Labor-community Picket Spotlights Ultra-right Freedom Foundation

14448957_1213505445387660_5860610872246504601_n14484612_1213505448720993_4653602086138767240_n-114462939_1213505705387634_3994270768571542523_n-1“When our unions are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” This was the chant from nearly a hundred activists greeting anti-union attendees at a Freedom Foundation fundraising banquet last Friday.
Amidst rush hour traffic and blustery winds, protesters representing a broad range of unions walked a lively, loud, and disciplined picket line outside the Bellevue Westin Hotel to protest and expose the Foundation, which aggressively promotes “right to work” legislation against labor unions.
Feminists, socialists, transit advocates and other activists joined the picket, intermixing with unionists. Hard-hat wearing Carpenters from a nearby construction site swelled the line until the entire block was filled. The action was called by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), a community labor group that “builds solidarity across union lines.”
The protest was an impressive show of growing unity against the Foundation’s ultra-right agenda. Dubbed the “Freeloaders Foundation” by picketers because right-to-work laws give union benefits to those who don’t pay union dues, the Freedom Foundation has political and financial ties to major conservative, pro-business foundations and individuals. They include Donors Trust, State Policy Network, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers, Walton Family and the John Birch Society.

Freedom Foundation’s campaign.
The Foundation is not only targeting unions. They oppose taxing the wealthy, government regulation of businesses such as anti-discrimination and minimum wage laws, and environmental protections. They also back charter schools, and oppose public employee pensions, funding for women’s reproductive freedom and all public services and programs.
The Foundation has been an enemy of unions since 1991, when it started harassing teachers’ unions with lengthy and expensive lawsuits. Now, using state public disclosure laws, the Foundation’s lawyers are demanding the names, birthdates, and work email addresses of all state union employees. On July 29, a Thurston County judge ruled for the Foundation, but several unions won an emergency stay and are appealing the ruling.
The group plans to use employees’ private information and voter registration records, to get state workers’ home address and phone numbers and mount a direct-contact campaign.
Currently, it is door-belling individual healthcare providers at their homes — members of Service Employees International Union Local 775 — in a well-funded campaign to pressure them to withdraw from their unions. An SEIU 775 member told the crowd of the unrelenting harassing emails and unwanted visits she has received, pressuring her to “opt out,” of the union.

Swelling counter-organizing.
Against such bullying rightwing politics and tactics, it is not surprising that Friday’s picket line in Bellevue included members of several state employee unions, Carpenters, Washington Education Association, SPEEA, Teamsters, several Retiree groups, healthcare providers, members of Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees, and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, to name a few.
Old and young came on Metro buses and in carpools; workers from the nearby Mall joined the picket line. Between chants, a group of teachers led the picketers in labor songs such as “Solidarity Forever.”
Home-made signs and the rank-and-file composition of the crowd gave lie to the hired “rent-a-mob” image that Foundation leaders had boosted in a failed effort to discredit the protest. At least one Foundation donor expressed surprise when he learned that protesters weren’t being “paid,” as claimed.
At a rally following the picket, electrician Steve Hoffman told the crowd, “Our solidarity is far more powerful than their big bucks.” Recording secretary of his local, Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304, he said, “If we stick together we can push them back.”
SEIU member Guerry Hoddersen said that the Foundation is “about creating a cheap workforce across the United States.” Mark Cook, a veteran prisoner rights activist and founding member of OWLS, received loud cheers when he summed up the spirit of the picket, “we are kicking ass for the working class!”
Many of the speakers expressed their commitment to confront and expose the ultra-right politics and activities of the Freedom Foundation, and to build a movement capable of uniting and defending the many different constituencies on the right wing’s hit list.
As Maxine Reigel, one of the picket organizers, said “large and disciplined counter-demonstrations against rightwing groups such as the Freedom Foundation, coupled with education, is the most effective and proven way to stop their attacks on working and poor people.”

Picket the Union-Busting Freedom Foundation!

Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) will picket the Freedom Foundation’s annual fundraiser on September 23, from 5-7pm in front of the Bellevue Westin at NE 6th Street and Bellevue Way NE.

The picket will protest the Freedom Foundation’s racist rightwing agenda that 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.

On July 29, the Freedom Foundation won a favorable decision from the Thurston County Superior Court that orders state agencies to turn over names, birthdates, and work email addresses of all employees in public sector unions to the anti-union group. In court, the Freedom Foundation announced plans to use the information, coupled with voter registration records, to get individual home addresses so state workers can be contacted at home and pressured to withdraw from their unions.  Several unions joined in an appeal to block disclosure.

The Freedom Foundation has financial and political ties to conservative billionaires. Their goals include rolling back wage, labor and anti-13735005_1157237317681140_4965732411721538634_o (1) (2)discrimination legislation, environmental protections, LGBTQ and women’s rights, and blocking any tax on wealth to fund public services. The picket will educate about the Freedom Foundation’s reactionary agenda and build solidarity for labor self defense. Unions and community organizations are invited to participate and endorse the picket. To endorse, email OWLS at or call Jay Herzmark at 206-947-7012.

Outrageous and Unacceptable: Judge upholds Freedom Foundation demand for State Workers names

Activists, including from OWLS packed the Courtroom in Olympia on July 29.

Activists, including from OWLS packed the Courtroom in Olympia on July 29.


KCPQ interviews an SEIU member about the FF goal — every worker earning starvation wages.

In an unfortunate decision Friday, July 29, 2016, Thurston Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson ruled in favor of the ultra-conservative and anti-union Olympia based Freedom Foundation.  The decision gives the foundation access to the first and last names, and middle initial of all Washington State employees who belong to a union.  In addition, the state of Washington will provide the well funded rightwing foundation with the date of birth and employee e-mail addresses, impacting the privacy of thousands of public workers.

Arguing on behalf of union members were three women attorneys, Laura Ewan, Kathleen Barnard, and Kristen Kushman.  They stressed the need for individual privacy, protection from misuse of information including identity theft, and the potential risk of retaliation and abuse of workers in the criminal justice system.

A white male lawyer, David Dewhirst, dressed in an expensive dark two piece business suit, wearing dorky looking light tan winged tipped shoes, and having an appropriately sheared skinned head, argued for the regressive Freedom Foundation.

And another white male, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington, Andrew Longerwell, disappointingly neglected to give any meaningful support to the unions and impacted employees.

Judge Wilson, in her decision, noted that the Freedom Foundation openly declares its purpose is to “defund and bankrupt public employee unions.”  She said the State’s Public Records Act does not allow her to rule broadly and that the foundation’s motives of fundraising, and political speech are constitutional rights.  Therefore, she lifted the temporary injunction against the foundation’s request for public workers’ contact information.

The Freedom Foundation admitted that it will use the information the State provides them to determine employees’ addresses through use of registered voter lists.  The organization will then use door to door canvassing to contact union members and “make them aware of their rights.”  But union members already know their rights.  They don’t need a bloated male dominated wealth tank to tell them how to think.

The foundation’s Dewhirst also criticized about two dozen labor activists — members from a wide spectrum of public and private sector unions — who had peaceably packed the court room. Apparently his rights are more important than the rights of ordinary working people who also belong in a court room.

After Judge Wilson reached her decision the activists convened outside the courthouse for an impromptu rally and strategy session called by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS). Predictably, following Dewhirst’s disrespectful comments, another Freedom Foundation cohort stopped by and revved up his Japanese made motorcycle in an unsuccessful effort to disrupt the peaceful protest.  This individual, whose vehicle license number was photographed, hoped to make it impossible for anyone to speak, or hear.  Is this the Freedom Foundation’s definition of constitutional rights? Only the rich have constitutional rights? Only the 1%?  Only the corporate oligarchy?

Among the labor supporters, Bill E. Garner, an electrician, came all the way from Clark County Community College in Vancouver, WA.  He said members of his union “were glad to be in the union. They wanted to stay in the union, and they were concerned about the release of their information.”

Steve Hoffman, a leader in Local 304 of Washington Federation of State Employees said, “They have the courts, bosses and practically all the institutions of society. We have solidarity and in the end that is enough if we stay strong. Union members are going to be mad and we need to give them opportunity to express their power.”

Attorney Laura Ewan said “We understand where the court is coming from.  The court is bound by what the Court of Appeals decided in the SEIU 775 case. But we feel like we have a chance on appeal…we are going after different information…  The legislature needs to do something, because this is not the intent of the Public Records Act.  The Public Records Act was there to be able to allow us to make sure our government is using our taxpayer dollars in the way that it is supposed to do. It is not to harass union members for their decision to be union members…  We are going to keep fighting.” The judge did not grant their request for an emergency stay, but won a commitment from the Freedom Foundation to wait until Tuesday, August 2, to receive workers private information from the many State agencies impacted by the decision.

Patrick Burns, a union carpenter who helped OWLS organize carpools from Seattle to the hearing, met with applause when he summed up the crowd’s sentiment, “an injury to one is an injury to all,” and vowed to continue fighting.


STOP the Freedom Foundation — Defend workers’ privacy rights

Fill the courtroom on July 29!

Support the motion, brought by several unions, for an injunction to block the Freedom Foundation’s demand for the name, birthdate and contact information of every union represented state employee.
Fri., July 29, 1:30pm, Thurston County House, Superior Court
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia WA
Carpool from Seattle: Meet 10:30 am at Seattle Labor Temple, 1st and Broad
This court hearing will decide if the State of Washington must turn over union members’ private information to the ultra rightwing Freedom Foundation’s (FF).

The Foundation is bankrolled by big business associations. Its goals include pushing racist, union-busting “Right-to-Work” laws, and slashing public services. They use mailings, phone calls,  home visits, and TV ads to convince workers to dump their unions and “opt-out” of paying dues, bankrupting  the labor movement – our front line defender of public services and working people. Don’t let it happen!

Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) is carpooling to the hearing. Join the caravan! Wear union colors or a red T-shirt! For carpool info, call 206-261-1420.

Sponsored by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity

Email; Visit OrganizedWorkers/,

The Freedom Foundation — Corporate Crooks in Disguise

OWLS Meeting — Tuesday, June 28, 7pm

In their endless drive to roll back the clock on workers’ rights, the Freedom Foundation has declared war on public-sector unions in Washington State and Oregon. Using the courts, legislature, and door-to-door campaigns, they are casting themselves as champions of the “little guy” against “big government.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

Find out who is behind this highly organized, well bank-rolled Foundation, and the real goals of their anti-freedom agenda.
Bring your ideas for how to build a united defense campaign against the anti-union attacks of the Freedom Foundation, and similar rightwing groups.

Also, learn about the latest labor battles around Puget Sound – or bring news of your own!



A highlight of the April 2016 Labor Notes Conference was a one-day strike by Chicago Teachers. This feisty union hit the streets to defend public education and linked up with parents and community to demand much more, including a higher minimum wage, an end to police brutality, and improved access to higher education. Doreen McGrath, an IBEW activist who attended the Labor Notes conference and joined the teachers picket line, reports on this exciting labor action.

Breaking News: Friedrichs loses in 4-4 ruling by Supreme Court

Today, March 29, 2016, The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a decision in the Friedrichs case, recognizing that stripping public employees of their voices in the workplace is not what our country needs.

The 4-4 decision essentially upholds the 1977 Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. The OWLS Petition, Reject Friedrichs, Honor Unions, had more than 1,000 signers calling on the court to uphold the union shop, and helped initiate an important conversation within the labor movement of how to fight the growing threat of “Right to Work” — or better called No Rights At Work.
Thank you to all the activists who signed the OWLS petition. Let’s celebrate this victory as the discussion begins on how to push back.gJQUGCWaxuiCaqS-800x450-noPad

Reject Friedrichs! Honor Unions!


Below is a petition that Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity has initiated. The online version can be accessed by clicking on the link above. Please sign the petition, post it on facebook, and share widely. Let’s crank up the heat on the Justices! For paper copies, call 206-261-1420.

To the U.S. Supreme Court:

We, the undersigned, support the right of Public Employees to unionize as upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1977. Public Employee Unions have the right to require that everyone they represent pay a “fair share” or “agency” fee to cover the union’s costs to negotiate and enforce a contract that covers all the public employees, even those who choose not to be union members.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, is a thinly veiled anti-labor attack on all workers and public-sector employees in particular.

By accepting this case, after it was soundly rejected by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Court threatens to gut the collective rights of workers and further entrench the power of big business. History proves that strong unions work to level the economic playing field. The weakening of unions correlates directly with the drastic worsening of income inequality and the extreme concentration of wealth among a small minority.

We call on the Supreme Court to reject the Friedrichs case in its entirety, uphold the Appeals Court decision and uphold the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education

(This petition and all signatures will be mailed to the U.S. Supreme Court.)




OWLS Holiday Party!

Saturday, December 19, 7pm — Celebrate the 2015 Year of Labor Solidarity with OWLS … and help raise some dough to help raise more hell for workers’ rights in 2016! Potluck.
4117 Wallingford Avenue N. Seattle. 206-632-1022 for directions. See you there!

Message from King County Labor Council

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

There are two important actions on Wednesday, June 10th your help is needed on.

The first is to support the Amazon security workers who’ve been battling the huge corporation to demand fair treatment, an end to retaliation for union activity, an end to discrimination and – of course – the right to union recognition and decent wages and working conditions.

The workers are organizing with SEIU Local 6. They’ve joined forces with Teamsters Local 117, Transit Riders Union, Tenants Union of Washington, Working Washington and others to let Amazon shareholders know that Seattle demands responsible behavior from our corporate tenants.  Please join us:

Amazon shareholders meeting, Wednesday, June 10th, 8:00 – 10:00 am

Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer, at 2nd Avenue N

Demand Good Jobs, Public Transit, Affordable Housing, Diverse Workforce

 Later that day, we’ll join Familias Unidas por Justicia to tell PCC that they should stop selling Driscoll berries until Driscoll stops buying their berries from Sakuma Brothers.Farmworkers at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington are demanding fair treatment, decent working conditions and the right to their union.

For over a year they’ve been working to get union recognition and a union contract. They’ve taken job actions including strikes, and built a base of community support. Sakuma Brothers tried to replace them with 438 H-2A immigrants, pretending that labor wasn’t available, but was forced to back down. The workers are asking for a boycott of Sakuma Brothers berries, a boycott endorsed by the Washington State Labor Council.

 Tell PCC: No Driscoll berries!

Wednesday, June 10th, 5:30-7:00 pm

PCC Fremont, 600 N 34th Street

(Just north of the Fremont Bridge & west of Fremont Avenue)

Please come to one or both actions – and wear your union colors!

In solidarity,

MLKCLC Mobilization Committee