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:
- Breaking News – Third Circuit Court agrees with DPE Unions
- Overtime: Can Democracy find a way around Bush?
- Guest Workers, L-1 Visas
- FCC, Media Rules
- Offshore Outsourcing
- Worker Training
- Junemann to Chair Future of Professionalism Committee
- Lunch and Learn: Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health and Health Care
- Organizing: the ‘Unconference’ Conference 2005
- Outreach to Professional Societies:
The Library Association
American Public Health Association
- National Young Leaders Conference – Outreach to Future Professionals
- National Council of Women’s Organizations – Women and Diabetes Outreach
- Workplace Issues in the Classroom
- Organizing Research Network 4th Annual Meeting
BREAKING NEWS – Third Circuit Court agrees with DPE Unions http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pdf/AppealsCtFCC.pdf
OVERTIME: CAN DEMOCRACY FIND A WAY AROUND BUSH? – On April 23, the Bush Department of Labor (DOL) issued final regulations that dramatically cut back overtime pay protections. Absent Congressional action, they will take effect on August 23. A bipartisan majority of the Senate voted on May 4 to retain the very few improvements for workers in the regulations but block the massive take-aways. The focus shifted to the House of Representatives, where Republican leaders, backed by the Bush White House, have obstructed every effort to take a vote. Can democracy find a way around Bush?
In June, DPE participated with representatives of its affiliated unions, other unions, and the AFL-CIO in a half-dozen visits to the offices of moderate Republican House members. The quest: to find a legislative vehicle for the clear will of the majority, which wants to protect a right to overtime pay for everyone who has it now.
Complicating the picture is a new anti-worker, pro-business proposal (S. 317) from Senator Gregg (R-NH), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Gregg calls his bill a “flex-time” bill. It would offer compensatory time-and-a-half off in lieu of overtime pay. It would also permit employers to require employees to work as much as 50 hours in one week without overtime pay, so long as an employee’s total for a two-week period is only 80 hours. Gregg calls his proposal an “alternative” to a proposed amendment from Senator Kennedy (D-MA) to raise the minimum wage that Kennedy may offer to a bill limiting class actions (S. 2062). The battle over amendments may torpedo the underlying class action proposal. DPE has joined Hill visits aimed at educating moderate Republican Senators about our opposition to the Gregg proposal.
DPE has also pushed for another Kennedy amendment to the class action bill, which would preserve state law class actions enforcing state wage and hour and anti-discrimination legislation. State statutes in many instances provide greater rights and protections for employees than do the federal laws.
The May 4 action by the Senate attached the Harkin amendment blocking cutbacks in overtime pay protections to the Foreign Sales Corporation/Extraterritorial Income (FSC/ETI) legislation. Action in the House of Representatives on FSC/ETI seems unlikely before September – which would come after the effective date of the Bush DOL regulations. A vote on a motion to instruct the House conferees to accept the Harkin amendment nonetheless remains a possibility, even though the vote would not bind the conferees to do as instructed. A second possibility in the House of Representatives is a rider to the Labor-Health and Human Services-Labor appropriations bill, which the House is supposed to take up the week of July 19.
Coming soon: a report from the Economic Policy Institute evaluating the likely impact of the final regulations.
For questions or comments, please contact David Cohen at 202-638-0320 extension 13, firstname.lastname@example.org.
GUEST WORKERS, L-1 VISAS—In a major development, Rep. Henry Hyde, GOP Chairman of the House International Relations Committee introduced H.R. 4415 to reform this visa program. His bill eliminates the L-1b visa for so-called “specialized knowledge” workers where all of the documented abuses have taken place. Other reform advocates in the House, including Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) who had introduced a comprehensive reform bill drafted in concert with DPE, John Mica (R-FL) who had introduced a single issue reform bill as well as the ranking Democrat on the full committee—Rep Tom Lantos (D-CA) have jointly signed a “Dear Colleague” letter to the full House urging co-sponsorship of the Hyde Bill. Hyde had convened a one-day full committee hearing in February at which DPE Executive Director Mike Gildea testified.
TRADE—The DPE worked with SAG and the AFL-CIO to secure a clarification from the United States Trade Representative that the pending Australia Free Trade Agreement wouldn’t adversely affect performer rights to overseas royalties and their ability to safeguard their image, likeness etc. Ways and Means Committee Democrats led by ranking Democrat Charles Rangel (NY), Xavier Becerra (CA) and Sandy Levin (MI) along with the Judiciary Committee’s ranking Democrat John Conyers (MI) authored a letter to the USTR requesting an interpretation that the trade agreement wouldn’t negatively impact these union members.
FCC, MEDIA RULES—In a major victory for public interest, consumer and labor, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit dealt the FCC a major blow when it remanded back to the agency the rules adopted last June erasing most of the existing prohibitions on media consolidation. As of this writing it is unclear whether or not the agency will appeal. In the meantime, during Senate consideration of the Department of Defense authorization bill, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) successfully amended the bill to impose a one-year moratorium on the implementation of the rules. Republicans have vowed to strip out the Dorgan amendment in conference.
OFFSHORE OUTSOURCING—Despite bi-partisan opposition, House GOP leaders were able to ram through H.R. 2896, the FSC/ETI bill, by buying up sufficient votes through various so-called “tax sweeteners”. The AFL-CIO had opposed the bill because it contained even larger tax breaks than the Senate version for U.S. based multi-national companies. These tax goodies were seen as corporate incentives to offshore even more U.S. jobs. Action in the House had been stalled due to the refusal of 25-30 republicans to support the underlying bill. This GOP breakaway had been lead by Rep. Don Manzullo (R-IL) who chairs the House Small Business Committee. (Under his leadership the committee has held several hearings about offshore outsourcing at which both the DPE and AFL-CIO have testified.). Manzullo and several of the recalcitrant republicans stuck to their guns but Democratic defections provided the winning margin. The bill now goes to a House-Senate conference.
WORKER TRAINING—Among other major budget reductions President Bush’s fy 2005 budget proposed the elimination of 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. This is the second time that the administration has attempted to eradicate this important training initiative. The 2002 the Bush budget proposed re-allocation of these funds to underwrite the expedited processing of permanent “green card” labor certifications for foreign workers but Congress, as the result of DPE and affiliate efforts, rejected that notion.
The training initiative targeted by the Administration was conceived as a direct result of Congressional action taken in both 1998 and 2000 to expand the H-1B program. When it did so, Congress imposed on employers a “user” fee for each guest worker visa issued to them. Of the funds generated, 55% are allocated to the Department of Labor (DOL) for job training grants for technical skills training programs. The fee, which was $1,000 per visa, had through 2003 generated over $100 million each year depending upon how much of the yearly allotments of guest worker visas allowed under the current H-1B law were used or renewed.
From 2000 through December 2003, the H-1B grant program invested over $300 million in over 124 training grants affecting thousands of workers in 35 states and the District of Columbia. This programhas blended some of the best in private and public sector training expertise from small businesses, education–including community colleges and four year institutions, unions with a long and successful track record in job training, major corporations, various business alliances and consortiums as well as over 100 state and local workforce development agencies. Corporate partners include 15 of the top 100, Fortune 500 companies as well as “whose who” of major U.S. companies in high tech, finance, manufacturing, health care, telecom, insurance, bio-med and pharmaceuticals. Unions participating in the program include CWA, IBEW, AFSCME, SEIU, IAM, IATSE, IFPTE along with state and local AFL-CIO units.
While Congressional authority mandating the fee has expired, there are ongoing discussions in both the House and Senate regarding its reinstatement. Regardless of that outcome, at a time when offshore outsourcing of professional and technical jobs is surging and industry is clamoring for more–not less–investment in worker re-training, the DOL should be directed to expend the remaining funds in the H-1B training account for that purpose.
With record high jobless rates in the high tech/IT sector exacerbated by the tidal wave of offshore outsourcing of millions of professional and technical jobs, DPE lobbied the House and Senate Appropriations to reject this budget action. As NewsLine went to press, the Committees were about to consider this appropriations legislation. (See DPE policy letter at www.dpeaflcio.org)
JUNEMANN TO CHAIR FUTURE OF PROFESSIONALISM COMMITTEE – At the DPE General Board meeting of June 15, the Board approved the creation of the Committee on the Future of Professionalism and designated IFPTE President Gregory Junemann – who proposed the initiative – as its Chair. A first meeting of elected national board members of DPE affiliates on Tuesday, August 3, will include an inaugural speaker, Dr. Lynn Karoly, Professor of Economics at the RAND Graduate School and co-author (with Constantijn W.A. Panis) of The 21st Century at Work: Forces Shaping the Future Workforce and Workplace in the United States (2004).
The Committee will analyze trends and propose policies and tactics in response to a fundamental question: What careers will there be for American professional, technical and administrative workers? Globalization, offshoring, and technological innovation lend the question urgency. The work of the Committee will take the form of a continuing conversation, with meetings every other month, that draws on the best analysis and thinking that DPE and its affiliated unions can identify. For questions or comments, please contact David Cohen at 202-638-0320 extension 13, email@example.com.
LUNCH AND LEARN: RACIAL AND ETHNIC DISPARITIES IN HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE, Program and Discussion, 12 noon-1:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 24. A large and consistent body of research shows that members of ethnic and racial minorities are less likely to receive routine medical procedures, are more likely to suffer from preventable conditions, and tend to receive lower quality health care than their non-Hispanic white counterparts, even at equivalent levels of access to care. These disparities prompted Congress to request an Institute of Medicine (IOM) study to evaluate potential sources of racial and ethnic disparities in health care, including the role of bias, discrimination, and stereotyping at the individual (provider and patient), institutional, and health system levels, and to recommend policies and practices that may eliminate these inequities. This Lunch and Learn program will highlight the findings of the study, Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care and its recommendations for ways to achieve equitable health care.
The program and discussion will feature Brian Smedley, Ph.D., Study Director and principal author of the IOM report on disparities, and a Senior Program Officer in the Division of Health Sciences Policy of the IOM; 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, contact Pamela Wilson by phone, 202/638-6684, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
ORGANIZING: THE ‘UNCONFERENCE’ CONFERENCE – 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 June 30 drew representatives from DPE affiliates AFT, TNG-CWA, AFSCME, IFPTE, UFCW, and WGAE, as well as the Albert Shanker Institute and the Organizing Research Institute, which are working on the conference with DPE. Plans include commissioning original research for release to the conference participants and creating task forces at the conference for continuing action. For questions or comments, please contact David Cohen at 202-638-0320 extension 13, email@example.com.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES:
THE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION – The American Library Association (ALA) has more than 64,000 members, more than 20,000 of whom attend its summer conference. Expanding DPE’s connection to ALA, DPE President, Paul E. Almeida and Assistant to the President, Pamela Wilson, attended the ALA Annual Conference (June 24-30 in Orlando). President Almeida spoke at the June 26 Union Networking Breakfast, sponsored by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), a companion organization to ALA, AFSCME Local #1930, and DPE. He was one of two panelists at a two-hour session, Negotiating for Better Salaries, on June 28. This was sponsored by ALA-APA’s Union Working Group. In addition, DPE participated in the meeting and program of the ALA-AFL-CIO Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups, and the meetings of the ALA-APA Standing Committee on Better Salaries for All Library Workers. ALA-APA promotes unionization as a key strategy to improve the status and salaries of librarians (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/freedmanf/toolkit.pdf), and the advocacy video, working@yourlibrary: for LOVE or MONEY? (www.ala-apa.org/salaries/forloveormoney).
DPE hopes to assist its affiliates to further increase their visibility and membership among library workers at ALA. Library workers are represented by AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IFPTE, SEIU, and RWDSU-UFCW. Materials are being developed to further this work, including a fact sheet on library workers which was distributed at the conference. The fact sheet is being finalized and will be posted to the Website in July (www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets.htm).
For further information, contact Pamela, firstname.lastname@example.org
AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION—PROGRAMS PLANNED
The American Public Health Association (APHA) represents more than 50,000 public health professionals. Its 2004 Annual Meeting will be held from November 6-10 in Washington, D.C. The Department has been developing and expanding its connection with APHA for several years. Pamela Wilson currently chairs the Labor Caucus within APHA and is continuing efforts to expand the connection and presence of the affiliates within the association.
Programs for the 2004 Annual Meeting have been planned in collaboration with the AFL-CIO Nurse Committee, the AFL-CIO Public Policy Department, and other Caucus members. This year the Caucus will have five 90-minute sessions during the Annual Meeting. These are:
- The Nurse Staffing Crisis: Aspects of the Problem (4:30-6:00 p.m., Monday, November 8);
- Worker’s Freedom to Join Unions: It’s a Public Health Issue (12:30-2:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 9)
- The Nurse Staffing Crisis: Solutions (2:30-4:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 9)
- The Labor Movement and National Health Policy (12:30-2:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 10)
- Organized Labor and Public Health (date and time to be determined.)
These sessions will feature speakers from DPE affiliates, including AFSCME, AFT, SEIU, UAN, and USWA, as well as the AFL-CIO, CLUW, Kaiser, and academics and public health officials sympathetic to labor. The sessions will be cosponsored by several major Sections and Caucuses within APHA. We urge you to encourage participation at these events and at the Labor Caucus Business Meeting (6:30-8:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 9) where the program for 2005 will be discussed.
In addition, APHA Executive Director, Georges Benjamin, M.D. has invited the Labor Caucus to prepare a briefing on Organized Labor and Public Health for the 50-person APHA staff. This is the first time such an invitation has been made.
For further information about APHA and the Annual Meeting, visit their Website: www.apha.org. Contact Pamela if you would like to know more about the Labor Caucus and its programs: email@example.com.
NATIONAL YOUNG LEADERS CONFERENCE – OUTREACH TO FUTURE PROFESSIONALS –While people 18 years of age and younger make up only 25 per cent of our population, they are 100 per cent of our future. The Department will again host three summer meetings of high school students visiting Washington for 11-day National Young Leaders Conference programs (www.cylc.org/nylc). These meetings are scheduled for July 7, July 21 and August 4.
In addition, DPE has connected with Presidential Classroom, another non-profit, non-partisan civil education organization which presents week-long civic education programs based in Washington, D.C. for High School Juniors and Seniors. In addition to offering general programs, Presidential Classroom has developed several new programs to address issues concerning science and technology, media and democracy, global business and public policy, and law and justice. These programs are held in the summer and winter. DPE will be participating in some of these programs (www.presidentialclassroom.org).
NATIONAL COUNCIL OF WOMEN’S ORGANIZATIONS – WOMEN AND DIABETES OUTREACH – Ten million women in America have diabetes and about 16 million women between the ages of 40 and 74 have pre-diabetes. One out of three people born after 2000 will develop diabetes. American women need to take charge of their own health, their family’s health, and the health of their communities. The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) has developed a brochure and action kit to mobilize women’s organizations to engage in diabetes prevention. They also have copies of a video produced by the Center for Disease Control. NCWO would very much like to work with women’s labor groups interested in adopting diabetes prevention as an action program. Interested groups should contact Ellen Boneparth, Director of Policy and Programs, NCWO, by phone: 202/393-8953, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Department is a member of NCWO, a network of nearly 200 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. NCWO is currently disseminating DPE materials and information. For further information, see www.womensorganizations.org or contact Pamela Wilson at email@example.com.
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, “Workplace Issues and Collective Bargaining in the Classroom.” Administered by the Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, the project ran a two-day train-the-trainer class on June 28-29, hosted by AFT, to introduce a labor-management and union issues curriculum into social studies and U.S. history courses in the metropolitan Washington, DC area. DPE Assistant to the President for Education and Organizational Development David Cohen participated. He reports that instructors Linda Tubach and Patty Litwin, who created and oversee a prototype program full-time for the Los Angeles Unified School District, modeled their materials in ways that left participants eager to see the materials more widely circulated and used. For information about the project, contact Jim Auerbach at the Community Services Agency, Jauerbac@dclabor.org. For information about DPE’s participation, contact David Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org.
ORGANIZING RESEARCH NETWORK 4TH ANNUAL MEETING – Tuesday, July 13th , Subject: Labor Policies that Promote Union Growth for more info see: http://www.epinet.org/orn/conference_2004.html
Sponsored by the Progressive Leadership Initiative (Campaign for America’s Future; Economic Policy Institute; American Prospect)
Place: Economic Policy Institute, Washington DC
Time: 9:30- 4:30pm
To register contact Alyce Anderson at: 202-331-5523 or email@example.com
There is no charge for attendance but registration is required.
For more information contact Fred Feinstein: firstname.lastname@example.org