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NAW News

Labor Issues

- January 2011

Despite the election two years ago of the most pro-labor President and Congress in decades, organized labor chalked up very few legislative victories in the 111th Congress. One of the first pieces of legislation the president signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Act dealing with the statute of limitations on pay discrimination charges (covered in a separate staff report), but that was both the first and the last major piece of labor-backed legislation enacted into law.

The only other noteworthy legislative policy they successfully fought for was in the health care bill, in which they opposed the so-called “Cadillac Plan” tax on high-value health insurance plans since most of the costliest and most generous plans are those in union-negotiated collective bargaining agreements. And even in that case, they won a concession and not a victory: the final bill does include the tax, but labor prevailed on the bill’s authors to raise the amount of insurance subject to the tax to a sufficiently high dollar amount that most of their negotiated plans fall below the trigger.

Other legislative items on labor’s wish list either failed to pass in one house of Congress or the other, or in both, or were never even considered. Among their failed initiatives: the Healthy Families Act, the Pay Equity Act, and OSHA reform (all covered in other staff reports). Their effort to enact a police and firefighters collective bargaining bill died on a vote in the Senate in the lame duck session last fall. And their top prize – the so-called Employee Free Choice Act – was never even considered in either house of Congress.

But while labor had few legislative victories, the pro-labor assault on the American workplace manifested itself aggressively in the regulatory arena. And since labor will obviously expect little favorable legislation from the new GOP-led House, we can expect the regulatory threat to increase in intensity in the next couple years.

We are bracing for that fight – please see separate staff report on the Regulatory Agenda and Oversight. .