OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Freedom Foundation is airing a new TV ad on cable stations in the south Puget Sound region to help inform unionized individual provider homecare aides (IPs) of their right to opt out of SEIU Local 775.
The ad features individual provider Brad Boardman, of Everett, who has provided in-home care for his sister-in-law since before SEIU 775 unionized IPs in 2003.
The SEIU-backed initiative that allowed IPs to collectively bargain with the state designated IPs as public employees "solely for the purposes of collective bargaining," placing them in a legal twilight zone somewhere between the public and private sectors.
Until last summer, Brad was required by state law to pay union dues or equivalent fees to SEIU 775 as a condition of receiving state Medicaid funds to care for his sister-in-law.
That changed when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Harris v. Quinn that it's unconstitutional for "partial public employees" like Brad to be forced to pay union dues as a condition of employment.
Despite the clarity of the court's decision, its implementation for IPs in Washington has been slow and piecemeal. Although the state and SEIU 775 began allowing IPs to cease paying dues upon request shortly after the ruling, SEIU 775 continues to collect full dues from all IPs automatically, even if they never signed up for union membership.
The union has also taken steps to limit IP's ability to opt out.
Many IPs have yet to hear of their ability to cease paying dues to SEIU 775. The state has made no effort to inform IPs of their newly recognized First Amendment rights. When the Freedom Foundation attempted to obtain the list of IPs from the state under the Public Records Act, SEIU 775 sued to block the release of the records.
A Thurston County judge has ruled against SEIU and its appeal is pending.
The ad launched Monday is part of the Freedom Foundation's ongoing campaign to inform the approximately 50,000 workers in Washington affected by Harris v. Quinn ruling of their First Amendment rights. Viewers are directed to visit SEIUOptOut.com, an informational website created by the Freedom Foundation for SEIU-represented IPs and family childcare providers.
Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe issued the following statement:
"In the absence of any effort from the state or SEIU 775 to inform IPs of their First Amendment rights, we are seeking to fill the void and equip IPs to make informed decisions about whether to remain in SEIU 775. Brad's story is an important part of telling IPs about their rights and exposing SEIU's shenanigans to the public."