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Trump Group Telling Teachers to Opt-Out of Their Union

Teachers in New York have already begun getting emails, while the Freedom Foundation has begun knocking on doors on the West Coast

Brian Young's picture
Jun 29, 2018

Only days after the Supreme Court issued their flawed ruling in the Janus v AFSCME case, billionaire-backed groups are already contacting public sector union members and telling them to opt out of their union.

Members of the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) began reporting that they had received an email in the last 24 hours encouraging them to opt out of their union following the Janus decision. The email was sent by the Mackinac Center. Here is what the email looks like.

Over the last few months, Mackinac has launched the website My Pay, My Say which provides state by state information on how to opt out of your union. It evens allows you to enter your information into a form letter that members can send to their employer and union advising them that they want to opt out of their union. They have also teamed up with right-wing groups like American’s for Prosperity to run digital ads directing union members back to the My Pay, My Say website. The Mackinac Center has a long history of fighting against unions in Michigan, but this is their first foray into the national scene.

Some of the donors to the Mackinac Center have also raised alarms. Below we have highlighted some of their major donors over the last decade:


Since Betsy DeVos became Education Secretary in 2017, she has had an adversarial relationship with both teachers unions and the union representing Department of Education Workers.

Anti-union groups aren’t only reaching out to union members in New York. According to HuffPost’s Josh Eidelson, the Freedom Foundation has already deployed 80 people to union strongholds in Oregon, Washington, and California to go door to door to convince union members to opt out. The Foundation has been training these canvassers since March. According to an internal playbook that Eidelson was able to obtain, the Foundation hopes to reduce union membership by 127,000 in the three states. They also plan to bring the campaign to other free bargaining states. Below is the plan that they laid out in California.

While public sector unions from across the country have spent months organizing and re-signing members, these billionaire-backed groups are still hoping to convince some members to leave their union. They will be in for a battle though in many states. American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten said that over the last 6 months local unions in the 10 states most affected by the ruling have been meeting members one on one and have gotten over 500,000 to recommit to sticking with the union. Other unions like CSEA, a New York Affiliate of AFSCME, have been talking to members since January as part of their Never Quit campaign. Even before Janus was taken up by the Supreme Court, the Communications Workers of America began holding organizing blitzes to convert agency fee payers into full union members. In the immediate aftermath of the Janus decision, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order protecting state employees personal information like address, phone number and email address from FOIL request, but it seems that many anti-union groups may have collected this information before the case was decided.

If one of these people come to your door, make sure to make them feel as uncomfortable as possible and let your union know. You can also put this graphic on your door.

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