The following are extracts from an article by Joseph Perkins, writer for the Sand Diego Union-Tribune. It documents what I believe should be a subject for the next campaign finances reform bill. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ John Kerry doesnt warm anybody up. President Bush is likable and strong. Those were the prevailing sentiments of undecided and independent union voters who participated in focus group surveys last month in St. Louis and Philadelphia. The focus groups were conducted by Lake Snell Perry and Associates, a Democratic opinion research firm, on behalf of the AFL-CIO, the nations largest labor union. The results bring back to the fore the systematic disenfranchisement of millions of union members who happen to vote Republican. In the 2000 presidential election, Bush won 37 percent of the union vote, according to exit polls. Yet, of the more than $50 million the AFL-CIO spent that year on political activity, practically every dollar went to defeat Bush, to beat Republicans. The labor federation was using the dues of its politically dissenting members - the nearly four of 10 who supported Bush - to undermine their vote. And the same thing is happening again this election year. Just this week, in fact, the AFL-CIO unleashed new television commercials that bash Bush for supposedly rewarding companies that outsource jobs overseas. The attack ad, which are to air in nine states, follow an even larger, more expensive purchase two weeks ago in 14 states. They are meant to help elect Kerry, the Massachusetts liberal. Of course, the labor federation has every right to support whichever candidates, whichever political party its leaders see fit. But the AFL-CIO cannot lawfully compel its rank-and-file members to contribute to political activities to which they dissent - including the airing of television spots that attack a candidate those members support. That legal dictate was set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Communications Workers v Beck. the justices declared that union members can be required only to pay dues and fees that are directly related to the cost of collective bargaining and contract administration. If a union member disagrees with his or her local or regional or national unions support for a candidate, or party the dissenter is entitled, under Beck, to be refunded that portion of dues that goes to political activities. Union leaders attributed the Beck decision to conservatives on the high court, appointed by Republican presidents hostile to organized labor. But the majority opinion actually was authored by William Brennan, a liberal justice who hardly could be characterized as a foe of labor unions. The leaders of the AFL-CIO and other labor unions have done all they can to keep their members in the dark about their Beck rights. In fact, a 1997 National Voter Survey found that two-thirds of union members knew nothing about Beck. And thats the way union leaders aim to keep it. If the AFL-CIO and other unions were forced to remunerate politically dissenting members the portion of their dues and fees that goes to political activity, it would cost those unions tens of millions of dollars. Indeed, organized labor spent more the $100 million on behalf of Democrats in the 200 and 2002 elections. So the one third of union members who voted Republican in those elections are entitled, under Beck, to at least $30 million worth of refunds.