DPE General Board
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Presidents Room, AFL-CIO
June 1, 2013 – May 31, 2014
For a PDF version of this report, click here.
At last year’s meeting of the General Board, the Board re-elected the Executive Committee and added D. Michael Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America, to the Executive Committee as a General Vice President. The fall meeting of the DPE Executive Committee wished David Cohen well in his retirement. DPE was fortunate to hire Eric Geist as the Assistant to the President of DPE.
This year, the call to reform high-tech visas continued to be led by DPE, sequestration took a toll, followed by the government shutdown. Yet, the unions of DPE continued to grow their membership and demonstrate leadership in tough times. DPE unions know that the single most effective voice for professional and technical workers is their union. Your continued support of our efforts allow DPE to take action on behalf of your members. DPE is honored to serve as your meeting place.
DPE forged a new alliance this year with the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (the 4A’s) which also brought DPE two new affiliates: the American Guild of Variety Artist (AGVA) and the Guild of Italian American Actors (GIAA). We look forward to working with these new unions.
This report reviews DPE activities under these headings:
- DPE General Board Re-Elects Officers, Cohen Retires, Geist Joins DPE
- DPE Grows
- Senate Passes Immigration Reform Then it Stalls
- Sequestration and then Shutdown
- DPE Supports Affiliates
- Outreach to Professional Associations
- DPE Meets with Federal Agencies
- DPE Attends and Addresses AFL-CIO Quadrennial Convention
- Research and Publications
- DPE Website
DPE GENERAL BOARD RE-ELECTS OFFICERS, COHEN RETIRES, GEIST JOINS DPE
On June 19, 2013, the DPE General Board re-elected Paul E. Almeida as DPE President. The DPE Executive Committee also added D. Michael Langford, National President of the Utility Workers Union of America, to the DPE Executive Committee as a General Vice President.
Also re-elected were:
- Chair of the DPE Board: J. David Cox, AFGE National President;
- First Vice President: David White, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director;
- Treasurer: Francine Lawrence, AFT Executive Vice President; and
- General Vice Presidents: J. Walter Cahill, IATSE; Tom Carpenter, AEA; Gregory Junemann, IFPTE; Phil Kugler, AFT; Carol Landry, USW; Mary McColl, AEA; John McGuire, SAG-AFTRA; and Mary Mahoney, OPEIU.
On November 13, 2013, at the Fall DPE Executive Committee meeting, I informed the committee that David Cohen would retire early the next year.
David joined DPE in 2002 after spending nine years at the AFL-CIO in its Education Department. David was a valuable member of the DPE team. A fitting sendoff was held to show our appreciation for his contributions to DPE.
On March 3, 2014, I announced that Eric Geist accepted the position of Assistant to the President. Many of you already knew Eric from his more than 30 years as a union organizer for the Newspaper Guild and then the Communication Workers of America.
DPE forged a new alliance this year with the Associated Actors and Artistes of America (the 4As) which also brought to DPE two new affiliates: AGVA and GIAA.
At the Fall Executive Committee meeting I explained the reasons the 4As were seeking to come under the DPE umbrella, including that the larger unions of the 4As all received direct charters from the AFL-CIO and the 4As members without a charter are AGMA, AGVA, and GIAA. In 2013, the 4As asked DPE if it could assume certain administrative operations of the 4As.
DPE will have no role in the individual union’s local operations (negotiations, arbitration, elections, legal, etc.).
DPE brought the request to the Spring Executive Committee and asked it to adopt a resolution to authorize DPE to accomplish this task. On April 2, 2014, the Executive Committee adopted the following resolution:
“The DPE Executive Committee authorizes the DPE President to execute the Agreement and to act on its terms after having reviewed the proposed Agreement between the DPE and the 4As, the revised 4As Constitution, and financial and other background materials.”
Part of this agreement brings two new affiliates to DPE, the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) and the Guild of Italian American Actors (GIAA). Both unions are members of the 4As.
SENATE PASSES IMMIGRATION REFORM THEN IT STALLS
On June 27, 2013, the U.S. Senate voted 68-32 (with 14 Republicans joining all 54 Democrats) to approve the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744). Little or no improvement was made to address the plight of U.S. high-tech workers. DPE continues to raise its voice in defense of high-tech workers adversely impacted by the broken U.S. immigration system. DPE Fact Sheets on the impact of guest worker visas on women, African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian and Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders highlight the adverse impact of guest worker visas on these communities.
In the last week before passage, Senate Democrats gave Republicans everything they wanted on border security to secure their votes. The bill has since been awaiting House action. However, the House has shown little interest in comprehensive reform and instead is focusing on piecemeal changes that have yet to gain traction.
In his statement on Senate passage, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, “Clearly, no further compromise to the roadmap to citizenship can be tolerated by the labor movement or our allies.”
On July 30, 2013, the AFL-CIO sponsored a half-day event on, “Why Citizenship Matters” in an effort to win House support for the Senate Bill. I attended – in the standing-room-only Gompers Room at the AFL-CIO – and commented: “It would be hard for anyone to listen and not understand why citizenship matters.”
The panels addressed the political, economic, and personal sides of the immigration debate. The answers were varied, but took two main directions. The first is the concrete benefits that immigration provides, both to immigrants and to the communities they move to and work in. The second is the moral dimension that accompanies the efforts of people seeking work so they can improve the lives of themselves and their families, particularly in a system that allows them to be exploited.
On January 29, 2014, AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka told The Washington Post that immigration reform must provide a path to citizenship. Without a path to citizenship, the AFL-CIO will oppose immigration legislation. “Our price of admission is citizenship,” Trumka told The Post. “Republicans aren’t talking seriously until they start talking about citizenship, and that means a direct route to green cards and a real path to citizenship.”
DPE has worked tirelessly over the years to raise concerns about temporary foreign workers on H-1B and L-1 visas, which employers abuse to drive down wages.
On January 14, a federal court of appeals cleared the way for a class action suit against the “Who’s Who” of Silicon Valley for conspiring to drive down pay by agreeing not to hire each other’s employees. So the tech giants not only flood their ranks with low-wage guest workers, but collude to drive down the wages of U.S. professionals directly. In May 2014, Silicon Valley’s richest tech companies accepted a proposed settlement of $324 million to avoid going to trial.
SEQUESTRATION AND THEN SHUTDOWN
On June 26, 2013, AFGE National President J. David Cox, Chair of the DPE Board, presented “Sequestration: A Union Fights Back” to the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.
President Cox detailed the “real pain” that mindless and arbitrary federal budget cuts bring to millions of people: homebound Meals on Wheels recipients unable to obtain food, preschoolers thrown out of Head Start, college students losing financial aid, and unemployed people deprived of job search help. Sequestration threatened medical and scientific research, the safety of bridges, and the security of our country. It also compounded the unfair burden that years of pay freezes and benefit cuts inflicted on federal employees.
On October 1, 2013, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives shutdown the U.S. government. No one thought it would happen. AFT President Randi Weingarten called right-wing Republican actions “craven political brinkmanship … reckless and irresponsible.” AFGE National President J. David Cox, Chair of the DPE General Board, asked, “Do they hate the notion of letting the uninsured buy affordable insurance, or just hate the idea that the government is helping them do so?” IFPTE International President Gregory J. Junemann denounced Republicans in the House of Representatives for their decision to “jeopardize American prosperity in favor of making an empty partisan political point.”
The government shut down for 16 days, the second longest government shutdown in the United States since 1980. Millions of Americans were affected by the shutdown because Federal employees were not allowed to do their jobs. Americans experienced reduced services, including Head Start closures, delays in processing veterans’ disability claims, and delayed food safety inspections.
DPE SUPPORTS AFFILIATES
On June 17, 2013, Actors’ Equity Association hosted a black-tie Centennial Gala in New York City to honor its first century. The party followed parallel celebrations in Chicago and Los Angeles and preceded 27 more events in AEA cities around the United States. In addition to some 400 AEA members, the evening drew representatives from other arts, entertainment, and media unions as well as DPE. From left: DPE Executive Director David Cohen, AEA President Nick Wyman, AEA Executive Director Mary McColl, DPE President Paul E. Almeida; photo: Kristina Bumphrey
On July 17-19, 2013, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) hosted its Power for America conference in Chicago, IL. At the invitation of UWUA President D. Michael Langford and Executive Vice President Steven VanSlooten, David Cohen and I led a workshop for professional and technical workers on July 18.
The workshop, “Professionalism and Unionism: Are They Compatible?,” drew some 50 participants in spelling out what being a professional means, the elements of a union, the distinctions between a union and a professional association, how a union strengthens professionalism, and effective responses to professionals who hesitate to organize in unions.
The conference drew more than 350 UWUA members, officers, and guests. UWUA initiated the conference in 2009, when DPE also participated.
On September 29, 2013, the inaugural SAG-AFTRA National Convention concluded after four days of bringing together member delegates from across the country to celebrate union solidarity and conduct business. Inspiring speeches from the union’s top officers focused on the convention’s theme: United for Our Future. At the invitation of SAG-AFTRA, I attended as a guest.
SAG-AFTRA National President Ken Howard called upon delegates to take the hard work they did at convention back to their locals and continue the conversation. The last day of the convention began with Howard congratulating the newly elected national and member category vice presidents. He also thanked former Co-President Roberta Reardon for her service and dedication to the merger campaign.
On September 24-26, 2013, AFGE hosted a national leadership meeting to plan its next decade.
AFGE National President J. David Cox inspired some 700 AFGE leaders from across the country to “forge a strategy big enough to overcome the attacks and win the future of our choice.” An Event Planning Team (EPT), drawn from every level of the union, designed a maximally democratic process that propelled the participants through long, intense, and constructive days.
Among the EPT guiding principles: Build on the power of the union. Engage new leaders. Energize and activate current members. Energize and activate potential members.
In addition to AFGE officers and senior staff, contributing as speakers and panelists were, among others, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre; North Carolina State AFL-CIO President James Andrews; and AFT Assistant to the President for Organization and Field Services Phil Kugler. At the invitation of AFGE, DPE was honored to observe and participate through its Executive Director, David Cohen.
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.
DPE has worked with its affiliated unions and others to develop programs and policy resolutions, 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 Researcher and Representative Jennifer Dorning co-chairs the AFL-CIO/ALA Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups (Joint Committee) and serves on the ALA-APA Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers (SSLW).
At the 2013 ALA annual convention in Chicago, the Joint Committee sponsored a program on preserving labor’s history, organized a labor history tour in Chicago with the president of the Illinois Labor History Society, and distributed pro-labor materials on the exhibit floor at the convention.
As the chair of the labor subcommittee for the SSLW Committee, Jennifer Dorning organized a “Unions 101 for Librarians and Library Workers” panel and updated the “Unions” and “Pay Equity” chapters of the ALA-APA publication, “Advocating for Better Salaries Toolkit.”
On October 16, 2013, the AFT Executive Council unanimously adopted a resolution supporting “Improving Literacy and College Career Readiness Through Effective School Library Programs.”
DPE brought the issue to the attention of AFT Executive Vice President Francine Lawrence after Connie Williams, a member of ALA and AFT, contacted DPE. DPE met Connie through DPE’s ongoing involvement with ALA.
AFT resolved to “assist the American Association of School Librarians with public support of its lobbying efforts for passage of Section 1251 of the SKILLs Act of 2013.” Section 1251 of the SKILLs Act would ensure adequate resources to staff and supply our school libraries.
DPE MEETS WITH FEDERAL AGENCIES
On October 29, 2013, DPE hosted a meeting of its Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industries (AEMI) unions with the Register of Copyrights and Director of the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO), Maria Pallante, and three of her senior staff.
The meeting followed Ms. Pallante’s speeches and Congressional testimony this year advocating a comprehensive review of U.S. copyright policy and law leading to “the next great copyright act.” The AEMI unions stressed the importance of copyright to the jobs, incomes, and benefits of the people who organized and belong to them.
Specific topics included orphan works, digital first sale, felony streaming, the Audio-Visual Performances Treaty, the terrestrial performance right, and a licensing regime for copyrighted recorded works that is fair and equitable across all platforms.
Other USCO staff at the meeting were Karyn Temple Claggett, Associate Register and Director of Policy and International Affairs; Jacqueline Charlesworth, General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights; and Maria Strong, Senior Counsel for Policy and International Affairs. Participating AEMI unions were AFM, IATSE, OPEIU, and SAG-AFTRA, as well as AEMI ally DGA.
On November 14, 2013, DPE Executive Director David Cohen participated in the Seventh Annual Services Roundtable of the U.S. International Trade Commission, an off-the-record discussion for the benefit of the Commission and its staff.
On April 3, 2014, DPE coordinated a meeting with entertainment union affiliates and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to discuss O & P nonimmigrant visas. O & P visas allow foreign artists, performers, and groups to perform in the U.S.
Entertainment unions have consultation rights that serve to advise USCIS as to whether a foreign performer has extraordinary ability in his or her field. The meeting was an opportunity for affiliates to express their concerns about O & P visa procedures with USCIS, but also an opportunity for unions to stress the importance of O & P visas to the entertainment community.
Participating unions included AEA, AFM, AGMA, IATSE, IBEW, and SAG-AFTRA.
DPE ATTENDS AFL-CIO QUADRENNIAL CONVENTION
On September 8-11, 2013, I was a delegate to the AFL-CIO quadrennial convention in Los Angeles. The goal of the quadrennial convention: build a movement for all working people to deal with the new challenges and political landscape working families must navigate.
The convention launched important discussions and plans. Here are some key initiatives that emerged:
- Opening Up and Broadening the Labor Movement: The delegates recognized the need to expand the labor movement to be more broad and inclusive and to recognize all working families, whose rights have been under assault.
- Economics for Shared Prosperity: The convention delegates approved several resolutions that call for new ways of thinking and talking about the economy, moving away from a conservative, pro-corporate approach.
- A Road Map to Citizenship for Aspiring Americans: At the convention, the AFL-CIO recommitted to its ongoing support for and leadership in creating an immigration system that protects U.S. workers, reduces the exploitation of immigrant workers, reduces employers’ incentives to hire undocumented workers, keeps families together, creates a road map for aspiring Americans, and contributes to shared prosperity for all.
- Embracing and Including the Diverse Workforce: The AFL-CIO embraced diversity at its convention as never before, with people of color and women representing 46 percent of delegates. An inclusion conference before the convention kicked off ways to work more closely with communities of color, young workers, and the LGBT community. I addressed the Convention in support of Resolution 18, “AFL-CIO Women’s Initiative: Shared Values, Shared Leadership, Shared Prosperity.”
- Retirement Security for All: With seemingly endless attacks in recent years on retirement security, the AFL-CIO called for strengthening and improving Social Security benefits, much stronger protections for private and public pensions, and other legislative improvements to laws that protect working families in their retirement years.
- A New Approach to Trade and Globalization: The convention also passed a resolution calling for improvement in international trade deals, with a focus on protecting workers’ rights around the world, environmental protection, preventing corporations from interfering with national sovereignty and public interest regulations, and making clear that the AFL-CIO will oppose trade deals that don’t live up to these ideals.
- Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education: As a key component of any strategy of improving the lives of working families, the AFL-CIO supported a broad range of educational reforms that ensure that all children have the opportunity to attend safe, high-quality schools.
RESEARCH AND PUBLICATIONS
DPE Fact Sheets provide statistical portraits of the professional and technical workforce and highlight the benefits of union membership for professionals. DPE Researcher and Representative Jennifer Dorning has updated 17 Fact Sheets, the “Professionals in the Workplace” pages on the DPE website, and created five new Fact Sheets and publications.
The new Fact Sheets and publications include:
- Annotated H-1B Bibliography – Bibliography of recent studies, reports, and news articles covering the H-1B nonimmigrant visa.
- The Professional and Technical Workforce – Overview of the professional and technical workforce, including employment, demographics, and education attainment. The fact sheet also addresses issues facing older and younger workers as well as the employment and unemployment of professional and technical workers.
- Professionals in the Contingent Workforce – Examines the segment of the professional workforce engaged in contingent or alternative work arrangements, referred to collectively as contingent work. In 2013, there were over 7.7 million self-employed and temporary workers employed in management, professional, and related occupations. Special attention is paid to arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupations where 30 percent of the workforce is self-employed. The fact sheet examines issues facing adjunct professors as well as challenges facing the contingent workforce.
- State Resources for Employees Misclassified as Independent Contractors – A matrix of all 50 states and the District of Columbia that enables workers to report fraud related to unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, and the employer’s failure to withhold taxes. The matrix indicates whether online filing is possible and provides a link. Telephone contacts are also provided.
- The Union Difference for Working Families – Discusses the advantages of union membership, including higher wages, paid sick days, affordable health insurance, and retirement benefits. The fact sheet also notes the union difference for women, including a narrower gender wage gap among union men and women.
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 4, 2013 to June 3, 2014, the DPE website had just over 72,000 unique pageviews. This is up from just over 42,000 unique pageviews last year. That’s a 71 percent increase in unique pageviews and a 91 percent increase in the number of visitors (31,500 vs. 60,100). Unique pageviews is the number of visits during which a specified page is viewed.
- Fact sheets drew the most visitors to the site, about 32,000. DPE’s fact sheet on the U.S. Health Care System in an International perspective was the fact sheet with the highest number of unique pageviews with 6,300 for the year. Fact sheets on pharmacists, safe-staffing ratios, and misclassification of employees also had a significant number of pageviews (4,000 – 4,900 for the year).
- DPE’s “professionals in the workplace” series, which provides employment, demographic, and union information for 12 different occupational categories garnered just over 11,000 unique pageviews. The majority of those pageviews, 6,400, were for the “Women in the Professional Workforce” page.
- Webpages on collective bargaining and organizing had 7,800 unique pageviews. Most of those pageviews, 5,300, 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 41 seconds. The U.S. health care fact sheet was viewed for an average of 6 minutes and 40 seconds. The average view time for the top 10 publications was 5 minutes and 30 seconds.
DPE also continues to circulate its electronic newsletter, DPE NewsLine, and to issue DPE Alerts!, one-time bulletins flagging time-sensitive news, events, or action.