MASS LABOR PROTEST TARGETS ANTI-UNION FREEDOM FOUNDATION

 

carpentersHundreds of chanting picketers, many of them wearing union work clothes or t-shirts, demonstrated in front of the Bellevue Hilton Hotel on September 28, in Bellevue, Washington, to protest the Freedom Foundation’s annual fundraising banquet.

While picketers marched and listened to speakers, two huge inflatable balloons rocked in the wind — a pig handing out cash and a rat, belly oozing with garbage –to symbolize the Freedom Foundation’s wealthy donors.

The lively protest focused on three themes: “Stop the War on Workers,” “No to the Foundation’s racist, sexist, anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ & union-busting agenda,” and “Stand up for striking educators, immigrants, public services and the environment.” The picket, sponsored by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), was endorsed by almost 50 labor and community organizations, including the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Jared Houston, a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 who emceed the protest, told the crowd, “OWLS believes in the fighting power of the entire labor movement. Our strength lies in our unity and our united action and our solidarity.”

LivingwageOne of the popular picket line chants was aimed at the Freedom Foundation’s featured banquet speaker: “Your pardon is not forgotten. Dinesh D’Souza you are rotten.”  The Foundation called their choice for their keynote speaker “a perfect fit,” and protesters agreed he matched the think tank’s ultra-right wing agenda. Dinesh Joseph D’Souza has earned the reputation of a far-right provocateur, known for his racist tweets, books, and movies. Newsweek recently carried an article documenting his use of racist and anti-Semitic hashtags.

Picket speakers also put a spotlight on the Foundation’s funding sources. Cherika Carter of the Washington State Labor Council said, “the corporate lobbyists and the wealthy 1% in the dinner over there (in the Bellevue Hilton) are determined to rig the system and try to take away our freedom, but working people like us are fighting back… We know their anti-union campaign …will not work.  It is not working here. In Washington State we have the 3rd highest union density in the country.”

Carpenters unionist Pedro Espinoza electrified the protest addressing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus vs. AFSCME. “It sent a message to all unions that we‘ve got to stay strong….These people [The Freedom Foundation] want us to think we have no power.… They tell us we don’t deserve to make [good] wages. They sit in those hotels built by who?  Union people!  We are the people that provide those places for them to congregate.”

Another speaker, Denise Krownbell, a union leader and co-chair of Seattle Silence Trades5Breakers, described the labor movement’s historic support for women and people of color in fighting harassment and discrimination on the job. Her group is currently fighting such treatment of employees at the City of Seattle. “I understand the Freedom Foundation has a board member who has been accused of harassment. They not only hide harassers… but they also hide racists and fascists.”

Monserrat Padilla, a coordinator at the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, tied together the think tank’s anti-community, anti-immigrant rights and anti-labor agenda. Recalling her experience coming from an immigrant family, confronting exploitation and sweatshops, she said “we must stand together and take on the Freedom Foundation, the current administration, and anyone who comes after immigrants and their families.”

The Freedom Foundation has attracted the anger of many unionists who received unsolicited Foundation emails urging them to “opt out” of their unions.

1488Steve Hoffman who was a candidate for US Senate is a leader in the Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304. His union is directly under attack from the Freedom Foundation. “They stole our private information from our employers and now we’re being bombarded by emails.”   The Foundation “pedals an unbridled capitalism that wants to privatize all public services and break every one of our unions.” He was glad to see the diversity of unions and supporters that came out for the day’s picket.

In his parting remarks Houston reminded the picketers this “is not the end. This is a continuation of the struggle of the labor movement.  We are still fighting after all these years.  They thought we would stop but we won’t stop fighting….”

Unions and supporters who endorsed the event included:FFPicket9282018
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 1488;  American Federation  of Teachers, Washington;  Amalgamated Transit Union 587;  American Federation of Government Employees 3197;  Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Seattle Chapter; Barraza Law PLLC;  Bill Fletcher Jr. trade unionist/educator;  Casa Latina;  Carpenters Union 30; Carpenters Union 816;  Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter;  David Rader, Treasurer, Retired Public Employees Council, Chapter 3;  Dyke Community Activists; El Comité; Freedom Socialist Party;  Highline Education Association;   Machinists Local 751; IAM 751 President John Holden; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Locals 77 & 843;  International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union 23;  Iron Workers 86; Jeff Johnson, President WSLC; Juan Bocanegra, member El Comité; Kent Fire Fighters, (IAFF) 1747; Northwest Accountability Project;  Office and Professional  Employees International Union 8;  Martin Luther King County Labor Council; Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Martin Luther King County Labor Council;  Olympia Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America; PNW Regional Council of Carpenters;  Professional and Technical Employees 17; Radical Women;  Residential Carpenters 816; Rosie’s Machinists 751; Seattle Branch of the International Socialist Organization;  Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council; Seattle Fire Fighters (IAFF) 27; Seattle Gay News;  Seattle Silence Breakers; Seattle Solidarity Network;  Tacoma Firefighters Union (IAFF) Local 31; Teamsters Union, Locals 117 & 763;  John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters 117; Transit Riders Union; United Food & Commercial Workers 21;  Washington Federation of State Employees, Locals 1488 & 304;  Washington Exterior/Interior Systems 41; Washington Public Employee Association; Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO;  Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders.

 

Anti-Freedom Foundation PIcket – Highlights

The list of endorsing unions, community and labor organizations, of the Picket against the Freedom Foundation is long and impressive. Thank you to all the groups and individuals who endorsed, donated, helped out, and made it a huge success.

American Federation of Teachers Washington

Amalgamated Transit Union 587

American Federation of Government Employees 3197

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees 1488

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Seattle Chapter

Barraza Law, PLLC

Bill Fletcher Jr., trade unionist and educator

Carpenters Union 816

Casa Latina

Central Puget Sound Carpenters 30

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter

David Rader, Treasurer Retired Public Employees Council Chapter 3

Dyke Community Activists

El Comité

Freedom Socialist Party

Highline Education Association

International Association of Machinists, District 751

IAM President Jon Holden

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Locals 483 & 77

International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union 23

Iron Workers Local 86

Jeff Johnson, President WSLC

John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters 117

Juan Bocanegra, member of El Comité

Fire Fighters, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Locals 1747-Kent; 27- Seattle; 31-Tacoma

Jon Holden, IAM District 751 President

Martin Luther King County Labor Council

Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Martin Luther King County Labor Council

Northwest Accountability Project

Office and Professional Employees International Union 8

Olympia Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America

Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters

Radical Women

Rosie’s Machinists 751

Seattle Branch of the International Socialist Organization

Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council

Seattle Gay News

Seattle Silence Breakers

Seattle Solidarity Network

Teamsters Union Locals 117 and 763

Transit Riders Union

United Food and Commercial Workers 21

Washington Federation of State Employees 304

Washington Exterior Interior Systems Union 41

Washington Pubic Employee Association

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders

Sept. 28: Protest the Ultra-right Freedom Foundation

BELLEVUE – On Friday, September 28, a mass picket will be held against the Freedom Foundation’s annual fundraiser banquet at the Bellevue Hilton Hotel, 300 112th Ave. S.E. The protest is being called from 4:30 to 6:30pm by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS). Close to 50 labor and community organizations have endorsed the picket, including the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Martin Luther King County Labor Council; and Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter. (Additional Endorsers are listed below).22141114_10212453833533853_7790552945160429872_n

Organizers expect the picket to draw hundreds of people based on the strong responses from many unions that have endorsed and plan to show up in force. A year ago, more than 500 labor and community protesters turned out to take a stand against the Freedom Foundation’s political agenda. The prediction is that the protest will be even bigger this year.

The Freedom Foundation is featuring controversial keynote speaker Dinesh D’Souza, who was recently reported in Newsweek as tweeting racist and anti-Semitic hashtags. The Freedom Foundation has also attracted the anger of many unionists, who have received unsolicited Foundation emails urging them to “opt out” of their unions.

Protesters at the 2018 Picket of the Foundation are spotlighting three themes: “Stop the War on Workers,” “No to the Foundation’s racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ & union-busting agenda,” and “Stand up for striking educators, immigrants, public services & the environment.”

Picket Endorsers include:
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Martin Luther King County Labor Council
Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council
PNW Regional Council of Carpenters
American Federation of Teachers, Washington
Amalgamated Transit Union 587
American Federations of Government Employees 3197
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Seattle
Barraza Law, PLLC
Bill Fletcher Jr. trade unionist/educator
Casa Latina
Central Puget Sound Carpenters 30
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound
David Rader, Treasurer, Retired Public Employees Council, Chapter 3
El Comite
Freedom Socialist Party
Fire Fighters (IAFF) Locals 27-Seatte; 1747-Kent; 31-Tacoma
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 483 – Tacoma
International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union 23
International Socialist Organization
Iron Workers 86
Machinists District Lodge 751
NW Accountability Project
Office and Professional Employees International Union 8
Olympia Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America
Radical Women
Residential Carpenters 816
Rosie’s Machinists 751
Seattle Gay News
Seattle Silence Breakers
Seattle Solidarity Network
Teamsters Union, Locals 117 & 763
United Food and Commercial Workers 21
Wash. Federation of State Employees, Locals 1488 and 304
Wash. Interior/Exterior Systems 41
Washington Public Employee Association
Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders
John Holden, President Machinists 751
Jeff Johnson, President, WSLC-AFL-CIOJohn Holden, President Machinists 751
Juan Bocanegra, El Comite member
Nicole Grant, Exec-Secretary, Martin Luther King County Labor Council

LABOR GROUP PICKETED AGAINST “WORKER RIGHTS ALLIANCE”

On Friday, March 23, Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) held a labor-community informational picket to put a spotlight on the “Worker Rights Alliance” (WRA). The picket was from 11am-1pm, at 3rd Avenue and Seneca Street in downtown Seattle.

The picket was in response to the WRA’s sponsorship of two full-page ads, published in February in The Seattle Times, attacking Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The ads accused SEIU of spending $2.4 million on Governor Inslee’s election. Where their numbers come from is a mystery as the state Public Disclosure Commission reported far smaller figures. “This phony alliance is part of a nationwide anti-labor campaign pushing so-called “Right to Work,” laws that are designed to smash the rights of all workers,” said OWLS activist Patrick Burns.  “Dishonesty is one of their tools, and groups like the WRA need to be outed to the public and unsuspecting workers,” said Kirk Duncan, of the OWLS Steering Committee.

 

The WRA “Articles of Incorporation” state they shall have no members. One of their directors is also a leader of the anti-labor Washington Policy Center. The WRA website says a goal of the group is to “protect workers from negative union influence.” The picket was in front of the Alliance’s offices, listed in the Seattle Times as 1201 3rd Avenue, Seattle, Suite 2200. This is also the address of Davis Wright Tremaine, described in its own website as a “full-service firm with more than 550 lawyers.”

 

Picket the Rightwing “Worker Rights Alliance” – Make Your Voice Heard!

 

In February 2018, the “WRA” bankrolled two full-page ads attacking SEIU in The Seattle Times. This is part of a nationwide anti-labor agenda pushing so-called “Right to Work,” designed to kill Unions, and smash the rights of all workers.

These reactionary shadow groups, allies of the Freedom Foundation, need to be confronted. Join the picket in front of their offices, 1201 3rd Ave., Suite 2200 (also offices of Davis Wright Tremaine)

The Picket is Friday, March 23rd, 11am-1pm, 3rd Avenue and Seneca Street, Seattle
fight-union-busters
(From the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel get off at University Street Station)

The Hidden History of Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Right

whitehousemoneyOWLS EDUCATIONAL – TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 7PM
Who bankrolls the Freedom Foundation agenda? How do the Koch Brothers wield influence? Are they connected to the racist John Birch Society? These are just a few of the questions tackled in an OWLS educational about the rise of the ultra-right, including “think tanks,” and “Foundations.”
SEIU member Guerry Hoddersen draws from the research in Dark Money, by Jane Mayer, and her own experience as an anti-Nazi organizer and author of One Hemisphere Indivisible, which analyzes the rise of neoliberalism in the Americas. Join the discussion, learn about who is behind groups such as the Freedom Foundation, and arm yourself with facts.
Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Ave., Hall #6

Public Workers Score Victory for Privacy Rights

OWLS MEETING – TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 7PM

More than a year ago, OWLS packed the court to support public employees privacy rights against the ultra-right Freedom Foundation. In a recent Washington Court of Appeals decision, the bad lower court decision was overturned in favor of a ruling that upholds privacy rights and protects the birth dates and names of public workers. OWLS celebrates this victory and reports on another legal battle just getting off the ground, where the (Anti) Freedom Foundation is attacking Seattle’s right to tax its wealthiest residents as a means to address Washington State’s regressive tax structure, raise money for human services, and provide working class taxpayers some relief.
Also, hear about organizing in the apple orchards of Central Washington, where “guest workers” on H-2A visas waged a successful six-day strike to demand better treatment.

Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Ave., Hall #6

Defend Seattle’s high-income earners tax against the ultra-right Freedom Foundation

Image

Fill the Courtroom! Friday, November 17 Meet up with OWLS in front of the Court House 9-9:30 am. Hearing at 10am.

The misnamed “Freedom Foundation” is infamous for pushing racist “Right to Work” (Starve) laws that make it harder to bargain for better wages and conditions. Now, this rightwing think tank is challenging Seattle’s “high-income-earners tax” in court. The new tax, passed by the city council in July, would give some relief from our state’s superregressive tax structure. It would raise $140 million for human services with a 2.5% tax on income over $250,000 per year ($500,000 for couples). King County Superior Court, 516 3rd Ave., in Judge Ruhl’s courtroom22552452_1713791022025764_941691975607690166_n

Picket Draws Huge Crowd to Confront Ultra-right Freedom Foundation

22141114_10212453833533853_7790552945160429872_nOver 500 enthusiastic labor activists flooded the streets around the luxury Westin Hotel in downtown Bellevue on Friday, September 29 to picket the annual fundraising event of the anti-union Freedom Foundation. Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), a group of rank-and-file activists from several unions and unorganized workplaces, planned the event that was endorsed by more than 25 labor and social justice organizations.

The Freedom Foundation’s rightwing agenda openly declares its aim to “defund and bankrupt public employee unions.” Other objectives include undermining wages and labor standards, gutting anti-discrimination legislation, removing environmental protections, reducing LGBTQ and women’s rights, and blocking taxes on wealth. OWLS organized the protest to defend threatened communities and to raise public awareness.

The public turned out with a rich diversity of race, national origin, age and profession. Hard-hatted carpenters walked the picket line with teachers, painters, laborers, engineers and janitors. Upbeat chants were echoed by tradeswomen, public workers, socialists and Wobblies, and parents with children of all ages. Picket signs and colorful banners from unions, retiree groups, and community organizations demanded “Stop the War on Workers” and other slogans. Huge inflatable effigies of greedy rats and “fat cats” added to the upbeat mood.

Rally speakers pledged to counter the Freedom Foundation with solidarity. OWLS spokeswoman Maxine Reigeltold the crowd, “It is not a foregone conclusion that Trump and his alt-right backers can push through ‘right to work’ laws. Let’s take a page from Black, brown, and female union members – from farmworkers to professional athletes – who have galvanized mass support by taking a stand and refusing to back down. Organized labor has the power and resources to mobilize a mighty counter-offensive that can stop the Freedom Foundation in its tracks.”

Pedro Espinoza, an organizer with the carpenters union, quoted Martin Luther King on the need to “guard against false slogans such as ‘right to work.’” He urged the crowd to continue  building a movement capable of standing up to the increasing menace of fascist and far-right groups.

The Communications Director of the King County Labor Council, Kamaria Hightower, referred to the Supreme Court’s announcement the previous day that it would take up Janus v. AFSCME, a case that seeks to drastically weaken public sector unions. Said Hightower, “They have no idea what is coming for them. They have no idea how strong we are. We stand united, we stand in solidarity, we are going to fight with tooth and nail for everything we have.”

Over the last year, OWLS has confronted the Freedom Foundation in numerous locations. It invites unions, community organizations, and individuals to help build the campaign by attending monthly organizing meetings held every fourth Tuesday at the Seattle Labor Temple. The next planned action is to pack the courtroom this fall when Freedom Foundation lawyers challenge Seattle’s new high-income-earners tax in King County Superior Court

Endorsers of the Freedom Foundation protest: A. Philip Randolph Institute, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587, American Federation of Government Employees Local 3197, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1488, Central Puget Sound Carpenters Local 30, Dyke Community Activists, El Comité, Freedom Socialist Party, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 77, Northwest Regional Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Coalition, Not This Time, NW-SPEEA/IFPTE Local 2001, Office & Professional Employees International Union Local 8, Olympia Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, Professional Technical Employees Local 17, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, Puget Sound Chapter Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Radical Women, Retired Public Employees Council Chapter 3, Rosie’s Machinists 751 Caucus, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Human Services Coalition, Teamsters Local 117, Transit Riders Union, Washington Federation of State Employees Locals 304, 341 & 843, Washington Interior Exterior Systems Local 41. 22090048_10155251008607961_1067633150597893870_n20170929_183938_resized

 

To see more photos and video footage of the picket and rally, visit OWLS on facebook at Facebook.com/OrganizedWorkers. 

 

 

 

September 29: Picket the Union-busting Freedom Foundation!

14462939_1213505705387634_3994270768571542523_n-1Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) is organizing a picket of the Freedom Foundation’s annual fundraiser on September 29, from 5-7pm in front of the Bellevue Westin at NE 6th Street and Bellevue Way NE. The ML King Jr. County Labor Council, Carpenters Local 30, Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304, and Coalition of Black Trade Unionists have endorsed. Labor and community groups are invited to endorse and participate.
The Freedom Foundation’s racist rightwing agenda openly declares its goal is to “defund and bankrupt public employee unions.” OWLS is organizing the picket to defend the labor movement and public services, and to raise public awareness around the anti-worker agenda of the Freedom Foundation.
 
The Foundation’s keynote speaker is fast-food billionaire Andrew Puzder, who was Donald Trump’s first pick for Secretary of Labor.  The former CEO of CKE Restaurants, Inc. (Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, etc.), is well known for his opposition to minimum wage laws and other worker protections.  He had this to say about replacing his workers with robots: “They’re always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex or race discrimination case.”
 
This year the Freedom Foundation has continued efforts to make Washington a “right to work” (for starvation wages) state, and to roll back recent minimum wage increases and other labor gains. The Foundation recently filed lawsuits to stop the City of Seattle’s proposed tax on high income earners, and to prevent unionization of Uber and Lyft drivers. 
The picket aims to loudly denounce the fundraiser and expose the think tank’s agenda and shared goals with big business and wealthy conservative groups, such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and National Right to Work Foundation. Goals include gutting wage, labor, and antidiscrimination legislation, removing environmental protections, reducing LGBTQ and women’s rights, and blocking any tax on wealth to fund public services,
To endorse the picket, or for more information, call 206-949-4552 or 206-261-1420, or email OWLS at OrganizedWorkersls@gmail.com