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Congressman Al Green updates Houston’s workforce community on labor legislation and health care reform

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Today Congressman Al Green (TX-09) met with labor representatives and elected officials to inform them about federal laws passed and pending in the 111th Congress, as well as the potential impact of health care reform on working families in America.

During his Labor Breakfast, Congressman Green discussed legislation that has already been enacted, such as the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and relevant bills that will likely become agenda items for Congress in 2010.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was one of the first laws signed by President Obama, is helping to end invidious pay discrimination against women. “Thanks to this new law, as long as workers file legitimate charges of pay discrimination within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their claims for a remedy will be considered timely,” Congressman Green explained.

Congressman Green also discussed the Employee Free Choice Act, which will likely be considered by Congress in the coming months. “This bill would require that employers recognize a union if a majority of employees at a workplace sign cards indicating they wish to organize,” he explained.

The Living American Wage (LAW) Act, which Congressman Green introduced in the House of Representatives, was another topic of discussion. He noted that the purpose of this bill is to help full-time minimum wage workers live above the poverty threshold. He specified that his bill, as currently drafted, “would increase the minimum wage to 15 % above the poverty line for a family of two with a full time worker, which would be $8.20 per hour in today’s wages, and require that it be periodically adjusted so as to maintain it at this minimum level above the poverty line.”

Congressman Green also analyzed the impact that health care reform may have on working families. He reminded the audience that the next step in the legislative process is reconciliation of the House and the Senate bills. He added that he hopes the reconciliation will produce a final bill that will provide portable, affordable and universal health care.

Elected officials who attended the meeting included Fort Bend County Commissioner Precinct 2 Grady Prestage, Houston City Councilwoman Wanda Adams and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. Representatives of the Texas chapters of the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Longshoremen Association, the Houston Federation of Teachers and the Houston Police Officers Association, as well as other organizations, were present at the event.

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