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IRS Called Upon to Investigate Anti-Union Organization

December 21, 2015

A coalition of labor advocates in the Pacific Northwest has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Freedom Foundation, an anti-union group that earlier this year sued a union of personal care aides (PCAs) in Oregon.

In August, the Freedom Foundation filed a class-action lawsuit against SEIU Local 503, which represents more than 20,000 Oregon PCAs who are paid through Medicaid to provide personal care services for people with disabilities.

In the lawsuit, the Freedom Foundation argued that SEIU is violating its members’ free-speech rights, alleging that it forces workers to accept the union as its representative when it collectively bargains on their behalf.

The lawsuit is still ongoing.

Evidence of Partisan Activities

In its December 2 letter to the IRS, the coalition argues that the Freedom Foundation should lose its tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization because it participates in political campaigns, attempts to influence legislative activity, and “is operated for the private benefit of the Republican Party and other conservative and libertarian groups” in both Oregon and Washington State.

As examples of the Freedom Foundation’s partisan activities, the letter cites numerous blog posts found on the group’s website and public comments made by members that either attacked Democratic candidates or endorsed Republican ones.

The coalition’s letter also spotlights a Freedom Foundation-hosted event in Olympia in December 2014 at which attendees were encouraged to “take action to support Republicans and defeat Democrats,” as well as the group’s “Free Washington” tour, during which specific Republican political candidates were endorsed.

Led by the Washington-based Northwest Accountability Project, the coalition includes representatives from several labor unions, including the Oregon AFL-CIO and Teamsters 117, as well as civil-rights groups such as Basic Rights Oregon and Equal Rights Washington.

— by Matthew Ozga

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