‘WA Interpreters’ linked to anti-union, anti-immigrant forces

Leaked emails reveal Juan Bloise’s group working with Freedom Foundation


The following is from Accountable Northwest:

OLYMPIA (June 30, 2022) — Interpreters for Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) will soon be voting on forming a union, and which organization to partner with. One of their options is to join Interpreters United (WFSE/AFSCME), a well-established public sector union with a track record of negotiating great collective bargaining agreements that bring higher wages, access to health care, and improved working conditions for working families, as well as staff and resources to protect workers year-round.

In fact, the 2018 legislation giving L&I interpreters collective bargaining rights was championed by the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE), which was already representing Medicaid and social services interpreters in the state. Those interpreters have won benefits like an hourly minimum pay per appointment, reimbursement for no-shows, and protection against clawbacks. WFSE also successfully changed the law to allow interpreters to bargain over health care with the state.

Another outfit calling itself WA Interpreters, and led by Juan Bloise, is vying to be the self-appointed leader of L&I interpreters. Concerningly, leaked emails reveal that Bloise has been coordinating his efforts with the “Freedom” Foundation, an anti-worker group with ties to anti-immigrant leaders and funders. While it’s not a complete picture of their close ties, the damning emails show:

● Bloise coordinated multiple times with the “Freedom” Foundation’s Max Nelsen on designing a mailer to interpreters. The “Freedom” Foundation may have even helped with printing and postage expenses.

● Bloise asked the “Freedom” Foundation for money and thanked them for the help “they’ve provided so far.”

● The “Freedom” Foundation’s Max Nelsen helped set up a telemarketing system for Bloise.

Why is this so concerning? Because the so-called “Freedom” Foundation actively works to undercut workers. The group has opposed measures that would benefit workers, such as raising the minimum wage, implementing paid sick leave, and increasing retirement security.

Their founder helped write a “toolkit” on shrinking state governments by cutting employee pensions, raising the retirement age, increasing out-of-pocket health insurance costs, and delaying raises.

Even more disturbingly, they have a track record of hate and division, including against immigrants. Many L&I interpreters are first or second-generation Americans, holding proud ties to a heritage that started outside our borders. People that immigrated to the United States have empowered our country for centuries, so why would Bloise accept help from a group like the “Freedom” Foundation?

● Mike Nearman was a senior employee of the “Freedom” Foundation and a leader of the anti-immigrant hate group “Oregonians for Immigration Reform.” They pushed a ballot initiative in Oregon to revoke its status as a sanctuary state. Nearman became the first legislator in Oregon history to be expelled from the state legislature for opening the doors to armed, far-right activists.

● In 2019, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham was the keynote speaker at the “Freedom” Foundation’s banquet. She has said that immigrants are coming to replace “old America with new America” and that Mexican immigrants “have come here to murder and rape our people.”

● Jac Cates, a former staffer at the “Freedom” Foundation, called for the deportation of all Muslims saying that “the religion is the problem.”

● The “Freedom” Foundation received funding from the Scaife Foundations, which have also sent millions of dollars to a web of radical anti-immigrant groups including the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). CIS testified in Congress against immigration reform, claiming “virtually all illegal aliens are guilty of multiple felonies.” CIS was founded by white supremacist John Tanton.

L&I interpreters are voting soon. With the shocking revelation about Bloise’s work with the “Freedom” Foundation, their choice may be a lot simpler. One option is Interpreters United (WFSE), a time-tested organization that has already won pay raises and job improvements for thousands of interpreters. The other is Juan Bloise’s outfit, which has secretly coordinated with an anti-worker group with ties to the anti-immigrant movement. He owes a big explanation for that choice to the workers he wants to represent.

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