The purpose of this newsletter is to inform you of recent DPE activities and emerging issues affecting the professional and technical workforce. NewsLine will be published on the first of every month. Feedback welcomed; send to firstname.lastname@example.org
In This Issue:
- Overtime Gets Busted
- FCC Media Ownership Rules
- Internet Taxes
- Proposed Organizing Conference Moves Forward
- DPE’S AEMI Committee Meets
- Employee Benefits and Capital Stewardship
- DPE’S Executive Committee Meets
DPE in the News
DPE Coalition Building:
- Progress at APHA
- DPE Program on the Corporate Takeover of Medicine
- DPE Cooperates with the International Federation of Journalists
- An incredible read: Dying to Tell the Story
November marked the culmination of a body of work done by Pamela Wilson. Pamela was instrumental in putting together the outreach to APHA (see details below). Her efforts brought recognition to many of our affiliates, the Department and the AFL-CIO’s Nurse’s Committee. Please extend thanks to Pamela for her efforts.
OVERTIME GETS BUSTED
House-Senate conferees on the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill deadlocked over the Harkin amendment as President Bush threatened to veto it if the funding bill included the amendment. Meanwhile, House Republican leaders rejected any compromise with the Senate conferees over the issue. DPE President Paul E. Almeida had e-mailed an ALERT! to all affiliates on November 17 urging that they and their members contact the House and Senate conferees.
To sidestep the deadlock, Congressional Republican leaders then rolled several unfinished FY04 appropriations measures (including Labor-HHS) into an omnibus bill. Despite efforts by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), the package excluded the Harkin amendment. However, resentment by a number of legislators over White House and House Republican tactics, as well as the contents of the omnibus, may make it impossible for Congress to agree on the bill when it returns on December 8 and 9. Sen. Bob Byrd has announced he will not agree to unanimous consent to allow the Senate to consider the package, thus likely delaying the omnibus until Congress returns on January 20, 2004. The AFL-CIO, DPE and affiliated unions meanwhile are lobbying for the defeat of the omnibus resolution.
Even if the omnibus passes without the Harkin amendment, it is likely that the final DOL regulations will face a Congressional resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act, as was the case earlier this year when the Senate voted overwhelmingly to disapprove the FCC’s deregulation of its existing restrictions on media ownership.
On a related matter, Pamela Wilson, DPE Assistant to the President and chair of the American Public Health Association (APHA) Labor Caucus, worked successfully with the Caucus and the APHA Occupational Health and Safety Section to have the APHA support overtime pay protections and the Harkin amendment. For updates on the overtime pay fight, check “Breaking News,” or contact David Cohen, 202-638-0320 x13, email@example.com.
FCC MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES
Another of the appropriations bills rolled into the omnibus package was the Commerce/State/Justice (departments) FY04 funding. The original House-passed bill included language that wiped out funding for implementation of one of the FCC proposed rules rollbacks—the increase in the national audience cap from 35% to 45%. Senate Committee version of the same bill followed suit. Facing the possibility of an embarrassing defeat for the Administration and the FCC if the amendment was retained, House and Senate Republican conferees on the omnibus package agreed to a 39% audience limit. Unlike the original CSJ appropriations bill, which would have been a one year funding delay, the new provision would be a permanent statutory change. This so-called compromise still represented a significant defeat for the administration. However, Congressional Democrats are outraged that they were excluded from the conference discussions and are opposing the 39% fix. As of this writing House Democrats are considering their strategy options on the omnibus package.
DPE joined other AFL-CIO affiliates and a number of state government organizations on a Senate letter opposing pending legislation—S. 150—making permanent the ban on state taxation of internet access fees. The bill’s broad definitions would undercut the state’s ability to collect/raise tax revenues on existing (or future) telecom services. Agreement could not be reached on the legislation before the Thanksgiving break so it now will be held over until next year.
PROPOSED ORGANIZING CONFERENCE MOVES FORWARD
With the approval of the DPE Executive Committee on November 5, DPE is moving forward to plan for a conference on organizing white-collar workers, “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century,” in Washington, DC in the first quarter of 2005. The next step: a meeting of a planning committee tentatively scheduled for January 2004. For more information or to offer suggestions, contact David at 202-638-0320 x13, firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE’S AEMI COMMITTEE MEETS
On November 21 the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industries (AEMI) committee met at AFL-CIO headquarters. Representatives from eight affiliates—AEA, AFM, AFTRA, CWA (TNG and NABET), IATSE, SAG, WGAE—and the department attended. AFL-CIO showcased its pending corporate analysis by Cornell University on Clear Channel and asked for input by the affiliates. Policy updates/discussions focused on the pending fight over the FCC’s deregulation of media ownership rules, overtime pay, tax legislation to encourage U.S. production/manufacturing including film and music, pension legislation, and efforts to curb payola-like practices in the radio-music business. Other matters discussed included the deaths of media workers in Iraq, joint initiatives with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), mobilization around the FCC field hearing in San Antonio Texas, and intellectual property rights under trade agreements.
EMPLOYEE BENEFITS AND CAPITAL STEWARDSHIP
The AFL-CIO Center for Working Capital is offering two sets of courses that may interest DPE affiliates. The first set, offered with the National Labor College at the George Meany Center, prepares participants as Certified Employee Benefits Specialists. It includes one course on January 5-9, 2004 on Employee Benefits: Concepts and Health Care Benefits, and a second on February 16-20, 2004 on Employee Benefits: Design, Administration and Other Welfare Benefits. For questions, contact Tris Newbury, 202-974-8022, email@example.com.
The second set of courses are the Capital Stewardship Certificate Program, which deals with capital stewardship, fiduciary duties, investment strategies, active ownership and corporate governance. Courses will be held in Chicago on May 23-28, Philadelphia on June 13-18, Los Angeles on September 8-14, and Washington-Baltimore on November 14-19, 2004. Check http://www.centerforworkingcapital.org/ for more information.
DPE’S EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETS
On November 5 the Executive Committee of DPE met for its second regular business meeting of the year. Minutes have been prepared and issued to all affiliates.
DPE IN THE NEWS:
- Executive Director Mike Gildea worked with the producers of CNN’s Lou Dobbs Moneyline on another of his Exporting America segments i.e. the outsourcing of U.S. white collar/technical jobs. The segment featured: two new CWA Washtech members—Sona Shah and Natasha Humphries (see last Newsline issue)—telling their respective stories about displacement due to H-1B visas and off-shoring of jobs; Rep Rosa DeLauro discussing her L-1guest worker visa reform bill (which DPE helped to draft) and; Gildea talking about growing public and congressional awareness about these issues. Gildea had accompanied Ms. Shah for two days of meetings with Hill staffers to brief them about her former company’s misuse of H-1B, L-1, visitor and student visas. Shah along with all of her American co-workers were replaced by H-1B workers.
- On the overtime issue, on November 24 the Workers Independent News Service (WINS)—which serves a network of some 60 radio stations – interviewed David Cohen, DPE Assistant to the President for Education and Organizational Development. To listen to the news item, click on http://laborradio.org/audio/headlines/realaudio/winshead112503.ram. The story aired also on Pacifica Radio’s Free Speech Radio News, http://www.fsrn.org/news/audio/20031124.ram. For the full interview, go to http://laborradio.org/audio/features/mp3/winsextra112403.mp3.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES
PROGRESS AT APHA
At this year’s Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, held in San Francisco from November 15-19 and attended by 13,500 public health professionals, the Labor Caucus made significant progress. The Caucus was established in 1997, following the 1996 Annual Meeting keynote address by AFL-CIO President, John Sweeney.
- One of the purposes of the Labor Caucus is to monitor and shape, through the resolutions process, the positions of APHA with respect to issues of importance to organized labor and working people. This year, an important resolution in support of overtime pay and the Harkin amendment was adopted by APHA. This was the second resolution developed by the Caucus and adopted by APHA. This year’s Labor Caucus sessions were held in the San Francisco Marriott, which now has a contract, but which was the subject of a long labor dispute and boycott. During that time, Pamela Wilson worked with HERE, the Union Label Department and the Occupational Health and Safety Section to develop a resolution urging the use of union hotels for conventions and major meetings which was adopted by APHA in 1999.
- The underlying purpose of the Caucus is to encourage and facilitate connection and collaboration between the labor and public health communities. On November 15, it sponsored a successful, new, one-day Continuing Education Institute, Organized Labor and Public Health, which was developed and coordinated by Greg DeLaurier, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Lowell, in collaboration with others. The Caucus hopes that a program focused on how public health professionals and labor can form lasting partnerships will become a regular feature at APHA. A program is already being planned for next year.
- The Caucus has the purpose of advancing the debate on relevant issues among union members and those who support the health and welfare of workers and their families, both within APHA and within their labor organizations, and supporting and promoting the right of workers in the health care industry to organize. This year, the Caucus sponsored three sessions, two so full that people were standing at the back of the room. (The Caucus has been offered a fourth sessions at next year’s program.) This year’s sessions were: The Nursing Shortage: Prescription’s for Safety (November 17); The Social Costs of Large Retailers’ (and Other Large Employers’) Health Care Practices (November 18); and Less Burnout and Dissatisfaction: Improving the Work Environment for Nurses (November 19). These sessions featured speakers from DPE affiliates including AFSCME, AFT, SEIU, UAN and UFCW, as well as academics and public health officials sympathetic to labor. For the first time, these sessions were cosponsored by several major Sections and Caucuses within APHA.
- In addition, Labor Caucus chair, Pamela Wilson, was able to arrange for the AFL-CIO Nurse Staffing Campaign to be featured in a variety of venues at APHA. In addition to being a presenter at the session on The Nursing Shortage, UAN President and AFL-CIO Vice President, Cheryl Johnson, was a speaker at the CEI, Organized Labor and Public Health; at a special Physicians for a National Health Program dinner for 300 members and supporters; at the annual Activists Physicians’ Dinner for several hundred people, and briefly, at the Occupational Health and Safety Section Social, which the Labor Caucus cosponsored. Materials on the AFL-CIO Nurse Staffing Campaign, the Voice at Work and the Department for Professional Employees were broadly distributed.
At the Business Meeting, the Labor Caucus began to plan its program for next year’s Annual Meeting, which will be held in Washington, D.C. For more information about the Caucus and its programs, contact Pamela by phone at 202/638-6684, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
DPE PROGRAM ON THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF MEDICINE IN AMERICA AND THE PHYSICIANS’ PROPOSAL FOR SINGLE PAYER NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE
On February 5, DPE will sponsor a program and discussion with Quentin Young, M.D., National Coordinator of Physicians for a National Health Program, former president of APHA, and a leader in public health and medical and social justice issues for more than 50 years. In September, 10,000 physicians announced their support for single payer national health insurance; their proposal for reform was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and received widespread media attention (www.pnhp.org). An ABC News-Washington Post Poll released in October found that public support for a “universal health insurance program, in which everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that’s run by the government and financed by taxpayers” is high and rising rapidly. The public favors national health insurance to the current system by 2:1. The poll also found that eight in ten people think it’s important to cover all the uninsured “even if it means higher taxes”. We already spend between two and three times more on health care than other industrialized nations. Come hear Dr. Young discuss the physicians’ proposal on February 5. For more information, contact Pamela Wilson by phone at 202/638-6684, or email, email@example.com.
DPE COOPERATES WITH THE INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF JOURNALISTS
DPE held an initial meeting with Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ and representatives of the Solidarity Center, along with Linda Foley (TNG-CWA) and Tom Carpenter (AFTRA) to establish a cooperative network of assisting each other with important issues effecting journalist.
The IFJ has developed a number of programs over the past ten years, particularly dealing with the importance of free speech, free media, and journalists’ rights in the process of economic, social and democratic development. Additionally the IFJ carried out extensive trade union and media development work in Africa, Latin America and other regions. Much of this has focused on areas of conflict and has had a strong element dealing with safety and security of journalists and media staff.
In an effort to refocus some of the IFJ programs and to give emphasis to union building programs and setting up regional networks, the IFJ will work with the Solidarity Center and DPE to connect more effectively with IFJ affiliates within DPE.
The IFJ will use the DPE to help facilitate communications with affiliates on the development of journalists’ programs with the Solidarity Center and will meet on an annual basis with affiliates, the Solidarity Center and DPE to discuss and review our programs and activities. This work will be coordinated through the Arts Entertainment and Media Industries Committee of the DPE.
An incredible read: DYING TO TELL THE STORY – THE IRAQ WAR AND THE MEDIA: A TRIBUTE
This book tells the story of correspondents, reporters, cameramen, translators and support staff that died during a two month period of time in Iraq. They lost there lives through Iraqi fire, so-called friendly fire from U.S. and coalition forces and tragic accidents. If you want to learn about these individuals and their sacrifices as they do their work to bring us the news, this is the book. All authors donated their efforts and the proceeds from this book will support the International News Safety Institute. The Institute is a non-governmental organization dedicated to the safety of journalists and media staff and is committed to fighting the persecution of journalists everywhere. The book can be ordered online at www.newssafety.org.