Capitol Hill

Elections stakes are high for labor issues

As the 110th Congress winds down, it is not surprising a number of labor-related issues remain unresolved after two years of tension between a Democratic majority in Congress and a Republican administration. As such, labor issues are likely to be high on the legislative agenda when a new Congress convenes in 2009.

Organized labor, led by the AFL-CIO, entered 2007 with high hopes for achieving several legislative priorities given the Democratic takeover of Congress during the 2006 elections. However, this optimism quickly was tempered by the reality that a razor-thin majority of Democrats in the Senate is not sufficient to pass legislation, especially with President Bush standing by with his veto pen.

Labor unions now are placing a large bet that electing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) as the next U.S. president and adding more Democrats in Congress—particularly in the Senate—will result in passage of their top priorities during the next two years.

Organized labor has several labor-related proposals on its wish list, all of which currently have strong support in the House of Representatives but have been stalled by Republican opposition in the Senate.

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