law school, Stephanie worked as a paralegal at large firms in downtown Seattle and volunteered as a local and national leader for anti-human trafficking campaigns. Through her experiences working in Washington’s public, private and non-profit legal sectors, Stephanie is uniquely qualified for fighting for freedom in the Pacific Northwest. When not litigating, Stephanie loves connecting with her hometown roots. She grew up in Woodinville, Washington and enjoys cheering for the Seahawks, Sounders and Dawgs, volunteering with youth soccer teams, catching concerts at the Gorge, and grabbing friends to hike one of the many numerous and scenic hiking trails scattered throughout the state. Stephanie obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Wheaton College, where she first became passionate about fighting for freedom in the context of international human rights. The time also further deepened her love for the mountainous northwest region, where she now resides.