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The Olympia, Washington-based Freedom Foundation is expanding to the State of Ohio. At an October 23 press conference that included Ohio State Senator Kristina Roegner (R-District 27), Freedom Foundation National Director Aaron Withe stated:

“I’m excited to officially announce today that we are open for business in the State of Ohio. Over the past five years, we have gone from being a statewide think tank, to a regional action tank, to now, a national battle tank.”

Freedom Foundation National Director Aaron Withe

Withe also introduced Ohio Freedom Foundation Director Lindsey Queen.

Freedom Foundation Ohio Director Lindsey Queen

The move into Ohio comes amidst a Freedom Foundation campaign to encourage public employees to opt out of paying union dues or even agency fees. The campaign is built around realizing the assault on unions embodied in the 2018 Supreme Court decision Janus v ACSME. In Janus, the Court held 5-4 that unions may not require even agency fees from workers that do not consent to them.[1]

The Freedom Foundation claims that its actions are intended to ensure that nonmembers not be required to pay for union political activity at odds with their beliefs. However, nonmembers already had such First Amendment protection under the 1977 Supreme Court decision Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. Under Abood nonmembers could be required to pay “agency fees” that covered union collective bargaining and representation costs, but not political activity.[2] Janus explicitly overturned Abood.

In the real world, however, the Freedom Foundation campaign is best understood as an effort to undermine unions and union democracy. The Janus decision was akin to so-called right-to-work laws and was a boon for anti-labor organizations. The Freedom Foundation campaign being pressed under its auspices potentially undermines unions by allowing anti-union workers to “free ride,” benefiting from the gains of collective bargaining and union representation even though they do not pay any union fees. Evidence indicates that right-to-work laws also contribute to lower union membership rates and may result in lower wages for workers.[3]

The Freedom Foundation had previously pushed the campaign in Washington, Oregon, and California, where it has chapters. The Freedom Foundation has a history of anti-labor and anti-environmental lobbying and opposing tribal sovereignty.


[1] United States Supreme Court.

[2] United States Supreme Court. Abood v. Detroit Board of Education. 431 U.S. 209 (1977).

[3] Gould, Elise and Will Kimball. “Right to Work” States Still Have Lower Wages. Economic Policy Institute. April 22, 2015.

Chuck Tanner

Author Chuck Tanner

Chuck Tanner is an Advisory Board member and researcher for the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights. He lives in Washington State where he researches and works to counter white nationalism and the anti-Indian and other far right social movements.

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