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 Pay Goes Into Overtime
- Organizing to Organize
- Facilitating Staff Training
- Encouraging Excellence in Education
- Task Force on Workforce Development Goes Across the Pond
- Outsourcing of U.S. White Collar Jobs
- Guest Workers
- FCC Media Ownership Rules
DPE Coalition Building:
- The Library Association
- The American Public Health Association
- DPE Meets with Health Care Activist
- MD State Lawmaker to Fight Export of Jobs
OVERTIME PAY GOES INTO OVERTIME
A highly technical difference between the House of Representatives and the Senate has put overtime pay into a conference committee.
At the end of March 2003, the Bush Department of Labor (DOL) issued proposed regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act that could cost more than 8 million workers their overtime pay protections. The comment period ended June 30. On July 10, 2003, the House voted by 213-210 to allow DOL to continue working on its proposed regulations. On September 10, 2003, the Senate took a contrary stance: Responding to a massive national outcry, it voted by 54-45 in favor of the Harkin amendment, which would allow DOL to protect additional categories of workers but not to end overtime pay protections for categories of workers who have protection now. The Senate vote, and the public outrage that fueled it, sent the House back to the drawing board. By a vote of 221-203 on October 2, the House instructed its conferees to accept the Harkin amendment. That vote, though, represents a recommendation that does not legally bind the House conferees. The result: continuing negotiations, daily rumors, and an uncertain outcome, despite the mobilization of workers across the United States and majority votes of the Senate and House.
DPE has worked hard with the AFL-CIO and DPE affiliates to contribute to both the House and Senate victories. Those votes have become important evidence of the Bush Administration’s increasing political vulnerability. For updates, check “Breaking News” on the DPE website, or contact David Cohen, 202-638-0320 x13, email@example.com.
ORGANIZING TO ORGANIZE
DPE President Paul E. Almeida, Pamela Wilson, and David Cohen met with Eugenia Kemble of the Albert Shanker Institute and Fred Feinstein of the Organizing Research Network and the University of Maryland to develop a proposal for a conference on white-collar organizing, “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century,” tentatively slated for 2004 in Washington, DC. DPE will be working on the proposal with its affiliated unions. For more information or to offer suggestions, contact David at 202-638-0320 x13 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FACILITATING STAFF TRAINING
The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) scheduled a National Staff Training for October 31 to November 5, 2003. At the invitation of AFGE, David Cohen, DPE Assistant to the President for Education and Organizational Development, is facilitating two of the days.
ENCOURAGING EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION
DPE participates in the Committee on Educational Awards of the Industrial Relations Research Association (IRRA). In October, Assistant to the President for Education and Organizational Development David Cohen joined other members of the Committee in judging nominations for the IRRA Excellence in Education Awards. The awards categories include collective bargaining, human resources, labor economics, labor education, labor history, labor and employment law, the sociology of work and the psychology of work. For more information about nominating candidates for the awards, contact David at 202-638-0320 x13 or email@example.com.
TASK FORCE ON WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT GOES ACROSS THE POND
The task force a joint venture of the Albert Shanker Institute and the New Economy Information Service traveled to England to study the UK’s agenda for the 21st Century National Skill Agenda. The UK at all levels government, employers and unions has recognized the need for a skills agenda for the UK to stay competitive in the global economy. Representative from government, business and unions detailed their strategy for the Task Force and provided valuable insight of how their program is working. A new classification of worker (union representative) called a Learning Rep has been developed to assist workers in determining their individual skill level and what course of studies they require to advance in the ever changing workplace.
Record numbers of layoffs in engineering and technical occupations along with a new emphasis on outsourcing has led the task force to take a broader look at the UK model. The task force will evaluate the UK model and determine as part of its final report how the US should address skills upgrading and enhancement in today’s economy. DPE affiliates that took part in this trip were AFT, IAM, IBEW and IFPTE. DPE affiliates that are part of the task force include AFT, CWA, IAM, IBEW and IFPTE.
OUTSOURCING OF U.S. WHITE COLLAR JOBS
The House Small Business Committee, chaired by Illinois Republican Don Manzullo, held another hearing on offshore outsourcing headlined as The Offshoring of High Skilled Jobs. Manzullo has become one of the most outspoken members of Congress on this issue. DPE arranged for a witness—Natasha Humphries, an African American, Stanford-educated, displaced tech worker and new TechsUnite/CWA activist—to testify at the hearing on October 20. Humphries was formerly with the company that makes the Palm Pilot. She was detailed by the company to train workers at their Indian subsidiary. Less than two months after her return her job was outsourced back to India. Her testimony was the most compelling of the four witnesses that testified with her during a panel presentation and was well received by Manzullo and the other legislators who attended.
Earlier this year, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled that a longstanding, $5 billion tax break for American companies to promote exports of U.S. products and thus generate domestic jobs—the Foreign Sales Corporation (FSC)/Extraterritorial Income (ETI) exclusion—was WTO non-compliant. The WTO demanded that the U.S. act quickly to get rid of this allegedly illegal export subsidy or face retaliation. Labor-backed legislation—H.R. 1769 was introduced by Reps. Phil Crane (R-IL) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY)—to reconfigure the export tax exemption into a deduction against income to subsidize domestic job creation by U.S. companies/foreign subsidiaries operating in the U.S. whether they export or not. The legislation’s primary thrust was to stimulate manufacturing but the bill’s broad definition of “production” included both software development and other tech related work as well as film and music production. (Those two industries had been plagued by increasing job losses due to runaway/offshore production in recent years.). In the Senate, during the August recess DPE Executive Director Mike Gildea participated in an AFL-CIO-arranged meeting with Senate Finance Committee staff—Ed McClellan, tax counsel to Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IO) and Russ Sullivan, tax counsel to ranking minority member Max Baucus (D-MT) to urge that the broadened definitions be retained. The final version of this bi-partisan bill—S. 1637, sponsored by Grassley and Baucus—did so. In the Finance Committee markup on the bill, Sen. Lincoln succeeded in adding her legislation to provide wage-based tax credits for the film industry to encourage more U.S. and lee runaway movie production. As of this writing, Committee versions of the FSC legislation are awaiting floor action in the House and Senate. DPE has also met with Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle and House Small Business Committee Chairman Don Manzullo to discuss strategies related to floor consideration of this legislation.
As reported in the last issue on 9/30 the cap on H-1B professional guest worker program receded from 195,000 to its pre-1998 level of 65,000. The DPE had long supported this reduction particularly at a time when so many white collar workers are jobless. Despite news reports that Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch was trying to restore the cap to over 100,000, as of this writing no action has occurred.
FCC MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES
Following the mid-September Senate vote to nullify the action by the FCC to eradicate its media ownership limitations, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay proclaimed the resolution as DOA in the House. Several House members including Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Jim Leach (R-IA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) circulated a “Dear Collaegue” letter for signature by House members to Speaker Hastert asking him to schedule the Senate resolution for a vote. Initially these allies dad hoped to sign on 150 to 160 of their House colleagues. After a near month long effort the letter was sent to Hastert with 205 signatures including 11 GOP members. As of this writing the Speaker had not responded to their request. Meanwhile the federal court that had stayed the October 1 implementation of the revised ownership rules announced that oral arguments in the case would be heard in January.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES
THE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
Expanding its connection to the American Library Association (ALA), DPE has become co-chair of the ALA – AFL-CIO Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups, whose mission is “to initiate, develop, and foster …ways and means of effecting closer cooperation between the librarian and labor organizations and the larger constituency represented by labor organizations”. DPE hopes to assist the affiliates to further increase their visibility and membership among library workers at ALA.
DPE has held several meetings with key ALA staff to discuss ways and means for connection and collaboration. The American Library Association-Allied Professional Association, a companion organization to ALA, joined the DPE Coalition to Maintain Overtime Pay Protections. ALA-APA is focused on certification beyond the MLS, as well as comparable worth, pay equity initiatives, and other activities designed to improve the salaries and status of librarians. It promotes unionization as one of its strategies. (www.ala-apa.org) Librarian activists from AFSCME, SEIU, RWDSU-UFCW, and other affiliates were involved in the formation of this new organization and its materials, including Advocating for Better Salaries and Pay Equity Toolkit (www.mjfreedman.org/freedmantf/toolkit.pdf).
AFSCME has formed a national advisory committee on library employees. DPE was a guest at the initial meeting of this committee on October 27. In addition to AFSCME, library employees are represented by AFGE, AFT, CWA, IFPTE, SEIU and UFCW. Contact Pamela Wilson at DPE for additional information: firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION
The American Public Health Association (APHA) represents more than 50,000 public health professionals. Its Annual Meeting will be held in San Francisco from November 15-19. The Department has been developing and expanding its connection with APHA for several years. DPE currently chairs the Labor Caucus within APHA and is continuing efforts to expand the connection and presence of the affiliates within the association.
The three Labor Caucus sessions at this year’s Annual Meeting are:
- The Nursing Shortage: Prescriptions for Safety (2:30-4:00 p.m., Monday, November 17);
- Less Burnout and Dissatisfaction: Improving the Work Environment for Nurses (12:30-2:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 19); and
- The Social Costs of Large Retailers’ (and Other Large Employers’) Health Care Practices (2:30-4:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 18).
These sessions will feature 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 are being cosponsored by several major Sections and Caucuses within APHA.
In addition, the Labor Caucus is joining the Occupational Health and Safety Section in sponsoring a new one-day Continuing Education Institute, Organized Labor and Public Health (9:00 – 5:00 p.m., Saturday, November 15). We hope that a program focused on how public health professionals and organized labor can form lasting partnerships will become a regular feature at APHA. This year’s program will include a discussion of the AFL-CIO Nurse Staffing Campaign by UAN president, and AFL-CIO Vice President Cheryl Johnson. This session can be attended by union members and others in the Bay Area who are not planning to attend the Annual Meeting. We urge you to encourage local members to attend this meeting. Full information about the program and available scholarships can be obtained by contacting Dr. Greg DeLaurier at email@example.com.
The AFL-CIO Nurse Campaign will also be featured as part of the proceedings at the Occupational Health and Safety Social Hour (6:30-8:00 p.m., Monday, November 17), which the Labor Caucus is cosponsoring. The Campaign will be featured in other venues during the Annual Meeting and materials will be broadly distributed.
We urge you to encourage participation at these events and at the Labor Caucus Business Meeting (6:30-8:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 18) when the program for the coming year will be planned. For further information about APHA and the Annual Meeting, visit the Website: www.apha.org. Contact Pamela Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about the Labor Caucus and its programs.
DPE MEETS WITH HEALTH CARE ACTIVIST
In September, 10,000 physicians announced their support for single payer national health insurance; their proposal for reform appeared 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. By a 2:1 margin, the poll found the public favors national health insurance to the current system. In October, President Almeida met with Quentin Young, MD, 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 January, the Department will host a program and discussion with Dr. Young on the corporate takeover of medicine in America and the physicians’ proposal for single payer national health insurance. For further information, contact Pamela Wilson, email@example.com.
MD STATE LAWMAKER TO FIGHT EXPORT OF JOBS
DPE joins TechsUnite to tell the story of outsoucing IT jobs. Maryland Delegate Pauline Menes wants to stop export of white-collar jobs from Maryland before an exodus starts. And the way to do so, the state delegate believes, is to put the weight of the state government behind the Free State’s white-collar workers.
Delegate Menes, a Democrat from College Park, met Oct. 15 in its city hall with unionists concerned about the issue, to discuss strategy for and details of legislation on the issue that she will introduce in the state capital of Annapolis next year.
Her legislation, like measures in other states, would ban state agencies and contractors from exporting white-collar jobs—computer techs, data processing, engineering and the like—to other countries. Those exports deprive U.S. workers of jobs.
“White collar workers have traditionally not been very good at advocating for themselves,” said Paul Almeida, President of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees, who attended the meeting. “If the public was aware and raised its voice, this would stop.”
Other participants included top DPE official Mike Gildea, and Mike Blain of WashTech—a Seattle-based Communications Workers local that has led the fight on the issue.