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NYSUT

$5 Million Summer Union Opt Out Push

After a failed 2018 opt-out campaign, millions have been spent to convince union members to stop paying dues

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jul 01, 2019

One year after the Supreme Court ruled in the Janus v AFSCME decision, public employee unions’ membership has stayed strong. Some unions, like the Teamsters, actually have more members then they did a year ago thanks to an ambitious campaign to convert agency fee payers into full-fledged members.

Last year, UCOMM reported that anti-union groups were targeting teachers with ads trying to convince them to leave their union. A year later, those efforts have largely failed, but big money donors are continuing to dump money into the efforts. According to the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) in 2018, the Milwaukee based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation pumped more than $5.6 million into anti-labor activities. The groups that they financed are some of the ones that are at the forefront of the anti-union opt-out push. These include NewChoiceNY.com, the Empire Center, WorkersChoose.org, the Mackinac Center, the Freedom Foundation, and more. A full list can be found here.

Some of the work that Bradley Foundation has financed includes websites dedicated to making it easier for members to opt-out and for groups like the Mackinac Center and the Freedom Foundation to knock on union members doors. Another Bradley Foundation grantee, the Lincoln Network, has used the money to develop a digital tool called Edunity. This system allows someone to opt-out of their union online. It also allows people to sign up for “benefits” and discounts to retailers like Target and Microsoft. Lincoln received $50,000 for “information technology building” and $100,000 for “workplace freedom efforts” from Bradley last year.

All of these efforts over the past year were meant for one thing, being prepared for a major push this summer. Strong union states only allow a short opt-out period during the year and for some states that period falls over the summer or in September. With teachers being off for the summer, many of these groups believe that this is the best time to try and convince them to opt out.

Many unions have provided this grpahic for their members. If you are a public employee, there is a good chance they may have your contact information so click here to download one of your own.

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