Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd said yesterday that two of organized labor's top legislative goals - construction site picketing and repeal of state right-to-work laws - are dead for this session of Congress.
But he predicted that Congress will revise upward the $2.50 hourly minimum wage proposed by President Carter last week and bitterly denounced as too low by AFL-CIO President George Meany.
Byrd told reporters that Carter's proposal to increase the minimum wage from $2.30 to $2.50 is insufficient and said he believes Congress would adjust it to a "more appropriate amount."
In testimony before a House labor subcommittee last week, Labor Secretary Ray Marshall said the administration backs a $2.50 wage floor as of July 1, with automatic annual increases in the future pegged to 50 per cent of average manufacturing wages.
The AFL-CIO is pushing for a $3 minimum wage this year and future automatic increases amounting to 60 per cent of manufacturing pay. A bill now before the House would raise the wage floor to $2.85 this year and follow the AFL-CIO's formula in the future.
Byrd said he will not call up for a Senate vote either the common site picketing or right-to-work legislation because the House sent a "clear signal" on both issues when it voted 217 to 205 last Wednesday night to kill the picketing bill.
This legislation would have permitted a union to picket and thus possibly shut down an entire construction site even if its grievance is with only one subcontractor. The right-to-work repealer would strike down state laws banning labor contracts that require workers to join a union.
Although organized labor took House defeat of the picketing bill and Carter's stand on the minimum wage as bitter disappointments. Byrd said they should not be interpreted "to suggest that there isn't a strong tie between a Democratic Congress, a Democratic President and labor."