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Freedom Foundation Serves Notice in California with Union Opt-Out Ads

The Freedom Foundation – which last year expanded into Oregon after spending a quarter century fighting for free markets and limited, accountable government in neighboring Washington – will take its first formal plunge into California this week by unveiling a series of TV ads targeting unionized caregivers.

Much like ads that have run successfully in Washington and Oregon, the California ads will deliver to home-based care providers a message their union doesn’t want them to hear: “You have a choice.”

Prior to 2014, home-based health providers being compensated for by Medi-Cal for providing care for a client or loved one were required to pay either dues or fees to a labor union.

But in Harris v. Quinn, the U.S. Supreme Court established that these state-paid home care aides and other “partial-public” employees could decide for themselves whether to associate with a union.

Faced with the prospect of massive defections – and the corresponding loss of billions in dependable revenue – the unions answered Harris by first ignoring the ruling, then fighting to keep the workers unaware of their newly affirmed legal rights.

And for those who heard about their rights and tried to exercise them, the unions dreamed up ways to make the opting-out process more trouble than it was worth.

The Freedom Foundation works in all three areas. Its lawyers have filed countless suits in the past two years aimed at making the unions live up to their legal responsibilities under Harris. Equally important, the organization has created a one-of-a-kind canvassing program that has hired dozens of workers to fan out all over the Pacific Northwest and visit thousands of home care providers with information their union is trying to keep from them.

The new California ads lay the groundwork for a similar push in this state by introducing viewers to providers in neighboring states who opted out with the Freedom Foundation’s help.

“As our name implies, we’re committed to freedom,” said Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe. “If someone wants to be a union member and support its political agenda with their hard-earned dollars, that’s their privilege. But we also believe people have the right to decide for themselves they want to keep every dollar Medicare has allocated for their effort and for the care of their loved ones.”

The ads will run on cable TV stations in the Orange County market starting on Sept. 12.

“This is our largest ad buy – really, our largest marketing effort of any kind – ever,” McCabe said. “We’re in California for good now, and we want to bring the same information to forcibly unionized workers in this state that we did to the thousands of caregivers who’ve opted out in the past two years in Washington and Oregon.

He concluded, “Our message to the workers and the unions that deceive them is that we’re here, we’re staying and we mean business.”

The Freedom Foundation is a member-supported, Northwest-based think and action tank promoting individual liberty, free enterprise and limited, accountable government.

Union Activists Disrupt Right-to-Work Forum in Washington

Last week we reported on new efforts underway in the northwest to implement right-to-work laws. In particular, we reported on a public sector right-to-work initiative proposed for the November 2014 Oregon state ballot, “Oregon ‘Public Employee Choice Act’ Aims for 2014 Ballot.” These efforts will trigger a union funded backlash that will intensify in direct proportion to the probability these reforms may have to be successful. What happened on Sept. 4th in Vancouver, Washington is a sobering, and mild, reminder to reformers of what they are in for. Click on the links, especially the video.

From the Macinack Center website: Two people were arrested Thursday night as part of an anti-worker freedom protest at a policy forum in Vancouver, Wash., jointly sponsored by the Freedom Foundation and the Cascade Policy Institute. The Mackinac Center’s F. Vincent Vernuccio, labor policy director, was the keynote speaker at the event. You can read more about it here. Photos and video can be found here and here.

If you view the video you will see one of the presenters, Vincent Vernuccio from the Mackinac Center, attempt to reason with the protesters. The protesters accuse Vernuccio’s organization of being funded by “big business,” and therefore they must be opposed to the interests of workers, and attempting to crush unions. The protesters claim that Vernuccio doesn’t want to reveal the names of the donors to his organization.

Vernuccio correctly asserts that the donations his organization receives are voluntary, whereas union dues are compulsory. But there is another point worth making, although it may have been wasted in the heat of that debate.

Big business is not necessarily opposed to unions at all. But unions can only thrive in monopolistic environments. Union actions at northwestern ports, as well as at ports in southern California, offer recent and visceral proof of the power of unions who can control the flow of goods. And the ultimate monopoly is the public sector, where unions can elect their own bosses, and have no requirement for their organizations to earn a profit. In the private sector, even in quasi-monopolies, at least the management is not elected by the unions, and at least there are potential competitive threats that compel unions to exercise some restraint in their demands.

The protesters at the meeting on Sept. 4th might ponder this concept:  There is a natural unity of interests between unions, crony capitalists, too-big-to-fail banks, pension funds, bond underwriters, and their friends in government. Opposing these powerful interest groups are productive capitalists who wish to offer competitive products in a free market, offering customers innovative solutions that are better, faster and cheaper. The first group colludes to control markets and raise the cost-of-living for everyone, in exchange for their own enrichment. The second competes in an open market to lower the cost-of-living for everyone, earning a profit in the process. This is an economic choice that doesn’t easily lend itself to simplistic paradigms of left vs. right, or worker vs. owner.

Ed Ring is the executive director of the California Public Policy Center and the editor of UnionWatch.