But Sireix, a member of AFSCME Local 173 (Council 75), was one of just a few members who showed up – and they had a plan.
“A Freedom Foundation representative was there – and I made sure to confront him every time he lied. Besides, the guy was a total tool. Calling them out on their lies works. Don't be afraid to fact-check them,” Sireix said.
Local 173 also fought the other side’s lies with the truth.
"If the Freedom Foundation was lying about how we spend our dues, we put out the facts. If the Freedom Foundation was lying about the importance of union membership, we called them out on it. Thanks to the loyalty and credibility we already built, our members understood the danger,” she said. “We also circulated a petition making it clear we were sticking with our union. In just two days, we had signatures from three-quarters of our members.”
In Washington, Yestramski and his fellow AFSCME members faced a barrage of messages from the Freedom Foundation, one of the most powerful arms of the State Policy Network. They got calls, emails, mailings, and even home visits.
“In Washington, we got ahead of the Freedom Foundation's tactics by establishing trust with our members. Through our ‘100% Union’ campaign, we regularly engaged fellow members to show the difference it meant to be in a fighting union. And as a steward, I made sure people knew they could come to me, that I kept my promises and always had their backs,” said Yestramski, a social worker and a member of AFSCME Local 793 (Council 28).
That relationship building paid off big time.
“When the Freedom Foundation came knocking, our members trusted me and other union representatives to tell it to them straight. When our leaders, including our council president, went door-to-door in the rain, our members listened,” Yestramski said. “When the Freedom Foundation claimed members could ‘give themselves a raise,’ we showed members how dropping the union would actually cost them personally. We sent a powerful message about their lies, and our members trusted us, because we always told them the truth.”
Sireix and Yestramski spoke about the importance of communicating early, one-on-one with their fellow members. Building trust is key to fighting the deceptive tactics groups like the State Policy Network and the Freedom Foundation use to convince them to drop the union.
Convention-goers watched a video about confronting anti-union operatives on the lies they tell: