By Jason Dudash —
There’s no disputing SEIU 503 has been squarely in the Freedom Foundation’s crosshairs since the organization expanded into Oregon in 2015. The two combatants offered starkly different accounts, however, about how much damage had been inflicted.
The question was answered definitively this week when a “for sale” sign went up out front of the headquarters building in Salem the union has called home for more than 20 years.
After spending millions during the 2018 election cycle while simultaneously losing millions in membership dues, SEIU 503 have been forced to vacate the almost $3 million building.
Inside sources report the union is in the process of purchasing a new building in Salem. But SEIU 503 would only occupy one floor of the structure. The rest of the space would be sublet to non-other than the state themselves.
This is how SEIU 503 is attempting to deal with its devastating membership losses — by taking in boarders.
What’s next? Mowing lawns? A lemonade stand?
More seriously, the other floor’s current tenant is the state of Oregon. Will taxpayers still be paying at the same rate when their landlord is SEIU 503, or will the state find itself funneling even more money into the union’s coffers in the form of higher rent?
The Freedom Foundation has launched an investigation to look into this shady transaction and will hold union leaders accountable if any laws are being broken.
When the Freedom Foundation came to town, it immediately launched a full-scale messaging campaign to once-forcibly-unionized home healthcare providers who had recently been freed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in Harris v. Quinn. The ruling characterized SEIU’s dues-skimming operation as a “scheme” and, to date, the Freedom Foundation has helped more than 40 percent of SEIU-represented care providers come to the same conclusion.
By our calculations, their defections are costing SEIU 503 more than $540,000 a month in lost revenue. And the total just keeps getting larger.
But the real body blow came on June 27, 2018, when the Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME recognized the opt-out rights of all public employees.
The Freedom Foundation responded by dramatically expanding its campaign messaging to the wider audience. The combination of door-to-door campaigns, mailers, emails, billboards, and TV and radio ads has caused SEIU 503 to experience a 26 percent drop in membership just months after Janus, blowing an estimated $8.7 million-a-year hole in the union’s finances.
These cataclysmic losses of revenue and membership expose the grim reality faced by SEIU 503 and the state’s other government employee unions – which explains their desperate efforts to stop the hemorrhaging.
Once SEIU 503 came to grips with the fact that Janus had become its worst nightmare come to life, the union’s leaders began circulating new membership cards with deceptive fine print that essentially holds members hostage for up to a year.
They insist members can opt out whenever they choose, but deceptively neglect to mention the union will continue deducting dues from his or her paycheck until they reapply during an arbitrary annual window.
This practice is about what you’d expect from the union’s snake oil salesmen, and the Freedom Foundation is currently engaged in active litigation in federal court to assist thousands of public employees still forcibly paying union dues.
Their second tactic has been relying on the liberal supermajority in the Oregon legislature purchased with millions of dollars in illegally confiscated dues. Union-backed puppets in the Oregon House of Representatives have recently introduced various pieces of legislation that would take the worker rights and freedoms Janus was written to protect and hand them back to the unions.
Two of the most egregious examples are HB 2016 and HB 2643. HB-2016 would do a whole slew of bad things, but mostly it gives unions a monopoly on the messaging that public employees receive about union membership.
It would also make dues authorization much simpler while making dues cancellation unnecessarily burdensome. You can learn more about House Bill 2016 here.
House Bill 2643, though, is perhaps the most Janus-defiant piece of all. The bill would create a slush fund from which the state would pay unions directly rather than first bothering with deducting dues from the workers’ paychecks. Public employees would simply see their wages reduced to make up the difference.
You can learn more about House Bill 2643 here.
The Freedom Foundation has been in this fight with SEIU 503 for almost 4 years. Though our work is not yet complete, this desperate and ethically questionable move validates our effectiveness and their lack of ability to provide benefits that justify the hundreds and thousands of dollars they take from public employees.
Jason Dudash is the Oregon Outreach Coordinator and oversees all the outreach efforts throughout the state. Jason recently graduated from Corban University with a bachelor’s of science in Criminal Justice and a minor in Forensic Psychology.