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:
- New Models for Unions
- Immigration Bill Loaded with Paybacks to Corporate America
- Professional Women: Vital Statistics
- Lunch and Learn with DPE – Mental Health in the Aftermath of War, Hurricanes & Other Disasters, April 26, 2006
- Nurses Prepare
- Signing On
- Outreach to Pre-Professionals
NEW MODELS FOR UNIONS – On March 15-16, 2006, DPE President Paul E. Almeida hosted a Presidents’ Meeting, “New Ways to Work, New Models for Unions,” in partnership with the Albert Shanker Institute. Chairing the meeting was Edward J. McElroy, AFT President, DPE Chair, and President of the Shanker Institute. Bringing together multiple strands of DPE work, the meeting marked a crucial step that will invite the participation of every union affiliated with DPE.
Participating were 11 national unions, 10 affiliated with DPE: AEA, AFSCME, AFT, AFTRA, CWA, IAMAW, IBEW, IFPTE, IUPAT (the only union not affiliated with DPE), SAG, and USW. The 46 speakers and participants included six national union presidents, other union officers, senior union staff, and staff from the Shanker Institute and DPE.
Dr. Lynn Karoly of RAND showed a shift away from traditional employment affecting professional and technical workers and projected the shift will accelerate. Professor Richard Hurd of Cornell focused on lessons and possibilities professional associations might offer unions. Tom Wilson, Head of the Organisation and Services Department of the British Trades Union Congress, recounted the rapid development and multiple benefits of “union learning representatives.” Peter diCicco, Executive Director of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, explained the vision underlying two newly negotiated training funds that will, among other things, support continuing professional development.
These topics emerged from four DPE initiatives over the last two years. One was the DPE Committee on the Evolution of Professional Careers, chaired by IFPTE President Gregory J. Junemann and formed in response to his two questions: What’s happening to work in the U.S.? How should our unions adapt?
A second contributing DPE initiative was polling by Peter D. Hart Research Associates commissioned by DPE for release at its March 2005 organizing conference, “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century.” It showed professionals want organizations by and for professionals that embody many functions of professional associations, including professional career development and skills training. These themes underscored earlier like results in polling done by the Shanker Institute, DPE and Richard Hurd.
A third DPE initiative building to the Presidents’ Meeting is the longstanding work of DPE with professional associations. Among DPE’s collaborations have been close work with the American Library Association, the American Public Health Association, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the IEEE.
Last but not least, the meeting drew on the March 2005 DPE conference, “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century,” co-sponsored by the Albert Shanker Institute and the Organizing Research Network. The conference raised possibilities that include dramatically expanding the union role; fostering aggressive inter-union cooperation; and emphasizing mutual self-help.
IMMIGRATION BILL LOADED WITH PAYBACKS TO CORPORATE AMERICA – The recently-stalled immigration bill before Congress was loaded with expansions of the government’s often sited (for abuse) H-1B guest worker visa program. With no basis in reality for further expansion, the Senate Judiciary Committee bill will blow the lid off this program.
Among the most egregious provisions contained in the Judiciary Committee (Specter) bill are the following:
- Mandates a retroactive increase to 195,000 from the current 65,000 H-1B visa cap (exclusive of existing exemptions) for the years of 2004-2006, in effect allowing for a one-time visa grab by employers of nearly 400,000 visas!
- Increases the 65,000 visa cap to 115,000—a 60% hike!
- Requires an automatic 20% annual hike in the new cap whenever the visas are exhausted, thus establishing a new annual cap for each successive year. This in effect rips the lid off of any meaningful annual visa limitation.
- Adds still another open-ended exemption from the cap for any foreign national that has an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering or math from anywhere on the planet. At least the previous exemption authored by the committee restricted such visas to foreign graduates of U.S. institutions and limited it to 20,000 annually.
When Congress returns they will likely take up this immigration bill once again. However, no action should be taken particularly on H-1B until Congress has first fixed the problems that plague it, put into place real worker protections, limited it to a true temporary program and determined—in the context of current labor market conditions—what the appropriate numerical parameters should be. From Bracero to the H-1B debacle, guest worker programs have a sordid and tainted history. Such programs represent the worst kind of free market intervention that cost workers their jobs, depress their wages, and indenture foreign workers.
PROFESSIONAL WOMEN: VITAL STATISTICS – Women currently account for more than 56% of all professional and related workers. They have earned the majority of bachelor’s and master’s degrees for almost 25 years and currently earn 46% of all first professional and 44% of all doctoral degrees. Still, women in professional and related occupations earned almost 32% less than their male counterparts in 2005. A new DPE fact sheet examines the employment distribution of men and women within professional and other occupations; the persistent and pervasive wage gap; work, family and women’s economic responsibilities, educational attainment, and the union advantage for women.
The fact sheet will be posted to the website by April 21.
To comment on the fact sheet or to obtain information about ongoing research, contact Pamela Wilson: 202/638-6684 or email@example.com.
LUNCH & LEARN WITH DPE —
MENTAL HEALTH IN THE AFTERMATH OF WAR, HURRICANES & OTHER DISASTERS, 12 Noon – 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 26. A panel of psychologists and other mental health experts will address these issues and their treatment. The program includes a focus on:
- KATRINA SURVIVORS: Kevin Washington, Ph.D., counseling psychologist; faculty at Howard University; special behavioral consultant for Essence Magazine, Black Entertainment Television; a native of Louisiana
- VETERANS: TBA
- YOUTH: Kevin Dwyer, Past-President, Association of School Psychologists; Consultant to Turnaround for Children, a school reform and mental health service system partnership with New York City’s public schools. Principal investigator for the federally-funded school violence prevention project that distributed, Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools to the nation’s 115,000 schools; co-author of Safeguarding Our children: An Action Guide, the follow-up document.
- FIRST RESPONDERS: Patrick Morrison, Director of Occupational Health & Safety, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Facilitator of Critical Incident and peer counseling services to IAFF affiliates in New York City immediately after September 11, as well as IAFF affiliates in the Gulf Region immediately following hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
- RESOURCES: Anne Anderson, Coordinator, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, which uses psychological knowledge and skills to promote peace with social justice at the community, national and international levels. She is the main author for Remembering September 11, 2001: A Manual for Caregivers.
Our moderator is Pamela Brewer, Ph.D., host of MyNDTALK on WPFW, 89.3 FM, a weekly program focused on relationships & mental health resources; host of several MyNDTALK SPECIALS on the psychological impact of Katrina. Dr. Brewer is a psychotherapist in private practice.
To register for this program, contact Pamela Wilson by phone at 202/638-6684 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Transcribed talks, Website, and other information from the February 23 Lunch & Learn, Health Consequences of the War in Iraq, will be posted to the DPE Website by April 21. What will also be posted is information pertaining to other programs in the series, including: the lessons of Katrina; the pharmaceutical industry; women’s health; international comparisons in health care; ethnic and racial disparities; the power of the health insurance industry; getting and keeping health insurance or finding affordable care if you’re uninsured; the physicians’ proposal for a national health program, and efforts to achieve universal health care in the states.
NURSES PREPARE – Three cases pending before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) –Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., Golden Crest Healthcare Center, and Croft Metals, Inc. – could damage workplace protections for nurses, other professionals, and lead workers. A decision could affect the line between lead workers – whose rights are protected under the National Labor Relations Act – and supervisors, whose rights are not.
An AFT request in summer 2005 triggered extensive work by DPE and its affiliated unions to prepare for an NLRB decision. In March, at the suggestion of the United American Nurses, DPE met with American Rights At Work to share the DPE work so far. DPE has also participated in meetings to plan educational outreach on Capitol Hill and to seek oral argument before the NLRB.
For questions or comments, contact David Cohen at DPE, email@example.com, 202-638-0320, extension 13.
SIGNING ON – In March DPE joined 18 other unions and consumer groups in a statement of consumer principles for developing health information technology. Among its co-signers were its affiliated unions AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAMAW, and USW, plus the AFL-CIO. The signatories sent the statement to the American Health Information Community of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is leading the Bush Administration drive toward a national health care information technology infrastructure. To see the principles, click on http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pdf/HIT-Consumer_Principles_3-6-06.pdf.
Also in March, DPE joined 35 other unions, health care organizations, and advocacy groups in opposition to the Health Insurance Marketplace Modernization and Affordability Act of 2005, S. 1955, which would preempt state insurance laws and “thwart years of state efforts to make sure that consumers have adequate health coverage.” Other signers included DPE affiliates AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAMAW, IBEW, and USW. To see the coalition letter to the Senate, click on http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pdf/Group_Letter_Opposing_S1955%20-%20March_7_2006.pdf.
OUTREACH TO PRE-PROFESSIONALS – In March, President Almeida addressed a group of media management students at Bay State College in Boston, MA on the subject of “Media and Media Consolidation in the 21st Century”.