August 2004 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 email@example.com. In This Issue:
- Future of Professionalism
- Lunch and Learn Program on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Health Care
- Media Workers Poll
- Monterey Mobilization
- Worker Training
- Overtime: Congress Skips Town
- Library Workers: Undervalued, Underpaid
- The ‘Unconference’ Conference About Organizing
- Outreach to Pre-Professionals
- National Council of Women’s Organizations
- AFGE Protests
- Workplace Issues in the Classroom
- Coming This Fall: Do You Get What You Pay For?
- Organizing Research Network 4th Annual Meeting
- Meeting the Offshoring Challenge
FUTURE OF PROFESSIONALISM – Chaired by IFPTE President Gregory J. Junemann and featuring Dr. Lynn Karoly of RAND, the inaugural session of the DPE Committee on the Future of Professionalism on Tuesday, August 3, 2004 drew elected officers or senior staff from more than half of the unions affiliated with DPE: AEA, AFGE, AFM, AFSCME, AFT, AFTRA, TNG-CWA, IAM, IFPTE, SAG, UAN, UFCW, and USWA, as well as the Albert Shanker Institute.
Dr. Karoly provided an overview of demographic trends in the United States over the next two decades, among them an aging workforce (that will grow far more slowly), technological change (vastly faster and cheaper computing and networking, biotechnology, and nanotechnology), and economic globalization (soaring volumes of trade and capital flows). Together, she said, the trends in demography, technology, and globalization will mean a rapid, continuing increase in decentralized, non-traditional project work at the high end, with service work at the low end.
Dr. Karoly’s careful analysis provoked an immediate discussion: How do our unions continue to serve our members in traditional employment while reaching out to the 1 out of 4 workers in the U.S. who no longer work traditional hours in a traditional employment setting? How could we provide health care to freelancers, “e-lancers,” and independent contractors? If we could provide health care benefits effectively, would that be sufficient to bring unorganized workers into unions? The members of the Committee expressed their eagerness to continue the discussion, so as to plan for effectively representing workers in the world that Dr. Karoly foreshadowed.
For biographical background about Dr. Karoly, see http://www.rand.org/about/people/k/karoly_lynn_a.html. For a two-page summary of the book that she co-authored with Constantijn W.A. Panis, The 21st Century at Work: Forces Shaping the Future Workforce and Workplace in the United States (2004), a study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, see http://www.rand.org/publications/RB/RB5070/RB5070.pdf. For the book online, click on http://www.rand.org/publications/MG/MG164/MG164.pdf. Chapter 5 summarizes the trends that earlier chapters identify and looks at their implications for the world of work.
LUNCH AND LEARN PROGRAM ON RACIAL AND ETHNIC DISPARITIES IN HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE – LABOR, PUBLIC HEALTH, & CONSUMER ADVOCATES ALREADY REGISTERED, 12 noon-1:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 24. Among those already registered for this program are representatives of AFGE, AFSCME, SEIU, UAN, USWA, the Laborers, the Utility Workers, NEA, the AFL-CIO, Working for America, ILCA, Metro D.C. Labor Council, the American Public Health Association, Metropolitan Washington Public Health Association, D.C. Health Department, Families U.S.A., the Center on Disability and Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Medical Students Association, George Washington University, Georgetown University, SUNY Stony Brook, National Consumers League, NARAL, Society for Women’s Health Research, National Insurance Alliance, Latino Health Initiative, American Cancer Society, Senate Screening and Coordination Committee, Abundant Life Center, National Public Health and Hospital Institute, and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, among others.
The program and discussion will feature Brian Smedley, Ph.D., Study Director and principal author of the groundbreaking Institute of Medicine report, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, and Sheila Thorne, President and CEO, Multicultural Healthcare Marketing Group, a leading expert in multiethnic health care marketing who has spent more than 20 years designing and implementing health marketing, education, and communications campaigns for African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American communities and the physicians, nurses, dentists, researchers and pharmacists who serve them.
This is the third in a series of DPE programs examining the state of the health care system and proposals for change. We encourage active participation in these programs: Please spread the word. For further information or to register, contact Pamela Wilson by phone, 202/638-6684, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
MEDIA WORKERS POLL–The DPE along with several media unions teamed with House members, who support tougher media ownership restrictions and FCC commissioners, at a Capitol Hill press conference unveiling a poll of journalists’ and technicians’ opinions on the consolidation trend in American media. According to the 400-person poll, front-line media employees believe that industry consolidation has compromised the quality of news reporting, and they fear that further media concentration will continue the trend and lead to too much control over the news by a few corporate executives. Participating in the press conference were Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) who has led the fight in the House against the FCC’s relaxation of its restrictions on media ownership along with allies Reps. David Price (D-NC), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), California Democrats Diane Watson and Hilda Solis and Jay Inslee (D-WA). FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein–the agency’s two Democratic members—also joined in. Union Presidents John Connolly (AFTRA), Linda Foley (TNG-CWA) and Mona Mangan, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East keynoted the release of the polling data.
Among the poll’s key findings:
- Nearly eight out of ten participants said there has been a lowering of journalism standards, with the most serious problem facing the industry being too much emphasis on the bottom line, in the view of 83 % of the participants.
- Other top concerns include the influence of ratings or circulation on coverage and programming (82 %); a loss of credibility with the public (79 %); a declining quality of community coverage (74 %); incomplete reporting and errors (73 %), and too little focus on complex issues (72 %).
- Many of the survey participants cited understaffing (73 %) and lack of time and resources to do a professional job (68 %) as trends that are threatening quality news reporting today. More than half said that employee morale has worsened at their news organization within the past two years.
- Nearly eight out of ten survey participants predicted a negative impact if the Federal Communications Commission is allowed by Congress and the courts to further loosen restrictions over single-company market domination and cross-ownership of TV, radio and newspaper outlets.
The research firm interviewed producers, reporters, editors, anchors, writers, artists and technicians working in print, television, radio and Internet communications. The sample was scientifically drawn from a universe of 41,000 media workers represented by AFTRA, TNG, WGAE and NABET.
The unions also released a letter signed by 12 national unions representing nearly one-half million workers in the media and entertainment sectors to FCC chairman Michael Powell in response to the recent federal appeals court decision remanding the rules back to the FCC. The letter urged Powell–should the commission revisit the media rules singularly or as a package–to initiate a series of field hearings around the country in a representative number of small, medium and large media markets to hear what the public thinks first hand about the proposed rules, and their impact on an already highly concentrated media marketplace. The unions stated that such a process is the only way for the Commissioners to fully understand and appreciate the public’s perspective about their local media and how the proposed rules will exacerbate these concerns.
To view full copy of the media workers poll and remarks from the press event see: http://www.dpeaflcio.org/news/news/newsworthy/press_event_3/newsworthy_2004_main.htm.
MONTEREY MOBILIZATION—On the heels of the press event, the FCC held another of its local forums on localism in broadcasting in Monterey. By way of background, during the FCC rulemaking that had resulted in the eradication of most of its restrictions on media cross-ownership, despite receiving nearly two million public comments against the rollback, the agency had come under a withering fire for their refusal to hold only one field hearings on a matter that would have such profound consequences on local media markets. In a belated public relations stunt, Powell later announced the establishment of a “localism task force” that, among other activities, would hold a series of “field hearings” to gauge public sentiment with respect to how well broadcasters were responding to local expectations regarding their news coverage.
Following up on its successful labor mobilization earlier in the year in San Antonio, Texas, DPE and its affiliates went to work with its public interest allies to turn out a massive demonstration of public opposition to FCC at the west coast event. The result—over 500 citizens turned out for the public hearing which was preceded by a labor press conference releasing the media workers poll results to west coast media. Local news—TV, radio and newspapers covered the labor press event headlined again by AFTRA president John Connolly. With the help of the DPE and FCC Commissioners Cops and Adelstein, Connolly also landed a spot as one of the official witnesses at the later FCC event. TNG organizer Erin Tyson Poh of the Bay area’s Media Workers Guild (CWA) was the lead labor coordinator for this effort. AFTRA and the Monterey Bay labor Council lent their support while Art Pulaski–the top officer of the California AFL-CIO–played a key role.
WORKER TRAINING—Before Congress’ recessed for August, House Republican appropriators blocked Democratic committee efforts to restore funds to a key worker training program. In slashing these federal initiatives across the board, President Bush’s fy 2005 budget also eliminated some $100 million in DOL monies available under the H-1B Technical Skills Grant Training Program which have been specifically used to upgrade the skills of displaced American workers in H-1B guest worker visa impacted occupations (see July NewsLine for background). Prospects for restoring the funds on the Senate side are equally bleak given the deep cuts in so many other labor backed DOL programs meted out under the Bush budget. Prior to the House Appropriations Committee mark-up, the DPE had urged members to restore the funds (see DPE policy letter at www.dpeaflcio.org).
OVERTIME: CONGRESS SKIPS TOWN – Employers may require employees to work overtime. Congress just adjourned. On July 22, it recessed until its return on September 7. Left in the lurch were legislative efforts to block the Bush Department of Labor (DOL) regulations that will, as of August 23, deprive more than six million American workers of their rights to overtime pay.
On July 13, three former DOL officials who began their careers under President Reagan released a detailed study of the DOL regulations. They concluded that the overall impact will be harmful for U.S. workers: “the new rules are significantly less protective of workers than the old rules.” The Executive Summary of the study is http://www.aflcio.org/yourjobeconomy/overtimepay/upload/OvertimeStudyExecSummfinal.pdf. The full report is http://www.aflcio.org/yourjobeconomy/overtimepay/upload/OvertimeStudyTextfinal.pdf.
On July 14, the Economic Policy Institute released its analysis (as forecast in the July DPE NewsLine) of the final Bush DOL regulations, “Longer Hours, Less Pay.” To see it, go to http://www.epi.org/publication/briefingpapers_bp152/. The bottom line: the Bush regulations “could strip away the right to overtime pay for over six million workers.”
Also on July 14, the House Appropriations Committee defeated an amendment to the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill that would have protected the right to overtime pay for workers who have it now. The amendment, proposed by the ranking Democrat on the Committee, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), went down on a vote of 31 Republicans versus 29 Democrats. House Republicans thus continued their pattern of warring behind the scenes to help Big Business and stiff workers while providing contrary bipartisan majorities on the House floor, where voters might pay more attention.
In September, efforts to amend the Labor-HHS-Education bill will be complicated by Republican plans for yet another omnibus appropriations bill, the Republican means to end-run bipartisan support for overtime pay rights earlier this year. Also ahead: a battle in conference over, or to achieve a House vote on, an amendment to the FSC/ETI legislation; a bipartisan majority of the Senate voted on May 4 to add the Harkin amendment protecting overtime rights for workers who have them now while approving the expansion of those rights for low-wage workers.
DPE has continued its efforts to spread the word about the Bush attack on workers and overtime pay. The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, Communications Workers of America, Local 37083, AFL-CIO, quoted DPE Assistant to the President David Cohen in online accounts about overtime pay, http://www.washtech.org/wt/news/labor/display.php?ID_Content=4670, and declining wages, http://www.washtech.org/wt/news/labor/display.php?ID_Content=4672. David also provided background for reporters from U.S. News & World Report and American Editor. For questions or comments, please contact David at 202-638-0320 extension 13, email@example.com.
LIBRARY WORKERS: UNDERVALUED, UNDERPAID – A new DPE fact sheet, Library Workers: Facts and Figures, paints a statistical portrait of library workers, including their current and projected employment; gender, racial and ethnic composition; age; pay, including median wages, and comparison with other occupations with similar qualifications, experience and responsibility; the wage gap; regional variance in wages; the trend toward deprofessionalization; benefits; and unionization. (Union librarians earn an average of 38% more than non-union). This fact sheet, which is also being distributed by the American Library Association Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), is now available from our Website, www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets/fs_2004-5_library_workers.htm. For further information contact Pamela, firstname.lastname@example.org
THE ‘UNCONFERENCE’ CONFERENCE ABOUT ORGANIZING – On March 14-16, 2005, DPE will sponsor a conference on white-collar organizing, “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century,” at the Crystal City Hilton in Crystal City, Virginia. The latest meeting of the conference Planning Committee on August 2 drew representatives from DPE affiliates AEA, AFT, TNG-CWA, AFSCME, UFCW, and WGAE, as well as the Albert Shanker Institute and the Organizing Research Network, which are working on the conference with DPE. Among the projects on the drawing boards for release at the conference: an overview of demographic, economic and technological trends that will shape the U.S. workforce over the next 15 years; attitudinal research about ways to enhance the receptivity of professionals to organizing; and a study of inter-union cooperation that brought major success in organizing. For questions or comments, please contact David Cohen at 202-638-0320 extension 13, email@example.com.
OUTREACH TO PRE-PROFESSIONALS – DPE hosted two meetings of high school students visiting Washington for 11-day National Young Leaders Conference programs. More than 50 college-bound high school students from communities throughout the nation participated. President Almeida, David Cohen, and Pamela Wilson talked about the role of unions in providing a voice for professionals and improving working and social conditions. Questions included: How do you form a union and what are the benefits of membership? How do you negotiate benefits? What is the cause of outsourcing and what can be done about it? What about globalization? What presidential candidate is labor backing, and why? Students also asked about strikes and their consequences. For information about NYLC and its programs, see http://www.cylc.org/nylc or email Pamela Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS – Pamela Wilson represented the Department at the July meeting of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, an umbrella organization of almost 200 groups that collectively represent more than 10 million women across the U.S. The group is distributing information about DPE events and materials. For information about NCWO, see their Website: www.womensorganizations.org
AFGE PROTESTS —President Almeida joined over 100 AFGE members on July 14 outside the Washington, D.C., offices of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) and the Federal Service Impasses Panel (FSIP) to protest a recent rash of decisions the union said are gutting contracts, reversing decades of consistent precedent. The two agencies resolve disputes between management and federal employees. Recently, the FSIP ruled against AFGE on every contested issue in a contract dispute at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. In another adverse ruling, the FLRA held Social Security Administration employees who engage in “security work [that] directly affects national security” can be exempted from bargaining units. The workers in question do not have access to classified information or require security clearances and do not engage in work that directly affects national security, the union said.
WORKPLACE ISSUES IN THE CLASSROOM – DPE and AFT have been among the labor sponsors for a joint labor-management project funded by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), “Workplace Issues and Collective Bargaining in the Classroom.” Administered by the Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, the joint labor-management committee overseeing the project met at FMCS on July 22. Among the participants were DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Assistant to the President for Education and Organizational Development David Cohen. The agenda included debriefing a two-day train-the-trainer class on June 28-29 that AFT hosted. The project will offer another training, for teachers and other educators, onOctober 21-22, 2004, at the National Education Association (NEA) headquarters, 1201 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC, on how to train teachers to use the exciting and interactive project curricula. For information about the project or the training, contact Jim Auerbach at the Community Services Agency, Jauerbac@dclabor.org. For information about DPE’s participation, contact David Cohen, email@example.com.
COMING THIS FALL: Do We Get What We Pay For? International Comparisons: the U.S. Health Care System Compared to Those of Canada, Great Britain, and Germany. We spend twice as much as other developed countries yet judging by lifespan and infant mortality, most developed nations are healthier than the U.S. The fourth program in the series will have this focus. Further details in next month’s Newsline.
ORGANIZING RESEARCH NETWORK 4TH ANNUAL MEETING – Focused on Labor Policies that Promote Union Growth. The day long program included the following three panel discussions. PANEL 1: State and Local Policy Initiatives that Promote Union Growth PANEL 2: New Strategies for Labor and Employment Law Enforcement PANEL 3: Card Check Neutrality and the Employee Free Choice Act Papers and comments on these panels will be posted shortly on the ORN web page at http://www.epinet.org/orn/conference_2004.html.
MEETING THE OFFSHORING CHALLENGE – On July 20, Robert Atkinson, Vice President of the Progressive Policy Institute presented a paper on “Meeting the Offshoring Challenge.” The United States should use the challenge of offshoring as motivation to enact policies that will make our economy a leader in the 21st century. That includes giving American workers tools to better cope with economic change, and taking steps to minimize the costs individuals face in a more risky economy. The full report is available online at http://www.dlc.org/documents/offshoring2_0704.pdf.