GOP Senators Target Union Practice: Plan Ban on Using Dues for Politics

By Lambro, Donald | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 5, 1997 | Go to article overview

GOP Senators Target Union Practice: Plan Ban on Using Dues for Politics


Lambro, Donald, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Growing opposition among labor union members to using their dues for political campaigns has triggered legislation that would ban such activity without their expressed consent.

Nine GOP senators, including Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, have sponsored the "Paycheck Protection Act," which would bar union leaders from using dues "or other payments taken for politics without the separate, prior, written, voluntary authorization of each" union member.

"Millions of Americans are finding part of their paychecks taken from them without their voice or choice and used for political purposes with which they disagree," said Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican and chief co-sponsor of the bill.

In a Senate floor speech earlier this year, he warned Democrats that "if we are going to have campaign reform, I am going to tell my colleagues, `This is going to have to be part of the package.' "

Additionally, Rep. Harris W. Fawell, Illinois Republican and chairman of the House Education and the Workforce subcommittee on employer-employee relations, is seeking legislation similar to the Nickles bill.

Mr. Fawell warned Democrats on his panel at a hearing last month that if they did not agree to such legislation, organized labor "is going to lose the union security clause," which permits closed union shops in states that do not have right-to-work laws.

Republican leaders have long complained about organized labor's power to use dues to mount campaigns against mostly GOP candidates, yet have appeared powerless to do anything.

But after the AFL-CIO's unprecedented $35 million blitz last year, which helped to shrink their majority in the House, Republicans have begun to fight back - and they say they have union members on their side.

There is mounting evidence that labor union members - about 40 percent of whom tend to vote Republican - are becoming increasingly unhappy that their dues are being used to oppose candidates and legislative reforms they support.

Polls show that more than 60 percent of all rank-and-file union members oppose using dues to finance ads against congressional candidates. …

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