Thursday, January 08, 2009

Democrats strike early with labor rights bills

WASHINGTON (AP) Congressional Democrats are wasting no time in promoting labor rights issues they argue have been thwarted during eight years of the Bush administration.

Two pay discrimination bills on the House floor Friday could be among the first that labor-friendly Barack Obama signs into law when he becomes president later this month.

"It is of the highest priority to us," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in explaining why the House is taking up the bills in the first week of the new session.

Last year, President George W. Bush threatened to veto both the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would overturn a 2007 Supreme Court decision making it more difficult to sue over past pay discrimination, and the Paycheck Fairness Act, which closes loopholes allowing employers to get around the 1963 law requiring equal pay for equal work.

In contrast, Obama took time off from his campaign last April to speak on the Senate floor in favor of the Ledbetter bill. The House passed both bills in the last session of Congress, but the Senate last year fell three votes short of stopping a GOP-led filibuster on the Ledbetter bill. It did not debate the Paycheck Fairness Act.

The Senate, now with a fortified Democratic majority, plans to take up the Ledbetter bill next week. No date has been set for considering the second measure......

No comments: