The U.S. Supreme Court decided that home healthcare workers in Illinois could not be considered full-fledged state employees and therefore could not be forced to join a union in a landmark ruling (Harris vs. Quinn) last summer. The decision resulted in a wave of union panic and obvious attempts to skirt the law ensued. In fact, the local Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 775 seemed ready and willing to lead the way.
Following Harris vs. Quinn, SEIU 775 “made no effort to inform any of the approximately 33,000 individual providers it represents of their constitutional rights.” The union has limited its obedience to the law by ceasing to automatically deduct dues from the paychecks of only those providers who specifically ask them to do so—otherwise it continues business as usual. SEIU 775 refuses to mention providers’ right to decline association on its website or Facebook page. Making matters worse, SEIU 775 deceptively worked to persuade individual providers to sign away their constitutional rights via a letter campaign.
The Freedom Foundation responded to the injustice by seeking the names of the affected workers via a series of public disclosure requests to the state. The goal is to inform the workers of their legal rights under Harris v. Quinn. Of course, SEIU 775—among other unions—did not stand idly by and watch the Freedom Foundation shine a light on their web of lies. The union filed a lawsuit to prevent the Freedom Foundation from obtaining the names of the affected providers. However, judge ruled that Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) must release the names of home healthcare providers to the Freedom Foundation.
But, that still hasn’t stopped SEIU 775. Pursuing a legal course of action proved fruitless, so the union has decided to step up its tactics of demonization and intimidation. According to the Freedom Foundation, SEIU recently sent a
“panicked email to home health care providers” touting lies concerning the Freedom Foundation’s efforts to “inform union members that they have freedom of choice when it comes to union membership.” Of course, SEIU’s claims are “full of lies, misinformation and half truths” in an attempt to “demonize the Freedom Foundation.”
So, the Freedom Foundation decided to defend itself by calling out SEIU’s lies with the truth. Check out the Freedom Foundation’s line-by-line proofreading below.
(The Freedom Foundation’s response is italicized.)
Date: May 27, 2015 at 6:00:00 PM PDT
To: [Home Health Care Providers] From: Peggy Myers, caregiver
Subject: A warning for caregivers
Warning: a radical, anti-caregiver organization may have somehow gotten your contact information and is trying to get in touch with you. The so-called Freedom Foundation has a dangerous motive: They want to roll back wages and benefits for caregivers and stop you from getting a retirement benefit.
“Anti-caregiver?” This is an absurd accusation. The need for caregivers is undeniable, and the Freedom Foundation has certainly neither opposed the providing of care nor the fine people who provide care.
“want to roll back wages and benefits… retirement?” Again, absurd. No evidence has ever been offered that the Freedom Foundation, a champion for effective government services, has acted to change the compensation of care providers to the most vulnerable.
First they tried to eliminate our union entirely, but that didn’t work.
If requiring the union officials to hold an election rather than passing dues payers around like chattel is “eliminating” SEIU 775, then yes. It’s true we want providers to know they have rights with respect to who and how their representation happens.
Now they are writing and emailing our members and urging caregivers to drop their SEIU 775 membership. Don’t be duped.
The definition of “dupe” is to manipulate by withholding information, and the dues collectors at SEIU are guilty of leaving thousands of care providers unaware of the options they have. Our efforts are doing nothing more than informing caregivers of their newly affirmed right to opt out of the union if they so choose. Even SEIU grudgingly concedes they have that right, but it’s spending the members’ own dues money to keep them from knowing it. So again, which side is duping the workers?
The Freedom Foundation wants us to drop our union membership so they can roll back the clock on all the gains we’ve made.
Since SEIU operates a scheme of dues collection rather than an actual workplace representation service, it cannot claim credit for industry gains. The reimbursement rates and other provision for care providers currently comes – and always has come – entirely from the state’s budget-writing process. For simply giving advice to the governor and lawmakers about what those levels should be, SEIU collects 3.2 percent of all the money intended to provide care for the needy.
Moreover, why does it necessarily follow that caregiver pay and benefits would go down without the union’s participation? Maybe they’d net more money every month if they weren’t paying dues to SEIU. In any case, the decision should be made by the caregivers voting to advance their own interests — which is precisely what the Freedom Foundation wants to see happen, while SEIU is fighting tooth and nail to prevent it.
They oppose our right to bargain with the state for higher wages and decent benefits.
This is not true. The ability to force government to kowtow to a private special interest group like the SEIU is not a “right” but a privilege granted by an initiative that the SEIU paid at least $1.2 million to pass. Likewise, forcing care providers to give money intended for care is also a privilege granted by the initiative SEIU purchased. This privilege generated $22 million for the SEIU bureaucracy in 2014.
They want the Legislature to reject our new union contract with a $2/hour raise over several years and a first-ever retirement benefit;
This is a lie. We have not taken any action to oppose the legislature’s budget priorities for care providers.
They don’t respect our clients’ right to privacy.
The lies keep coming. Clients’ right to privacy is very important, and nowhere can the bureaucrats of SEIU 775 provide an example of the Freedom Foundation showing any interest in client information.
They want our private contact information to be a matter of public record.
In point of fact, the only private financial venture with access to providers’ private contact information is SEIU 775. The Freedom Foundation seeks public records listing providers who offer public services with public funds. SEIU spent providers’ dues money to protect its monopoly control over what providers learn about their rights. They continue to lose in court because the public record—a list of publicly funded providers—is not the exclusive property of SEIU.
If you want to keep the wages and benefits we have won, don’t respond to their mailings or emails.
Wages and benefits are set by the Legislature, so it’s a lie to suggest that opting out of SEIU 775 will cause you to lose compensation.
I was a caregiver before we had a union and there is no way I’m going back there. I barely made $7 an hour when we formed our union in 2002. I had no L&I — if I was hurt on the job, tough luck for me. I had no healthcare, no dental or vision coverage, no mileage reimbursement, no training, no paid time off, and no voice at the Capitol.
Provision for these things has been, and will continue to be, the result of decisions in the legislative process. However, all people have a voice in the Capitol, and joining SEIU to amplify that voice has been and will continue to be every citizens’ right. As is opting out.
Truth is, homecare workers were invisible — but not now, not with SEIU 775. Now I have health care, dental and vision insurance, mileage reimbursement, professional training, paid time off, and boy, do they know us at the Capitol.
The freedom to associate is a liberty the Freedom Foundation strongly supports. We oppose the power given to a private financial enterprise to force people to fund politics and lobbying as a condition of providing a service of importance to the public. The U.S. Supreme Court agrees that SEIU should not have this power to coerce payment. The Freedom Foundation seeks to ensure all care providers know about this right; meanwhile, SEIU is moving heaven and earth to keep that information from them. The contrast is just that simple.
Oh, and now I make nearly $15 an hour, and our new contract calls for the nation’s first-ever retirement plan for homecare workers.
If you want to keep a strong union and get our raises and retirement benefit funded, don’t respond to the Freedom Foundation’s mailings or emails.
Considering and responding to the Freedom Foundation does not impact raises, retirement or even the strength of the union—unless the union’s strength is entirely built on the ignorance of providers. If it is dependent on refusing to consider new knowledge, maybe it isn’t as worthy as suggested.
There is no way that I am going to stand by and let a radical, anti-union group like the Freedom Foundation tear apart what we have fought so hard to build. I’ve fought every year and I’ll continue to fight. Join with me and say no to this devious organization.
Home care worker, Lakewood
215 Columbia St, Seattle, WA 98104
Member Resource Center: Toll-Free 1 (866) 371-3200
The Freedom Foundation seeks to add to the knowledge of care providers. The paid SEIU bosses, like Peggy Myers, have fought to perpetuate ignorance of the right to choose, which has been affirmed by the Supreme Court. SEIU’s enterprise collects $22 million without any meaningful accountability to those whose money it takes.
Is it more devious to provide information with no personal financial gain, or is it more devious to fight to repress information because of personal gain?