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:
- Crossing Kentucky River: Next Steps for Professional and Technical Employees
- Employee Free Choice Act Introduced
- Speed Matters
- Arts, Entertainment, Media – And a New Congress
- Yes, Health Information Technology Still Requires Workers
- DPE issues New Fact Sheets
- Outreach to Associations: American Public Health Association
- Outreach to the American Library Association
- John P. Connolly Appointed Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association
- DPE Checks In
CROSSING KENTUCKY RIVER: NEXT STEPS FOR PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL EMPLOYEES – More than 70 participants from 19 unions, two other trades departments, five union law firms, and the AFL-CIO packed the largest AFL-CIO meeting room. On February 7, 2007, the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) hosted a chance to review, analyze, and brainstorm about three crucial NLRB decisions, Oakwood Healthcare, Golden Crest Healthcare, and Croft Metals.
Called collectively the Kentucky River cases after a 2001 Supreme Court decision, the three cases raise a devastating possibility: that any employee who guides another’s work thus becomes a supervisor and loses union protections. Because professional and technical employees frequently offer guidance to other employees, that possibility could decimate their efforts to organize and bargain. DPE President Paul E. Almeida declared, “Alarm bells should be ringing for all of us!” He highlighted the urgency of taking a comprehensive approach involving organizing, bargaining, legal strategy, and legislation.
AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney quoted the dissenters from the NLRB decision, who warned the majority decision could “create a new class of workers … who have neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees.” In what President Sweeney called “the fastest growing sector of our economy,” professional and technical work in an information economy, NLRB Members Walsh and Liebman estimated up to 34 million professionals could be affected by 2012.
UAN General Counsel – and outside counsel to AFTRA – Susan Davis detailed the major shift by the NLRB in defining who is a supervisor. A nurse who matches a cardiac patient with a nurse experienced in cardiac care could, she said, thus risk becoming a supervisor – a result Davis called “insane.” The NLRB decisions, she emphasized, “radically affect new organizing.” Economic Policy Institute Vice President and Policy Director Ross Eisenbrey proffered an occupation-by-occupation review that showed “a potential for a tremendous impact on the workforce.”
Jean Lucas, a certified Registered Nurse and a former president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees Local 5118, American Federation of Teachers, underscored the importance of unions to allowing nurses to function effectively as patient advocates. Winning strong language to protect the integrity of 10 local unions in New Jersey, including hers, against the anticipated NLRB decisions thus became a strike issue for nurses. AFTRA General Counsel/Director of Legislative Affairs Thomas R. Carpenter and TNG-CWA Director of Organizing Eric Geist showed the risks the Bush NLRB decisions pose for every union in arts, entertainment, and media.
AFT Assistant to the President Phil Kugler brought home the threat to an unanticipated target: unions in the public sector. Until the Bush Administration, he said, public-sector unions faced an atmosphere that was “relatively benign” by comparison with the private sector. Not any more. Now even public-sector employers, following the Bush Administration’s example, threaten public sector workers if they seek to organize or bargain. The Bush Board’s approach to the Kentucky River cases is already beginning to influence Public Employee Relations Boards around the country.
Also on the program: a review of NLRB cases since Oakwood by AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel Nancy Schiffer; creative and constructive brainstorming by the participants as to tactics for organizing and bargaining; a denunciation by AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumka of the Bush Board Republican majority as “a cadaver when it comes to protecting workers’ rights”; and an update on proposed legislative approaches by AFL-CIO Director of Legislation Bill Samuel, who noted, “You’re seeing a Congress much more in tune with the American people.”
EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT INTRODUCED – Years of building support on Capitol Hill for the Employee Free Choice Act paid off this week when labor leaders joined the bill’s sponsors to announce that the bill — H.R. 800 — was introduced in the U.S. House with bipartisan backing from a majority of members and full support of the new leadership.
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) said 229 House members have joined him as co-sponsors — 223 Democrats and seven Republicans. “We cannot continue on our nation’s current path, where CEOs have complete freedom to negotiate lavish pay and retirement packages for themselves while workers have no leverage to make their own lives better,” said Miller, the bill’s long-time champion and chief sponsor. “Our economy is more unequal than it has been at any point since before the New Deal.”
Workers, who have been fired, threatened and harassed trying to form unions testified about the importance of the Employee Free Choice Act at a February 8 hearing before the House Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions. Also on February 8 the General Board of the AFL-CIO unanimously adopted the resolution “Employee Free Choice Act: A Campaign for Hope and Progress.”
The General Board is made up of the AFL-CIO’s three executive officers, 44 Executive Council members, chief officer of each affiliated union, heads of the industrial and trade departments and four regional representatives of state federations. Passing this legislation will be the top priority for the AFL-CIO.
SPEED MATTERS (www.speedmatters.org) – The telecommunications industry is at a critical juncture. The emergence of a new telecommunications system—one based on high speed interactive networks designed for voice, data, and video communications—opens up tremendous opportunities for improving the quality of our economic, civic, and personal lives.
We are falling behind because the United States is the only industrialized country without a national policy to promote high speed broadband. Instead, we have relied on a hodge-podge of fragmented government programs and uneven private sector responses to changing markets.
It is now time for the United States to adopt a comprehensive national high speed broadband policy to ensure that we all benefit from the telecommunications and information revolution. Throughout our history we have been able to benefit from major technological advances because we adopted national policies to ensure the widespread and equitable deployment of those technologies. In the 19th century we adopted policies to develop canals and a national railroad system. In the 20th century we instituted policies to develop national telephone and highway systems.
In the 21st century, we need to have a national high speed broadband policy. For more information about Speed Matters go to: www.speedmatters.org.
ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, MEDIA – AND A NEW CONGRESS – With an eye to the new Congress, DPE President Paul E. Almeida chaired a meeting of the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industry (AEMI), Industry Coordinating Committee (ICC) on January 24, 2007. The 22 participants came from six unions affiliated with DPE – AEA, AFM, AFTRA, CWA and TNG-CWA, IATSE, and SAG – as well as DPE and the AFL-CIO.
President Almeida reported the latest news from the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) strike.
AFL-CIO Director of Legislation Bill Samuel briefed the AEMI ICC about the new Congress. CWA Research Economist Debbie Goldman invited participation in a campaign for faster Internet service in the U.S., Speed Matters – High Speed Internet for All; check your access speed at http://www.speedmatters.org/speed-test/. AFM Director of Government Relations Hal Ponder reported on visa processing for foreign performers, carry-on musical instruments and airlines, and performer royalties. AFTRA Associate General Counsel/Copyright and Intellectual Property Terrie Bjorklund reviewed legislative priorities for sound recordings.
As a part of revisiting its rules for media ownership, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a second hearing on December 11, 2006 in Nashville, TN. Its first hearing was on October 3 in Los Angeles. The AEMI ICC unions reported on highly effective activities accompanying and at the Nashville hearing. To see the agenda, which includes artists from the AEMI unions, click on https://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-268899A1.pdf.
DPE Executive Director David Cohen thanked the DPE unions for their review and input as DPE filed reply comments with the FCC. Media conglomerates claim new channels of distribution mean allowing further consolidation would not harm the public. DPE responded with evidence of decreasing local news, music, and content and a diminished diversity of views; to see the reply comments, go to http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pdf/Media_Consol_Reply_Comments_as_filed_with_FCC_1-12-07.pdf.
The meeting concluded with a thoughtful review of SAG concerns about the AEMI ICC structure by newly appointed SAG National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Doug Allen.
YES, HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY STILL REQUIRES WORKERS –Bringing information technology to medical care has become a national priority. It promises to transform one of the largest sectors of the economy. But it will only work if, from the start and at every step, it involves – to quote a Veterans’ Administration nurse – “the people who touch the patients.”
As Congress renews its efforts to codify a national approach to health information technology (HIT), DPE has joined its affiliated unions, including AFSCME, AFT, UAN, and USW, as well as the AFL-CIO and the National Partnership for Women & Families, to bring home the necessity of worker involvement. In January 2007, DPE staff participated in two meetings with Senate staff. At stake: the wise use of taxpayer dollars, the quality of health care, and the security and privacy of medical information.
For additional information or comments, please contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
NEW FACT SHEETS:
- PHARMACISTS AND PHARMACY TECHNICIANS: FACTS AND FIGURES –Between 2004 and 2014, the number of pharmacists is expected to increase from 230,000 to 287,000, or by 25%, while the number of pharmacy technicians is expected to increase from 258,000 to 332,000, a whopping 107% increase.
A new DPE fact sheet paints a statistical portrait of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, including current numbers and trends, wages, employment, women and (low) minority presence, occupational outlook, worker shortages, the effect of shortages on pharmacy school faculty and graduates, the effect of outsourcing and technology on the pharmacists’ role, Medicare Part D and independent pharmacies, and unionization.
- H-1B AND IT WORKERS – A frequently abused non-immigrant visa category provided for in the Immigration and Naturalization Act, H-1B allows American companies to temporarily employ foreign workers who have the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree in response to a particular labor shortage. This fact sheet focuses on the current situation, examining the demandfor IT workers, including projections for IT employment, the number of guest workers coming in under H-1B, trends in IT wages between 2000 and 2005, and the effect of the large number of IT guest workers on US wages; supply, including the U.S. educational pipeline, low minority presence in IT occupations, and the misrepresentation of high turnoverrates; and the need for H-1B repair and reform.
To obtain copies of these and other DPE fact sheets, visit the website, www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets/htm, or email Marcie Lawrence, firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about ongoing research, contact Pamela Wilson, by phone: 202/638-6684, or email: email@example.com.
OUTREACH TO ASSOCIATIONS: AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION –With the goal of encouraging connection and collaboration between organized labor and the public health community, the Labor Caucus assists in the planning of major APHA plenary sessions, plans its own programs, and develops potential policy resolutions. Currently chaired by DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson, the Caucus is now focused on preparing for the 2007 Annual Meeting, Politics, Policy and Public Health, scheduled for November 3-7 in Washington, D.C. Caucus members have suggested topics and speakers for plenary sessions which can attract several thousand participants and planning for its own sessions is underway. Sessions on health information technology, retirement income security, and a program with an international focus are among those being developed. The sessions will include speakers from DPE affiliates as well as public health academics and advocates.
Labor Caucus Session Featured in APHA Newspaper — APHA’s monthly newspaper, The Nation’s Health, has a circulation of 28,000. The December/January issue included information fromLabor Rights Are Human Rights, a 2006 Labor Caucus session co-sponsored by American Rights at Work, http://www.americanrightsatwork.org/. One of the speakers, Emily Ihara, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work at George Mason University, explored the connections between health insurance and medical service access with family level employment characteristics, finding 95.4 % of union workers to have employment-based health benefits, compared with 77.8 % of nonunion workers. In addition, union workers are much less likely to be uninsured than non-union workers (2.5% v. 15%). http://www.apha.org/publications/tnh/current/Dec06Jan07/APHANews/AnnMeetHumanRts.htm. The issue also included a summary of the Resolution on the Right for Employee Free Choice to Form Unions, which was co-sponsored by the Labor Caucus and the Occupational Health Section and adopted at the 2006 Annual Meeting.
For additional information about the Labor Caucus and its programs, contact Pamela Wilson: 202/638-0320 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about the Annual Meeting, visit the Website, www.apha.org.
OUTREACH TO THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION – 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 Seattle from January 18-22. Library workers are represented by several DPE affiliates including AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IFPTE, and OPEIU.
Preparations, including sessions, materials and programs for ALA annual convention (June 21-27 in Washington, D.C.) 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 convention will include these programs:
- Pay equity for library workers;
- Salary negotiations;
- Affordable health care options; and
- A Networking Breakfast, among others developed by the committee.
Among the presenters on pay equity will be Connie Cordovilla, AFT. The networking breakfast will include a union focus and speaker. 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.
ALA-APA and the Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers are developing a Union Wiki which will be linked to the ALA and ALA-APA Websites. DPE, AFSCME, and AFT are among the affiliates adding information and links.
In June 2006, ALA-APA adopted a resolution, Employee Free Choice Act: Support the Freedom to Form Unions. At the midwinter meeting in Seattle, the ALA-APA Council discussed implementation, and agreed upon a press release and a letter to Congress in support of EFCA. The resolution was developed by representatives of DPE, the AFL-CIO and ALA-APA.
Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson currently chairs the ALA-AFL-CIO Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups, which includes representatives from AFSCME (Jessica Storrs), CWA (Barbara Rosen), and the AFL-CIO (Jannie Cobb), among others. The Committee met on January 20 to finalize plans for its program for the 2007 Annual Convention and to discuss materials and resources for its booth at the June convention. Titled Aging and Activism, the committee’s program willfeature Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities, George Washington University, author of The Mature Mind and Edward Coyle, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans.
For information about ALA and the Annual Meeting, see www.ala.org; for information about DPE’s involvement, contact Pamela by phone, 202/638-6684 or email, email@example.com
A fact sheet on library workers is currently available from our Website, http://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets/
JOHN P. CONNOLLY IS APPOINTED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION –
Actors’ Equity has announced the appointment of John P. Connolly as Executive Director, effective March 19, 2007. Mr. Connolly joins Equity directly from his position as National President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).
In his new role, Connolly will direct the collective bargaining process for more than 30 national and regional contracts, oversee the Union’s finances and supervise Equity’s large professional staff. He will work closely with the Equity Council, the Union’s governing body, to implement national policies and build consensus and entertainment industry support on key issues. In addition, Mr. Connolly will serve as spokesperson for Equity with media, labor, employers and government officials.
DPE CHECKS IN – With the aid of its affiliated unions, DPE is reviewing its mission and goals and revising its strategic plan.
At the June 6, 2006 General Board meeting of DPE, DPE President Paul E. Almeida announced the review and planning. On August 30, 2006, he mailed to representatives of the 23 national and international unions affiliated with DPE three documents: a memo asking for their input; the DPE mission statement and summaries of its activities; and a survey of open-ended questions.
DPE staff drew on the survey responses to develop points for decision. The DPE Strategic Planning Committee – representatives from AEA, AFSCME, AFT, AFTRA, TNG-CWA, IFPTE, and SAG – met on January 9, 2007. Their recommendations will go to the DPE Executive Committee at its meeting on April 30.