Record Union Growth in the “Freedom” Foundation’s Backyard

“Freedom” Foundation President Tom McCabe made a bold promise in a 2015 fundraising letter, after opening their new office in Salem, OR: “The “Freedom” Foundation has a proven plan for bankrupting and defeating government unions through education, litigation, legislation and community activation.” It was a promise he wouldn’t keep.

Out-of-state billionaires have poured millions of dollars into McCabe’s agenda in the seven years since. That money has been used for many things but “defeating” unions wasn’t one of them, as the latest Bureau of Labor statistics show. On the contrary, union membership grew by an astonishing 115,000 workers in Oregon and Washington during 2021. Total union membership in the region is approaching 1,000,000. 

The two original “Freedom” Foundation offices (Olympia, WA and Salem, OR) are stuck in a hotbed of organized labor. Seventy-two thousand workers joined unions in Washington last year, making it the third most unionized state with 629,000 members. Oregon saw 43,000 new members, driving it up to the 4th most unionized state with 318,000 total union members – the highest it has ever seen. 

When workers join together in unions, they earn more money, better benefits, and a voice in the workplace. That power also lifts local economies and working standards for everyone. The Northwest labor movement spearheaded legislation that brought higher minimum wages, paid sick leave, paid family leave, and access to overtime pay. The “Freedom” Foundation tried to undercut that progress and failed.

It’s not the only reason they’re losing. They’ve gone far beyond a botched assault on the middle-class pursuing their extreme agenda. The “Freedom” Foundation has invested heavily in denying the extent and lethality of the Covid-19 pandemic, even trivializing the safety of school children. They’ve brought in white supremacists to speak at their fundraisers. And they continue to hire extremists as staff – one who enabled an attack on Oregon’s Capitol and another who spoke in front of a swastika at an anti-vaccine protest in Olympia. 

The group hoped to make a big splash last year when they announced an expansion into other states. But it’s not an expansion if your battle is failing back home. That’s called a retreat. The checks funders keep sending are certainly helping pay “Freedom” Foundation salaries. But they are not producing the “bankrupted” unions McCabe promised many years ago. The new local crop of 115,000 dues-paying union members is the latest reminder.