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:
- Unconference Goes Standing Room Only!
- “Support Labor Unions”: DPE’s Contribution to 50 Ways to Improve Women’s Lives
- Two New Fact Sheets – Vital Workforce Statistics & Professional Women Vital Statistics
- Outreach to Professional Societies – Planning for the Annual Meetings of ALA and APHA
- Reporting Salaries in the Arts
- DPE Opposes Indecency Legislation
- Media Reform Campaign, Next Steps
- Forthcoming “Lunch And Learns”
- DPE in the News
UNCONFERENCE GOES STANDING ROOM ONLY! – By just about every measure – attendance, participation, content, media coverage and enthusiasm – the Department for Professional Employees conference on March 14 -16, 2005, “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century,”achieved a rousing success.
Attendance hit the capacity of the hotel meeting rooms: more than 200 participants, speakers, panelists, moderators and facilitators from more than 20 national unions – organizers, decision-makers, and staff, national and local – plus university-based academics and representatives of diverse organizations including professional associations and contingent workers.
Participation was the rule, as participants met in small groups even in the midst of general sessions as well as in workshops and breakouts.
Content included the release of important and provocative new research: trends and projections affecting work and the workforce; surveys of unorganized Registered Nurses, higher education faculty in state universities, and information technology professionals that reported their responses to unprecedented questions; the intersection of women and the organizing of professional and technical units; and lessons from the Kaiser Permanente Coalition of Unions, where inter-union cooperation and aggressive union action foster massively successful organizing, and from fast-growing professional associations. Another plus: comments from American Federation of Teachers president Edward McElroy, chair of the DPE Board, and Communications Workers of America president Morton Bahr, former DPE Board Chair.
Media coverage was extensive and positive: Marketplace radio, Business Week, The Philadelphia Inquirer, BNA and others, many quoting DPE President Paul E. Almeida. For once, “unions” and “professionals” were terms in the same accounts – and one of the fastest growing, most heavily unionized segments of the workforce received public attention. For news accounts, check the DPE website, www.dpeaflcio.org.
Enthusiasm was everywhere – and it led to what a participant praised as “the tone of the conference overall. Not overly optimistic; not all gloom and doom. Rather, a frank discussion on the immediate and near future for this segment of the labor movement.”
In the words of one participant, “The idea was great to pool together professional employees and organizations. It’s about time.” A second called the conference “a necessary and very good start to a crucial discussion.” Many noted how valuable was the chance to share experiences and compare notes across unions: “It was a great place where lots of people shared some great experiences.”
Watch for the steps coming soon: our posting materials from the conference to the DPE website and our follow-up on the research priorities identified by the conference participants in breakouts. Thanks to the many friends and allies who contributed to the outstanding results: our starting point, the unions affiliated with DPE; the conference Planning Committee drawn from AEA, AFSCME, AFT, TNG-CWA, IFPTE, UFCW, and WGA; our conference collaborators, the Albert Shanker Institute and the Organizing Research Institute; research sponsor the Berger-Marks Foundation; reception co-host American Income Life; and the many national and local organizations that participated.
“SUPPORT LABOR UNIONS”: DPE’S CONTRIBUTION TO 50 WAYS TO IMPROVE WOMEN’S LIVES — At the invitation of the National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO), DPE contributed an essay for a book, 50 Ways to Improve Women’s Lives: The Essential Guide for Achieving Health, Equality, and Success for All, published in March 2005. The essay, “Support Labor Unions” points to the benefits of union membership for professional and other women, including better wages, health, pension, and other benefits; more respect on the job; a counterbalance to the power of employers; a voice in improving the quality of the specialized services they provide and the products they produce, and more flexibility to fulfill work and family responsibilities. The essay, which was written by Pamela Wilson, concludes with a call to action.
Covering subjects as diverse as pay equity, reproductive health, child care, leadership, forging a path for the next generation, community building, and protecting the human rights of women worldwide, this book addresses topics that affect women (and men) on a personal and political level. A description of the book and ordering information is posted on DPE’s Website, www.dpeaflcio.org.
TWO NEW FACT SHEETS are posted on the DPE Website: www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets/htm.
* VITAL WORKFORCE STATISTICS – 2005 Sees an Increasingly White Collar Labor Force and Labor Movement: The American labor force is now more than 60% white collar and comprised almost equally of men and women. White collar workers currently account for more than 51% of all union members – there are more union members among professionals than any other occupational group – and 44% of all union members are women. Employment in professional and related occupations is projected to grow faster and to add more workers than any other major occupational group. A new fact sheet from DPE examines the changing world of work, including the rapid growth in professional and related occupations, union membership among professionals and other workers, the growth of the service sector, and the status of white collar women.
* PROFESSIONAL WOMEN: VITAL STATISTICS – Women currently account for 56% of all professional and related workers. They have earned the majority of bachelor’s and master’s degrees for close to 25 years and currently earn 47% of all professional and doctoral degrees. A new DPE fact sheet examines the employment distribution of men and women within professional and other occupations; the persistent and pervasive wage gap; women’s increasing economic responsibilities and educational attainment; the rising percentage of women in the labor movement, and the financial and other advantages union membership confers.
To comment on the fact sheets or to obtain information about ongoing research, contact Pamela Wilson: 202/638-6684 or email@example.com.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES – PLANNING FOR THE ANNUAL MEETINGS OF ALA and APHA — DPE is assisting its affiliates, labor-friendly academics, library workers and public health workers in planning sessions and developing potential policy resolutions for the forthcoming annual meetings of the American Library Association (Chicago, June 23 – 29) and the American Public Health Association (New Orleans, November 5—9). Both are very large meetings: ALA expects to attract 20-25,000 participants; APHA around 14,000.
The sessions planned for ALA and sponsored by the ALA-APA (Allied Professional Association) Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers include, Pay Equity Studies: It Doesn’t Take a Consultant; A Debate: Do Unions or Professional Associations Belong in Libraries? Outsourcing and Downsizing/Degrading: False Economies or Fiscal Prudence? among others. Among the panelists will be representatives from AFSCME, AFT and DPE. DPE will also be co-sponsoring a Networking Breakfast at ALA.
The sessions being planned for APHA include: The Role of Labor Physicians in Identifying Health Hazards; Quality Outcome Indicators, and others. Policy resolutions developed and submitted by the Labor Caucus for adoption by APHA at the Annual Meeting include a permanent resolution on Support for Overtime Pay Protection and a resolution on Freedom to Form Unions: The Employee Free Choice Act. These resolutions have been co-sponsored by the Occupational Health and Safety Section of APHA.
For further information about the Annual Meetings, visit the Websites, www.ala.org or www.apha.org; for information about specific labor-related programs, contact Pamela: 202/638-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
REPORTING SALARIES IN THE ARTS – DPE has been working with the arts unions to facilitate more accurate reporting of salaries for actors by the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At a February 16 meeting with BLS involving Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, AFTRA, Guy Pace, AEA and John McGuire, SAG, the discussion focused on adjustments in BLS’ reporting which would reflect the overwhelmingly part-time nature of actors’ employment. This meeting followed one with the New York BLS, as well as a discussion at the November meeting of the BLS’ Labor Research Advisory Committee, thanks to AFL-CIO chair, Frank Parente. As a result of these discussions and their greater understanding of the nature of employment in the arts, BLS will report only median hourly salaries for actors, dancers, musicians and singers, and will not calculate salaries on the basis of a full-time, year-round employment. The group also developed language for a BLS footnote pointing to erratic employment and the short-term nature of work in these occupations.
Contact Pamela: 202/638-6684 or email@example.com, if you would like further information.
DPE OPPOSES INDECENCY LEGISLATION – Still steaming over the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, GOP zealots in the Congress are determined to rid the airwaves of anything that smacks of indecency irrespective of its potential for abridging first amendment rights.
In February the House passed H.R. 310, the so-called Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act of 2005which targeted on air performers—recording artists, musicians, broadcasters, atheletes, performers and others—for FCC penalties violations of vague and ambiguous FCC broadcast decency standards. The legislation proposes a near 50-fold increase—from $11,000 to $500,000—in the fines that could be levied against individual announcers and performers. In addition, the bill wipes away existing FCC warning procedures used as a precursor to implementing such fines. Finally there is some uncertainty regarding whether or not the bill applies only to broadcast entities and media personalities. The penalties within the legislation could be used to hammer individual citizens with substantial fines because, in the heat or excitement of the moment, they uttered an expletive deemed inappropriate by a listener or viewer.
The bill is an extreme departure from existing FCC enforcement protocols given the fact that the agency has never sanctioned individual performers or announcers for such alleged violations. In fact, the Commission has well understood that it is the licensee and not their employees or guests that are ultimately responsible for broadcast content.
Although deregulation-driven media consolidation of the last decade has undermined localism in broadcast television and radio and in the process served to diminish community coverage and standards, H.R. 310 would in effect reward these media monopolies by allowing them to escape full and complete accountability for their programming decisions. The issue is now pending before the Senate Commerce Committee where the Senate version of the bill, S193, does not include the fines on media professionals. A markup is expected soon. (DPE letters to the House and Senate are available from the DPE website www.dpeaflcio.org under Public Policy, Policy Letters).
MEDIA REFORM CAMPAIGN, NEXT STEPS
- Bill of Media Rights – A number of the national organizations that have worked alongside the DPE and its media and entertainment unions to fight media monopolies and FCC deregulation have now—in anticipation of the coming assault on our telecom laws and regulations—banded together around a statement of principles called the Bill of Media Rights. The declaration details in simple terms what the allied organizations view are the rights that American citizens have with respect to media and the news, information and entertainment that flows through its various pipelines.
The statement is a milestone in the evolution of the media reform movement that presents a comprehensive vision for a competitive, diverse, and independent media to better serve our nation’s democracy and culture as well as our citizens and their communities. Most importantly, it is designed to serve as the foundation for solidifying organizational alliances at the national level while uniting our individual grassroots assets into a massive nationwide movement to combat Big Media.
As of this writing, dozens of national, regional, state and local organizations have signed on and more are doing so daily. Besides the DPE, signatories include a who’s who of the media reform movement including the CWA, AFM, Consumer Federation of America, Center for Creative Voices in the Media, Future of Music Coalition, Free Press, Consumers Union, The Benton Foundation, the Center for Digital Democracy and Common Cause.
At its February Executive Council meeting, the national AFL-CIO endorsed the statement of principles and urged national unions as well as state and local labor councils to do the same. (Statement available at www.aflcio.org; go to About the AFL-CIO, Executive Council. Scroll down to statement). The DPE urges all of its national union affiliates as well as their state and local union affiliates to also “take the pledge” by logging onto www.citizensmediarights.org.
- National Conference on Media Reform – In November 2003, more than 1,700 activists, scholars, leaders, artists, producers, labor representatives and policy makers gathered in Madison, WI for the first ever National Conference for Media Reform. This year, from May 13th through 15th thousands of media activists will converge on St. Louis, Missouri for the second national assembly on media reform to learn, strategize, network and build momentum for the local, state and national reform battles ahead. 2003 conference included dozens of national and local labor activists and leaders. For information about the conference go to www.freepress.net/conference.
FORTHCOMING LUNCH AND LEARNS – The DPE series of lunchtime programs and discussions regarding problems in the health care industry will continue with:
- Getting Affordable Health Insurance for Part-Time, Temporary and Self EmployedWorkers, Noon – 2:00 p.m., Thursday, May 12. A practical program and discussion conducted by Jim Brown, Director, Artists’ Health Insurance Resource Center at the Actors’ Fund.
- For Universal Health Care in America, Look Beyond the Beltway: States Are Leading the Way, Noon – 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 7. This program will feature staff fromAmerica’s Agenda: Health Care for All and leaders of two highly promising statewide campaigns.
- What’s Wrong With the Pharmaceutical Industry? Noon – 1:30 p.m., Thursday,September 15. This program and discussion will be led by Marcia Angell, MD, the former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, author of The Truth About Drug Companies. Ms. Angell is currently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
More programs are being planned for ‘05. For information about these programs or the series, contact Pamela: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE IN THE NEWS—The organizing conference and DPE President Paul Almeida were covered in the press by The Washington Post, Business Week Magazine and Marketplace Radio. Major features also appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the BNA’s Daily and Weekly Labor Reports. Our sincerest thanks to the AFT’s Director of Public relations Jamie Horwitz for his hard work in this regard. In other news, DPE’s Executive Director Mike Gildea was quoted in the Charlotte News Observer on the subject of offshore outsourcing.