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Unions Bleed $20M Amid Mass Exodus of 25K Workers in Wake of Supreme Court Free Speech Case

In June, the Supreme Court freed workers from having to pay fees to unions they choose not to join. The Freedom Foundation, a worker advocacy group in Washington State, has freed roughly 25,000 workers from their union stranglehold, and this will make unions bleed for years. The crafty unions, however, had ensnared many workers by altering contracts before the Court ruling, tricking them into stiffer agreements.

"We've been sending out direct mail to public employees on the West Coast, sending people door to door. We've sent emails, talking people through their options on the phone. We had postcards go out to 180,000 public employees," Maxford Nelsen, the Freedom Foundation's director of labor policy, told PJ Media in an interview Tuesday.

Workers had the freedom to leave their unions before the June Supreme Court decision Janus v. AFSCME, but they would still be forced to pay "agency fees," mandatory payments ostensibly to cover the cost of the union negotiating on their behalf for better wages and benefits. These fees could not legally be used for political purposes, but in practice they were — and there is no way to guarantee they could not be.

"The First Amendment is violated when money is taken from non consenting employees for a public-sector union; employees must choose to support the union before anything is taken from them," Justice Samuel Alito wrote in Janus. "Accordingly, neither an agency fee nor any other form of payment to a public-sector union may be deducted from an employee, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay."

Some Democrats have declared that this decision involves "weaponizing the First Amendment." They should tell that to Debora Nearman, a devout Catholic who refused to join her union (which supports pro-abortion candidates). In 2016, she was forced to pay $985.23 to the union — and that union spent $53,260 against her husband, Mike Nearman, in his race for State Representative.

Worse, one of the union's ads suggested that Mike Nearman didn't care about disabled people — a horrendous lie, since Debora Nearman herself suffers from a progressive neuro-muscular disease. The ad left her "heartbroken."

In wake of Janus, the Freedom Foundation alerted public workers that they had the freedom to leave their unions — and never pay another dime.

Tens of thousands of workers have printed out forms to leave their unions, accessible at OptOutToday.com.

The 25,000 comes from three different sources, Nelson explained. The Freedom Foundation counted: those who downloaded "resignation" forms from OptOutToday.com; the 4,000-6,000 caregivers who had their automatic dues dropped after Janus; and payroll data from public employers (union dues are often deducted from the paycheck in the same manner as taxes, so they show up on payroll records).