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‘Freedom’ Foundation: Driven by greed, powered by lies

(Feb. 2, 2016) — The Washington State Federation of State Employees, AFSCME Council 28 has launched a new online resource exposing the state’s billionaire-funded “think tank” that attack unions. The site explains that the Olympia-based Freedom Foundation’s efforts to get personal contact information for all state employees is rooted in its funders’ desire to cut public employees’ pay and benefits, and to gain even more political power than they already have.


“Freedom” Foundation Facts describes the group as “a special interest think tank funded by corporate and the ultra wealthy who want to dismantle state government, cut public services and jobs, and hand the provision of public services like education and workers’ compensation over to the hands of private corporations. They’ve set their sights on unions because we’re the biggest obstacle to their agenda.

The Freedom Foundation has been demanding the names and addresses of state employees across Washington so they can contact them and urge them to withdraw from their union. Their efforts are couched in language about state employees’ “freedom,” but at the same time they are advocating against raises for state employees, to take away their pensions, and even to oppose paid sick days.

Don’t take AFSCME’s word for it, the website quotes Freedom Foundation staff and officers themselves as they explain their true motivations, which are anti-government and rooted in politics:

“…Three years ago we started thinking about this plan for public sector unions, going out and defunding the opposition, and trying to weaken them so we can try to get people elected that love freedom…” — Scott Roberts, Freedom Foundation staff (Jan. 20, 2015)

mccabe-tom“I can’t think of a problem in society that can’t be traced in some way back to the abuses of organized labor…” — Tom McCabe, Freedom Foundation CEO (Aug. 29, 2014)

“We as conservatives want certain things – we want education reform and we want pension reform and we want less taxes and we want smaller government, and you’re never going to get those things with unions in the way.” — Tom McCabe (April 23, 2014)

Freedom Foundation CEO McCabe wrote, “I personally yearn for the day when the mammoth state Department of Labor and Industries is closed down, windows shuttered with weeds growing all over its sprawling campus.”

McCabe wrote that last one in his former position as the boss of the Building Industry Association of Washington. He funded that homebuilders’ association via a scheme that siphoned millions of dollars from the state-run workers’ compensation system. But his legacy of big political spending there netted few victories. And his abrasive rhetoric — BIAW once declared that Gov. Chris Gregoire was a “heartless, power-hungry she-wolf who would eat her own young to get ahead” — alienated elected officials and some of BIAW’s own members.

Ultimately, the final straw was McCabe’s decision to spend more than $6 million in 2008 in a failed attempt to get Republican Dino Rossi elected as governor amid a housing crunch that was devastating most homebuilders. The internal BIAW acrimony that ensued led to McCabe’s ouster, but not before he negotiated a $1.25 million buyout and a year’s health-care coverage as a parting gift.

His work is now focused on defunding unions and, despite his organization’s tax-exempt status that is supposed to prevent it from engaging in politics, McCabe’s Freedom Foundation has repeatedly admitted that its mission is political in nature: “to defund and discredit the union political machine.” His group is now the subject of an IRS complaint that claims its 501(c)3 tax-exempt status is bogus.

State employees should check out “Freedom” Foundation Facts so they understand who it is that’s contacting them, who funds their efforts, and what their true goals are.

CHECK OUT THE UNION DIFFERENCE in Washington: higher wages, affordable health and dental care, job and retirement security.

FIND OUT HOW TO JOIN TOGETHER with your co-workers to negotiate for better wages, benefits, and a voice at work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!