DPE General Board Monday, June 7, 2010 George Meany Room, AFL-CIO
President’s Report June 1, 2009 – May 31, 2010
Since the last meeting of the DPE General Board, the AFL-CIO convened in Pittsburgh and elected new leaders. The unions affiliated with DPE played a central role. With their encouragement and collaboration, DPE achieved an unprecedented visibility.
In the United States, professionals and related workers have become the largest major occupational group. They remain the fastest growing. The unions that they created continue to make DPE a vibrant forum for analyzing changes, developing plans, achieving consensus, and acting collectively, constructively, and powerfully.
- This report reviews DPE activities under these headings:
- The Unions of DPE and the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention
- Enabling Professionals to Do the Job Right
- Convening the AEMI ICC
- Outreach to Professional Associations
- Public Policy and Legislation
- Research and Publications
- Speeches, Presentations, Workshops, and Communications
With your absolutely essential contributions, it’s been a remarkably productive year. The unions of DPE offer the single most effective route for professional and technical people to achieve a voice and fairness in the workplace; to defend their professional integrity against external pressures; and to serve the public. DPE is honored to serve as your meeting place.
The Unions of DPE and the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention
From learned professionals to creative professionals, the unions affiliated with DPE shone at the AFL-CIO Convention.
Monday, September 14, 2009: In the morning, the Convention unanimously adopted a resolution that DPE submitted, “In the Interests of the Public, Professionals Belong in Unions” (Resolution 27). Speaking for passage were American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Secretary-Treasurer Antonia Cortese (right), DPE Treasurer; and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) President Gregory J. Junemann (left), a member of the DPE Executive Committee. Photos by Bill Burke/Page One.
The resolution highlighted the stunning growth of professional and technical occupations in the U.S., where professional and technical people have become more than 60 percent of the workforce and more than 52 percent of union members. It underscored the importance to professional and technical people of being able to do their work right, so they serve the public, and of opposing the threats to that ability from external pressures. Last but not least, it commended the professional associations that have joined with 10 unions affiliated with DPE – and DPE itself – in Professionals for the Public Interest: Associations and Unions Defending Professional Integrity (PftPI). (See “Enabling Professionals to Do the Job Right” below.)
On Monday afternoon, the Convention offered eight simultaneous breakout sessions. DPE hosted one – the only trade or industrial department to do so – and participated in a second.
The DPE breakout session, “Professionals and Unions: Organizing, Bargaining and Advocacy,” drew 35 thoroughly engaged participants, including two guests from the National Education Association. It featured panelists Phil Kugler, Assistant to the President for Organization and Field Services, AFT (left), also a member of the DPE Executive Committee; Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, National Executive Director, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) (middle), again a DPE Executive Committee member; and me (right). DPE Executive Director David Cohen moderated. Photo by Ray Bradford, AFTRA.
Meanwhile, DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo took part in the breakout session “Developing the Next Generation of Union Leaders.” Several groups highlighted their work to bring more young people into the labor movement and encourage leadership among young members.
Wednesday, September 16: The Convention passed unanimously two resolutions that DPE submitted. The first, “Unions Should Give People with Disabilities a Voice and a Face” (Resolution 18), grew out of a national campaign, I AM PWD, Inclusion in the Arts and Media of People with Disabilities, that the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), AFTRA, and Actors’ Equity Association (AEA) launched in 2008.
A project of the Tri-Union Performers With Disabilities (PWD) Committee, the campaign in the entertainment industry seeks to promote accuracy in portraying, inclusion of, and access for people with disabilities. The campaign resonated immediately with other workers and unions. At the June 2009 DPE General Board meeting, SAG, AFTRA, and AEA recommended broadening the initiative, which led to the resolution that DPE submitted.
Actor Robert David Hall led a sequence of speakers who eloquently supported the resolution. In 1978, he suffered an accident that led to the amputation of both his legs. He walks on prosthetics. Gregory J. Junemann, IPFTE President, recounted his legal blindness, the result of a childhood illness. I spoke to the origins of and need for the resolution.
The second resolution from DPE followed a brief but powerful video, featuring 47 star performers, members of multiple entertainment unions who organized as Artists for Workers Choice, urging that the Employee Free Choice Act become law.
The resolution, “Recognition of Theodore Bikel’s Years of Labor Service” (Resolution 26), brought the Convention to an emotional high point. With at least four standing ovations, the Convention recognized much more than just Theo Bikel’s service to labor. It acknowledged a lifetime of social justice activism and artistic achievement.
Among the speakers were American Federation of Musicians (AFM) President Tom Lee (right), who is also Chair of the DPE General Board; AEA Third Vice President Ira Mont, AFTRA President Roberta Reardon, and SAG delegate Mike Hodge, since elected President of SAG New York. They followed a chorus of eight outstanding singers, also members of multiple performers’ unions, in a moving song from Fiddler on the Roof. Theo Bikel (left) responded in a gripping and heartfelt reflection on progress, from the 1963 Birmingham jail to the 2008 Presidential election. Photo of Tom Lee by Bill Burke/Page One; photo of Theo Bikel by Bob Baugh, AFL-CIO.
Also on Wednesday, the Convention elected the 51 members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council. Among the nine new members of the Executive Council were two from unions affiliated with DPE: D. Michael Langford (left), National President of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and Roberta Reardon (right), National President of AFTRA. In November, the Executive Council also elected Screen Actors Guild President Ken Howard (lower left). Photo of D. Michael Langford from www.uwua.net; photo of Roberta Reardon by Ray Bradford, AFTRA; photo of Ken Howard from www.sag.org.
Pre-Convention: Even before the Convention began, DPE was at work in Pittsburgh. On September 12, I participated in the Convention Constitution and Bylaws Committee. On September 13, before the Convention opened, Executive Director David Cohen, Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo, and I were among the 500 union activists at the AFL-CIO National Summit on Diversity, “Power in Diversity: Strengthening Our Union Movement.”
The Summit discussed and developed new ways to build on the principles in Resolution 2 of the 2005 AFL-CIO Convention, “A Diverse Movement Calls for Diverse Leadership.” Among them were a proposed Resolution 7, “A Diverse and Democratic Labor Movement,” which delegates at the AFL-CIO Convention later approved.
The National Summit on Diversity featured speakers from AFL-CIO constituency groups discussing ways they encourage diversity in the labor movement, young labor leaders discussing their efforts to involve more young people, and a video highlighting the tri-union “I.AM.PWD” (Inclusion in the Arts and Media of People with Disabilities; see “Wednesday, September 16” above) campaign.
Three unanimously adopted resolutions from the unions affiliated with DPE; one breakout session; a video that brought the power of performing artists together to bear on the Employee Free Choice Act; speakers and participation from DPE unions, officers, and staff – with your support, DPE brought the aspirations and needs of working professional and technical people to the broader labor movement.
Enabling Professionals to Do the Job Right
Professionals want the ability to do their jobs right. Unions protect professionals against external pressures that threaten that ability. Having professionals do their jobs right matters to all of us – in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the health we want, our safety when we travel, or the education our children receive.
Connecting unions to professional integrity, and professional integrity to the public, dramatically reframes the objectives of organizing professional and technical employees. Redefining the role of unions for professional and technical people has been a profound shift. That shift grows out of a conversation that the unions affiliated with DPE began in 2004. Its most tangible and dramatic result to date has been Professionals for the Public Interest: Associations and Unions Defending Professional Integrity (PftPI), recognized by the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention in its Resolution 27, “In the Interests of the Public, Professionals Belong in Unions” (see above).
PftPI brings together 10 national unions, all affiliated with DPE; eight national and global professional associations; and DPE, which serves as the managing partner. Coordinating PftPI activities is its Joint Working Group (JWG). I have chaired each JWG meeting.
Since the last meeting of the General Board, PftPI:
- Hosted its inaugural Forum on “Defending Patient Care Against External Pressures: Dilemmas and Possibilities” on April 15, 2010 in conjunction with the AFT Healthcare Division 2010 Professional Issues Conference.AFTRA First Vice President Bob Edwards (far left) – formerly of NPR and now of Sirius XM Radio – moderated a panel that included a social worker and ethicist (Dawn Hobdy, Manager of the Office of Ethics and Professional Review at the National Association of Social Workers; second from left), a nurse and health policy specialist (David Keepnews, associate professor in the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing at Hunter College, City University of New York; second from right), and a physician and hospital administrator (Linda Green, MD, Associate Program Director, Prince George’s Hospital Center; far right). Introducing the panel were AFT Vice President Ann Twomey and a member of the PftPI Joint Working Group from IEEE-USA, Vin O’Neill. Photo by Alexis Spencer Notabartolo, DPE.
- Launched at its second Forum on May 11 a discussion of “Whistleblowers and OSHA: Strengthening Professional Integrity” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).The top enforcer of the Whistleblower Protection Program, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health David Michaels (left), assessed federal laws and enforcement of private-sector whistleblower protections as “patchwork” and ineffective. He invited a dialogue about improving those protections as his office undertakes a strategic review. With a representative from AAAS, Al Teich, I had the honor of introducing Dr. Michaels’s presentation, and I moderated the exchange that followed. Photo by David Cohen, DPE.
- Created a Policy Subgroup and adopted its first policy statement, “Professionals and the Federal Advisory System,” that underscored the value that “frontline professionals and other practitioners” add to federal advisory committees.
- Upgraded and expanded its website, www.pftpi.org.
- Began investigating whether and how to launch a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit to seek grants for and administer the PftPI Forums.
I thank the unions affiliated with DPE that have contributed so much to the outreach to professional associations that DPE began in 2007. Your multi-union collaboration through DPE led to the creation of PftPI, created an interchange with professional associations on a scale that did not exist, enabled all of us to learn from and about the professional associations with whom we are working, and continues to yield valuable and unprecedented results.
Outreach to Professional Associations
A core element of the DPE mission that its affiliated unions have defined 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 honored that emphasis.
The work of DPE with PftPI (see “Enabling Professionals to Do the Job Right” above) builds on and extends its previous relationships. In recent years, DPE has worked with its affiliated unions, labor-friendly academics, and others to develop programs and policy resolutions, and disseminate information, at the American Library Association (ALA) and its companion organization, the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA); and at the American Public Health Association (APHA). DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo co-chairs the AFL-CIO-ALA Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups, serves on the ALA-APA Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers, and chairs the APHA Labor Caucus.
The work of DPE with these organizations has led to programs at ALA and APHA featuring speakers and panelists from, among others, AFSCME, AFT, the United American Nurses (UAN), the United Steelworkers (USW), and the District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund. A number of participants in Labor Caucus panels at the 2009 APHA meeting were drawn from the endorsing organizations of PftPI, including the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). DPE Executive Director David Cohen also moderated a panel at the November 2009 APHA meeting, “Health, Professional Integrity, and the Public Interest.”
In addition to its ties with ALA, ALA-APA, and APHA, DPE has collaborated for many years with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-USA (IEEE-USA) on public policy issues, including H1-B visas for highly skilled professional and technical workers. Among the results of the collaboration this year was an introductory meeting that I hosted between UWUA and IEEE-USA.
Convening the AEMI ICC
DPE continues to host, chair, and staff the Arts, Entertainment and Media (AEMI), Industry Coordinating Committee (ICC). The creativity and energy of the AEMI unions bring tangible and constructive results.
Among them were those that I mention above in “The Unions of DPE and the 2009 AFL-CIO Convention”: two resolutions that the Convention adopted unanimously – “Unions Should Give People with Disabilities a Voice and a Face” and “Recognition of Theodore Bikel’s Years of Labor Service” – and a video of performers urging that the Employee Free Choice Act become law.
After the September 2009 Convention, DPE hosted meetings of the AEMI ICC in October 2009 and February 2010. Two results from those sessions merit special mention.
First, on March 2, 2010, the AFL-CIO Executive Council unanimously adopted a statement that DPE proposed on behalf of its nine AEMI unions, “Piracy is a Danger to Entertainment Professionals.” The statement underscores the threat that digital theft poses to entertainment workers and their jobs. At stake, in a vibrant sector that is a leader of U.S. exports, are hundreds of thousands of union jobs, union compensation, and union benefits.
International President Matthew D. Loeb (right) of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes (IATSE) introduced the topic at an October 2009 AEMI ICC meeting, developed a list of principles, and led the effort through DPE to achieve consensus on the statement that DPE proposed. Other speakers supporting the statement in the AFL-CIO Executive Council meeting included AFTRA National President Roberta Reardon and SAG President Ken Howard. Photo: www.iatse-intl.org.
The statement opposing digital theft drew widespread attention. Among other things, it played a role in my meeting twice with Victoria A. Espinel, White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. DPE Executive Director David Cohen and Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo accompanied me to the first meeting about AEMI ICC concerns. USW President Leo Gerard and Legislative Director Holly Hart accompanied me to the second.
A second result from the AEMI ICC meetings was a voice for the AEMI unions – the sole labor voice – at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Cultural Workforce Forum on November 20, 2010. Introduced by NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman and organized by NEA Director of Research and Analysis Sunil Iyengar, the Forum focused on research about artists as workers in the economy. It brought together service organization representatives, academics, and foundation professionals.
At the October 2009 AEMI ICC meeting, DPE circulated for comment a draft statement to the NEA. With the feedback from the AEMI unions, DPE revised the statement. DPE Executive Director David Cohen, accompanied by Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo, distributed the statement and summarized its key points at the November NEA Forum.
On behalf of the AEMI ICC, David suggested possibilities including organizational collaboration, longitudinal studies, and time diaries. An independent account called the presentation “among the day’s best: the handout is an extraordinarily clear and well-organized document …. essentially a memo to the NEA and the research community documenting problems with current data collection efforts and recommending a more comprehensive approach with the support and assistance of the unions.”
Other items on the AEMI ICC agenda have included:
- campaigning for performance rights, compensation to musicians and singers for AM/FM radio play of recorded performances;
- monitoring the proposed merger of Comcast and NBC Universal;
- hearing from Professor Joan Jeffri, Director of the Research Center for Arts and Culture, Teachers College, Columbia University about her study of aging performing artists; and
- legislative, regulatory, organizing, and bargaining concerns and initiatives.
Public Policy and Legislation
DPE and its member unions have taken a leading role in several targeted aspects of public policy and legislation:
- Guest worker visa programs and other immigration measures affecting professional and technical workers: DPE has provided a strong voice on Capitol Hill and nationally in highlighting abuse of the guest worker visa system. Among other things, DPE has highlighted the ample supply of highly skilled U.S. graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, despite management and industry claims of a shortage.
- I remain Vice Chair of the AFL-CIO Immigration Committee. I have participated in both policy and strategy discussions relating to AFL-CIO support for the legislative framework that former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall laid out in Immigration for Shared Prosperity (April 2009, EPI).DPE continues to be the resource for information concerning “high tech visas” (H-1B and L-1) in the AFL-CIO. As H-1B visas became prominent in fields where they had not been used, such as teaching, our efforts took on a new dimension. At my suggestion, Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo, with support from former DPE Research Intern Kelly Gaberlavage, developed – and DPE published – Gaming the System: Guest Worker Visa Programs and Professional and Technical Workers in the U.S. Designed to offer concrete facts and context for the size, scope, and impact of guest worker visa abuses on both workers and sectors of the U.S. economy, Gaming the System was released in December 2009 and has been widely circulated on Capitol Hill and among opinion leaders in D.C. (For more information on this and other DPE publications, please see “Research and Publications” below.)
- Health care: The passage of President Obama’s health care reform bill in March 2010 represented the culmination of a massive political effort on the part of organized labor. To monitor changes and developments in the new law, DPE attends the weekly meetings of the AFL-CIO Health Care Task Force and the Health Reform Implementation Work Group. In addition, DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo has attended numerous events held by advocacy groups like the Alliance for Health Reform on the impact of health care reform on different groups and on implementation in the context of union plans.DPE also hosted a panel on health information technology (HIT) at the 2009 APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition featuring panelists from, among others, UAN and USW. The panel continued our advocacy for including nurses, other frontline workers, and their union representatives in the planning, design, and implementation of HIT. (See “Outreach to Professional Associations” above.)
- Monitoring and sign-ons: The AFL-CIO Legislative Committee meets weekly when Congress is in session. DPE monitors the meetings and responds to requests to sign on to joint letters supporting the legislative priorities of its affiliated unions.
Research and Publications
The research and publications program of DPE remains intensely practical. The DPE fact sheets provide statistical portraits of the professional and technical workforce and highlight the benefits of union membership for professionals. With excellent research assistance over the last 12 months from DPE intern Kelly Gaberlavage, DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo has updated a core set of DPE fact sheets to reflect new data and the changing face of the American economy.
In December 2009, DPE released a major report called Gaming the System: Guest Worker Visa Programs and Professional and Technical Workers in the U.S. This 52-page report provides background on the much discussed H-1B visa program and the impact this program and those like it have had on two distinct sectors: education, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Drawing on previously unavailable US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports made available by Stan Sorscher, Legislative Director of SPEEA, IFPTE Local 2001, and research conducted by the International Affairs Department of AFT, Gaming the System was designed to support the effort for rational, comprehensive immigration reform.
Speeches, Presentations, Workshops, and Communications
In the last 12 months, the DPE staff and I have responded to requests from the unions affiliated with DPE, and from other entities, for speeches, presentations, and workshops. DPE continues to circulate its monthly electronic newsletter, DPE NewsLine, and to issue DPE Alerts!, one-time bulletins flagging time-sensitive news, events, or action.
Among my speeches were the November 2009 meeting of the International Association of Law and Policy and the IFPTE April 2009 legislative conference.
In January 2010, DPE Executive Director David Cohen led two classes on “Why Professionals Belong in Unions” at the Oregon Labor Law Conference in Portland, Oregon.
DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo facilitated a working session on “Labor Rights: How can we secure fair working conditions for everyone?” at the 2009 Campus Progress National Convention, where AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker spoke as a panelist. Alexis also spoke at the 56th IFPTE Convention in August 2009 on young women in labor, a theme she continued as a participant in the Berger Marks Intergenerational Summit in March 2010. A resource for the AFL-CIO on young worker issues, Alexis has been an active member of the planning committee for the AFL-CIO “Next Up” young workers summit to be held this month.