March 27, 2001


* McCain-Feingold DOA After Defeat of Amendment to Protect Workers and Stockholders

* Bush II Reverses Clinton; Restores Bush I’s Rule Telling Workers Their Rights Under Beck

* Paycheck Protection Enacted in Utah

* Union Leader Admits Big Labor Is Not Listening to Members

* Stars Stump for More Regulation

McCain-Feingold DOA After Defeat of Amendment to Protect Workers and Stockholders

Senators essentially killed McCain-Feingold legislation to enact further campaign finance regulation March 21 when it voted down a "paycheck protection" amendment March 21 that would protect employees and stockholders from financing political activity without their permission. President George W. Bush has said he considers paycheck protection a key part of a fair and balanced campaign finance bill, indicating a likely veto for any legislation without it.

McCain-Feingold would ban non-candidate "soft money" contributions to political parties and restrict independent political expenditures. Fears that the bill would cripple free speech has brought together in opposition groups as diverse as the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union. Many Republican senators oppose it because it does not curb organized labor’s unlimited use of member dues for political activity. Democratic senators, previously considered safe votes, are also breaking ranks.

Senator John Breaux (D-LA) opposes the bill. Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) warned, "I think it’s very difficult to legally and constitutionally say to third-party groups that they can’t spend their money the way they want to." Even Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) might oppose it if the limit on direct donations to candidates is raised from $1,000 to $3,000. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), an opponent, observed, "I think there are a whole lot of Democrats who never had any idea what was in this bill. At least they are reading it."

The defeat of an amendment to require labor unions and corporations to get prior permission from members and shareholders before using dues, wages and other funds for political purposes further dimmed prospects. President Bush stated, "I think we ought to get rid of labor union and corporate soft money." With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives and holding a 51-50 advantage in the Senate (with Vice President Cheney’s tie-breaking vote), Bush is expected to be bolder than his predecessors in wielding his veto power.

Bush II Reverses Clinton; Restores Bush I’s Rule Telling Workers Their Rights Under Beck

President George W. Bush issued an executive order February 17 that requires federal contractors to post information on workplace bulletin boards letting employees know about their rights under the 1988 Communications Workers of America v. Beck U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The Beck decision states that employees who are not members of a union, but who are still required to pay union dues, have a right not to pay the portion of union dues that is used for political activity.

This executive order is similar txo one issued by Bush’s father in 1992. That order was rescinded in the first days of the administration of President Bill Clinton in 1993. While the new order is exclusive to federal contracts, Bush said he hoped campaign finance legislation would give paycheck protection to all workers.

Campaign Finance Factoids

Paycheck Protection Enacted in Utah

Utah Governor Mike Leavitt signed paycheck protection into law on March 19. The "Voluntary Contributions Act" requires written permission be granted before money can be deducted from an employee’s wages for political purposes by an employer or labor union. Utah is the sixth state to enact paycheck protection.

Union Leader Admits Big Labor Is Not Listening to Members

According to the Education Intelligence Agency, retiring Ohio Education Association Executive Director Robert Barkley told the union’s Representative Assembly in December, 2000: "[O]ne thing I am sure of is that we are not truly listening to all our members… What would we really do differently if we really did listen to our members? First, we would very rarely, if ever again, give a cent to a politician or a political party… Political decision-making is unacceptable for schools and for school employee organizations. If we are going to seek feedback from our members, we must listen to what they say. To do otherwise is to misrepresent the members who put their trust in us."

Stars Stump for More Regulation

Members of the Creative Coalition – a group of politically active Hollywood celebrities – is demanding that politicians in Washington support increased campaign finance regulation. Actor Alec Baldwin told the Associated Press the group would "do everything in our power to hold these people accountable and punish them" if they don’t. Interestingly, their principle means of punishment is said to be that the stars will withhold future campaign contributions and fundraising help to offenders.

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