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:
- Nurses and Others at Risk
- Wiring Health Care
- Katrina Radio Town Halls Project Emerges from DPE Lunch and Learn
- Lunch and Learn with DPE
- Outreach to Professional Societies – ALA & APHA
- Working with NIOSH
NURSES AND OTHERS AT RISK – Ducking Senate review, President Bush made three recess appointments in January to the NLRB. The result: a full complement of Board members and a General Counsel. The staffing ups the odds of a decision soon about nurses and supervisory status in cases that have been pending since a Supreme Court ruling in 2001. The NLRB decision could affect the line between lead workers – whose rights are protected under the National Labor Relations Act – and supervisors, whose rights are not, in multiple sectors and occupations.
On January 4, 2006, President Bush used the Congressional recess to appoint Peter N. Kirsanow – a management labor lawyer from Cleveland, Ohio, outspoken conservative, and opponent of basic protections for workers and unions – to the NLRB without Senate review. The announcement sparked a hail of criticism. Bush also recess-appointed Ronald E. Meisburg as NLRB General Counsel. On January 17, 2006, President Bush recess-appointed Dennis P. Walsh, a former Member whom workers count as an ally, as the fifth NLRB member. The appointments open the way for decisions even where the NLRB is reversing precedents.
A DPE initiative sparked by an AFT request has developed a menu of bargaining possibilities, backed by legal analysis, with which to anticipate a bad NLRB decision. It has also led to work groups focusing on messages, education and mobilization – which conferred by conference call on January 17 and will convene again on February 23 – and on legislative possibilities.
For questions or comments, contact David Cohen at DPE, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320, extension 13.
WIRING HEALTH CARE – On November 18, 2005, the Senate passed the “Wired for Health Care Quality Act” (S.1418) by unanimous consent “to enhance the adoption of a nationwide interoperable health information technology system and to improve the quality and reduce the costs of health care in the United States.” Backed by an odd-bedfellows coalition that includes Senators Enzi, Frist, Kennedy and Clinton, the bill is pending in a House subcommittee. It represents among other things a codification of an initiative already launched by the Bush Administration through the Department of Health and Human Services, which established the so-called “American Health Information Community” to push for the national use of information technology in health care.
DPE and its union allies are pushing for principles that will respect patients and the health care workforce: input for health care workers from the start in developing health information technology (HIT); integrating HIT in the workplace; keeping HIT data from being off-shored and thus threatening U.S. patient data confidentiality; and providing funds for retraining workers HIT displaces. DPE has urged also the creation and maintenance of a firewall shielding electronic medical records from employers and insurers. With these goals, DPE has participated actively in a coalition of consumer groups hosted by the National Partnership for Women and Families. So far, there is no prohibition against off-shoring health care data – which raises the specter of people beyond the reach of U.S. laws working with the confidential information of U.S. residents.
For questions or comments, please contact David Cohen at DPE, 202-638-0320 x. 13, email@example.com.
KATRINA RADIO TOWN HALLS PROJECT EMERGES FROM DPE LUNCH AND LEARN – A new communications project involving labor, community organizations and the Pacifica radio network aims to provide accurate information and resources to facilitate the return of residents to the Gulf Coast region. Communication will take place by means of Town Hall meetings simulcast, locally and nationally on noncommercial and commercial broadcast media.
The first radio Town Hall broadcast/meeting will take place on February 18 in Houston, the city with the largest concentration of Katrina survivors outside Louisiana.
For more information about this program see http://www.dpeaflcio.org/interest/interest_02-13-2006.htm or contact Pamela Wilson by phone: 202/638-6684, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUNCH AND LEARN WITH DPE
HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF THE WAR IN IRAQ, Noon – 2:00 p.m., Thursday, February 23. This program and discussion will feature Barry Levy, M.D., co-editor of War and Public Health; Terrorism and Public Health: A Balanced Approach to Strengthening Systems and Protecting People, and most recently, Social Injustice and Public Health; Past-President, American Public Health Association; former Executive Director, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; and a union panel featuring Nancy Wohlforth, Secretary-Treasurer, Office and Professional Employees International Association and Co-Convener of U.S. Labor Against the War; Brooks Sunkett, Vice-President, Communications Workers of America. The program will include a focus on the effects of the war both in Iraq and here at home.
Join us for the discussion. This is the tenth in a series of Lunch and Learn programs on the health care crisis sponsored by the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO. We hope you will participate in the program – and spread the word to others who may be interested.
COMING SOON… A Lunch and Learn on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Displacement and other Psychological Problems in the Aftermath of Katrina and Other Disasters is being planned for the spring.
For further information about the series, contact Pamela Wilson by phone, 202/638-6684, or email, email@example.com
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION – PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: DPE AT ALA MIDWINTER MEETINGS – Expanding its connection to the American Library Association (ALA), DPE Assistant to the President, Pamela Wilson attended the mid-winter meeting of the American Library Association, held in San Antonio from January 20-24. Library workers are represented by several DPE affiliates including AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IFPTE and OPEIU.
Preparations, including convention sessions, materials and programs for ALA annual meeting (June 22-28 in New Orleans) were discussed under the auspices of the ALA’s Allied Professional Association’s and its Committee on the Salary and Status of Library Workers. The Annual Meeting will include sessions on:
- Better Salaries and Pay Equity Advocacy Training
- Successful Strategies for Collective Bargaining
- Ignored Too Long: the Benefits of Managing a Library with a Union
- Affordable Health Care Options
- A Networking Breakfast
- Benefits – Past, Present, Future
- FLSA, FMLA, and Other HR Acronyms: What You Need to Know
- Certification Overview: What’s In It For Me?
Among the presenters will be representatives from AFSCME (discussing benefits for library workers) and other unions. AFSCME #1930 and AFSCME International are also sponsoring a Networking Breakfast. The session on affordable health care options will feature Jim Brown, Director of the Health Insurance Resource Center, Actors’ Fund of America, who runs the Access to Health Insurance/Resources for Health Care Website: www.ahirc.org.
Two proposed policy resolutions: The Need to Support Overtime Pay Protections, and, Employee Free Choice Act: Support the Freedom to Form Unions, were approved by the ALA-APA Committee on the Salary and Status of Library Workers, chaired by Diane Fay, and will go before the ALA Council at the Annual Meeting. The resolutions were developed by representatives of DPE, the AFL-CIO and ALA-APA.
Pamela Wilson is now chair of the ALA-AFL-CIO Joint Committee on Library Service to Labor Groups. The Committee’s program for the 2006 Annual Meeting is: Race, Poverty and Aging Baby Boomers.
A fact sheet on library workers is currently available from our Website, www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets; a bibliography on Pay Equity Studies is available at http://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs.html.
AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION – PLANNING FOR THE 2006 ANNUAL MEETING – The 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Public Health and Human Rights, will be held in Boston from November 4-8. DPE Assistant to the President, Pamela Wilson chairs the Labor Caucus. She participated in an all-day planning meeting for the plenary sessions of the 2006 Annual Meeting on December 15 and facilitated the participation of Labor Caucus members in the planning process during January. A number of recommendations were made. Planning by APHA is still underway.
The Caucus is planning three one- and-a- half hour workshops/sessions for the Annual Meeting. We invite your suggestions for programs and speakers. Contact Pamela at 202/638-6684 firstname.lastname@example.org.
WORKING WITH NIOSH – DPE Assistant to the President, Pamela Wilson has been helping the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) connect with DPE affiliates with regard to a new strategic plan for occupational health research in the private and public services sector.
NIOSH (http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/homepage.html), the Federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injuries and illnesses, has created a strategy to collaborate with stakeholders and partners to prevent worker illness and injury through the new National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA). The strategy, in part, identifies knowledgeable individuals across the U.S. industrial and economic sectors who are familiar with current occupational conditions that may influence workplace safety and health.
NIOSH is currently identifying potential partners and stakeholders who wish to have input to a plan for occupational health research in the private and public services sector. NIOSH will form a Sector Research Council to develop this plan. Stakeholders and potential partners have opportunities to provide information about key issues that are pertinent to this plan through the NORA website http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/NORA/ or through other means, including a public town hall meeting for the services sector scheduled for February 21, 2006 at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) campus. NIOSH is inviting individuals who are knowledgeable about health and safety issues to this meeting. For further information about the meeting, contact David Utterback by phone, 513/ 841-4492 or email, email@example.com. You can access the schedule for the other town hall meetings through the NORA website above.