Meet Tom McCabe: The reckless, unethical, and failing leader of the Freedom Foundation
November 2, 2017
When conservative ideologue Tom McCabe took the reins at the Freedom Foundation as CEO in 2013, he made his goal crystal clear: to utterly dismantle the power of working people in Washington and Oregon.
McCabe and the Freedom Foundation believe that if they take organized labor out of the picture, they can work with their right-wing allies to elect regressive, Republican candidates and push an extreme conservative agenda in the Pacific Northwest. McCabe’s vision has been made clear in a number of YouTube videos, fundraising documents, and on the Freedom Foundation’s own website.
Over the last four years, McCabe has spent countless resources — including staff hours and donors’ money — in a blatant effort to harass workers and coerce them to opt out of their union. He’s directed Freedom Foundation staff to aggressively obtain the names, home addresses, and other personal information of working people in order to contact them via mailings, social media, phone calls, and through door-to-door canvasses. Union members all across Oregon and Washington have reported incidences of Freedom Foundation staff visiting their workplaces unannounced, and even coming right to the doorsteps of their homes to harass and intimidate them. We even received reports that the Freedom Foundation lies about who they are (claiming they are union organizers) and that they’ve claimed that the union provided them with members’ contact information. These are all lies.
Despite McCabe’s rhetoric and outright disregard for the law and the privacy of workers, his efforts have been a complete failure. Union members have embraced their unions. And they’ve come together in an effort to protect themselves and their coworkers from the Freedom Foundation’s lies and efforts to badger them at work and at their homes.
A long line of failures
The failure of the Freedom Foundation’s “opt-out” campaign is yet another in a long line of their failures. To this date, they have not passed any significant legislation in either Oregon or Washington. Their local attempts at passing “right to work” laws have all failed, and Oregon, Washington, and California are all dominated by Democrats passing some of the most progressive pro-worker policies in the country. This includes historic minimum wage increases and paid sick leave… issues the Freedom Foundation vehemently opposes.
McCabe’s bigoted and dangerous staff
McCabe has stopped at nothing to try and salvage his right-wing, regressive vision for the Freedom Foundation. This includes putting worker’s safety at risk by sending poorly vetted staff members to interact with union members and their families. The Freedom Foundations’ Washington Field Director Matthew Hayward — who oversees union member outreach — has a violent criminal record. Hayward has even joked about bringing a gun with him to the homes of workers.
McCabe has also surrounded himself with staff who have made disturbing and derogatory statements about women, communities of color, and the LGBTQ community. One former staff member wrote on a personal blog, “We all know there were good slave owners and bad slave owners just like there are good dog owners and bad dog owners.” One staff member even called for the deportation of all Muslims.
A waste of donor dollars
But even after all of these efforts and all their money spent, McCabe’s campaigns have been futile. In fact, union membership is at record levels along the West Coast in recent years. This is particularly true of AFSCME, SEIU, and the educators unions, the unions the Freedom Foundation has tried to attack. Additionally, a recent Gallup poll showed that support for unions is at a 14-year high.
In addition to wasting donor money on harassment campaigns, McCabe admitted that the Freedom Foundation has spent millions of their donors’ money on legal defense because of their scurrilous activities. This is no surprise, considering McCabe’s history of racking up legal bills and wasting donor funds. When he was head of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), McCabe got into hot water with members — predominantly builders and contractors — by spending millions on failed conservative candidates and causes, moving the organization to the extreme right and violating state campaign finance laws.
McCabe will fail again
Unfortunately, this time, McCabe’s unethical and nefarious tactics have jeopardized the privacy of workers and have subjected them to harassment. We have every confidence that McCabe will continue to fail and put the Freedom Foundation out of business.
Until then, we will continue to protect workers and will always be their advocate. And we will continue to shine a light on extremism by the Freedom Foundation and their right-wing ilk. No one deserves this kind of treatment from a bully like Tom McCabe.