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:
- Working Overtime in the Senate and House
- FCC Media Ownership Rules
- Guest Workers
- Outsourcing of US White Collar Jobs
- Internet Taxes
DPE Coalition Building
- Programs at American Public Health Association Annual Meeting
- Expanded Link to the Library Association
- New Link to Women’s Organizations
- DPE signs onto OMBWATCH’s Letter to Secretary Ridge
- Coalition for Fair Employment in Silicon Valley
DPE in the News
- Voice of America Radio, IT Outsourcing to India
- Overtime, Overtime, Overtime
- Outsourcing in the News
GREAT MONTH FOR DPE and AFFILIATES
Four for four with plenty of bi-partisan support. Below you will find items that DPE played a key role in working positive results. Worth noting are the efforts of David Cohen on the OT battles and Mike Gildea on the FCC and H1-B battles, outstanding work on behalf of our affiliates.
WORKING OVERTIME IN THE SENATE AND HOUSE
Nothing like a lot of hard work – and a national success – to re-ignite a little hope. On October 2, 2003, we – and that means American workers – did something that seems almost new: We won. By a vote of 221-203, the House of Representatives took another major step toward stopping the biggest pay cut in history. It approved a motion to instruct its conferees to accept the Harkin amendment that the Senate added to the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education funding bill. That amendment allows the Bush Department of Labor (DOL) to expand the groups of workers entitled to overtime pay but not to cut off the workers who have overtime protections now.
Crossing the line to make the substantial majority were 21 Republican Representatives. Only two Democrats (Hall and Stenholm) voted wrong.
The House victory followed an earlier triumph in the Senate, which on September 10, voted 54-45 to stop the horror story dreamed up by the DOL. Joining every Democrat except Zell Miller were six Republicans: Campbell, Chafee, Murkowski, Snowe, Specter, and Stevens. The Senate majority defied a White House veto threat (which, despite our October 2 victory in the House, still remains). The September 10 triumph of the Harkin amendment landed on front pages across the country. Reporters called the vote a rare victory for Democrats and labor. They cited it to show Bush Administration dominance might be coming unglued.
Our House and Senate victories followed an initial defeat: On July 10, an amendment that provided the model for the Harkin amendment failed in the House of Representatives by 213-210. The conflict between that vote and the vote in the Senate requires a conference. The October 2 vote of the House was in favor of a motion to instruct its conferees to accept the Harkin amendment. Though the motion does not bind the conferees, it will make their not including the amendment a direct affront to majorities of the House, the Senate, and the American people.
DPE worked hard with the AFL-CIO and DPE affiliates to contribute to both the House and Senate victories. In anticipation of the House motion to instruct, and in addition to its Internet activism, DPE renewed old-fashioned lobbying. DPE sent a letter from 56 organizations to every member of the House, and its staff joined the AFL-CIO and affiliated unions in extensive visits and telephone calls to targeted Representatives.
Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938 to establish a 40-hour workweek, reward workers with time-and-a-half pay for working longer and spread employment. The Bush Department of Labor (DOL) proposed on March 31, 2003 enlarging FLSA exemptions for executives, administrative and professional workers so dramatically that they would swallow the rule. An Economic Policy Institute study (http://www.epi.org/publication/briefingpapers_flsa_jun03/) estimates more than eight million white-collar workers could lose rights to overtime pay.
DPE posted a Fact Sheet, “Bush Administration Proposes Disappearing Act for Overtime Pay, “http://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets/fs_2003_bushpay.htm. The AFL-CIO created a web site, http://www.saveovertimepay.org/. To see the DOL battle-plan, check http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/. For updates, check “Breaking News” on the DPE website, http://www.dpeaflcio.org/, or contact David Cohen, 202-638-0320 x13, mailto: email@example.com.
FCC MEDIA OWNERSHIP RULES
On September 16 the U.S. Senate rejected a proposal by the FCC to eradicate its media ownership limitations which prevent the growth of media monopolies. Taking advantage of the seldom-used Congressional Review Act veto, the Senate by an overwhelming 55-40 vote approved DPE-backed S. J. Res. 17 and dumped the widely criticized FCC pro-industry deregulation. The Senate action was also a rare but nonetheless embarrassing defeat for the media industry which had pulled out all the stops to detour the Senate action. Prior to the vote a DPE coordinated letter was sent to all Senators signed by 14 organizations including affiliates and other media guilds urging support for the resolution. In reaction to the vote, the White House has threatened a veto.
In the House, Majority Leader Tom DeLay has said the resolution is DOA. Several House members are circulating a letter for signatures from their House colleagues to Speaker Hastert asking him to schedule the Senate resolution for a vote.
Other anti-FCC strategies are also in play. In the appropriations process, funding for implementation of one of the FCC proposed rules—the increase in the national audience cap—was wiped out in the FY 2004 House-passed State/Justice/Commerce appropriations bill and was locked into the Senate Committee version of the same bill a week before the vote on the Dorgan-Lott resolution. Meanwhile, a separate bill—S. 1046 to rollback several of the FCC rules—that was reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee in late July and has the support of its Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) is awaiting floor action.
In the absence of congressional action, on September 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. In mid-month the full Senate Judiciary Committee held a one day hearing on the H-B program but took no action. DPE staff worked with the staff of Committee member Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) to provide economic and background information for the Q & A during the hearing.
In the Appropriations Committee meanwhile, Feinstein led a successful effort to send a message to the USTR which on the Chile and Singapore trade agreements had slipped in new H-1B type professional visas for each nation. This had drawn howls of protest from both Republican and Democrat members of the Judiciary committees. Feinstein’s amendment to the State/Commerce/Justice departments funding bill would deny the USTR any monies to negotiate future trade agreements with any such immigration provisions in them. The amendment was approved unanimously by the committee. The DPE had written to committee members prior to the vote to support the amendment.
In the House at the suggestion of the DPE, Rep Rosa Delauro (D-CT), who earlier this summer introduced an L-1 visa reform bill developed in consultation with the Department, sent a joint letter to the chairman of the House Judiciary Immigration subcommittee asking for hearings on the L-1 problem. The letter was signed by 16 democrat and republican co-sponsors of pending L-1 bills.
OUTSOURCING OF U.S. WHITE COLLAR JOBS
The Department continued to meet with the AFL-CIO Task Force on Outsourcing composed of key Federation public policy staff and representatives of DPE affiliates. Outsourcing has hit the front page and TV news screens around the nation as tens of thousands of jobs are now being exported to India and other nations. Predictions are that the current trickle will reach tidal wave proportions over the next five years as millions of these jobs go off-shore. The task force was set up at the request of the DPE General Board which in June at its annual meeting had requested an AFL-CIO focus. The Committee is formulating state legislative strategies to discourage state governments from letting contracts to companies that outsource the work as well as reviewing appropriate federal legislative and regulatory strategies.
DPE-backed, bi-partisan legislation—H.R. 3184—to allow states to collect foregone sales taxes on internet commodity transactions was recently introduced in the House by Reps Ernest Ishtook (R-OK) and William Delahunt (D-MA). Recent studies have shown that cash-strapped states are losing $13 billion annually_an estimate that will increase exponentially over the next several years. Prior to the bill’s introduction, the DPE co-signed a letter with several affiliates as well as state and local government organizations and a host of retail and real estate businesses and associations in support of the legislation. A one day hearing was held in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial Law on October 1. The DPE is working with affiliates to lobby House members to co-sponsor the legislation and Senators to endorse a soon-to-be-introduced companion bill in the Senate.
DPE COALITION BUILDING
LINKS TO PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS – PROGRAMS AT AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING
The American Public Health Association represents more than 50,000 public health professionals. It’s Annual Meeting, which attracts up to 17,000 participants, will be held in San Francisco from November 15-19. The Department has been developing and expanding its connection with APHA for a number of years. In 1996, AFL-CIO President, John Sweeney was the keynote speaker at the Annual Meeting. DPE currently chairs the Labor Caucus within APHA and is continuing efforts to expanding 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 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 also be attended by people (such as union members in the Bay Area) who are not planning to attend the Annual Meeting.
The AFL-CIO Nurse Campaign will 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 Nurse Staffing 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, visit the APHA Website, http://www.apha.org/ or contact Pamela Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXPANDED LINK TO THE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
Following up on an August meeting involving President Almeida, Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson and key representatives of the 64,000 member American Library Association – the oldest and largest library association in the world – President Almeida, Executive Director Mike Gildea, and Pamela Wilson met with the director of the Washington Office to explore opportunities for collaboration on legislative and public policy issues. For more information about the association, see http://www.ala.org/ or contact Pamela Wilson at email@example.com.
NEW LINK TO WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS
With a view to developing further connections to organizations representing salaried and professional women, President Almeida and Pamela Wilson met with the new director of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, a network of more than 100 women’s organizations which together represent more than six million members. Member organizations include professional societies, as well as service, media, and legal advocacy groups. The umbrella organization works to advocate change on a variety of issues of importance to women, including pay equity, equal employment opportunity, media equality, and a range of other issues important to DPE affiliates and the many women they represent. The Department has applied to join NCWO, which has already begun to disseminate some of our materials and information. For further information see www.womensorganizations.org or contact Pamela Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE SIGNS ONTO OMBWATCH’S LETTER TO SECRETARY RIDGE
DPE joined 75 other organizations in writing to Secretary Ridge urging the Secretary to provide an opportunity for the public to comment on procedures that are being developed that may restrict the public dissemination of “homeland security information,” including information that is “sensitive but unclassified.” For further information see http://www.ombwatch.org/article/articleview/1770/1/1.
In late September DPE Executive Director Mike Gildea met with 25 leaders of the Council of Engineers and Scientists Organizations to brief them on DPE activities related to pending guest worker legislation and on the outsourcing issue. CESO includes local representatives from a number of DPE affiliates.
COALITION FOR FAIR EMPLOYMENT IN SILICON VALLEY
In mid-month September the full Senate Judiciary Committee held a one day hearing on the H-1B program but took no action. DPE staff worked with the staff of Committee member Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) to provide economic and background information for the Q & A during the hearing. DPE united with the Coalition for Fair Employment in Silicon Valley, NAACP, the National Urban League and the Black Leadership Forum to heighten the awareness of congressionals and their staff that guest worker programs and outsourcing have on the minority communities.
DPE IN THE NEWS
VOICE OF AMERICA RADIO, IT OUTSOURCING TO INDIA
On September 19 Pat Bodnar of Voice of America interviewed President Almeida as part of her VOANews story on outsourcing. Below is part of that interview:
However, there has been some backlash to this outsourcing of jobs–complaints from the United States for example–that jobs are being taken away from American workers and shifted to poorer countries including India. Critics say that today’s service and high technology jobs are being sent overseas in the same way that manufacturing jobs were lost several decades ago. In a recent U.S. Congressional Committee hearing on the globalization of white-collar jobs, Paul Almeida, President of the Department for Professional Employees of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of U.S. labor unions, expressed his alarm at the recent trend of outsourcing information technology jobs. Mr. Almeida cites a study by Deloitte Research that said over the next five years, the world’s 100 largest financial institutions plan to move hundreds of billions of dollars worth of operations overseas, along with millions of jobs.
“They saw a shift of three hundred fifty-six billion dollars-worth of operations moving overseas at a cost of about two million jobs to low-wage countries over the next five years. There are other studies that back up the same numbers that Deloitte found. Forrester Research has a study as well that has very comparable number of jobs that are moving.”
The result, says Mr. Almeida, is that millions of Americans are being pushed out of work, and out of the middle class.
OVERTIME, OVERTIME, OVERTIME
On September 5 on AlterNet, DPE President Paul E. Almeida sounded a call to action, “One Day Left to Oppose the Biggest Pay Cut in History, “http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16718, which AlterNet accompanied with an action alert. After the victory, Paul provided an update, “Democracy Works Overtime, “http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16774, praising the activism that moved the Senate and alerting activists to the next step in the House of Representatives. Both pieces circulated widely on other web sites and list serves. They led a nationally syndicated careers columnist, Joyce Lain Kennedy, to refer readers to the DPE web site, for overtime pay updates.
OUTSOURCING IN THE NEWS
During the month of September DPE Executive Director Mike Gildea was quoted in the Atlanta Constitution Journal, The Chicago Tribune and Newsday magazine on the guest worker issue and in the Bureau of National Affairs’ Labor Relations Week on outsourcing. Copies available from DPE office, contact Leandra Kennedy.