Radical Political Groups are Attacking Our Public Schools

2012 - McCleary decisionSince 1889, the Washington Education Association and its local unions have been representing our state’s public school employees and advocating for Washington’s public school students.

Now, extremist political groups like the Freedom Foundation (aka, Choice for Teachers) are attacking our right to be represented by our union and our ability to advocate for our students. 

The Freedom Foundation doesn’t support us or our students — and is actually fighting against what our students need to be successful.

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

Here is what every school employee needs to know about the Freedom Foundation and its attacks on educators:

  • Who and what is the Freedom Foundation?

    It's hard to believe it, but our successful advocacy for students has attracted political enemies who want to stop us. Backed by wealthy corporate interests with an anti-worker and anti-public education political agenda, these enemies are increasingly attacking educators' right to union representation and our freedom to collectively bargain contracts.

    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 corporate special interests. 

    The Freedom Foundation, Choice for Teachers, the Worker Rights Alliance, the Northwest Professional Educators and affiliated anti-union groups exist to weaken us, divide us and limit our ability to speak out for students and public education. (The men pictured here work for the Freedom Foundation.)

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

  • What are they doing?

    The Freedom Foundation is going after 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.

    As a public school employee, you may be targeted by anti-worker political groups this summer.

    Here are some of the foundation's controversial tactics:

    • 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.
    • Sending emails & letters to WEA members’ homes and schools urging them to quit WEA and their local association.
    • 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 unsuccessful Friedrichs case. FF's frivolous legal attacks on WEA date back to the 1990s. 

    Here's what the Freedom Foundation's own website says: "Government unions are the biggest lobby in Washington State for bigger government. Their undue influence drowns out taxpayers, but taxpayers have had enough. Just like citizens in Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Washington is ripe for change, for reforms that protect workers and taxpayers alike. The Freedom Foundation is the leading advocate for that change."

  • 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 and related 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

Resources

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.