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:
- FCC Media Ownership Rules
- Bush Whacking Overtime Pay
- Guest Workers
- AFTRA, SAG Approach Consolidation Vote
- AFL-CIO Nurses Launch Campaign for Safe Staffing
- The Dominant Service Sector
- Scientists and Engineers
- 3rd Annual NASHTU Conference
- Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia
- Albert Shanker Institute Board Meeting
- Fair Employment in Silicon Valley
- DPE Governance
FCC MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES
With the FCC poised on June 2nd to deregulate on a massive scale, Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain held two more hearings on media issues. The second on May 22nd featured brother Tom Fontana—a council member of Writers Guild, East and Executive Producer of such award-winning shows as Oz, Homicide, Life on the Streets and St. Elsewhere. AFTRA President John Connolly, Writers Guild, East Executive Director Mona Mangan and DPE’s Executive Director Mike Gildea attended the morning hearing, which also featured Consumers Union Washington Director Gene Kimmelman and media baron Ruppert Murdoch. Fontana, along with Mangan, Connolly and Gildea, had met with Sen. McCain on the eve of the hearing. McCain intends to call up all of the FCC Commissioners for an oversight hearing after June 2nd.
Later that same day DPE Secretary-Treasurer Linda Foley, along with Connolly, Mangan and Gildea, met with the number two Democrat in the House – Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) – and Hispanic Caucus Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ). Strategies and tactics regarding Democratic message and reaction to the anticipated FCC actions were discussed. At their request, the DPE complied a briefing book with a wealth of materials for use by House Democrats.
BUSH WHACKING OVERTIME PAY
Take a guess: Of major occupational groups, which does the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) say will grow fastest and add the most workers? Professional and technician occupations. By 2010, says BLS, these occupations will account for more than 20 percent of the U.S. workforce. Now take another guess: When the Bush Administration Department of Labor (DOL) proposes revising requirements that employers pay overtime, which group is likely to be one of the hardest hit? Surprise! Professional and technician occupations. Proposed regulations from the Bush DOL would allow employers – on a virtually automatic basis – not to pay workers earning $65,000 or more a year for overtime. For workers earning between $22,100 and $65,000, the proposed regs would lower the bar for classifying workers as executives, administrative or professional – and thus also exempt from required overtime pay. To build opposition to the proposed regs, DPE has participated in the AFL-CIO legal task force, flagged the issue for DPE affiliates, researched the potential harm, and met with affiliates to develop strategy. Written comments on the proposed new regs are due by June 30, 2003. (Federal Register, Vol. 68, No. 61 [Monday, March 31, 2003]. To see the DOL battle-plan, check www.dol.gov/esa/whd/.) For updates, check “Breaking News” on the home page of the DPE website, or contact David Cohen, 202-638-0320 x. 13, or email to email@example.com.
As the heat has turned up on employer use and abuse of the H-1B guest worker visas, corporations have shifted and begun to use the L-1 “intra-company transfer” visa to bring in foreign workers by the truck load. Last year, nearly 60,000 of these foreign guest workers were admitted into the U.S. In many situations, they replaced U.S. workers. The 3/10/03 issue of Business Week Magazine contained an expose on the problem. In late May, the DPE and AFL-CIO met with the office of a House Democrat whose constituents had complained about L-1 misuse. A number of reform ideas were discussed, and legislation is expected to be introduced in the near future.
On a related matter, DPE and the AFL-CIO consulted with a key advisor to Rep. George Miller (D-CA) – the ranking minority member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee – who is considering legislation to regulate labor contractors outside of agriculture. There have been some well-publicized examples of these brokers luring foreign workers (e.g. nurses) into the U.S. with false promises of training and education and forcing them to work in nursing homes and other facilities where they are treated as indentured servants. Miller’s bill is expected to be introduced after the memorial week recess.
AFTRA, SAG APPROACH CONSOLIDATION VOTES
On June 9, 2003, members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) will receive mail ballots. Their votes, due by June 30, will decide whether the two unions consolidate and affiliate. Approval requires 60% of the votes in each union. DPE assisted the SAG and AFTRA committees that developed the proposal and spoke in support in the national board meetings that overwhelmingly approved and recommended it. Since the May NewsLine, DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Assistant to the President for Organizational Development David Cohen joined AFTRA President John Connolly, AFTRA National Executive Director Greg Hessinger, and SAG National Executive Director Bob Pisano at an informational meeting of the AFTRA-SAG Washington, DC-Baltimore, MD local that drew more than 250 members. David Cohen later joined the local executive director, Pat O’Donnell, in a training session for local staff, officers and activists. The American Federation of Musicians joined Actors’ Equity and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes in publicly supporting the consolidation. For more details, see www.partnershipforpower.org.
AFL-CIO NURSES LAUNCH CAMPAIGN FOR SAFE STAFFING
On National Nurse Day, May 6, AFL-CIO Nurses: A United Voice for Safe Staffing Now, a coalition of more than half a million AFL-CIO nurses, kicked off a campaign for federal and state legislation to set safe staffing standards. More than 600 nurses from DPE affiliates came to Washington, D.C. for a day of meetings and lobbying about the need for safe nurse staffing standards. A national poll of the public’s view of the impact of the nurse shortage on patient care was released. It found an overwhelming number of Americans believe there are not enough registered nurses to care for the number of patients admitted to hospitals and that the shortage of registered nurses has a large impact on the quality of care provided to patients in hospitals. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D–IL) was among many speakers who addressed the assembled nurses, and discussed the need for safe staffing. She plans to introduce a nurse staffing ratio bill supported by AFL-CIO nurses. Across the country, unions held local and state actions for safe staffing. For further information, visit the Website: www.aflcio.org/nurses.
THE DOMINANT SERVICE SECTOR
Over the last 50 years, the rising share of employment in the service sector and the declining share in the goods-producing sector have transformed the U.S. labor market. In 2002, the service sector accounted for more than 79% of the non-agricultural labor force, while the goods-producing sector employed less than 21%. This trend will continue: Employment in the service sector will increase by almost 20% between 2000 and 2010, while employment in the goods-producing sector will increase by little more than 5%. Contrary to the derogatory stereotypes frequently assigned to service sector employment – “hamburger flipper” chief among them, the majority of service sector workers are involved in complex employment that requires substantial training. The growing service sector demands a better educated work force. Occupations requiring a college degree or other post-secondary award accounted for 29% of all jobs in 2000; they will account for 42% of all job growth between 2000 and 2010. A new fact sheet from DPE includes information about the service sector, including current and projected employment; women’s situation; union membership; and service sector trade. To obtain a copy, visit the Public Policy section of our Web site.
SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS
In 2002, scientists and engineers accounted for 4.5 million workers, or 21% of all professionals; science and engineering technicians and computer programmers accounted for 42% of all technologists and technicians. A new fact sheet from DPE presents a statistical portrait of scientists, engineers and technicians, including recent employment growth; current and projected employment; earnings; the situation of women and minorities; and union membership. To obtain a copy of the fact sheet, visit the Website: www.dpeaflcio.org
THE THIRD ANNUAL NASHTU CONFERENCE
In May the National Association of State Highway and Transportation Unions (NASTU) held their conference in Washington, D.C. President Almeida had the honor of introducing one of the many prestigious speakers, Congressman Mike Capuano (8th District in MA). Also addressing the conference were U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Norm Mineta, U.S. Senator James Jeffords (Independent-VT), the Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA) and James McGovern (D-MA).
NASHTU’s roots extend back to 1999 when a number of unions and employee associations representing engineers and related professionals employed by state transportation departments throughout the country began to share information and discuss common issues and how to address them. Among the unions that are members of NASTU are DPE affiliates AFT, AFSCME, CWA, IFPTE, and SEIU.
Over the last decade, major changes in transportation policies have had an enormous impact on transportation department workers. Transportation engineers, construction managers and inspectors, technical workers and related professionals have been confronted with an increase in contracting out, implementation of design-build, changes in federal funding, legislation and regulations, use of temporary employees and construction of private toll roads, among other issues.
Over the last year, NASHTU has drafted and proposed federal legislation – the Safety Accountability and Funding Efficiency for Transportation Act (SAFE-T) – to ensure that contracting out is cost-effective, results in the construction of safe projects, or serves the public interest. NASHTU also produced a report – “Highway Robbery” – focused on the problems of contracting out (fraud, inefficiency and waste) from around the country and brought them together in one document. For more information about NASHTU see their web page at www.nashtu.us.
THE ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS, SCIENTISTS AND MANAGERS, AUSTRALIA
In May, DPE hosted a meeting with John Vines, Chief Executive Officer and Barry Tonkin, President of APESMA to exchange ideas on how unions address the concerns of professionals in the changing global economy. APESMA has developed a highly focused service oriented business plan to address the needs of its members, including the development of an MBA program administered through the union. For more info about APESMA, see their web page at www.apesma.asn.au.
ALBERT SHANKER INSTITUTE BOARD MEETING
In May, President Almeida attended the Shanker Institute Board meeting. A new labor project approved by the Institute will look at training designed to produce industry certifications and licenses and the role unions and employee associations play in that process. Work previously done by DPE will assist in this project by defining the associations that assist in training their members. The Institute is also reviewing a study trip to look at professional unions in the UK. This project is being done in conjunction with the New Economy Information Service. For more information about the Institute, see their web page at www.ashankerinst.org.
FAIR EMPLOYMENT IN SILICON VALLEY
DPE hosted a meeting among John Templeton of the Coalition for Fair Employment in Silicon Valley, Bill Patterson of the AFL-CIO Office of Investment, DPE President Paul Almeida, DPE Executive Director Mike Gildea, and David Cohen, DPE Assistant to the President for Organizational Development. Among the topics: how the H-1B program has hurt minority employment in high tech and how shareholder action might help.
The DPE General Board will hold its annual meeting at AFL-CIO headquarters on June 10th from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The Executive Committee will meet immediately before. In mid-May, DPE reps met with IATSE regional VP and newly appointed DPE General Board member Walter Cahill to discuss DPE policy and programs, as well as several local IATSE organizing and training issues where the DPE might be of some assistance.