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Public Statements

Issue Position: Labor

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Helping Working Families

For more than 20 years of public service, Congresswoman Hirono been a strong advocate for Hawai"i's working families. That is why she requested assignment to the House Education and Labor Committee. As a member of this Committee, she has helped to develop and pass legislation that protects the rights of workers in our state and nationwide.

Congresswoman Hirono is proud to be part of the new Democratic majority in Congress, which is enacting policies that help the hard-working men and women who have made our nation productive and prosperous and is reversing years of hostility to the rights of workers.

Protecting Workers' Rights

* Employee Free Choice Act (H.R. 800)

Congresswoman Hirono co-sponsored and voted for the Employee Free Choice Act which the House passed. H.R. 800 would enable workers to bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions by restoring their rights to form unions. This bill reforms a broken union election process in which employers frequently intimidate, harass, reassign, or even fire workers who support the formation of a union. The bill also stiffens penalties against employers who illegally fire or discriminate against workers for their union activity during an organizing or first contract drive and allows employers and newly-formed unions to refer bargaining to mediation and, if necessary, binding arbitration if they are not able to agree on a first contract after 90 days of bargaining.

Fighting Against Pay Discrimination

* Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (H.R. 2831)

Congresswoman Hirono co-sponsored and voted for this legislation which the House passed in response to a recent ruling that made it harder for workers to pursue pay discrimination claims. Lilly Ledbetter's pay discrimination claim was denied by a 5-4 Supreme Court decision. The court said she had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination, despite the fact that she filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as soon as she received an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination. The court ruled that since she did not raise a claim with 180 days of the actual decision to discriminate, she could not receive back pay. This legislation clarifies that every paycheck or other compensation resulting, in whole or in part, from an earlier discriminatory pay decision constitutes a violation of the Civil Rights Act. As long as workers file their charges within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges would be considered timely.

Helping Working Families

* Increasing the Minimum Wage (H.R. 2)

After 10 years of stonewalling by the Republican congressional leadership, minimum wage workers this year have finally received a wage increase. This was one of the first priorities for the Democratic Congress.

The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 increases the minimum wage from the current $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour over the next two years.

Although Hawai"i already has a higher minimum wage, it was important to raise the federal minimum wage to help working families throughout our nation. Congresswoman Hirono co-sponsored and voted for this to help the 13 million lowest paid Americans.

Congresswoman Hirono has done more to help workers, including:

* Taking steps to end an impasse in negotiations for Hawai"i workers represented by Association of Flight Attendants-CWA

* Blocking the President's efforts to slash funding for training dislocated workers

* Defending Davis-Bacon provisions to guarantee prevailing wages

* Helping pass legislation to guarantee bargaining rights for public safety workers

* Supporting training for workers in new technologies for "Green Collar" jobs

* Supporting increased investment in workforce development and education for nursing and other healthcare professions

* Supporting professional development for teachers


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