Between now and Election Day 2010 (195 days away), Congress and the Obama Administration have a full plate, including financial regulatory reform, climate change and energy, and other priorities. One area where we could see some action is on several labor issues. Here are few possibilities:
- While the legislative outlook for the so-called "Employee Free Choice Act" (HR 1409/S 560, aka "card check") remains unclear, there most likely will be attempts to implement aspects of the legislation in other ways. Craig Becker, the newly recess-appointed member of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), may seek to impose parts of the EFCA through the NLRB administrative process, including restriction of employers' ability to communicatewith employees.
- Action is possible on the "Paycheck Fairness Act" (HR 12/S 182), legislation designed to strengthen the Equal Pay Act by allowing women to sue for compensatory and punitive damages in cases of suspected gender discrimination, prohibiting employers from retaliating against employees who share salary information with their coworkers, and requiring the Department of Labor to continue to collect and disseminate wage information based on gender.
- Both the House Education and Labor Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are holding hearings on the "Protecting America's Workers Act" (HR 2067/S 1580), which will enhance the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) enforcement abilities and bolster the agency's resources.
All of these things are worth keeping an eye on. Their collective effect, if enacted, would be nothing short of a momentous change in employer/employee relations.