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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue:
- Bush NLRB Sells Workers Down Kentucky River
- UAN Labor Leader Institute
- Lunch & Learn with DPE – Health Consequences of the War in Iraq & at Home
- Outreach to Associations: APHA Annual Meeting, November 4-8 in Boston
- DPE Attends Briefing on SB 840, CA Universal Health Care Bill
- DPE in the News
- DPE Signs On
BUSH NLRB SELLS WORKERS DOWN KENTUCKY RIVER – While businesses cheered and unions jeered, the Bush-appointed majority of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) took another whack at workers. Its long-awaited decisions in three cases – Oakwood Healthcare, Inc., Golden Crest Healthcare Center, and Croft Metals, Inc. – dramatically expanded the likelihood the NLRB will find charge nurses and other lead personnel are supervisors.
Under the National Labor Relations Act, lead persons are entitled to union protections as bargaining unit members; supervisors are not. The consequence: According to the Economic Policy Institute, more than eight million private-sector workers in multiple industries “could be denied the right to form unions or engage in collective bargaining”; see http://www.epi.org/content.cfm/ib225.
The Supreme Court sent an earlier NLRB effort to distinguish supervisors from lead persons back to the NLRB in a 2001 case called Kentucky River. The NLRB issued its new decisions on September 29 and released them on October 3. The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) flagged the online release for its affiliated unions in a DPE Alert!
The AFL-CIO Lawyers Coordinating Committee hosted an October 6 teleconference featuring UAN General Counsel Susan Davis, Daniel Kovalik of the USW legal staff, and Craig Becker of the AFL-CIO legal department. AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel Jim Coppess moderated. Their analysis and other sources suggest these preliminary conclusions:
● Organizing. The new decisions invite hostile employers to litigate and delay workers’ efforts to organize. Workers and unions have yet another reason to avoid NRLB elections and to seek other means to recognition. Enacting the Employee Free Choice Act has become even more urgent.
● Collective bargaining. The new decisions will not generally enable employers to alter bargaining units legally during a contract term. Employers are not obligated to seek to exclude bargaining unit members, even if they might have grounds to do so.
For collective bargaining options to protect existing units, developed last year by a multi-union work group under DPE auspices, please contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
● Political and legislative action. The new decisions follow numerous – and unending – other attacks on workers and unions by the Bush Administration and its NLRB appointees. They thus add to the incontrovertible evidence we need a change on Election Day, November 7. Only a change will make a legislative strategy feasible.
● Legal action. Because the new decisions come in representation cases, there is no immediate appeal for the affected workers and unions. Behind the three lead cases, however, is a backlog of some 60 or more other cases awaiting NLRB decisions. Union lawyers have every incentive to keep the AFL-CIO legal staff advised of developments in their cases so the AFL-CIO can coordinate strategy and select strong cases with which to challenge the devastating new decisions.
UAN LABOR LEADER INSTITUTE – The United American Nurses convened its sixth annual Labor Leader Institute on September 17 – 21 in Chicago, IL. For a third year, DPE participated. DPE Executive Director David Cohen led two sessions of a workshop, “Professionalism and Unionism: Are They Compatible?” that brought home the ways a union can strengthen the ability of professionals to function as professionals; contrasted unions with professional associations; and enabled the participants to develop and practice responses to other nurses. A second workshop David facilitated gave participants a chance to hone their strategies for “Making a Difference Through Leadership and Power.”
LUNCH & LEARN WITH DPE – HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF THE WAR IN IRAQ & AT HOME, BROADCAST LIVE ON PACIFICA RADIO, WPFW, 89.3 FM. “Today we’re focusing on health consequences of the war, both in Iraq and here at home. Our program includes a focus on mental, physical, occupational, and environmental health, as well as a discussion of the impact of the war on domestic policy and conditions in the U.S.,” said DPE President Paul E. Almeida, as he introduced the October 5 meeting. The program and discussion were broadcast live on WPFW, 89.3 FM, the Washington, DC-based Pacifica Radio station, which preempted regular programming for this special event. The meeting will be broadcast on other Pacifica stations and affiliates.
More than 55 representatives from labor, public health, government, public interest, community, and professional organizations, as well as university faculty and students, and members of the media were in the room. Among the organizations represented were AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAM, National Writers Union, OPEIU, TNG-CWA, AFL-CIO, Metro DC Labor Council, Coalition for Labor Union Women, Alliance for Retired Americans, U.S. Labor Against the War, American Medical Students Association, American Medical Women’s Association, Metro D.C. Public Health Association, American Society for Public Health, Health Resources and Services Administration, Social Security Administration, DC Health Department, Trust for America’s Health, Military Families Speak Out, Veterans and Military Families for Progress, National Organization of Women, Women’s National Democratic Club, Jim Webb for Senate, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, U.S. Labor Party, CA Health Care Organizing Project, George Washington, Johns Hopkins, and Park Universities, Washington Informer, WPFW 89.3 FM, and Press Associates.
This program featured Barry Levy, M.D., co-editor of War and Public Health; Past-President, American Public Health Association, and a panel including, Brooks Sunkett, Vice-President for Public, Healthcare and Education Workers, CWA; Nancy Wohlforth, Secretary-Treasurer, OPEIU; Co-convener of U.S. Labor Against the War; Garret Reppenhagen, Iraq Veterans Against the War, who served in Iraq as Cavalry Scout/Sniper with the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division; and Elizabeth Frederick, Military Families Speak Out, an organization of 3,000 military families who oppose the war in Iraq and have a loved one who served or serves in the military. DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Ron Pinchback, General Manager, WPFW, 89.3 FM moderated the program and discussion.
RECORDINGS OF THIS & OTHER LUNCH & LEARNS NOW AVAILABLE!
This program on the War in Iraq and at Home was recorded and will be posted to the DPE Website, www.dpeaflcio.org, under Items of Interest. Also recorded and posted are recordings of two previous Lunch & Learns: * Depression & the Workplace: Labor’s Role in PromotingWellness and * VA Health Care: It’s the System! CDs of each of these programs can be purchased for $10, including postage and handling.
For further information about the series, contact Pamela Wilson at 202/638-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OUTREACH TO ASSOCIATIONS: APHA ANNUAL MEETING, NOVEMBER 4-8 IN BOSTON. APHA attracts some 15,000 participants to its Annual Meeting. The Labor Caucus, currently chaired by DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson, plans programs and develops potential resolutions. Upcoming Labor Caucus sessions include:
- Labor Rights Are Human Rights (4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Monday, November 6) Includes a focus on Union Status & Employment-Based Health Care (Emily Ihara, Ph.D., George Mason University); Nurses, Unions and Patient Outcomes (David Keepnews, Ph.D., MPH, JD, Adelphi University); and Occupational Health and Safety (Linda Rae Murray, M.D., MPH, Cook County Community Health Network).
- Nurse Supervisory Status: Prescription for Instability? (12:30 – 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 7) Includes a focus on Collective Bargaining as a Solution (Ann Twomey, President, Health Professionals & Allied Employees, AFT); Licensed Practical Nurses Providing Long-Term Care (Katherine Cox, MPH, AFSCME); Messages that Resonate: Nurses, the Public & the Implications of Changes in Supervisory Status (Ann Converso, RN, Vice President, UAN); Implications of Changes in Status for Other Workers (Kathleen Cassavant, Director, AFL-CIO Voice @ Work).
- Labor, the War in Iraq & Public Health (2:30 – 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 7) Includes a focus on the health consequences of the war in Iraq (Barry Levy, M.D., MPH, Adjunct Professor of Public Health at Tufts University School of Medicine who has written and spoken extensively on the impact of war on health); Labor Views the Cost of War (Nancy Wohlforth, Secretary-Treasurer, OPEIU; Co-convener, U.S. Labor Against the War); The War on US Workers (Russ Davis, Executive Director, Massachusetts Jobs With Justice); Effects of the War on Health Care (Ann Hirschman, RN-C, FNP, University Behavioral Health Care). This session will be followed by a special discussion session, Taking Action, from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. In addition, a plenary session, War & Public Health, sponsored by the Peace Caucus, (Monday, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.) will feature a focus on U.S. Labor and the War in Iraq (Nancy Wohlforth).
The sessions will be cosponsored by several major Sections and Caucuses within APHA. The session on Labor Rights Are Human Rights is also co-sponsored by American Rights at Work. Continuing education credits are available for all three Labor Caucus sessions.
Freedom to Form Unions: the Employee Free Choice Act, a resolution co-sponsored by the Labor Caucus and the Occupational Health and Safety Section, will be discussed and voted on by APHA’s Governing Council following a Public Hearing on Sunday, November 5.
We urge participation at these events and at the Labor Caucus Business Meeting (6:30-8:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 7) where the program for 2007 will be discussed.
DPE ATTENDS BRIEFING ON SB 840, CA UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE BILL The office of Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) hosted a briefing on SB 840, the California Health Insurance Reliability Act, a universal health care bill with single payer financing which was passed by the California Legislature on August 31, and vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger on September 22. The passage of SB 840 represents a new milestone in the campaign for universal health care with single payer financing. SB 840 is endorsed by the California State Federation of Labor. The briefing was given by Don Bechler, Chair, California Universal Health Care Organizing Project and the San Francisco chapter of Health Care for All.
DPE IN THE NEWS – Lunch & Learn: For the first time ever, a DPE program, Health Consequences of the War in Iraq and at Home, was broadcast live on Pacifica Radio, 89.3 FM. As a prelude to this noon – 2:00 p.m., October 5 program, DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Assistant to the President, Pamela Wilson were interviewed for 30 minutes by WPFW General Manager, Ron Pinchback, about the program, the Lunch & Learn series, and DPE on the October 4 edition of Dialog on WPFW. In addition, Pamela Wilson had a spot on To Heal DC on October 3. An announcement for the DPE program was played repeatedly on WPFW for more than a week. The AFL-CIO Blog covered the program, http://blog.aflcio.org/2006/10/06/health-care-impact-of-the-iraq-war/.
SIGNING ON – DPE joined other unions, including its affiliates AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAMAW, IFPTE, and UAN, in a letter to the House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees opposing the use of health care dollars for privatization studies.