Don’t be fooled by the Freedom Foundation
An extreme anti-worker organization deceptively titled the Freedom Foundation (who often go by OptOutToday) is actively trying to weaken our union. You or your coworkers may have been contacted by them directly.
Why does an organization based in Washington State care if Northern California workers are members of our union? Because the billionaire-funded “Freedom” Foundation and others are pursuing a plan to privatize public services, gut retirement security, and drive down wages for us all. They are attacking our union because we stand for the opposite—raising wages, protecting standards, and defending public services.
The Freedom Foundation has planned for years to weaken our unions and dismantle public services. Now, they’re talking to our bosses and trying to mine our personal information so they can trick our members into leaving our union and weakening our power. Check out the information below to learn more about this shady organization and be sure to talk to your coworkers and about the importance of staying united in our union.
Who is the Freedom Foundation?
The so-called “Freedom” Foundation is a deep-pocketed anti-worker organization who wants to weaken our union because we stand in the way of their extreme agenda. They are part of the State Policy Network, a shadowy web of dark-money front groups for billionaires, wealthy corporations, and organizations like ALEC and Donors Trust.
The Freedom Foundation wages campaigns to trick public sector workers into leaving their union, which weakens our strength at work to fight for the wages, benefits, and standards we depend on. They claim to be on the side of working people, but they are really on the side of private corporations and big business. Their goal is to privatize public services, drive down standards for workers like us, and eliminate our jobs so the millionaires and billionaires can hoard even more of their wealth.
The Freedom Foundation will shamefully use any opportunity to target our members—they’ll send emails, mail things to your home, and maybe even show up at your workplace around the holidays. They know many of our workplaces may soon face the economic impact of a recession, and see an opportunity to weaken our strength so that our employers can push through deep and harmful cuts to services. They are using the uncertainty of this moment to prey on working people who are scared for our lives and safety—all in the interest of wealthy corporations and billionaires.
What does the Freedom Foundation want?
Organizations like the Freedom Foundation believe that by weakening our union, they can dismantle the public sector, privatize our services for profit, and make it easier to elect anti-worker candidates who will weaken protections and benefits for workers everywhere.
Here are examples of the Freedom Foundation’s extreme agenda in action. Would they help you or your family? Do they represent your values?
- The Freedom Foundation co-wrote a report with the anti-worker American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) on public budget reform that contained a section titled ”Embrace the Expanded Use of Privatization and Competitive Contracting” and included a “hit list” of public sector jobs like ours they’d like to see privatized so corporations could make money off of them. They made their justification for these extreme positions clear when they wrote about “protecting” taxpayers from “public employees’ handsome salaries and lavish benefits.” In recent years, their coalition lobbied to slash public employee retirement in Oregon by 40%.
- The Freedom Foundation has also promoted state policies that would “…cut public sector pensions, lower government worker wages, eliminate income taxes, oppose Medicaid expansion, and combat regional efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change,”
- The Freedom Foundation has vocally opposed mandatory paid sick leave policies, which play an integral role in keeping us all safe, especially in a pandemic.
- The Freedom Foundation has fought against measures that would raise the minimum wage for workers, which raises the floor for all of us,
- The Freedom Foundation employs people who proudly and openly attack women, LGBTQ people, and immigrants. They also share at least one funding source with neo-nazi Richard Spencer’s organization.
Fact Checking the Freedom Foundation
The Freedom Foundation works from a playbook of tactics that change slightly but are all rooted in the same false arguments designed to trick union members into weakening our strength. Here are some of the common lies they tell:
- Myth: If you drop your union membership, you still get to enjoy everything in your contract. You will not lose your pension, health insurance, pay increases, etc. if you leave our union.
- Reality: Our contract is fought for by our union, not given to us by management. The strength of our union is the only thing protecting the standards we’ve achieved over the years, and allowing us to fight for better wages and benefits. Remember, without our union, management would be free to privatize our services and slash our pay and benefits.
- Myth: There’s an economic downturn coming. You should stop paying dues and save that money for an emergency.
- Reality: Anyone who has worked in the public sector during a recession can tell you that the first place employers look to save money during an economic downturn is by gutting services provided by workers like us. All across Northern California, employers will fight for layoffs, furloughs, pay freezes, reductions in retirement contributions, and worse to balance their budgets. Our union is the only thing standing in their way—do you want our union to respond from a position of strength and unity, or one of weakness because people dropped their membership?
- Myth: Your union membership is like a gym membership—you can cancel it and come back anytime with nothing to worry about.
- Reality: This might be the most ridiculous argument of them all. Do you get more healthy when you cancel your gym membership? Of course not, the opposite happens. This is exponentially more true with your union membership—do you think our bosses will give us more money, or better benefits, or increased retirement security if we ask them politely as individuals rather than collectively as a strong union?
How do I talk to my coworkers about the Freedom Foundation?
We absolutely MUST talk to our colleagues about these anti-worker organizations and their agenda. The Freedom Foundation is sending flyer, emails, and in some places showing up at our worksites—if we’re not talking to our coworkers, then all they will hear are the Freedom Foundations tricks and lies.
Why SEIU 1021 members are sticking with our union.
SEIU 1021 members are strongest when we stand together. By working together as a union, we’ve fought and won contracts that help us stay safe at work, ensure we are treated fairly, and help us provide for ourselves and our loved ones.
The Freedom Foundation wants to divide working people, weaken our unions, and dismantle the important services we provide, all in the name of profit for the billionaires and wealthy corporations that fund them. But our union stands for the opposite—we fight for dignity and respect at work, to raise wages and benefits for working people everywhere, and to build healthy communities where everyone has a chance to thrive, no matter who they are or where they come from.
But we may soon be facing difficult times due to the economic impact of a recession; allowing the Freedom Foundation to weaken our unity is dangerous for us and our communities.