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 email@example.com
In This Issue:
- Organizing Professionals
- Media Ownership
- Organizing Organizations to Protect OT
- Guest Workers
- Outreach to Pre-Professionals
- Links to Professional Societies
- Link to American Public Health Association Strengthened
- Unions are for Professionals
In a Labor Day release, the DPE issued its first ever report on professional organizing by DPE affiliates entitled Rising Tide . . . Professionals: The New Face of America’s Unions. The report summarizes over 220 organizing campaigns by the 17 DPE affiliates who successfully organized some 66,000 professional, technical and administrative workers into their unions in 2002. Among other details included in the report:
- Successful unit campaigns or affiliations occurred in 39 states—including 15 of the 22 right-to-work states—as well as D.C. and Puerto Rico.
- The average unit size was 293 employees.
- Of the 222 organizing drives, the largest number–94–occurred in education.
- Private-sector organizing ranked a close second, with a total of 90 campaigns and health care leading the way at 42 wins. The 39 other private sector organizing initiatives were led by telecommunications.
- Union efforts in government came in third, with 41 successes.
In these campaigns, the 66,000 newly organized professionals accounted for nearly 30% of the total number of new union workers–more than 232,000–reported by 65 unions affiliated with the national AFL-CIO. Professionals were thus the fastest growing sector within the federation, individually outpacing the transportation, manufacturing, building and construction, hospitality and service sectors. The report is available on the DPE website www.dpeaflcio.org under Breaking News.
Several articles were run on the report over the Labor Day weekend and on August 28, President Almeida did a live interview with Scott Cohen on CNBC’s Morning Call show.
The DPE sent a letter–co-signed by 14 DPE affiliates and other unions in news and entertainment–to over 50 U.S. Senators requesting co-sponsorship of S. 1046–legislation to roll back the FCC’s repeal of regulations preventing monopoly control of the nation’s media. Forty-five other Senators–12 Republicans and 33 Democrats–received a letter of appreciation on behalf of DPE affiliates for their co-sponsorship. On a related issue, the Senate is expected to consider, soon after its return from the August recess, Senator Dorgan’s Congressional Resolution of Disapproval (S.Res. 17) to completely wipe out the FCC’s action.
ORGANIZING ORGANIZATIONS TO PROTECT OVERTIME PAY
Over the Congressional recess in August, DPE organized organizations. The result: a letter from 54 organizations to every member of the Senate supporting the Harkin amendment to protect overtime pay and the 40-hour week.
On September 2, when the Senate returned from its recess, DPE circulated the letter at an AFL-CIO briefing for some 50 Senate staff; at a news conference attended by some 20 national news organizations featuring Senator Harkin and Ross Eisenbrey of the Economic Policy Institute (staff of the Senate Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee requested the letter as a handout); and at a meeting of AFL-CIO legislative representatives.
DPE outreach led far beyond the usual suspects. Among the 54 signers on the letter were 20 professional, advocacy, policy, and religious organizations, including the American Nurses Association, Physicians for a National Health Program, the National Organization for Women, the Council of Engineers and Scientists Organizations, the American Association of University Professors, the American Public Health Association, the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and the American Music Therapy Association. Also joining the letter were DPE affiliated unions, unions not yet affiliated with DPE, and labor constituency groups.
Contributing to the DPE outreach effort were DPE President Paul E. Almeida, the entire DPE staff, and the President’s Office of the AFL-CIO. Contacts with more than 160 organizations heightened the visibility of the threatened DOL regulations and encouraged opposing them even if organizations could not sign the DPE letter.
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.” To see the DOL battle-plan, check http://www.dol.gov/esa/whd/. For updates, check “Breaking News” on the DPE website, or contact David Cohen, 202-638-0320 x13.
The next steps are likely to include introduction of the Harkin amendment this week or next, with a vote in the week of September 8. Vote counters believe success in the Senate is do-able. A vote in the House of Representatives on July 10 failed by 213-210, so a Senate victory would lead to a battle in conference, and success there could face a Presidential veto. This campaign – a battle over the biggest proposed pay cut in 65 years – will carry into the 2004 Presidential and Congressional elections.
In early August, the AFL-CIO Executive Council approved a DPE-authored resolution calling for an overhaul of U.S. guest worker programs. The comprehensive, three page policy statement addressed a host of abuses in existing programs that disadvantage U.S. workers and result in the exploitation of foreign workers. The resolution called for major reforms in the H-1B and L-1 programs and criticized the United States’ Trade Representative (USTR) for embedding new guest worker provisions in the Chile and Singapore free trade agreements.
DPE sent a letter to the all members of the House of Representatives urging their co-sponsorship of H.R. 2702—the DeLauro/Shays L-1 visa reform bill. Both the AFL-CIO policy resolution and a copy of the letter can be viewed at the DPE’s website at www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters.htm.
OUTREACH TO PRE-PROFESSIONALS
DPE hosted the third of three summer meetings with high school students visiting Washington on 11-day programs sponsored by the National Young Leaders Conference. Teaching and law featured prominently among the career goals of this group of 22; others visualized careers as computer programmers, forensic psychologists, engineers, and custom car modifiers. The group asked President Almeida and his assistants, David Cohen and Pamela Wilson, about the process of forming a union and the membership dues; about the structure of the labor movement, and the number, position, and trend of white collar workers in both the work force and the labor movement. The Department clarified the role of unions in providing a voice for professionals and in improving social and working conditions. DPE will continue and expand its efforts to reach out to pre-professionals. For information about NYLC and its programs, see http://www.cylc.org/nylc or email Pamela Wilson.
LINKS TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES: THE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
President Almeida and Pamela Wilson met with key representatives of the 64,000 member American Library Association to begin a dialog. Legislative issues and outreach to pre-professionals seem especially fertile ground for connection and collaboration. The American Library Association has already joined the DPE Coalition to Maintain Overtime Pay Protections, since the regulations proposed by the DOL would affect librarians and library assistants. A meeting between DPE and the ALA’s Legislative Office will take place this fall to discuss collaboration on this and other legislative issues.
Librarians and library assistants are represented by seven DPE affiliates: AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IFPTE, SEIU, and RWDSU, UFCW. The Department will be involved in labor related committees and activities within ALA. For additional information, email Pamela Wilson.
LINK TO AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION STRENGTHENED
The American Public Health Association, which represents more than 50,000 public health professionals, will hold its Annual Meeting in San Francisco from November 15-19. DPE now chairs the APHA Labor Caucus and is expanding the connection and presence of the affiliates within APHA.
The Labor Caucus is sponsoring three sessions at this year’s meeting: *The Nursing Shortage: Prescriptions for Safety; * Less Burnout and Dissatisfaction: Improving the Work Environment for Nurses; and * The Social Costs of Large Retailers’ (and Other Large Employers’) Health Care Practices. These sessions will feature speakers from DPE affiliates including AFT, SEIU, UAN and UFCW, as well as academics sympathetic to labor. These sessions are being cosponsored by a range of groups within APHA, including the Medical Section, the Occupational Health and Safety Section, and Public Health Nursing, among others. This is the first time that Labor Caucus sessions have been cosponsored. In addition, the Caucus is sponsoring, along with the Occupational Health and Safety Section, a new, day-long Continuing Education Institute on Organized Labor and Public Health. The Caucus hopes this Institute will become a regular feature at the APHA Annual Meeting. For further information, email Pamela Wilson.
UNIONS ARE FOR PROFESSIONALS: SPREADING THE WORD
Jamie Horwitz, Associate Director for Public Affairs, AFT and others will be conducting a public relations training program at the George Meany Labor College for the staff of DPE affiliates. It will focus on strategies and techniques for public relations campaigns involving white collar issues. Originally scheduled for the week of October 23, this program has been postponed due to low registration. Please consider sending a representative when it is rescheduled. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Each year the nation’s music and movie industries lose billions in sales due to both international and domestic piracy of CDs. These industries employ hundreds of thousands of workers including some of the world’s most creative artists. When music and or film are illegally down-loaded or copied, creators—musicians, recording artists, actors, writers—as well as production support workers lose income. The economic stakes in the fight to curb piracy, especially illegal internet down-loading—are enormous. Two DPE affiliates–AFTRA and AFM–have recently highlighted the issues and consequences surrounding the war against illegal piracy in two narratives on their respective websites. The first, entitled What You Should Know About Piracy by Ann Chaitovitz of AFTRA, is a basic primer on the subject. The second, on the AFM website, details the recent announcement by Universal Music Group to slash CD prices in order to recoup lost sales due to piracy. The respective websites are www.aftra.org and www.afm.org.