Weekly Update: It's Not Over

Standing With Locked Out Workers

The Oregon state Senate last week approved an unemployment insurance extension for locked-out workers that previously passed the state House, and the bill was signed into law yesterday by Governor Kate Brown. The bill will extend unemployment insurance to workers who are locked out as a result of a labor dispute. The legislation was introduced after Allegheny Technologies Inc. locked out members of the United Steelworkers (USW) in August of last year. Last week, the lockout ended when USW and ATI ratified a new contract.

Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain explained the importance of the legislation:

“Lockouts are incredibly difficult to bear, especially if they last beyond the term of unemployment insurance. Working people lose their homes and take on egregious debt to make ends meet, even during the time in which they’re drawing from unemployment insurance. But by passing this law, Oregon’s legislature has taken a step forward to enact a policy decision that will ease the burden on working families during lockouts.”

Send a Thank You!

Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1532 into law on March 2nd – securing a raise for over 100,000 workers this July!

Take a moment to thank her for signing the bill, and thank your Legislators for voting to raise the wage by clicking here.

Need more information about the minimum wage increase?  Click here to get the full story

It’s Not Over

Thanks to the commitment of a broad coalition of unions and community based organizations, the support of our legislators and our Governor, and the dedication of advocates across the state, hundreds of thousands of working Oregonians will soon get the much-needed raise they deserve. Working people won big, but that doesn’t mean our work is over.

The same corporate interests who opposed us on minimum wage are now going directly after Oregon workers, setting the stage for an attack this November.

Because we’ve been fighting for working families and winning policies like the increased minimum wage, paid sick days, and retirement security, corporate interests and out-of-state millionaires and billionaires like the Koch Brothers are striking back — this time with anti-worker laws. Anti-worker laws mean more money in the hands of those at the top, with lower wages, more dangerous workplaces, and worse healthcare for everyone else.

Two anti-worker initiatives are currently making their way toward the November ballot. If passed, either would weaken workers’ voices, making it harder for Oregonians to have access to good jobs, safe working conditions and fair pay.

We can’t let this happen. We can’t let out-of-state special interests take back everything we’ve fought so hard for. Please, sign the pledge to stand up against attacks on workers, and help us as we fight to keep winning victories for working families.

Defining Charity

The Northwest Accountability Project issued a press release this morning, calling into question the controversial “charity” status of the vehemently anti-union organization the Freedom Foundation:

Freedom Foundation’s Oregon “Charity” Status Questioned

Fire fighters, nurses, teachers, Asian and Latino groups, women’s health advocates, and others are calling on Oregon State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to launch an investigation into the Freedom Foundation’s tax-exempt status and compliance with state rules. (Letter signed by Oregon groups.)

The Northwest Accountability Project, a watchdog group, has uncovered evidence from Freedom Foundation leadership and staff that their covert purpose is to attack labor unions in order to “defund the political left” and advance certain conservative candidates, a clear violation of IRS and state rules.

The Freedom Foundation’s “number one stated focus is to defund the political left.” says Anne Marie Gurney, Freedom Foundation’s Oregon Coordinator, in a video released by the Northwest Accountability Project. “I hope you quote me right this time. So wherever you are in this room, our goal is to defund you.”

According to the Oregon complaint, by trying to “defund the political left,” the non-profit Freedom Foundation is likely violating federal and state rules governing 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charities and prohibit them from partisan, political activities.

“The Freedom Foundation is blatantly ignoring the state and federal rules that prohibit tax-exempt organizations from engaging in partisan political activity – and as a result, they’re getting tax breaks while taxpayers are footing the bill for their conservative attacks,” said Andrew Biviano, Founding Board Member of the Northwest Accountability Project. “It’s outrageous that the Freedom Foundation is engaging in partisan attacks on the middle class, the environment, and the values that we hold here in the Pacific Northwest, while hiding behind a bogus 501(c)(3) tax exemption.”

During a recorded Republican fundraiser for Lynda Wilson (R-Vancouver, WA), Freedom Foundation CEO Tom McCabe says, “Why are we focused on the labor unions?…They are by far the largest contributors to the Democratic Party.” In the video, Freedom Foundation staffer Scott Roberts explains, “For every dollar [unions] spend defending their idea is every dollar they don’t have to spend against our good candidates.”

Federal and state rules prohibit 501(c)(3) charities like the Freedom Foundation from participating in political, election or partisan activities.

Revocation of the group’s tax-exempt status could have a huge financial impact on the organization. It would mean that Freedom Foundation donors could no longer deduct contributions from their federal taxes, it would restrict contributions from charitable foundations such as the Murdock Trust, and the organization may have to pay other state taxes.

According to the IRS website, 4,800 Oregon non-profits lost their tax-deductible non-profit status in the last 5 years for failing to file proper documents. A much smaller group of charities have lost their 501(c)(3) status when they strayed too far into politics or exceeded lobbying limits. On the right is the Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, which had its IRS charitable status revoked in 2014 for a “pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns.” On the left is the Sierra Club, which lost its 501(c)(3) status 50 years ago for exceeding lobbying spending limits when it placed ads in the New York Times opposing dams in the Grand Canyon.

The consumer complaint in Oregon is the third complaint filed with federal and state authorities against the Freedom Foundation in recent months. Late last year, in a detailed 24-page complaint, more than a dozen Northwest organizations demanded the IRS revoke the Freedom Foundation’s 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for “flagrantly” disregarding federal laws banning political campaign intervention. A few weeks ago, groups in Washington filed a similar complaint calling on WA State Attorney General Bob Ferguson to launch an investigation into the Freedom Foundation’s activities.