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:
- Bush NLRB Slices and Dices Worker Rights
- Strengthening Professionals
- FCC Chair Tackles Cross-Ownership
- Outreach to Professional Societies – American Public Health Association
- Labor Caucus Sessions
- Two New Fact Sheets
- U.S. Health Care System in International Perspective
- Vital Workforce Statistics
- DPE in the News
- DPE Signs On
- Free Exchange on Campus Coalition
BUSH NLRB SLICES AND DICES WORKER RIGHTS – On Thursday, November 15, 2007, every member of the DPE staff, from President Paul E. Almeida to intern Michael Ebell, joined a thousand other unionists, including many from unions affiliated with DPE, to protest a Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) onslaught against workers’ rights.
Despite the gray, the cold, and the rain, the protestors brought heat to their march and chants. In September 2007, the Bush NLRB did its best in 61 decisions to slice and dice already weak protections for collective action by workers. In many of the cases, a Republican majority rode roughshod over anguished Democratic dissents, reversed long-standing precedents more favorable to workers, or both.
The AFL-CIO named the month of horrors the “September massacre.” The Bush NLRB pro-business, anti-worker rulings included making voluntary recognition and other organizing approaches harder; a legal withdrawal of recognition by employers easier; strikes tougher to win; and pitifully inadequate back pay remedies for illegal firings even more difficult to obtain.
For a National Public Radio account, click on http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16493801. Other than the reporter, DPE intern Michael Ebell is the first person to speak.
STRENGTHENING PROFESSIONALS – Since July 2006, the DPE Work Group on Professional Associations – representatives from unions affiliated with DPE including AFM, AFSCME, AFT, AFTRA, IAM, IBEW, IFPTE, SAG, UAN, and USW – has investigated how unions could learn from, and work with, professional associations. On November 28, 2007, volunteers from the work group met with representatives from eight professional associations, in disciplines ranging from engineering and science to education, health care, and human services. The goal of the unprecedented meeting: to plan for a top-level discussion in 2008.
A core part of the discussion was the challenges confronting professional and technical workers who want to do their jobs right. The public stake in overcoming those challenges is nothing less than our quality of life.
For more information about the project, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 14, or DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
FCC CHAIR TACKLES CROSS-OWNERSHIP – The DPE NewsLine for November 2007 reported that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Kevin Martin “intends to seek a vote on December 18 to end long-standing limits on the number of newspapers and broadcast stations a media conglomerate may own in a single market.” On November 13, 2007, Martin proposed easing the way only in the top U.S. 20 markets for a single entity to own both a newspaper and a broadcast station.
The proposal retains more of the existing limits and was more narrowly tailored than many observers expected. Martin’s seeking comments by December 11 and a vote on December 18, however, continues to strike proponents of media diversity and localism as too rushed a timeline.
To read Martin’s proposal, click on http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-278113A1.pdf. To see the response of Democratic Commissioners Copps and Adelstein, go to http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-278142A1.pdf.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES – APHA – The Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) was held in Washington, D.C. from November 4-9 and attended by more than 14,000 public health professionals.
DPE has been involved with APHA for close to a decade via the Labor Caucus, which exists to foster connection and collaboration between the labor and public health communities. This year’s Annual Meeting featured a very special program:
APHA, AND ITS LABOR AND PEACE CAUCUSES, COLLABORATED TO BRING UNEMBEDDED: FOUR INDEPENDENT PHOTOJOURNALISTS ON THE WAR IN IRAQ TO THE AFL-CIO – By all accounts the exhibit, on display from November 4 – 9, was a great success in uniting public health, labor, and U.S. veterans’ communities in the pursuit of peace. More than 1000 people viewed the exhibit of 60 stunning images showing the war’s impact on the Iraqi people “on the ground,” where the war is being waged, and the accompanying public health text panels. About 250 people attended the Opening Reception on November 5.
The story told by the images reverberated through the comments of a diverse group of speakers. Participants were welcomed by DPE President Paul E. Almeida, Deborah Klein Walker, Ed.D., President, APHA; and Arlene Holt Baker, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO. The costs of war from a labor perspective were then addressed by Linda Foley, President, The Newspaper Guild-CWA and Member, International Federation of Journalists, and Gene Bruskin, Co-Convener, US Labor Against the War and Smithfield Campaign Director, United Food and Commercial Workers. Next, the costs of war from a public health perspective were outlined by James M. Raczynski, Ph. D., Professor and Dean, Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (where the public health text that accompanies the photographs was developed), Robert Gould, M.D., Chair, Peace Caucus, and Mike McCally, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility. Finally, the costs of war from the perspective of directly impacted populations were discussed by Aseel Al Banna, Founder, Iraqi Voices for Peace and Geoff Millard, President, D.C. Chapter, Iraq Veterans Against the War. Photojournalist Kael Alford was the keynote speaker and discussed her experiences and impressions while “unembedded” in Iraq. Ron Pinchback, General Manager, WPFW, 89.3 FM served as master of ceremonies.
The event was well-publicized by APHA, DPE, the Labor and Peace Caucuses, the DC Metro Labor Council, and the DC veterans and peace communities. Press coverage of the event included interviews before, during and after the exhibit. But perhaps the most exciting measure of the success of Unembedded at the AFL-CIO is that the exhibition inspired others to bring the images to their cities next year, including potential shows in Cleveland, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Vancouver.
The exhibit and program were made possible by generous support by the labor, peace, public health, and veterans’ communities. Among the major contributors were unions, including AFM, AFSCME, AFT, AFTRA, BAC, IATSE, SIU, USW, and the AFL-CIO, as well as the Metro DC Labor Council, New York State Public Employees Federation, CLUW, Pride at Work, and APALA. American Income Life Insurance Company provided important support, as did a range of key organizations: American Medical Students Association, Doctors for Global Health, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Psychologists for Social Responsibility, US Labor Against the War, Veterans and Military Families for Progress, Arkansas Coalition for Peace and Justice, DC Coalition for Peace and Justice, churches, and even a fitness club. One hundred and forty people from all over the country made individual donations. In-kind and other contributions were made by APHA, DPE, and the Peace and Labor Caucuses.
Labor Caucus chair Pamela Wilson, Assistant to DPE President Paul E. Almeida, collaborated with J. Alan Baker, Chief of Staff, APHA, Patrice Sutton, Peace Caucus Program Chair, APHA, colleagues at the University of Arkansas, and the AFL-CIO on the exhibit and reception.
The program was recorded, and the recording will be posted to the DPE website, along with information about the program and speakers, and photographs taken at the Opening Reception. For additional information about the photographs and the photojournalists, seewww.unembedded.net.
LABOR CAUCUS SESSIONS — The Labor Caucus sponsored three sessions at APHA:
* Information Technology in the Health Care Workplace: Impacts and Implications
- Nurse involvement in HIT design is crucial: The experience at Kaiser Permanente, Barbara Coufal,Assistant Director of Legislation, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
- Implementation of electronic medical records and accompanying technologies in a union workplace: An alternative vision, Charley Richardson, Labor Extension Program, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
- Nurses on the frontline at the VAMC: Involved in developing and designing new health information systems, Michael J. Boucher, MSN, RN, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, National Safety Coordinator, National Veterans Affairs Council, United American Nurses
- Medical records rights and privacy issues: Impact and implications of health information technology, Sabrina Corlette, J.D., Director of Health Policy Programs, National Partnership on Women and Families
Moderator: David Cohen, Executive Director, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
* Dude, Where is My Retirement?
- Too Old To Work, Too Young To Die, Ron Blackwell, Chief Economist, AFL-CIO
- Restoring the Promise: Recent Trends, Examples from Key Industries and
Future Prospects for Retirement Security, Beth Almeida, Executive Director, National Institute on Retirement Security
- Retirement Income and Health: A Clear Connection, Michele Tingling-Clemons, Chief, Nutrition and Physical Fitness Programs, D.C. Department of Health, Maternal & Primary Care Administration
Moderator: Paul E. Almeida, President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
International Public Health and the Labor Movement: Labor’s Response to Global Health Issues, Trade Initiatives, Globalization, and Workers’ Health
- South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland: Examples from the labor movement’s response to the AIDS epidemic in garment factories, Vivian Ndlovu, RN, SACTWU AIDS Project, Durban, South Africa
- Nigeria: Examples from the labor movement’s response to the AIDS epidemic and the health workers’ perspectives, Esther Ogunforwora, RN, HIV/AIDS Unit, Nigeria Labor Congress
- Uganda: Examples from the labor movement’s response to the AIDS epidemic among long-distance transportation workers, Romano Ojiambo-Ochieng, HIV/AIDS Project, Amalgamated Transport and General Workers’ Union of Uganda
- Linking US trade unions to global issues, Dianne Tamuk, Council 5 – JFK, Association of Flight Attendants, AFA-CWA
- Solidarity Center: Examples from a U.S. labor organization working globally to improve the health of workers and their families, Ellie Larson, Solidarity Center, Washington, DC
Planned in collaboration with Barbara Coufal, AFSCME, Jay Witter, UAN, Liz Bettinger, USW, Cynthia Mariel, Solidarity Center, and other Caucus members, between 35 and 50 people participated in each of these interesting and informative sessions. Materials including PowerPoint presentations, articles, and other links will be posted to the DPE website in the near future.
In addition, the Labor Caucus collaborated to develop and co-sponsor two other sessions:
* Workers’ Free Choice to Form Unions – Myth or Reality – In collaboration with Peter Dooley, Director of LaborSafe and author of the APHA Resolution on the Right for Employee Free Choice to Form Unions, the Labor Caucus helped to develop a session on the need for the Employee Free Choice Act. The resolution was sponsored by the Labor Caucus and the Occupational Health Section, which will co-sponsor this session. This session included:
- Overview of Employer tactics to intimidate workers to discourage unionization, Barbara Rahke – Director, PhilaPOSH;
- Report from the Detroit Medical Center campaign, Cerefine Sharpe, RN, United American Nurses (UAN) and Donna Kennedy, Organizer, UAN.
* The Costs of War: The Impact of War on Veterans and Their Families – The Labor Caucus collaborated with the Peace Caucus to plan this session, which included presentations by Evan Kanter, M.D., Ph.D., a staff psychiatrist at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System, who discussed the high prevalence of mental health problems among Iraq war veterans, Geoff Millard, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Elizabeth Frederick, Military Families Speak Out, and Denice Lombard, U.S. Labor Against the War. This session complemented the Unembedded exhibit and program. In 2006, APHA adopted a Resolution in Opposition to Continuation of the War in Iraq. On November 6, 2007, APHA adopted a Resolution in Opposition to U.S. Attack on Iran, authored by Robert Gould, M.D. and Victor W. Sidel, M.D., of the Peace Caucus. The Labor Caucus was involved in work on this resolution.
Dissemination of information: DPE fact sheets, AFL-CIO EFCA fact sheets and articles, and other labor materials were distributed at a variety of APHA and related meetings and events where DPE had a presence, including the Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) annual meeting, and the Activist Physicians’ Dinner. Materials were also distributed via several booths in the Exposition Hall. Pamela also participated in the APHA planning meeting for the 2008 Annual Meeting, which will be held in San Diego from October 25 – 29.
Contact Pamela if you would like to know more about the Labor Caucus and its programs: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEW FACT SHEETS –
U.S. HEALTH CARE SYSTEM IN INTERNATIONAL PERSPECTIVE – Despite having the smallest percentage of the population with government assured coverage of any developed nation (34% versus 100% in most developed countries), Americans pay the highest health care taxes in the world. The U.S. spends considerably more on health than any other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country and also spends the highest proportion of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on health care. The U.S. also spends more per capita: U.S. healthcare spending was 2.5 times greater than the OECD median in 2004. Meanwhile, one in three Americans under the age of 65 – that’s nearly 90 million people – lacked health insurance at some point between 2006 and 2007. The U.S. ranked 37th out of 191 member states in terms of “overall health system performance” in the World Health Organization’s 2000 World Health Report (below such countries as Columbia, Saudi Arabia, and Portugal). The U.S. has the seventh highest infant mortality of the 30 OECD member countries and the ninth lowest life expectancy.
This updated and expanded fact sheet includes information on the three main types of health care programs in OECD countries, and covers the high private administrative costs of the U.S. health care system; medical debt in the U.S.; health insurance: rising premiums and falling coverage; portrait of the uninsured in America; disproportionately less coverage for small firms, part-time workers, younger workers, children, and minorities; the effects of less coverage on health; and the quality of U.S. health care in an international context.
VITAL WORKFORCE STATISTICS – In 2006, white collar workers accounted for 63% of the work force and more than 51% of all union members. Currently, there are more union members among professional and related occupations than any other occupational group. Employment in these fields is expected to grow faster and add more workers (six million) than any other major occupational group, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, resulting in a 21.1% increase between 2004 and 2014 (24 of the 30 fastest-growing occupations require a post-secondary award or higher) while total U.S. employment is projected to increase by less than 13% over this period. In 2006, women accounted for almost 57% of all professional and related workers. Women have been earning more bachelor’s degrees than men since 1982 and more master’s degrees since 1981. Women were projected to exceed 50% of enrollment for doctorates and first professional degrees for the first time in 2006. A new fact sheet from DPE examines the changing world of work, including the rapid growth in professional and related occupations, growing disparities in educational requirements for new jobs, union membership among professionals and other workers, the growth of the service sector, working families, and the status of white collar women.
To obtain copies of DPE fact sheets, visit the website, http://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets/htm, or email Marcie Lawrence, email@example.com. For information about ongoing research, contact Pamela Wilson, by phone: 202/638-6684, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE IN THE NEWS – In a November 7, 2007 story, “Rising Expectations,” Government Executive.com wrote about the vote to form a union, affiliated with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and quoted DPE President Paul E. Almeida; see http://www.govexec.com/story_page.cfm?filepath=/dailyfed/1107/110707mm.htm.
On November 13, 2007, DPE President Paul E. Almeida commented for Lou Dobbs Tonight on CNN about studies showing more U.S. math and science students than there are jobs, thus undercutting an argument for H1-B visas; see the transcript at http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pros/advocacy/adv_ytd.cfm?YR=2007 and the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGmzlDsnL3g.
In the magazine of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), Perspectives on Work(Winter 2008), DPE Executive Director David Cohen wrote a review essay, “Shaping the Future of Work”; see http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pdf/DCohen,Shaping_the_Future_of_Work_(Perspectives_on_Work,_Winter_2008).pdf.
The Unembedded exhibit at theAFL-CIO was the focus of a half-hour segment of To Heal DC, a weekly program hosted by Joni Eisenberg on Pacifica Radio WPFW, 89.3 FM, which aired on November 5. The segment featured interviews with DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson, Unembedded photojournalist Kael Alford, and Robert Gould, M.D., chair, American Public Health Association (APHA) Peace Caucus. This constituted the first half of the special broadcast from the Annual Meeting of APHA; the second half of the program comprised an interview with Georges Benjamin, M.D., Executive Director, APHA. Pacifica estimates that this program was heard by between 10,000 and 20,000 listeners over a six-state area comprising DC, MD, VA, WV, DE and parts of PA. It can also be heard on the Web. In addition, an announcement for the exhibit and opening reception was aired repeatedly on WPFW.
The Unembedded exhibit was the focus of an article on the AFL-CIO Blog, “Exhibit Brings Us Face to Face with Iraq War”: http://blog.aflcio.org/2007/11/06/exhibit-brings-us-face-to-face-with-iraq-war/; the exhibit and Opening Reception were also featured in the APHA Annual Meeting Blog, “Click and Shoot: Photos of War”:
http://aphaannualmeeting.blogspot.com/2007/11/click-and-shoot-photos-of-war.html; and mentioned in an article, “War and Peace” focused on one of the Peace Caucus sessions: http://aphaannualmeeting.blogspot.com/2007/11/war-and-peace.html.
A story by Kellie Ell, “Chaos of war is captured by photojournalists’ lenses” for Scripps Howard Foundation Wire was picked up by Axcess News, Source Press, and La Prensa San Diego, among other print and online publications.
Lea Zeldin, Popular Culture Critic for WORT, FM, Madison’s community-sponsored radio station, attended the opening reception and gave the exhibit and program a great review on A Public Affair.
DPE SIGNS ON – In a letter to all members of Congress that appeared as an advertisement in the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, DPE President Paul E. Almeida joined USW International President Leo W. Gerard and CWA President Larry Cohen in urging support for a Renewable Energy Standard in any energy legislation, as a means to both reducing carbon emissions and creating jobs; see http://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters/Labor_Voices_(final).pdf.
FREE EXCHANGE ON CAMPUS COALITION – The Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO has signed on as an independent member of the Free Exchange on Campus Coalition. The coalition has been successfully fighting the so-called “Academic Bill of Rights (ABOR)” and “intellectual diversity” legislation promoted by groups like the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) and by outspoken ultraconservative David Horowitz.
The American Federation of Teachers has been at the forefront in this campaign. The mission and principles of the Free Exchange on Campus Coalition are consistent with many of the issues DPE unions have supported. For more information about the project, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 14, or Craig Smith, Free Exchange on Campus Coordinator (202-879-4559, firstname.lastname@example.org).