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 has Legs
- Bargaining for Younger Minds
- Tools for Consensus and Action
- Beating Back the Terminator
- Getting and Keeping Health Insurance
- Library Workers Undervalued and Underpaid
- Legislative Matters
UNCONFERENCE HAS LEGS – The March 14-16, 2005 DPE conference, “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century,” continues to bear fruit:
● AFT posted an account, “Step up new worker organizing, says McElroy,” that focuses on the March 14 keynote address of AFT President Edward J. McElroy, who also chairs the DPE Board. To read the article, click on http://www.aft.org/higher_ed/news/2005/DPE%20conference.htm.
● On April 15, 2005, DPE President Paul E. Almeida provided an overview of conference themes at an AFT joint conference in Minneapolis, MN of its Civil, Human & Women’s Rights and Higher Education Departments, “Making Our Values Count: Advancing Equality, Education and Economic Security in Challenging Times.” As a panelist for a workshop on “Meeting Challenges To Unionization Today,” he addressed the need to enable the fastest growing segment of the U.S. work force, professional and technical workers, to organize.
● On April 1, 2005, David Cohen, DPE Assistant to the President for Education and Organizational Development, briefed academic and labor researchers and educators at the annual AFL-CIO/United Association for Labor Education conference in Philadelphia, PA. In a workshop, “Professionals Organizing: Trends, Forecasts and Questions,” he focused especially on the research priorities that emerged from breakout groups at the DPE conference.
● The May 2005 American Income Life Labor Letter features an article, “Adapting to the Changes At Work – Professionally” by Paul Almeida that highlights possibilities emerging not only from the organizing conference, but from a second DPE initiative, the Committee on the Evolution of Professional Careers, chaired by IFPTE President Gregory J. Junemann. Those possibilities include dramatically expanding the union role; fostering aggressive inter-union cooperation; and emphasizing mutual self-help.
Coming this month: DPE will post materials and photos from the conference on its website, www.dpeaflcio.org.
BARGAINING FOR YOUNGER MINDS – DPE and AFT are 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. On May 3, 2005, DPE Assistant to the President David Cohen served as one of four coaches for students from Coolidge Senior High School, a Washington, DC public school, as they undertook a day-long collective bargaining simulation. For photos and capsule summaries of this and other project efforts, click on http://www.dclabor.org/index.php?display=ProgramDetails&id=256. David also represented DPE at an April 21 meeting investigating ways to extend the program after the FMCS grant ends. 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.
TOOLS FOR CONSENSUS AND ACTION – At the annual AFL-CIO/United Association for Labor Education conference in Philadelphia, PA, on March 30-April 2, 2005, “Crisis for the Labor Movement and For Labor Education: New Challenges/New Strategies,” David Cohen represented DPE in several roles: at the meeting of AFL-CIO Education Directors; in a workshop to brief participants about the March 2005 DPE organizing conference (see “Unconference Has Legs” above); and in a second workshop, “Facilitating Planning, Consensus, and Action – An Interactive Peer Educator Workshop,” that he co-facilitated with Nina Gregg of Communication Resources, Maryville, TN.
BEATING BACK THE TERMINATOR – Earlier this year, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger renewed his attack on labor and employment research at the University of California (UC). He proposed – again – to eliminate its funding, this time in the budget for 2005-2006. DPE President Paul E. Almeida wrote UC President Robert Dynes and Provost for Academic Affairs Marcie Greenwood to oppose this affront to academic freedom, to note the many ways in which the UC labor programs have worked with DPE and its affiliated unions, and to urge expanding “the tiny portion of the University of California budget that funds serving otherwise underserved workers.”
GETTING AND KEEPING HEALTH INSURANCE (OR FINDING AFFORDABLE CARE WHEN YOU’RE UNINSURED) A PROGRAM AND DISCUSSION WITH JIM BROWN, 12 noon – 2:00 p.m., Thursday, May 12 – Join DPE and the Actors’ Fund in this special and eminently practical program and discussion led by Jim Brown, director of the Health Insurance Resource Center at the Actors’ Fund, and director of the Access to Health Insurance/Resources for Health Care website (www.ahirc.org). The program will cover: rights and protections; purchasing private health insurance; group insurance through associations; government-subsidized plans; care through community clinics and hospitals; negotiating hospital bills; medical discount and pharmacy cards; and advocating for change.
Among those already registered are representatives of Actors’ Equity, AFA-CWA, AFM, AFSCME, AFTRA, APWU, IATSE, OPEIU, SAG, SEIU, the Teamsters, TNG-CWA, the AFL-CIO, Working for America Institute, CLUW, ARA, US Department of Labor, Center on Disability and Health, George Mason University, the German Embassy, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and self-employed writers, designers, financial consultants, singers, public health advocates, among others.
This is the fifth in a series of DPE programs examining the state of the health care system and proposals for change. The next Lunch and Learn, For Universal Health Care in America, Look beyond the Beltway: States Are Leading the Way, Noon – 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 7. This program will feature staff from America’s Agenda: Health Care for Alland leaders of two highly promising statewide campaigns.
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
LIBRARY WORKERS: UNDERVALUED, UNDERPAID – A revised and updated 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. (In 2004, union librarians earned an average of 39% more than non-union, while union library assistants earned 38% more than their non-union counterparts). This fact sheet will also be distributed by the American Library Association Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA). The 2005 fact sheet is available from our Website, www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets. For further information, contact Pamela, email@example.com
LEGISLATIVE MATTERS—During April:
- In concert with the AFM, DPE opposed California state legislation—S.B.382—that would arbitrarily disallow unemployment benefits to musicians employed by symphony or classical orchestras with 10 or fewer performances per calendar year. For many of these artists, it is a constant struggle to piece together enough work to make a living and support a family. The availability of jobless benefits provides an economic lifeline that is the needed financial bridge between performances and enables these musicians to continue their work. In a letter to members of the state Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, the Department branded the bill as “punitive legislation that targets one group of highly talented professionals whose chosen artistic vocation provides for many of them less than full time work with a single employer.” The DPE statement went on to say that “In a state where music is a billion dollar business, where innovation and the nurturing of musical talent is critical to its future, legislation that punishes the very talent that grows the industry would be both reckless and shortsighted.”
- DPE staff briefed grassroots leaders from the IFPTE’s SPEEA unit—the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace. Five SPEAA reps from Seattle and Wichita were in Washington D.C. to make the rounds of Kansas and Washington lawmakers about offshore outsourcing, guest worker visas and retiree medical care.
- DPE staff attended a labor-lead rally on Capitol Hill organized by a number of DPE affiliates as well as an array of other organizations opposed to President’s Bush’s plans to undermine the social security system.