Extremist Political Groups are Attacking Our Public Schools

Did an anti-union group email you or send you a mailer lately?

Here are the facts behind these groups and their attacks on public education and our freedom to negotiate fair pay.

Extremist political groups like the Washington Policy Center and Freedom Foundation (aka, Opt Out Today) are attacking our right to be represented by our union and our ability to advocate for our students. 

The Freedom Foundation and other anti-union groups don't support us or our students — and are actually fighting against what our students need to be successful. Read this expose about their anti-worker strategy.

Here's what the Freedom Foundation's CEO Tom McCabe said in a 2017 fundraising letter: “(Unions like WEA) won’t go away until we drive the proverbial stake through their hearts and finish them off for good.”

FF men
These men are Freedom Foundation operatives working to weaken collective bargaining rights.

These groups are funded by wealthy corporate interests linked to the DeVos family and controversial Koch family. Their goal is to eliminate public-employee unions and to weaken our public schools. They are outspoken supporters of the privatization agenda of charter schools and vouchers.

McCabe, Smith and other ultra-wealthy moguls are actively working to weaken our ability to advocate for our students.They have consistently opposed funding for smaller class sizes, better pay for educators and the freedom to negotiate a fair contract.

Standing united together, we can protect our students and our profession from these attacks.

Here is what every school employee needs to know about these groups and their attacks on educators:

  • Who and what is the Freedom Foundation?

    The Freedom Foundation and CEO Tom McCabe (pictured) are notorious for clogging our mailboxes with spam emails and unwanted junk mail. Even worse, the Foundation’s political operatives often brag about harassing public employees at our workplaces — and at our homes.

    Putting the safety and privacy of school employees at further risk, the Foundation requests personal data like birthdates for public employees like us. In media reports, Foundation employees said they will use our private information to continue their harassment campaign against education employees.

    WEA is fighting to protect our privacy and safety in the courts and the Legislature. Meanwhile, McCabe’s intentions are clear. He recently described WEA members as the “enemy” and vowed to “bankrupt” us and to “dramatically reduce” our ability to advocate for students. FF is trying undermine our public schools. They want to weaken WEA and our local unions so we have less of a united voice. 

    They claim they’re on the side of school employees and public education, but in reality, they seek to take professional respect and bargaining rights from educators and turn over control of public education to CEOs and the corporate special interests who fund them. Before he was defeated, FF staffer Jami Lund served on the Centralia School Board and opposed negotiated pay raises for teachers.

    FF receives funding from other foundations that also fund anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim groups.

    The Freedom Foundation and other anti-union groups exist to weaken us, divide us and limit our ability to speak out for students and public education. The good news is that while their tactics are annoying and intrusive, WEA members are more united than ever — especially as more and more educators learn about the Freedom Foundation’s real agenda.

    Click here for a partial list of the Freedom Foundation's extremist funders.

  • What is the Freedom Foundation doing?

    The Freedom Foundation is harassing educators and other public workers, including home health care workers, state employees and childcare providers – the people who provide the social and health services our students and their families rely on.

    Here are some of their controversial tactics:

    • Sending spam emails & letters to WEA members’ homes and schools urging them to quit WEA and their local association.
    • Misusing workers’ personal information. The FF has requested employee names, birthdates and work emails for thousands of public employees, including educators. With names and birthdates, the FF can find home addresses and other personal information. “State workers are raising deep concern after learning a prominent anti-union group is seeking their personal information, including their birth dates, worrying it could lead to widespread privacy violations and identity theft,” KIRO radio reported.
    • Confronting workers at home by knocking on their doors and pressuring them to quit the union. A conservative group, the Freedom Foundation, has dispatched activists to visit the homes of more than 10,000 childcare and home-care workers in Washington and Oregon…’ The Guardian newspaper reported recently.
    • Contacting local presidents and urging them to disband their local associations.
    • Purchasing newspaper ads attacking local union presidents by name.
    • Posting the salaries of individual educators online.
    • Showing up at worksites and arguing with public employees about their union membership.

    These anti-worker groups also push court cases designed to weaken our ability to stand up for students and public education, including the Janus case. FF's frivolous legal attacks on WEA date back to the 1990s. 

  • What is their agenda?

    The Freedom Foundation promotes policies that benefit its rich benefactors, while it actively opposes our efforts to provide the resources students and educators need to be successful.

    The Freedom Foundation:

    • Opposes higher pay for educators
    • Opposes smaller class sizes
    • Opposes local collective bargaining and other worker rights
    • Opposes fair evaluations
    • Opposes educators having a voice in education policy decisions
    • Opposes increased funding for public schools
    • Represents extremist out-of-state political groups and corporate foundations

    This video explains the foundation's radicial politics and motives. The FF even opposes the minimum wage for education support professionals and other workers.

    FF CEO Tom McCabe, in a campaign to raise funds for their attacks, said, "We have to defeat and dismantle the union political machine once and for all..."

  • What's at stake?

    The Freedom Foundation, the Washington Policy Center and other anti-union, anti-public education groups want to take away our right to union representation and the freedom to collectively bargain -- and to make Washington an anti-worker state. WEA members who have worked in those states know what's at stake in this fight.

    “I taught in Wisconsin until 2014. I moved to Washington after Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature decimated the collective bargaining and union representation rights of educators and other public workers. Educators lost their professional autonomy and their collective voice, and students stopped getting the resources they needed.” 

    — Angela Bina, teacher and Spokane Education Association member 

    "Being a part of a union is all new to me since I have spent my career in Texas, where there is no such thing. When I think back to my early career in Texas compared to now,  I can’t believe how much better my professional and personal life have benefitted from being a part of the union! 

    "The huge difference in salary, benefits and professional support have made a real difference for my family as well as my students!  I give WEA an A+ and many thanks for all of the hard work that makes a real difference!" 

    — Lori Cowan, teacher and Granite Falls Education Association member

    Katie Coder, a second-grade teacher and Oak Harbor EA member, says that she had no voice in the charter school where she worked in Florida. They just told you what to do and you just followed what they said, she says.

    Becoming involved in her union has been very empowering. She really appreciates that her school administrators respect the union. “I belong,” Katie says, “because the union gives us a voice to advocate for our students and for ourselves.”

    “(After moving from Colorado), I landed in Washington state. It was so different. Teachers here have a voice. There they didn’t. You don’t realize the power of collective voice until you have it. The WEA continues to help me become a better teacher.” 

    — Eileen Rae Ethridge, Kent EA member and former Colorado teacher 


For more information about the Freedom Foundation and its anti-worker, anti-student agenda:

WSLC groupWe have allies standing with us

WEA members aren't alone in this fight to protect our students and our profession. At the state and local level, we're working with our friends and allies from the Washington State Labor Council, SEIU, Washington Federation of State Employees, Public School Employees, AFT Washington and other unions.