Happy Holidays from WEA – and beware of anti-union harassment
Anti-union groups are trying to weaken our power and diminish our ability to advocate for our students. Fortunately, their efforts are failing, and WEA members across the state are rejecting the negative messages and harmful agenda promoted by groups such as the Freedom Foundation.
WEA President Larry Delaney recently emailed WEA members with a holiday message -- and the truth about the Foundation:
As your WEA president and a 27-year classroom teacher, I want to wish you a happy holiday season!
I hope your winter break will be a time to rest and enjoy time with family or friends – and a relief from the stress and challenges that so many of us face in our jobs these days.
Winter break also is a good time to reflect on the joys and benefits of working with students. As educators, we put our students at the center of everything we do. The new year is almost here, and our students need us now more than ever. With the huge challenges students and their families face, including economic insecurity, homelessness, the opioid crisis and ongoing institutional racism, they are counting on us for safety, services and support.
That’s why the Freedom Foundation’s latest attacks on us and our union are so disconcerting and out of touch. Public school employees are working harder than ever to support our students, yet political groups like the FF are trying to divide and weaken us. The Foundation, also known as Opt Out Today, has launched another round of spam email and regular mail targeting our school email and our home mailboxes.
The Foundation also prides itself on harassing public employees at their workplaces -- and even at their homes.
Putting the security and privacy of school employees at further risk, the Foundation recently requested the birth dates of ALL state employees enrolled in the state Department of Retirement Systems. Under current state law, DRS is required to release our personal information to the Freedom Foundation. In media reports, the Foundation’s political operatives have said they will use our private information to continue their harassment campaign against education employees and other public workers.
Let’s be clear: The Freedom Foundation, which has ties to Betsy DeVos, is working to undermine public education, and their policies harm our students. They oppose increased school funding, better pay for educators and smaller class sizes. They want to weaken WEA and your local union so we have less of a united voice and so we no longer can be successful advocates for our students and public schools.
In a recent speech, the Freedom Foundation CEO described WEA members as the “enemy” and vowed to “bankrupt” us and to “dramatically reduce” our ability to advocate for students.
The good news is that the Foundation is failing. They haven’t weakened WEA, and funding for Washington’s public schools is at an all-time high (although we still have much work to do).
It’s important to recognize that groups like this exist and to be aware of their annoying tactics, but my advice is to ignore the Freedom Foundation’s antics and enjoy your holidays.
On a personal note, thank you for your commitment to your students, and thank you for being a member of the Washington Education Association, Washington’s largest union for P-K-12 and higher education employees.
Larry Delaney, WEA president
PS: WEA is supporting legislation that would protect our birth dates and other personal information from being released to groups like the Freedom Foundation. Click here to email your legislators in support of this bill.