This is the inaugural issue of DPE’s new monthly e-mail bulletin, DPE NewsLine. 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:
- Media ownership rules
- Bush’s war on overtime
- War correspondents
- Foreign guest workers
- AFTRA and SAG members to vote on consolidation
- DPE affiliations
- Rumsfeld launches attack on DoD workers
- Collective bargaining yesterday, today, tomorrow
- AFT’s National Higher Education Conference
- Task force on partnership to meet the skills shortage
- Young leaders/future members
- Union presence at APHA
- AFL-CIO nurse campaign launched
- Where’s Mom? (and other fact sheets)
MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES
FCC Chairman Michael Powell has announced a June 2nd deadline for final action by the Commission on several media ownership regs. Labor, consumer and public interest allies are trying to put Congressional pressure on for delay via a second FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and public input on the specific recommendations that the agency brings forth. DPE activities have included:
- Drafting a letter for AFL-CIO President John Sweeney to send to Powell accompanying the DPE-authored policy statement on media rules approved at the February Executive council meeting;
- Joining with over two dozen other national organizations, including the AFL-CIO in a letter to Powell requesting accommodation for further public comment.
- Spearheading a letter to all members of the House and Senate—co-signed by all DPE media and entertainment unions as well as other guilds and organizations—asking lawmakers to weigh in with the FCC chairman. Fourteen Senators, including three Republicans of the Senate Commerce Committee, wrote to Powell to slow down the process. Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Commerce Committee is planning hearings in the near future.
See DPE’s web site www.dpeaflcio.org for a critique of the FCC studies on media ownership. Democracy Unhinged “More Media Concentration Means Less Public Discourse” a report commissioned by AFTRA, TNG-CWA, WGAe, and DPE.
Although Democratic FCC commissioners Copps and Adelstein are pushing back hard on the June 2nd date, the Bush Administration has weighed in via a letter from Commerce Secretary Evans who told Powell to hold fast. For more information, contact Mike Gildea at email@example.com
CLEAR CHANNEL MENDS ITS WAYS
In a victory for musicians and recording artists, the nation’s largest radio behemoth—Clear Channel Communications—announced in an April 9th press release (See http://www.clearchannel.com) that its 1200 radio stations would stop working with independent music promoters. These music brokers extract payments from record companies or recording artists and to promote recordings on stations with which they have exclusive relationships often using payola-like practices and side payments to get recordings on the air. Over four decades ago, the U.S. Congress outlawed payola which had infested and ultimately corrupted the music play segment of the radio industry. The newest manifestation has also become a costly barrier for musicians and vocalists—and it can mislead the public into thinking that they are hearing the best music rather than merely the best-funded music. Late in 2002 AFTRA, AFM, DPE and the AFL-CIO had joined forces with other industry and artist’s groups to endorse legislation introduced by Sen. Russ Feingold to outlaw these and other anti-competitive practices by Clear Channel. Earlier this year Clear Channel CEO Mark Mays was taken to task by Feingold along with Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain as well as Judiciary Chair Orrin Hatch for the use of independent promoters. On another front, AFTRA also reached an agreement on April 22 with Clear Channel Radio, averting a planned strike of on-air hosts at four of Clear Channel’s five New York City stations. AFTRA is conducting a nationwide campaign to save live radio, targeting—among others—Clear Channel for replacing live local announcers with canned voice radio shows. For more information, visit www.keepradiolive.org.
BUSH’S WAR ON OVERTIME PAY, 40-HOUR WORKWEEK
Iraq isn’t the only war being waged by the Bush administration. Led by “General” Elaine Chou, Secretary of Labor, GOP mercenaries at the Department of Labor have proposed new regulations that could cancel out overtime pay for millions of professional, technical, executive, computer and administrative workers. 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 http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/.)
AFL-CIO General Counsel Jon Hiatt invited the lead lawyers of affiliated unions to designate participants in a task force to spearhead development of a coordinated response. If your union wishes to participate and has not selected a legal representative, contact Deborah Greenfield of the AFL-CIO Legal Department at firstname.lastname@example.org. One goal for the task force is to identify workers and occupations that will be “fragged” by the proposed rules and to quantify their impact. David Cohen is representing DPE on the task force and he can be reached at email@example.com. Also taking action are the AFL-CIO Legislative, Public Affairs and Public Policy Departments.
On the legislative front, House GOP leadership will fire a second salvo when they call for a vote in the near future on H.R. 1119—legislation to allow employers to substitute compensatory time off for time-and-a-half overtime pay. Employer groups and the Bush Administration are lobbying hard for passage and Labor is fighting back and peeling away moderate Republicans to join Democrats in opposing the bill. For more information, see the AFL-CIO website http://www.aflcio.org.
Working with The Newspaper Guild-CWA, the DPE sent letters to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as well as members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees calling for an immediate independent investigation into U.S. military actions during the Iraqi war that resulted in the deaths and injuries of foreign media workers. The unions are seeking to develop specific measures to prevent such tragedies in the future and to ensure the continued safety of U.S. and international journalists and media staff still covering the war. The groups signing the letter, which represent over 100,000 media professionals and technicians, included AFTRA, NABET, the National Writers Union, Writers Guild of America East, the TNG and DPE. Contact DPE Secretary Treasurer and Newspaper Guild President Linda Foley for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org
FOREIGN GUEST WORKERS
In anticipation of Congressional action later this year, the DPE met in Washington D.C. with affiliates and other organizations representing engineers as well as professional and technical workers to begin strategy discussions on the H-1B program. The groups share the common goal of supporting reform of the H-1B program as well as rolling back the current visa cap. The cap, last approved by lawmakers in 2000 over DPE opposition, tripled to 195,000 the number of foreign professional/specialty workers allowed into the U.S. each year. Without congressional action, the cap would revert automatically back to the original level of 65,000. The DPE is also spearheading a drive to broaden the coalition of organizations seeking changes in the H-1B program. Thus far 13 organizations have signed on. Meanwhile, Chicago Tribune labor reporter Shawn Taylor quoted DPE Executive Director Mike Gildea extensively in a lengthy April 6th expose on the H-1B program.
Group discussions in D.C. also touched on two other related matters: Recently publicized abuses of the L-1 (intra-company transfer) visa now being used by U.S. companies to bring in hundreds of thousands of other professional/technical foreign guest workers to take U.S. jobs (detailed in a 3/10/03 Business Week Magazine article, pg 82), and; ongoing efforts by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to negotiate into bi-lateral “fast track” trade agreements that include separate numerical visa quotas for foreign professional/specialty workers (similar to the TN visa created under the NAFTA trade agreement). Two pending agreements with Singapore and Chile include 5400 and 1400 respectively in additional professional/specialty, one-year visas renewable for up to five or seven years depending upon the occupation. DPE had expressed its concerns about these visas in a 10/31/02 letter to USTR Robert Zoellick and again directly to him at a February meeting of the USTR’s Labor Advisory Committee. The full LAC outlined its objections in a formal critique of the trade agreements sent to Zoellick in March. In response the USTR said it intends to continue to offer up these visas in other trade agreements. Contact Mike Gildea at DPE for further information.
AFTRA AND SAG MEMBERS TO VOTE ON CONSOLIDATION
On April 13, the national boards of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) each voted – by more than 85 percent “yes” – to send a proposed consolidation of the two unions to a membership vote. The proposed Alliance of International Media Artists (AIMA) would have three affiliates representing actors, broadcasters, and recording artists. DPE President Paul E. Almeida addressed the AFTRA Board; Assistant to the President for organizational development David Cohen spoke to the SAG Board. The Board votes followed exhaustive deliberations by SAG and AFTRA committees, led by SAG President Melissa Gilbert and AFTRA President John Connolly, that began meeting in November 2002. For the two committees, DPE provided labor movement models and facilitated the discussions. After time to evaluate the proposal, the members will vote by mail ballot, most likely due at the end of June. Sixty percent of those voting in each union must approve before the consolidation will take effect. Actors’ Equity and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees have already signaled their full support for consolidation. For more details, see http://www.partnershipforpower.org/.
At a meeting with Paul Almeida and Mike Gildea, President Harold Schaitberger of the International Association of Fire Fighters confirmed the intent of his organization to affiliate with the DPE. The IAFF—one of the fastest growing unions within the AFL-CIO—has more than 2,700 affiliates, representing 250,000 professional fire fighters and paramedics in more than 3,500 communities in the U.S. and Canada. This affiliation will bring to 26 the number of AFL-CIO unions who are allied with the department.
RUMSFELD LAUNCHES ATTACK ON DoD WORKERS
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has sent legislation to Capitol Hill which would make sweeping changes in the power of the Department of Defense (DoD) to eliminate the rights of federal workers, direct billions of dollars in government contracts to corporate contributors, pillage the environment and operate beyond Congressional review in the name of “national security”. The Rumsfeld proposal would allow DoD to waive approximately 12 major chapters of Title 5, United States Code (Title 5 is the section of the law which covers government organization and federal employment), and create a new personnel system in place of those chapters. The bill goes beyond the attack on federal employees recently included in legislation creating the Department of Homeland Security by sweeping aside an array of civil service and government accountability rules in the name of “flexibility”. Among other things, the bill would:
- Eliminate collective bargaining rights;
- Eliminate the ability of employees to appeal disciplinary action and to obtain information about why they are being disciplined;
- Eliminate whistleblower protections and conflict of interest rules;
- Eliminate the current annual pay raises and step increases that federal employees rely on to provide for their families.
COLLECTIVE BARGAINING YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW
In April President Almeida joined Mary MacDonald, Director AFT Healthcare and Alan Gordon, National Executive Director AGMA on a panel moderated by Richard Hurd, Professor of Labor Studies, Cornell. The panel discussed new methods used by professional employees in collective bargaining. The event was sponsored by the National Center for Collective Bargaining Hunter College the City University of New York.
AFT’S NATIONAL HIGHER EDUCATION CONFERENCE ATLANTA GA.
In April President Almeida participated on a panel moderated by Daniel Georgianna, Professor of Economics and panel participant. The panel focused on the development and building of new coalitions within the labor movement. Linda Foley, DPE’s Secretary-Treasurer and President of the Newspaper Guild was also a keynote speaker at the conference. Linda addressed the conference on the growing trend of organizing professionals.
TASK FORCE ON PARTNERSHIP TO MEET THE SKILLS SHORTAGE
President Almeida has been asked to serve as a member of a task force to investigate the area of skills shortages especially at the professional and technical levels. The task force is a joint venture of the Albert Shanker Institute and the New Economy Information Service. The 15 member task force will begin their work in June in Washington DC.
YOUNG LEADERS/FUTURE MEMBERS
As part of its ongoing effort to reach out to young people, DPE will be hosting four meetings for groups of up to 50 high school students visiting Washington for 11day National Young Leaders Conference programs. Sponsored by the Congressional Youth leadership Council, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization, these programs draw very talented young people from all over the country. Students meet with members of Congress, Cabinet Secretaries, diplomats, lobbyists, and journalists, among others. DPE will discuss the role of the labor movement, and the ways in which union membership can assist professionals. People under 18 are 25% of our population but 100% of our future. For information about the National Young Leaders Conference and their programs, see http://www.cylc.org/nylc or email Pamela Wilson at email@example.com.
UNION PRESENCE AT APHA
Through the Labor Caucus, DPE has been working to enhance the union presence within the American Public Health Association. The oldest and largest organization of public health professional in the world, APHA represents more than 50,000 members in 50 public health related occupations. The Labor Caucus is sponsoring three sessions at the November 15–19 2003 Annual Meeting:
- The Nursing Shortage: Prescriptions for Safety;
- Less Burnout and Dissatisfaction: Improving the Environment for Nurses; and
- The Social Costs of Large Retailers (and Other Large Employers) Health Care Practices.
Presenters from DPE affiliates, including AFSCME, AFT, SEIU, UFCW and UAN will be featured, as well as academics and public health officials. Co-sponsorship from a broad range of APHA sections and caucuses will be arranged, as well as the availability of Continuing Education Units. The Annual Meetings are very well attended: the Meeting at which John Sweeney gave the keynote address several years ago had more than 17,000 participants. For further information on APHA or the Annual Meeting, see http://www.APHA.org; for information about the activities of the Labor Caucus, email Pamela Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFL-CIO NURSES CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED
Inadequate nurse staffing is jeopardizing patient care and driving experienced, committed nurses from their profession. Safe staffing standards have been the top priority for nurses and their unions who have waged campaigns for safe staffing legislation in more than 15 states. May 6, Nurse Day, marks the launch of the AFL-CIO Nurse Campaign for Safe Staffing. Nurses from across the nation will take their demands for safe staffing and quality patient care to Congress. A press conference featuring nurses, legislators and consumer advocates will be held at 1:45 on the west side of the Capitol. Rallies, meetings with legislators and other actions will be held across the country from May 4–10. DPE has participated with AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, SEIU, UAN, UFCW and the AFL-CIO in the development of the Safe Staffing Campaign, assisting with the development of materials (including preparing a series of fact sheets)and legislation. For information about activities on May 6 and the AFL-CIO Nurse campaign, visit the Web site, http://www.aflcio.org/nurses or contact the campaign coordinator, Maya Bhullar, at email@example.com.
WHERE’S MOM? (AND OTHER FACT SHEETS)
DPE’s Mother’s Day fact sheet and press release point to the likelihood of mom being at work. It highlights women’s greatly increased economic responsibilities for themselves and their families, and the continuing pay gap for professional and other women, despite women earning the majority of bachelor’s and master’s degrees for more than 20 years. DPE has also issued fact sheets on the professional labor force, pointing to the explosion of professional and technical employment. In addition, a series of fact sheets on nurses have been developed. A report on public employees is underway. To obtain copies of fact sheets, or a publications list, email Marcie Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org; for information about ongoing research contact email@example.com.
DPE GENERAL BOARD MEETING
DPE 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.