DPE General Board
Thursday, June 18, 2015
Presidents Room, AFL-CIO
June 1, 2014 – May 31, 2015
Formed by the AFL-CIO in 1977, the DPE is the largest association of professional and technical workers in the U.S. Your support and participation makes DPE the single most effective voice for professional and technical workers. DPE is honored to work on issues important to professionals on your behalf.
The DPE launched new initiatives to aid affiliate organizing and influence the conversation on issues important to professionals. The DPE hosted a meeting on intellectual property and copyright protections. DPE continued to play an active but, unfortunately, a defensive role in the area of high-tech guest worker visa programs. DPE produced a new fact sheet on the future of work and workers for professionals, and published a Guide to Organizing Professionals. Recently, the DPE held the first of a series of meetings on “The Changing Working Environment for Professional and Technical Workers.”
In 2014, DPE expanded its communications options by establishing a Facebook page and a Twitter account, while, more recently, the web site was redesigned and made compatible with mobile devices and tablets.
The DPE Executive Committee elected a new Treasurer.
This report reviews DPE activities under these headings:
- DPE Executive Committee Elects a New Treasurer
- Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industries Committee (AEMI)/Associated Actors and Artistes of America (4As)
- DPE Hosts “Why IP/Copyright Matters” Conference
- DPE Holds Part I of “The Changing Working Environment for Professional and Technical Workers”
- Public Policy and Legislation
- DPE Supports Affiliates
- Outreach to Professional Associations
- DPE Meets with Federal Agencies
- Research and Publications
- DPE Website, Twitter Account, and Facebook Page
- Communications and Notes
On December 12, 2014, the DPE Executive Committee unanimously elected AFT Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker as DPE Treasurer. She replaced Francine Lawrence, who left the DPE Executive Committee after retiring as AFT Executive Vice President. Ricker, a teacher and local President from St. Paul, MN, was elected Executive Vice President at the AFT’s biennial convention in July 2014. Ricker had been an AFT Vice President since 2012.
DPE HOLDS PART I OF “THE CHANGING WORKING ENVIRONMENT FOR PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL WORKERS”
On May 21, 2015, DPE hosted Part I of the series that is bringing together DPE affiliates and experts to look at how work is changing for professionals and how unions can best represent new and existing members in a changing work environment. Attending were 28 people from AEA, AFGE, AFM, AFT, SAG-AFTRA, and the USW. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler kicked off the series by addressing issues that are key to professional and technical workers, including having a labor voice at the table when corporate leaders are studying the future of work. Participation for Part I included staff from the AFL-CIO, allied organizations, and Rick Hurd and Rachel Aleks from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Future sessions will:
- Analyze how technology and employment structure changes will affect the work currently represented by affiliates. Develop strategies to adapt to new employment structures and organize work created as a result of technological innovation.
- Evaluate training and certification programs of non-union organizations to determine if unions can utilize similar programs to organize new members as well as help current members adapt to technology changes.
- Examine how affiliates can successfully support and represent workers who are not eligible for traditional collective bargaining. Examine non-traditional organizing models as well as explore how traditional organizing models can be repurposed in a professional context.
- Determine best practices for communicating with members, employers, and the public in campaigns. Determine how to successfully incorporate social media into campaign strategies.
ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, AND MEDIA INDUSTRIES COMMITTEE (AEMI)/ ASSOCIATED ACTORS AND ARTISTES OF AMERICA (4As)
Eleven of the DPE affiliates make up the AEMI, which meets about intellectual property protections, treaties, international trade agreements, and visas issues. The Directors Guild of America (DGA) also participates because they are an ally on legislative and policy issues. The AEMI met twice to discuss and coordinate on issues important to them.
On June 1, 2014, DPE President Paul Almeida became the 4As Executive Director and DPE took over administrative functions of the 4As, as per the April 15, 2014, agreement between the DPE and the 4As. As part of the agreement, AGVA and GIAA affiliated with the DPE. AGMA, already a DPE affiliate, AGVA, and GIAA remain AFL-CIO affiliates through the 4As. The other two 4As members, AEA and SAG-AFTRA, previously received direct charters from the AFL-CIO. The 4As met three times this year.
DPE HOSTS “WHY IP/COPYRIGHT MATTERS” CONFERENCE
On February 3, 2015, the DPE hosted a conference on the importance of intellectual property (IP) protections. DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist served as the conference moderator. The conference brought together labor, press, Congressional staff, rights holders’ organizations, and companies to stress the importance of protecting IP through copyright and patents. The conference included closing comments by J. Walter Cahill, an International Vice President of IATSE and a DPE General Vice President.
A panel addressed “Why IP Protection is Critical to the U.S. Economy and Employment.” DPE affiliate panelists included Owen Herrnstadt, Chief of Staff for the IAM; Richard Masur, National Government Affairs Committee Chair, SAG-AFTRA, and Lowell Peterson, Executive Director, WGAE.
AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler delivered the opening speech for the conference by stressing the AFL-CIO’s support for IP protection. Motion Picture Association of America President and CEO Chris Dodd gave the key note speech. Representative Linda Sanchez (D, CA) spoke forcefully on the need for Congress to adequately protect IP.
PUBLIC POLICY AND LEGISLATION
DPE regularly attended the AFL-CIO weekly legislative briefings, which are held when Congress is in session, to monitor issues that may affect professional and technical workers. Many DPE affiliates are not headquartered in Washington, DC and DPE will report issues to those affiliates if their union may be impacted. Among the most recent issues covered for the professional and technical workforce are overtime rules, the 2018 excise tax in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and trade, including intellectual property and copyright issues.
On February 24, 2015, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security sought comments on a proposed rule that would benefit some spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants. The spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants legally live in the U.S. on an H-4 visa. The rule that became effective May 26, 2015, allows such H-4 visa holders to seek employment without a test of the labor market and without any tracking of where they will be working. According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an estimated 180,000 applications for Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) could be filed by H-4 holders in the first year and 55,000 each year thereafter. The DPE filed comments, noting the proposed rule would be an expansion of the H-1B temporary worker visa without comprehensive immigration reform. The H-1B program has been the subject of well documented abuses in the high tech industry.
On January 13, 2015, almost two years to the day, Senators Orrin Hatch (R, UT), Amy Klobuchar (D, MN), Chris Coons (D, DE), and Richard Blumenthal (D, CT) reintroduced the so-called Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act (S. 153). This legislation will undermine our nation’s workforce by distorting the high-tech labor market, drive down wages for current high-tech workers, and dramatically impact American students who are considering Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) courses of study in college.
For over a decade, DPE has been outspoken about the H-1B program and the need for reforms, not expansion. Instead of addressing any of the fixes needed for the H-1B program, the I-Squared Act calls for a massive increase in the number of H-1B visas allotted annually with no reforms at all. The bill would increase the initial H-1B cap from 65,000 annually to 195,000. It would also eliminate the cap on H-1B visas for post-graduate students graduating from U.S. universities and colleges with STEM degrees.
Many of these same provisions are a giveaway to the tech industry and were made part of the “grand bargain” in an effort to garner the vote of Senator Hatch and others during negotiations for the 2014 comprehensive immigration reform bill approved by the Senate. Massive H-1B increases were offered as a stand-alone measure in I Squared and not part of any comprehensive plan to fix our broken immigration system.
DPE President Paul Almeida and a delegation of unions made numerous visits to Senate offices to tell them that I-Squared is bad policy that will continue to harm workers. In a March 16, 2015, letter, Almeida also wrote to the Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Charles E. Grassley and the Ranking Senator Patrick J. Leahy on the need for immigration reform to protect skilled American workers. Writing on behalf of the 22 affiliates of the DPE, Almeida proposed visa reforms, citing evidence of the misuse of visas, mostly in computer and engineering occupations, and urged the Senate to “reform of our skilled guest worker visa programs, including the H-1B, L-1, B-1 in lieu of H-1B, and OPT.”
The I Squared bill has stalled in Congress and it may not come up again this session. High profile layoffs at Southern California Edison and Disney World came to light and legislators seemed particularly surprised that the hundreds of workers who were laid off were required to train their H-1B replacements and sign non-disparagement agreements with the company in order to receive their severance pay.
On January 7, 2015, DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist attended the AFL-CIO National Summit on Raising Wages. The goals for the summit included making clear to all policymakers and political candidates that gaining labor’s backing will require firm support for a working people’s agenda; developing strategies that will help workers raise their wages and strengthen their collective voice on the job; and identifying states and localities to pass legislation guaranteeing substantial increases above the federal minimum wage.
On July 10, 2014, DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist attended an information-gathering meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Labor on how overtime rules need to be changed to make more white collar workers eligible. In March of 2014, President Obama directed the DOL to change the regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act to make more workers eligible for overtime. Currently, professional and salaried employees earning more than $23,660 annually, or $455 a week, are not eligible for overtime pay when they work more than 40 hours in a work week. New rules are expected to be issued in June 2015 that will greatly increase the number of professional workers eligible for overtime.
On May 12, 2015, a delegation from the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, met with DPE and Howard University Associate Professor Ron Hira in advance of meetings on Capitol Hill. The delegation discussed healthcare taxes, trade, and nonimmigrant visas.
On April 2, 2015, DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist facilitated a meeting of AFL-CIO staff from departments for Campaigns, Communications, and Digital Strategies with AFM Legislative-Political Director, Director of Diversity Alfonso Pollard to support the Fair Play Fair Pay Act. The Act was to be unveiled at SAG-AFTRA’s New York headquarters on April 13, 2015. The Act is co-sponsored by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (NY) and Marsha Blackburn (TN). The AFM and SAG-AFTRA are part of the coalition, musicFirst, which works to ensure music creators get fair pay for their work. The legislation would ensure performers would be paid for their work played on AM/FM radio and for fair pay on digital radio and any new platforms.
The full day meeting covered union and demographic data for federal nurses and how federal nurses could use research tools to build their membership, promote their public health role, advocate for safe staffing, and promote Federal Nurses Week.
On December 17, 2014, DPE met with Kelly Trautner, the new Director of AFT Nurses and Health Professionals. Kelly was made familiar with the work DPE does and its publications. Kelly followed up with DPE Research Director Jennifer Dorning with some healthcare-related research questions, including industry and occupation outlook for the healthcare sector as well as union density data.
On July 9 and September 29, 2014, DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist attended U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) meetings with a coalition led by the AFM. The coalition included the League of American Orchestras, National Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, Chamber Music America, Performing Arts Alliance, Recording Industry Association of America, Association of Performing Arts Presenters, musicFirst, Folk Alliance International and the DPE. The coalition met with the Secretary of Transportation and representatives of national and regional airlines to set rules and airline policies for musicians to safely transport musical instruments in-cabin and as checked baggage. The administrative rules were required by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658). The DOT issued the new rule, effective March 6, 2015.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS
An important element of the DPE mission is “building alliances with professional associations and societies promoting the interests of professional and technical workers.” The work of DPE in the last 12 months continued to honor that emphasis through its work with the American Library Association (ALA).
DPE worked with its affiliated unions and others to develop and disseminate information at meetings of the American Library Association (ALA) and its companion organization, the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA). DPE Research Director Jennifer Dorning co-chairs the AFL-CIO/ALA Labor Committee (Labor Committee) and chairs the ALA-APA Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers unions subcommittee.
At the 2014 ALA annual convention in Las Vegas, which drew 20,000 attendees, the Labor Committee sponsored a program on right-to-work and distributed pro-labor materials at the Labor Committee’s booth on the exhibit floor.
The 2014 program, “Labor Solidarity in a ‘Right-to-Work’ State,” featured James P. Kraft, Professor of History at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and Danny L. Thompson, Executive Secretary Treasurer at the Nevada AFL-CIO. The program drew 33 ALA members.
Professor Kraft, author of Vegas at Odds: Labor Conflict in a Leisure Economy, 1960-1985, discussed the changing fortunes of organized and unorganized labor as Las Vegas evolved from a small, somewhat seedy desert oasis into the glitzy tourist destination that it is today.
Mr. Thompson shared how strong cooperation among Nevada’s unions as well as excellent leadership at the local level has helped Nevada maintain above average union density. Mr. Thompson also stressed the importance of linking organizing to politics in Nevada.
The Labor Committee’s booth in the Exposition Hall featured labor materials, including DPE fact sheets, “Friend of Labor” badge ribbons, resource guides and pens from RWDSU, and a poster illustrating the union difference for library worker salaries.
In March 2015, DPE Research Director Jennifer Dorning served as a presenter for a webinar on salary negotiation for new members of the ALA. Her presentation focused on the benefit collective action has on wages. She talked about salary negotiation for new hires when a union is present, and how to start a union if there is not one at the library. She also addressed pay equity issues in libraries and what can be done to address pay equity in the workplace. Over 40 people listened to the webinar live and it is posted on the ALA New Members Roundtable website.
Library workers are represented by several DPE affiliates, including AFGE, AFT, IFPTE, OPEIU, RWDSU, and USW.
DPE MEETS WITH FEDERAL AGENCIES
On June 11, 2014, DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist attended the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office briefing on its proposal to the World Intellectual Property Organization Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights for a treaty to protect broadcasting organizations against signal piracy of simultaneous or almost simultaneous broadcasts
On July 11, 2014, DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist, along with representatives from unions and other organizations, was invited to meet with DOL Secretary Tom Perez to hear how overtime pay and eligibility rules could be changed. See Public Policy and Legislation above.
On October 16, 2014, DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist participated in the Eighth Annual Services Roundtable of the U.S. International Trade Commission, an off-the-record discussion on trade services for the benefit of the Commission and its staff. Geist also met with staff to discuss US service jobs that lead to middle class wages but do not require a college degree.
On November 17, 2014, the DOL held a stakeholder listening session to review the Permanent Labor Certification Program in advance of possible rule changes to the program. DPE President Paul Almeida participated in the session.
RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS
DPE’s new Guide to Organizing Professionals is designed for organizers looking for an evidence-based approach to organizing professionals. Surveys showed much stronger job growth for professional and technical workers between 2004 and 2013, demonstrating both the need and the opportunity for organizing new members. The guide is based on surveys of professionals and examines what motivates professionals to seek union representation and successful strategies for organizing professionals, including effective messaging and why union membership appeals to professionals.
The printed guide is available for distribution to DPE affiliates.
DPE fact sheets provide statistical portraits of the professional and technical workforce and highlight the benefits of union membership for professionals. DPE Research Director Jennifer Dorning has created a new Fact Sheet, updated 13 Fact Sheets, and updated the “Professionals in the Workplace” pages on the DPE website.
The new fact sheet, “The Future of Work and Workers in Professional and Technical Occupations,” examines the shift in professional and technical work as it moves towards becoming increasingly temporary, automated, offshored, and privatized. Consequently, professionals more often work in contingent employment arrangements, attain higher education, and increasingly come from abroad. While changes to professional work increase employer profits and efficiency, many professionals struggle to earn what they are worth and have a sane work schedule.
The report is an examination of how the professional and technical workforce changed from 2004 to 2013. The report also looks at how professional work is changing, including technology changes, offshoring, and privatization. Next, the report examines how the professional workforce has changed, including increases in contingent workers, adjunct faculty, temporary workers, racial and ethnic shifts, and immigration changes. Finally, the report addresses how professional and technical workers and their allied organizations are confronting the changes.
The DPE fact sheet, “The STEM Workforce: An Occupational Overview,” was republished in the April 2015 issue of The Chemist, a journal of The American Institute of Chemists.
The DPE website is an opportunity to highlight DPE’s work and spotlight the unions affiliated with DPE. Website traffic continues to exceed expectations.
From June 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015, the DPE website had just over 170,000 unique pageviews. This is up from just over 71,000 unique pageviews last year. That is a 134 percent increase in unique pageviews and a 157 percent increase in the number of visitors (51,000 vs. 131,000). Unique pageviews is the number of visits during which a specified page is viewed (discounting repeat views by the same visitor during the same session).
- Fact sheets drew the most visitors to the site, about 87,000. DPE’s fact sheet on the “U.S. Health Care System: An International Perspective” had the highest number of unique pageviews with 16,000 for the year. Fact sheets on safe-staffing ratios, pharmacists, and misclassification of employees also had a significant number of pageviews (between 7,000 and 14,000 for the year).
- DPE’s “professionals in the workplace” series, which provides employment, demographic, and union information for 12 different occupational categories garnered nearly 35,000 unique pageviews. The majority of those pageviews, 24,000, were for the “Women in the Professional Workforce” page.
- Webpages on collective bargaining and organizing had 16,000 unique pageviews. Most of those pageviews, 9,500, were for the “I’m a Professional. What Can a Union Do for Me?”
On average, visitors spent a significant amount of time viewing fact sheets, reports, and professionals in the workplace pages. The page with the most unique pageviews, Women in the Professional Workforce, was viewed for an average of 5 minutes and 24 seconds. The “U.S. Health Care System: An International Perspective” fact sheet was viewed for an average of 6 minutes and 4 seconds. The average view time for the top 10 publications was a little over 5 minutes.
DPE also continues to circulate its electronic newsletter, DPE NewsLine, and to issue DPE Alerts!, one-time bulletins flagging time-sensitive news, events, or actions.
DPE established a Facebook page and a Twitter account. The Twitter account, @dpeaflcio, has 141 followers.
COMMUNICATIONS AND NOTES
On September 1, 2014, DPE President Paul Almeida was on the audio cast Patriot-Made for Labor Day.
DPE President Paul Almeida was interviewed for a December 15, 2014, Boston Globe article, Spouses hold out hope for new work visa rules. “It doesn’t force the tech industry to pay more or give an opportunity to recent graduates,” said Almeida. “It’s just, ‘Here’s a ticket, you have work authorization and you can work anywhere.’ ”
On November 6, 2014, a delegation from Ledarna, a 92,000 member Swedish union that represents managers, met with DPE staff to learn about what successes DPE affiliates and associations have had in representing professionals.
On May 28, 2015, at the 67th annual meeting of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), DPE Assistant to the President Eric D. Geist was the discussant on a symposium looking at “The Changing Nature of the Professional Employment Relationship.” Chaired by Rick Hurd, Cornell University Associate Dean for External Relations and Professor of Labor Studies, the panelists included Rachel Aleks, Cornell University – “What Professionals Want: Union and Employer Characteristics in Certification Elections of Professional Workers;” Nikolaus Krachler, Cornell University – “Care versus Technocracy? Professional Interests and Middle Managers in English Intensive Care Nursing;” and Mariam L. Krikorian, University of Southern California – “Birds of a Feather? Generalist and Specialist Selection of Jurisdictional Domains in the Professional Workplace.”
DPE Assistant to the President Eric Geist was a member the Labor Research Action Network (LRAN) 2015 Conference Planning Committee.
On June 1, 2014, DPE Vice President Michael J. Flynn retired from the IAMAW as Director, Occupational Safety & Health, Apprenticeship and CREST.
Marcie Lawrence, DPE Staff Assistant, will be retiring this summer. Marcie began working for the DPE in August 1992.
She was an invaluable member of the staff and will be greatly missed. On behalf of the past and present officers and the staff, DPE would like to wish her the best in her retirement.