The purpose of this newsletter is to inform you of recent activities by the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO as well as emerging issues affecting the professional and technical workforce. NewsLine will be published on the first of every month. Issues of NewsLine are accessible on the DPE web page www.dpeaflcio.org. Feedback welcomed; send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue:
- Guest Worker Visas
- FCC Media Rules
- Media Workers
- Workplace Issues and Collective Bargaining
- Statistical Analysis: Fact Sheets and Compendiums
- Think Tank Nashville
- Building Coalitions
- Lunch and Learn: Understanding the Power of the Health Insurance Industry
- Organizing Conference 2005
- DPE in the News
OFFSHORING—Continues to be a major focus of the Department as both Congress and the state legislatures moved forward on a variety of proposals.
- The AFL-CIO Executive Council unanimously adopted a DPE authored policy resolution, originally developed at the request of the DPE Executive committee, which includes over a dozen suggested legislative options for confronting the offshore tidal wave. A copy can be obtained from the AFL-CIO’s web page at www.aflcio.org/aboutaflcio/ecouncil/ec03112004i.cfm. Several of the policy proposals contained in the resolution are now taking shape in the Congress.
- Following meetings with DPE Executive Director Mike Gildea and AFL-CIO reps with the staff of Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), he successfully offered an amendment to a pending Senate bill—S. 1637, FSC/ETI legislation —to restrict the offshoring of both federal government contracts and federally-funded state contracts.
- In a 3/3 policy letter about S. 1637, the DPE communicated its support of the Dodd amendment; a proposal by Senator Hollings to shift $37 billion away from overseas corporate tax incentives to job creation in the U.S.; and a Harkin amendment to block the DOL’s anti-overtime rules. As of this writing S. 1637 is still awaiting final action by the Senate.
- Other discussions have resulted in the crafting of proposals to address the offshoring crisis including an extension of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits for service sector workers whose jobs are lost to offshoring, and to block the use of federal welfare funds to offshore beneficiary call centers and other services/activities.
- Over 30 states continue to consider a wide variety of offshoring legislation. In late March Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm issued executive orders to discourage the offshoring of state resources. A comprehensive, status report on state offshoring initiatives is available from Naomi Walker at the AFL-CIO—email@example.com. The DPE also worked with the AFL-CIO Public Policy Department to fashion a point-by point rebuttal to the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) letter to the Maryland House of Delegates opposing pending anti-outsourcing legislation. The ITAA is a national leader in the fight to stop both federal and state anti-offshoring initiatives.
- President Almeida along with AFL-CIO representatives Ron Blackwell and Bob Baugh met with a GAO team charged with doing a study on outsourcing/offshoring requested by Congress. The meeting was to provide the GAO with the areas of concern to labor. The issue date for the GAO study is not yet available.
- President Almeida addressed the gathering of the Citizens Trade Campaign on the downside of offshoring on state and local governments at their annual directors meeting in Washington, DC.
OVERTIME – Despite bipartisan majority votes in both chambers of Congress and expressions of outrage among workers nationally, the Bush Administration is still threatening overtime pay. Democrats in Congress are still trying to end the threat.
On March 18, 2004, DPE President Paul E. Almeida sent an e-mail alert to all DPE affiliates. It asked that their members throughout the country call their Senators. Pending in the Senate was a new version of the Harkin amendment that would permanently bar the Bush Department of Labor (DOL) from cutting back overtime pay protections while allowing DOL to expand them. Senator Harkin was seeking to attach the amendment to legislation (Jumpstart Our Business Strength (JOBS), S. 1637) that would comply with a World Trade Organization ruling and avoid European trade sanctions. Republican leaders in the Senate did not want a vote on the amendment and were threatening to invoke cloture, which would cut off further debate and amendments.
On March 24, the Senate took a roll call vote on cloture, which requires 60 votes to succeed. Fifty Republicans and Senator Zell Miller voted to invoke cloture. Forty-six Democrats and Independent Senator James Jeffords voted against it. With the failure of the cloture vote, the Senate Republicans took S. 1637 off the floor to avoid its providing a vehicle for the Harkin amendment. In the words of Senator Harkin: “The Bush Administration and the Republican leadership would rather pay tariffs to Europe than pay overtime to American workers.”
The Bush DOL had promised repeatedly to issue its final regulations on overtime pay by March 31. On March 26, the Bush DOL sent its proposed final regulations to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review before their release. As this is written, that review has yet to be completed. The final regulations have not been issued, and there is no word about their contents. Meanwhile, Senator Harkin has vowed to attach his amendment to every possible vehicle.
GUEST WORKER VISAS—Executive Director Mike Gildea met with the staff of New Jersey Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell to discuss introduction of a possible H-1B reform bill. Gildea also met with Senators Dodd staff about his legislation—S 1452—that proposes modest reforms in both the H-1B and L-1 visa programs.
FCC MEDIA RULES—Anti-indecency legislation became the latest legislative stampede in the Congress as Republicans outraged by Janet Jackson but ambiguous about real economic vulgarity in the media industry—consolidation and concentration—ram-rodded legislation through to clamp down on politically incorrect TV and radio. The underlying bill which increased FCC monetary penalties on performers and broadcasters by nearly twenty-fold was strongly opposed by AFTRA, AFM and others. During Senate Commerce Committee mark-up on the legislation, the indefatigable Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and a key leader in the fight against FCC media deregulation added language to postpone implementation of the FCC rules until the GAO could assess the impact on concentration in the industry and the so-called spread of indecency. The legislation now awaits action by the full Senate.
MEDIA WORKERS—The DPE worked with The Newspaper Guild in developing an on-line petition campaign aimed at the Pentagon in commemoration of the 4/8/03 shelling of the Palestine Hotel and the deaths of journalists in that and other “friendly fire” incidents. At the time of that tragedy, several DPE affiliates wrote to the Defense Department asking for an official investigation into that incident as well as other of attacks upon journalists and other media workers. To date, the Pentagon’s internal “investigation” of the Palestine Hotel tragedy, as well as other catastrophes involving media workers in Iraq, has remained classified. No details of these incidents have been released to their families, news organizations, or the American public. The Pentagon, meanwhile, has ignored repeated calls by journalists and other organizations in the U.S. and around the world for a detailed, independent inquiry into these tragic events as well as the development of protocols to assure the safety of war correspondents.
The petition campaign, being conducted in conjunction with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls upon the Defense Department to Pentagon to make public the results of its own investigations; initiate an independent investigation of so-called “friendly fire” incidents involving journalists and U.S. troops; and disclose what steps, if any, have been taken by the U.S. government to reduce the likelihood that tragedies such as the Palestine Hotel will not occur in other conflicts. Reporters, camera operators and others who cover war zones must be reasonably secure that the U.S. military is doing everything possible to ensure their safety. Independent and accurate news coverage of military conflicts depends on the ability of journalists, no matter what news agency they work for.
Over 4,000 have signed on to the petition. To sign up or read the petition, if you are part of a media organization go to http://cwa-union.org/journopetition otherwise you can sign on through http://cwa-union.org/IFJpetition.
WORKPLACE ISSUES AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING – The Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO received a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services grant to implement a program of “Workplace Issues and Collective Bargaining in the Classroom in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.” DPE co-sponsored the grant application. Pamela Wilson attended the second meeting of the joint labor-management committee overseeing the grant on March 18. On the agenda was a grant benchmark progress report which included the scheduling of Train-the-Trainer sessions for training teachers who will train other teachers to impart the curriculum in the schools (June 28 and 29); the successful recruitment of schools and teachers (at least 30 teachers have expressed interest); and the suggestion that students be engaged in two or three mock negotiations and labor history institutes.
STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: FACT SHEETS AND COMPENDIUMS
These new fact sheets are posted on the Website: www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets.htm
* OFFSHORING HIGH TECH – The latest projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that thanks to the increasing exodus of highly skilled jobs overseas – similar to the disappearance of factory jobs – the majority of occupations expected to experience the largest job growth from 2002-2012 are low-wage service occupations. While large increases in the numbers of nurses, post secondary teachers and managers are anticipated, the high tech and knowledge jobs that government and business economists promised would replace the manufacturing jobs are conspicuously absent from the line-up.
A new DPE fact sheet examines the BLS job projections for 2002-2012, comparing them with those for 2000-2010; provides information on the new trend toward significantly higher rates of unemployment, including long-term unemployment, among well-educated workers; and includes data on the substantial increase in the number of associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as projections for a steady and significant increase in the number of degrees conferred by 2012.
* PROFESSIONAL WOMEN: VITAL STATISTICS – More women are working than ever before, and while the gender distribution of many occupations has shifted substantially, women and men still tend to be concentrated in different occupations. This new DPE fact sheet examines the employment distribution of men and women within occupations; the persistent and pervasive nature of the wage gap; women’s increasing economic responsibilities and educational attainment (Women have been earning the majority of bachelor’s and master’s degrees for more than 20 years as well as an increasing number of professional and doctoral degrees); and the increasing percentage of women in the labor movement and the financial and other advantages it affords.
Also available on-line are two expanded and updated statistical compendiums: www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/analyses.htm
*CURRENT STATISTICS ON WHITE COLLAR EMPLOYEES, 2003 EDITION The American labor force has changed dramatically. Once a predominantly male, blue collar preserve, it is now mostly white collar and is comprised almost equally of men and women. The labor movement reflects these changes. Women are forming and joining unions at a faster rate than men, and unions increasingly represent white collar workers. This report paints a statistical portrait of the labor force, including its changing composition; employment gains, losses and projections; union membership and its financial and other benefits; trends in wages and salaries, as well as college and university education. Report includes charts, tables and written analysis. (62 pp)
*SALARIED AND PROFESSIONAL WOMEN: RELEVANT STATISTICS, 2003 EDITION – More comprehensive and detailed than the fact sheet on professional women, this report provides a wealth of statistical and other information gleaned from a variety of expert sources. Again, the focus is on the current status of working women, including their labor force participation; progress in both the mainstream and higher echelons of the labor force; the number and earnings of women in selected white collar occupations; the wage gap; women and their growing numbers in unions and higher education. (39 pp)
To obtain copies of fact sheets or a publications list, email Marcie Lawrence at firstname.lastname@example.org; for information about on-going research, contact Pamela Wilson at 202/638-6684 or email email@example.com.
THINK TANK NASHVILLE – At the invitation of the AFTRA Nashville local union, and with the approval of AFTRA National Executive Director Greg Hessinger, DPE Assistant to the President for Education and Organizational Development David Cohen led a one-day think tank for the Nashville Board on March 24. An analysis by the Board of the local and its environment in the morning set the agenda for the afternoon, when the participants identified six priority areas for action and brainstormed possibilities for each. Those priorities and possibilities will go to a formal Board meeting for refinement and action on April 7. With the extraordinary guidance and hospitality of Local Executive Director Randy Himes, David interviewed six Board members, including President Cece DuBois, and attended two recording sessions to prepare for facilitating the think tank.
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS – The Department has joined of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), a network of more than 100 organizations which collectively represent more than six million women. Member organizations include professional societies, as well as service, media, and advocacy groups. The umbrella organization advocates for pay equity, equal employment opportunity, and media equality, among other key issues. Pamela Wilson represented DPE at the NCWO meeting in Washington, D.C. on March 16. NCWO is currently disseminating DPE materials and information.
For further information, see www.womensorganizations.org or contact Pamela Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUNCH AND LEARN : UNDERSTANDING THE POWER OF THE HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY, Program and Discussion, 12 noon –1:30pm, Tuesday, May 11 —This lunchtime program and discussion will address the power of the health insurance companies and their role in our current health care problems, as well as the barriers to reforming or changing the system. Gail Shearer, Director, Health Policy Analysis at the Consumers Union, and Jon Gabel, Vice President of Health Systems Studies at the Health Research and Educational Trust will present a brief history of the health insurance industry in the U.S., discuss the political power of the insurance companies, developments in the employer marketplace, including the impact of the trend toward defined contribution health care, and discuss the possibilities for change. We encourage active participation in these programs: Please spread the word.
For further information, contact Pamela Wilson by phone at 202/638-6684 or email email@example.com
ORGANIZING CONFERENCE – The Planning Committee for a DPE organizing conference, “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century,” met for the second time on March 18. Representatives of AEA, AFSCME, AFT, CWA and WGAE participated in a wide-ranging, thoughtful and constructive discussion that will maximize the value of attitudinal research to be commissioned for, and released at, the conference. The planning committee will be meeting again on May 4. DPE affiliates may want to note the dates for their conference – March 14-16, 2005 – on their calendars and spread the word to their local unions.
DPE IN THE NEWS—The Department continued to get press attention in March. Mike Gildea was featured live on April 1 on the Fox News Channel Network in a debate on offshoring and was quoted in USA Today on the same issue.