Union leaders furious over door-to-door tactic targeting their members

AUBURN, Wash. -- It’s a movement targeting unions across Washington.

The conservative think tank Freedom Foundation is sweeping one county at a time armed with names and addresses of union members.

On Wednesday, about two dozen people with the group canvassed King County.

The Freedom Foundation says a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision now gives part-time home health care workers the right to opt out of being in their union, SEIU 775. They say prior to 2014, workers had no choice but to pay.

“Some people may decide they simply can’t afford the 3.2% withheld from their paycheck,” Max Nelsen of Freedom Foundation said.

SEIU 775 leaders are furious with the door-to-door tactics. They lost a two-year court fight against the Freedom Foundation after the organization filed a public records request asking for all the names of their union members. The group says they stand for individual liberty. Union leaders say they don’t buy it.

“They are about busting unions and creating a cheap workforce in the United States” SEIU 775 leader Guerry Hoddersen said.

SEIU 775 says the Freedom Foundation is funded by big businesses. But the foundation says they get money from individuals who believe people should know their rights.

During the few hours Q13 News followed along on Wednesday, most people did not come to the door but one woman was all ears.

“Those poor home care aides who don’t have a clue about what’s going on, a lot of people don’t know their rights about opting out,” SEIU 775 member Hadassah Timali said.

Timali says she needs every penny to raise her three kids so she plans to opt out of paying into the union.

“The message to that woman is that she is a making a very, very big mistake, they would like all of us to work permanently for slave wages,” Hoddersen said.

Hoddersen added that the power of the union has allowed home care workers to collectively raise their wages and benefits and that the Freedom Foundation wants to strip those gains.

The Freedom Foundation is going after other unions like the Washington Federation of State Employees. The group represents workers in departments like DSHS. The Freedom Foundation requested to get all the names. AFSCME took the Freedom Foundation to court on Friday to ban the release of the names of their members.  A Thurston County judge recently sided with the Freedom Foundation allowing the release but the unions has since filed an appeal with a higher court and the matter is still in litigation.