Recently, a number of Washington newspapers have published anti-teacher editorials by the Freedom Foundation’s Jami Lund. The glaring omission in all of Lund’s editorials is context: There is no mention that the Freedom Foundation is a far-right political group focused on defunding unions so they can elect conservative candidates.
As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported in its exposé on the Bradley Foundation, the Freedom Foundation is funded by out-of-state billionaires who are trying to enact a far-right agenda, including privatizing our education system and gutting the pension system. These people have exactly zero credibility when it comes to educators and our public schools.
Just look at what has happened in states like Wisconsin, where organizations like the Freedom Foundation have had a head start: the Bradley Foundation takes credit for creating the infrastructure that led to the first private school voucher program in the United States. That infrastructure helped elect Governor Scott Walker, who implemented policies that eliminated educators’ collective voice and enacted the largest cut in education funding in state history. The Freedom Foundation has promised to do much the same here in Washington and Oregon.
But we don’t even need to look at states like Wisconsin and Michigan, where the Freedom Foundation’s compatriots have muzzled the voices of teachers, front-line public safety personnel and other workers. We can simply look at the Freedom Foundation’s work priorities here in the Pacific Northwest. The Freedom Foundation recently spent hundreds of thousands of dollars working with a phony front group called the Pacific Northwest Childcare Workers Association to try and trick home health care workers into decertifying their own union, even reportedly stooping to impersonating union personnel. They spent a similar amount of money to try to stop SEIU 503 in Oregon from enacting an administrative change that protects workers by keeping their personal information private.
This same far-right political group is fighting tooth-and-nail against polices that will benefit people across the state, especially women. They recently fought to defeat bills in the Washington legislature that would allow state employees to donate their leave to coworkers who become “sick or temporarily disabled because of pregnancy and/or childbirth” or who can’t afford to stay at home to “bond with their newborn, adoptive, or foster child.” That’s right, the Freedom Foundation doesn’t think that public employees should have the freedom to donate their leave to their new mother coworkers, who are often forced back to work early because they can’t afford to be unpaid.
The Freedom Foundation isn’t just fighting to prevent teachers, police officers and other workers from joining together to ensure they have a voice in their workplace. They’re also fighting against policies that will benefit all workers. They have opposed raising the minimum wage and requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. They’ve even invited Andy Puzder, Donald Trump’s first choice for Labor Secretary — a man accused of illegally withholding his workers’ pay and forcing them to work off-the-clock — to speak to their upcoming annual fundraisers.
When it comes to teachers and education policy, Jami Lund and the far-right political group the Freedom Foundation simply have no credibility. Instead, we should be listening to the collective voice of educators across this state who disagree with everything the Freedom Foundation supports.
The Freedom Foundation Spent a Lot of Money to Try to Trick Childcare Workers Out of Their Union… and FailedMay 3, 2017
As we reported last month, the Freedom Foundation, under the guise of the Pacific Northwest Childcare Association, has been spending heavily to undermine childcare providers by harassing them at their homes and hoping they will ditch their union. The problem for the Freedom Foundation is, they aren’t.
The Freedom Foundation is driven by a deep disrespect for worker organizations, and they have shown they’ll try anything. They’ve thrown it all at the wall – a statewide canvass, glossy mailers, social media, and significant staff time, which could have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars of their donors’ money. There have even been reports that they try to pretend they are representatives of the union.
And what do they have to show for it?
Nothing. Zilch, zero, nada.
Last week, the Freedom Foundation/PNWCCA turned in just 1/3 of the signatures needed to achieve their goal. All of that money, and nothing to show for it.
The anti-worker organization, which is funded by out-of-state billionaires to keep wages low and advocate against important social and worker protections, failed because Washington workers do not share their extremist views. And what are those views?
- Opposed raising the minimum wage and extending paid sick leave
- Argued against increasing education funding
- Partnering with organizations to cut workers retirement
- Endorsed Trump’s failed Labor Secretary nominee Andy Puzder
The Freedom Foundation talks a big game, but their results – or lack thereof – tell a different story. Once again, workers rejected the lies of this extreme right-wing political group funded by out-of-state billionaires.
In the fall of 2015, the anti-worker Freedom Foundation moved across the river from Washington to Oregon and announced that they would be “…doing what [they do] best – making life miserable for government employee unions.” Unfortunately for them and their funders, they have failed miserably. The Freedom Foundation’s main Oregon target, SEIU 503, which represents home healthcare workers and other public employees, has higher membership than ever. SEIU 503 has been moving a pro-worker agenda that includes minimum wage increases and paid sick leave for all — both issues the Freedom Foundation opposes.
Just recently, the Oregon chapter of the Freedom Foundation suffered another defeat as they tried to prevent SEIU 503 members from protecting members’ personal information including names, birthdates, and home addresses. In a completely lopsided vote, union members voted with 91 percent of ballots cast to change the union’s corporate non-profit status.
The Oregon staffers at the Freedom Foundation, including controversial leader Anne Marie Gurney, worked tirelessly and spent big money trying to oppose this vote. They dedicated significant staff time, they appeared on conservative talk radio, sent out mailings, and wrote op-eds that were so factually inaccurate the editorial board had to “update” the information. We even heard radio ads. It is hard to know how much the Freedom Foundation spent because they are so secretive about their donors and spending, but given the costs of the activities they engaged in it, could have been in excess of $100,000.
This is not the first time the Oregon chapter has failed. In addition to SEIU 503’s membership and activism being at an all-time high, last fall most of the Freedom Foundation’s upper-level staff drove from Washington to Salem, Oregon to hold a press conference that no one covered. Additionally, in their attempt to build credibility with policy folks in Oregon, the Freedom Foundation embarrassed themselves by failing to even get the dates right on ballot measure deadlines.
The Freedom Foundation’s new MO is to lie about their success, convince donors to give them money based on these lies, and then fall flat on their faces.
Of Course Dennis Richardson is Allied with the Freedom Foundation; He’s as Extreme as They ComeApril 4, 2017
Dennis Richardson claims on his website that, as Oregon Secretary of State, he won’t “use this position for partisan agendas or personal gain.” However, one has to question the validity of this statement. Richardson is as extreme and partisan as they come. In previous public statements, he was front and center at the Freedom Foundation’s fundraiser at the Oregon Zoo last summer and he’s been a guest on the Freedom Foundation podcast with Anne Marie Gurney. Gurney, if you remember once wrote on a personal blog that “We all know there were good and bad slave owners just like there are good and bad dog owners.” But Richardson doesn’t need Anne Marie Gurney to validate how extreme he is.
In 2011, Richardson promoted the anti-worker policies of Scott Walker in Wisconsin suggesting that Walker’s policies should be enacted in Oregon. He opposes raising the minimum wage as well as mandatory paid sick leave for workers. Using the absurd language, typical of the Freedom Foundation and the extreme right, he claimed that, if enacted, employers could face “imprisonment” for failing to provide paid sick leave to their employees.
As a legislator, Richardson looked for ways to make it harder for working Oregonians to vote:
“Two measures Richardson supported, House Bill 2583 in 2005 and House Bill 3432 in 2009, would have required eligible voters to provide proof of U.S. citizenship before they could register to vote. While voters currently must attest to their eligibility, the bills would have required them to prove it using a passport, naturalization document or birth certificate.
“In 2007, Richardson tried to force a vote on House Bill 3554, an immigration bill that included provisions that would have required residents to prove citizenship to register to vote.”
He also supported SB 1080 in 2008, which required proof of citizenship for driver license applicants.
But his extremism doesn’t stop at limiting voting rights and harmful anti-immigrant policy. In 2007, Richardson “railed against” the bill in Oregon which granted same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex married couples stating, ‘“this essentially creates special rights for gay and lesbian couples, but discriminates against other couples,” such as two sisters, or a mother and daughter.’
That same day in 2007, Richardson “argued passionately against a bill to prohibit businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation,” comparing sexual orientation “to smoking and drinking, saying all are based on someone’s behavior.” He even related those bills to the mass shooting at Virginia Tech in which 32 people were killed and 17 wounded. “He combined the two events in his newsletter under the headline ‘A tragic week in review.’”
And if that’s not enough, Richardson recently met with Trump administration Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, with whom he shares support for diverting public funding to private schools.“ Richardson “described DeVos as an ‘activist’ and supporter of ‘parental choice in education.’” Meanwhile, thousands of educators, students and parents are protesting Devos’ appointment.
So don’t believe Dennis Richardson when he says he won’t use the Secretary of State’s office for partisan gain. Look at his past positions and statements, look at what he’s prioritized during the first few months in office and look at his friends at the Freedom Foundation. It’s perfectly clear that Richardson is out to enact the agenda of the far right and the Freedom Foundation.
The anti-worker Freedom Foundation is working alongside, and apparently backing, a secretive group calling themselves the Pacific Northwest Child Care Association (PNWCCA). This deceitful alliance is no secret. The Freedom Foundation staff are regularly engaging with PNWCCA on social media and on a recent Podcast, Oregon Director Anne Marie Gurney hosted one of the leaders of the PNWCCA. The Freedom Foundation has bragged about their work with PNWCCA multiple times in newsletters to funders:
They are attempting to mislead child care workers and SEIU 925 union members in an effort to undermine their strength and to get members to drop their union and join up with the PNWCCA.
The Freedom Foundation is funded by out-of-state billionaires who aim to keep wages low and take away the voice of workers in the workplace. It should not shock anyone that home care workers are skeptical of the intentions of the PNWCCA because of their relationship with the Freedom Foundation.
The public should not be shocked at how low the Freedom Foundation will stoop to undermine working families. This is just another example of their effort to reduce the political power of working families. Remember, the Freedom Foundation pretends to be concerned with improving the lives of child care workers, but Freedom Foundation leaders have opposed raising the minimum wage increases, paid sick leave for workers and have even argued against increasing education funding. The Freedom Foundation endorsed Trump’s failed nomination of Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary. Puzder himself has been a vocal opponent of raising the minimum wage and expanding the number of employees who qualify for time-and-a-half overtime.
The PNWCCA is not fooling anyone because we all know it’s the Freedom Foundation and their billionaire funders that are backing them up.