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 is published every month. Issues of NewsLine are accessible on the DPE web page www.dpeaflcio.org. Feedback welcome; send to email@example.com.
In This Issue:
- New Models for Unions: Next Steps
- Lunch & Learn with DPE VA Health Care: It’s the System!
- Arts, Entertainment and Media: Researching Organizing
- House Moves Bill on Health Info Tech
- New DPE Fact Sheets – Social Service Workers: A Portrait
- Library Workers: Facts & Figures
- Outreach to Professional Associations – American Library Association
- Signing On
- DPE in the News
NEW MODELS FOR UNIONS: NEXT STEPS – On June 15, 2006, the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) will host the first meeting of the New Models for Unions Work Group, with the confirmed participation of senior representatives from at least a dozen unions affiliated with DPE.
Its objective: to plan the next steps from the March 15-16, 2006 Presidents’ Meeting, “New Ways to Work, New Models for Unions,” that DPE sponsored in partnership with the Albert Shanker Institute (ASI). Among the possibilities: piloting union learning representative programs, working with professional associations, researching the obstacles to representing workers in non-traditional employment relations, including antitrust, and creating new unions.
Participating in the March meeting were 11 national unions. DPE President Paul E. Almeida hosted 46 speakers and participants, including six national union presidents, other union officers, senior union staff, and staff from ASI and DPE.
Tom Wilson, Head of the English Trades Union Congress (TUC) Organisation and Services Department, briefed the participants about a TUC innovation, union learning representatives (ULRs). Over the last dozen years, ULRs have connected tens of thousands of English workers with educational and training programs, stemmed or reversed membership losses, and brought into union activism unprecedented numbers of women, minorities, and younger employees. The number of ULRs has soared to some 14,000, with a target of 22,000 by 2010. In one union, ULRs have become a part of a workplace team that includes union stewards and union health and safety representatives. For more information, click on http://www.unionlearn.org.uk/, which provides an overview of unionlearn, the umbrella program the TUC launched last month.
Among the unions affiliated with DPE that are studying the possibilities of a ULR program is AFT. ASI sponsored a delegation of American Federation of Teachers officers and staff to London in May, led by AFT Secretary-Treasurer Nat LaCour and hosted by the TUC. At the invitation of ASI, David Cohen, DPE Assistant to the President for Education and Organizational Development, accompanied the delegation. Its week-long study tour included meetings with English unions developing ULR models and representing workers in education, health care, and public services. On May 31, David joined the AFT delegation in debriefing about the trip to a gathering of other AFT officers and staff.
For questions about the New Models for Unions Work Group, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 14, or David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
LUNCH & LEARN WITH DPE
VA HEALTH CARE: IT’S THE SYSTEM! Program and discussion, 12 noon – 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 20. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system is the largest in the U.S. It provides cost-effective care for veterans, medical research that benefits all Americans, and medical education and training for thousands of new practitioners. For the last six years, customer satisfaction with the system, as measured by the annual National Quality Research Center survey, exceeded that for private health care. Objective measures of performance verify high quality care.
Are there lessons we can learn from the VA’s successes? What are they? Join us to decide.
John Bradley, III, will outline the system. He served 37 years in the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, where he retired as full Committee Staff Director in January 2005.
A VA physician will provide an overview of quality care, research, education & training.
ON THE FRONTLINE:
- UAN nurse, Katherine Parker, RN, Washington, DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, will discuss nurse issues and physical care;
- AFGE social worker, John Shalanski, DSW, Wilkes-Barre, PA Veterans Affairs Medical Center, will focus on mental health;
- Benefits representative, Danny Soto, Disabled American Veterans, will discuss access to care.
This is the twelfth in a series of DPE programs examining the state of the health care system. We encourage active participation in these programs: Please spread the word.
COMING SOON…Depression, Substance Abuse & the Workplace, Lunch & Learn, 12 Noon – 2:00 p.m., Wednesday, August 2.
For further information, contact Pamela Wilson by phone, 202/638-6684, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT AND MEDIA: RESEARCHING ORGANIZING – Among the first projects for the newly launched Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry (AEMI) Industry Coordinating Committee (ICC): an Organizing Research Work Group to identify organizing research of common interest to which the AFL-CIO will contribute. DPE will host the work group’s first meeting on Thursday, June 22, 2006. In preparation, AFL-CIO staff working with DPE prepared a tentative research template, and DPE President Paul E. Almeida identified key questions the work group will need to answer.
For questions about the AEMI ICC Organizing Research Work Group, please contact David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
HOUSE MOVES BILL ON HEALTH INFO TECH – On May 24, 2006, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Health Subcommittee passed the “Health Information Technology Promotion Act of 2006” (H.R. 4157) on a straight party line vote of 8-5. Subcommittee Chair Nancy Johnson (R-CT) sponsored the bill, which consists largely of codifying Bush Administration efforts to achieve a national system of electronic health information technology (HIT).
DPE, other unions affiliated with DPE, and the AFL-CIO have raised concerns on two tracks. One track is on behalf of workers and our families as patients and health care consumers. These concerns include individual access and control, privacy and confidentiality, reliability, and the ways personal medical information may be used. For a coalition statement of consumer principles that DPE and unions affiliated with it have joined, see http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pdf/HIT-Consumer_Principles_3-6-06.pdf.
The other track is on behalf of the health care workers our unions represent. These concerns include having front-line workers participate in designing and developing the HIT system, integrating the system with the organization of work, training to use the system, retraining for workers whose jobs change because of the system, and keeping jobs in the U.S. DPE is working with the AFL-CIO and affiliated unions to develop a comprehensive statement of labor principles.
In November 2005, the Senate unanimously passed the “Wired for Health Care Quality Act” (S.1418). Like the House legislation, it dealt with few if any of these labor concerns, a result of the almost complete absence of labor and consumer representatives in developing the Bush Administration initiatives and the pending legislation.
For questions or comments, please contact David Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
NEW DPE FACT SHEETS – SOCIAL SERVICE WORKERS: A PORTRAIT – By 2014, jobs in social service occupations are expected to grow by 23%, nearly twice the national rate of job growth. In 2005, social workers represented by unions earned 31% more than those without union representation. For counselors, this earnings differential was as high as 50%. The 2005 mean weekly earnings of all other community and social service workers was a whopping 60% higher for those represented by a union than for those who were not.
A new DPE fact sheet, Social Service Workers: A Portrait includes statistical information about their current and projected employment; gender, racial and ethnic composition; age; education and salaries, including median earnings, and comparison to other occupations with similar qualifications, experience and responsibility; union membership and its benefits; workplace violence and necessary safety precautions.
LIBRARY WORKERS: FACTS & FIGURES – The benefits of union membership are clear: union librarians earned an average of 44% more than non-union, while union library assistants earned 41% more than their non-union counterparts. In 2005, almost 27% of librarians were union members; 31.1% were represented by unions.
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. This fact sheet will also be distributed by the American Library Association Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) www.ala-apa.org
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS –
AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION – The Annual Conference will be held June 22-28 in New Orleans and is expected to attract more than 20,000 participants. DPE has been working with the ALA’s Allied Professional Association’s and it’s Committee on the Salary and Status of Library Workers to develop programs, materials and resolutions which reflect the interests of affiliates representing library workers and highlight the benefits of union membership. This year’s Annual Conference includes these ALA-APA sessions:
- Affordable Health Care Options
- Benefits – Past, Present, Future
- Better Salaries and Pay Equity Advocacy Training
- Successful Strategies for Collective Bargaining
- Ignored Too Long: the Benefits of Managing a Library with a Union
- FLSA, FMLA, and Other HR Acronyms: What You Need to Know
- Certification Overview: What’s In It For Me?
Virginia Cady, AFSCME (discussing benefits for library workers) will be among the union representatives on the agenda at and other unions. 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.
At a special Networking Breakfast on June 24, AFSCME Local #1526, Boston Public Library, will be receiving the SirsiDynix-ALA-APA Award for Improving Salaries for Library Workers.
Two proposed policy resolutions: The Need to Support Overtime Pay Protections, and, Employee Free Choice Act: Support the Freedom to Form Unions, have passed through the relevant ALA-APA committee and will come before the ALA Council at this meeting.
DPE has also been a member of the AFL-CIO-ALA Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups for the past two years. Pamela Wilson, Assistant to President Almeida, now co-chairs the Joint Committee and is working to expand its union membership. At this year’s annual meeting, the committee will be sponsoring a session
- Race, Poverty and Aging Baby Boomers
Joan Cassidy, librarian, New York State United Teachers, Latham, NY is the 2006 recipient of the John Sessions Memorial Award presented by the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of ALA, for her work in creating the Albert Shanker “Where We Stand” database. The award is named in honor of John Sessions, former AFL-CIO Education Director and co-chair of the AFL-CIO/ALA Joint Committee.
Next year’s Annual Meeting will be held in Washington, D.C. Initial meetings to plan the 2007 meeting will be held in New Orleans.
For information about the Annual Conference, see ALA’s website, http://www.ala.org/annual; for information about DPE’s involvement, contact Pamela by phone, 202/638-6684 or email, email@example.com
SIGNING ON – In May, DPE, many of its affiliated unions, the AFL-CIO, and numerous other groups signed on to a letter to the House of Representatives urging funding for the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor above the proposals from the Bush Administration. To read the letter, click on http://www.dpeaflcio.org/.
DPE IN THE NEWS – Following on from DPE’s February 23 Lunch & Learn on the Health Consequences of the War in Iraq, Brooks Sunkett, Vice-President, Public, Healthcare and Education Workers, Communications Workers of America was featured, along with Bob Muehlenkamp, Co-convener of US Labor Against the War, in a special Memorial Day edition of To Heal DC on WPFW, 89.3 FM. Produced by Joni Eisenberg, the program focused on the war in Iraq.
DPE was also mentioned in a Washington Post article in April. Please click here for more information: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/13/AR2006041301883.html?referrer=emailarticle