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UCOMM- Richard Haase Half Hollow Hills Teachers Association

The Koch Brothers Plan to Destroy Unions

The Guardian releases a 28 page toolkit from the Koch Brothers advising far-right groups on how to get union members to opt out

Kris LaGrange's picture
May 17, 2018

The State Policy Network (SPN), a group of statewide organizations that are funded and supported by the Koch Brothers, have been a thorn in unions sides for decades. Almost every anti-union, Right-to-Work push over the last few years has been supported by them. Now, in an exclusive report by The Guardian, their playbook to reach out and convince union members to opt out of their union has been released and gives us some insight into their plans over the next few months.

Last year, UCOMM reported that SPN was planning on raising over $80 Million to fund their anti-union campaign. A new report released by The Guardian sheds light on how that money will be spent.

The 28-page document reveals that the conservative network, that operates in all 50 states, is planning a direct market campaign to advise and convince union members to opt out of their union following the expected decision in the Janus v. AFSCME case. UCOMM has already covered the work that one of their affiliates, The Freedom Foundation, is doing to prepare for Janus. SPN hopes that the push could reduce public sector union membership by 20%.

Part of the reason the Koch Brothers are getting behind the push to destabilize unions is to defund the larger progressive movement. “Well run opt-out campaigns can cause public-sector unions to experience 5 to 20% declines in membership, costing hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in dues money. This can affect the resources and attention available for union leaders to devote to political action campaigns,” the document said.

The toolkit lays out what these anti-union scabs should and shouldn’t say to convince members to leave. This includes calling their efforts “union reform” and staying away from polarizing phrases like calling an elected union President or Officer a “union fat cat.” It also encourages them to not only tell members that they have the right to opt out (if the Supreme Court finds in favor of Janus) but to educate them on anti-union proposals like mandatory union recertification that occurs every 2-3 years. The toolkit even includes polling data that suggests which messages would work in red states and which work better in blue states.

Much like the debate around charter schools, SPN will frame their argument to union members as giving them a choice of who represents them at work. Referring to it as “Workers Choice,” they will try to convince members to opt out and then push recertification votes to further weaken the union. Of course, after the employees vote out their union, they have lost their voice at work and have given any choice they have over to their employer, but that is what SPN wants. They are not funded by employees but rather by multi-national CEOs like the Koch Brothers.

In response to the toolkit being released, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten told the Guardian, ““These documents make clear that Janus v AFSCME is not a case brought by individuals trying to have a voice, it’s a case brought by wealthy forces to eliminate worker voice and power.”

Click here to read the entire toolkit.

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