Does America Still Work?

RECENT CONGRESSIONAL PROPOSALS DESIGNED TO HELP WORKERS AND ENCOURAGE WORKER-FRIENDLY PRACTICES BY BUSINESS


"The Health Insurance Reform Act of 1996, S. 1028"

This bi-partisan bill by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-Ma.) and Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.) won Senate approval on a 100-0 vote in April, 1996. Both Senator Robert Dole and House leader Newt Gingrich supported it.

The measure would offer portable healthcare for workers by guaranteeing that workers who quit or change jobs have the right to buy new medical insurance. Thus, pre-existing health conditions would not keep workers from moving to new jobs.


"The American Workers' Economic Security Act"

In April, 1996 Senator Edward Kennedy introduced this tax legislation designed to help workers. It would discourage layoffs resulting from corporate mergers and would not allow tax deductions for interest paid to finance mergers and acquisitions.

The bill would also create a two-tier tax rate for companies --giving tax breaks and preferences in government contract for 'worker friendly' companies, meaning those with above-average records of wage increases, training and education programs for workers, retirement benefits and profit sharing programs.

In hopes of winning support by stockholders Kennedy's 'worker-friendly' companies would be allowed to deduct from taxable profits 25% of dividends paid to stockholders. And they could also win Federal contracts if bids were not more than ten percent above the lowest bid.


Senator Jeff Bingaman's (D-N.M.) Proposal

In February, 1996, Bingaman's task force of Democratic legislators detailed a legislative plan to give benefits to corporations which acted "responsibly" toward their employees and communities. The plan has not yet been introduced in Congress.

Under the proposed legislation, corporations would qualify for becoming an "A-Corp"--and thus benefit from extremely favorable tax, regulatory and government contract treatment--if they have decent health and pension plans, investments in worker training, unions or other means for worker representation, caps on the ration of executive pay to worker pay, and limits on arbitrary layoffs. They also would have to make at least half their investments in the U.S.


PLUS:

"How to Avoid These Layoffs?"
Secretary of Labor Robert Reich makes the case for government offering incentives to get business to take more responsibility for their employees and communities.




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