Oregon and Washington unions are under attack by the Freedom Foundation, a business-funded non-profit whose mission, as its spokesperson put it last August, is “making life miserable for government employee unions.” The group has filed numerous lawsuits against unions, and has campaigned with mailings and house visits to get workers to drop union membership. It even produces a weekly anti-union radio show. So to support the Freedom Foundation is to make a statement: You’re an enemy of organized labor.
One of the group’s largest funders is Vancouver-based M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, set up by Tektronix founder Melvin J. Murdock. The Murdock Trust is led by three trustees, one of whom is Wells Fargo senior executive Jeffrey T. Grubb, executive vice president for private client services in the Pacific Northwest.
To fight back against the Freedom Foundation, unions set up their own non-profit last year called the Northwest Accountability Project. The group has publicly targeted Murdock, noting that the Trust is also a big funder of other right-wing groups, such as the anti-gay-rights legal group Alliance Defending Freedom. Now the Northwest Accountability Project is targeting Wells Fargo too.
Bakers Local 114 Secretary-Treasurer Terry Lansing heard of the campaign in February, and wrote to Wells Fargo: “We feel strongly that Mr. Grubb’s support for these groups, through his paid role as one of three trustees … undermines many of the values we hold dear as labor activists in the Pacific Northwest.”
Local 114 has had an account at Wells Fargo since 1963. But in July, it transferred its account balance of about $40,000 to IBEW and United Workers Federal Credit Union, and closed its Wells Fargo account.
“We cannot in good conscience continue doing business with a company where there is an executive officer such as Jeffrey Grubbs who supports philosophies that are the exact opposite of what we stand for,” Lansing wrote July 30 in a final letter to Well Fargo.