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:
- Enough is Enough
- Comprehensive Immigration Bill Bad News for IT Workers
- Union Protections as Congress Intended
- New Fact Sheet: Library Workers – Facts & Figures
- Programs at the American Library Association
- Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors
- Associating with Associations
- Best Care Anywhere – Program Examines VA Benchmark Health Care
- DPE Signs On
- DPE in the News
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – On May 17, 2007, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) sponsored a Transportation Day of Action on the National Mall that drew thousands of union members from more than a dozen unions. Among them: members and leaders from many unions affiliated with the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) and the entire DPE staff. The message: “Enough is Enough” of Bush Administration policies plaguing air and rail workers.
“This nation’s air and rail workers suffered one grievous assault after another under the present administration,” said IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger. “Hundreds of thousands of workers lost jobs, pensions and health care while CEOs and senior executives gorged themselves with outrageous compensation packages. It’s time for a president who isn’t deaf and blind to this kind of rampant injustice.”
At its April 30 meeting, the DPE Executive Committee unanimously endorsed the IAM rally. It declared: “DPE stands with the IAMAW in its May 17, 2007 Day of Action and urges all unions affiliated with DPE to notify IAMAW of their support and invite their members to participate.”
COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION BILL BAD NEWS FOR IT WORKERS – In May a handful of legislators from the Senate and the White House agreed on a proposed “Comprehensive Immigration Bill.” Hoping to limit debate and minimize amendments, the Senate soon learned that this massive piece of legislation was not going to fly through. Debate will continue when Congress returns from its Memorial Day break, and it’s anyone’s guess where this will end. By all reports Congress is getting an earful from constituents. DPE continues to speak out about proposed changes to the H1-B high-tech visa program, which the bill would further enlarge. DPE supports an amendment by Senators Durbin and Grassley that goes a long way to correct H1-B problems. Through our DPE Alert!communications, DPE will continue to keep affiliates and friends posted as the debate heats up. On May 23, 2007 DPE issued a press release “Immigration Bill – Bad News for College Grads,” which several wire services picked up. To see the release go to http://www.dpeaflcio.org/news/press/pr_2007_05_22.htm.
UNION PROTECTIONS AS CONGRESS INTENDED – The April 2007 DPE NewsLinereported the bipartisan introduction in Congress of the Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers (RESPECT) Act (H.R.1644 and S.969). Its goal: to restore the intent of Congress, subverted by a September 2006 NLRB decision by Bush Administration appointees. The Oakwood decision radically expanded the definition of who is a supervisor and thus not entitled to union protections. It threatens every professional and technical worker who guides a co-worker.
On Tuesday, May 8, 2007, the House of Representatives Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee of the Committee on Education and Labor convened its first hearing on the RESPECT Act, “Are NLRB and Court Rulings Misclassifying Skilled and Professional Employees as Supervisors?” How absurd can the consequences of Oakwood get? Here’s the testimony of Registered Nurse Lori Gay about a Regional Director’s decision following Oakwood in an election involving the United American Nurses:
All the RNs in the neonatal intensive care unit were declared to be supervisors, essentially “supervising” each other on a rotating basis. In the inpatient rehabilitation unit, 10 of the 12 RNs were declared to be supervisors. In the newborn nursery, 10 of 12 RNs were also declared to be supervisors. In the labor and delivery unit, the ratio of supervisors to nonsupervisory employees was 12 to 5. In the surgical unit, the ratio was 10 to 7.
To see a webcast of the hearing or read the witnesses’ testimony, click on http://edworkforce.house.gov/hearings/help050807.shtml.
On May 15, 2007, DPE President Paul E. Almeida emailed a DPE Alert! to all DPE unions urging them to ask their local unions to sign letters to state congressional delegations seeking support and co-sponsors for the RESPECT Act.
For information or comments, please contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
NEW FACT SHEET: LIBRARY WORKERS – FACTS & FIGURES – The benefits of union membership are clear: union librarians earned an average of 29% more than non-union, while union library assistants earned an average of 35% more than their non-union counterparts. In 2006, almost 25% of librarians were union members; 27% 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 and institutional variances in wages; benefits; and unionization. This fact sheet will also be distributed by the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), www.ala-apa.org. Find it at http://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets.htm.
To comment on the fact sheet or to obtain information about ongoing research, contact Pamela Wilson, 202-638-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PROGRAMS AT THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION – The ALA Annual Conference is scheduled for June 21—27 in Washington, DC. American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) sessions will feature representatives from DPE affiliates including AFSCME and AFT:
- Connie Cordovilla, Associate Director, Human Rights and Community Relations Department, AFT, will be a speaker at “Justice You Can Bank On,” in the Russell Room of the J.W. Marriott from 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon on Saturday, June 23. (This program also features Michele Leber, Chair, National Committee on Pay Equity and Elisabeth Gehl, Director of Public Policy, Business and Professional Women-USA.)
- Saul Schneiderman, President, Library of Congress Professional Guild, AFSCME Local 2910 will be among the speakers at the Networking Breakfast scheduled for 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 24 in the Montreal Room of the Marriott Metro Center.
- 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, will return to ALA to discuss affordable health care options from 4:00 -5:30 p.m. on Monday. June 25 in Room 159A at the Washington Convention Center.
Other ALA-APA sessions include:
- Salary Surveys – What the Librarian and Non-MLS Surveys Tell Us, with Jenifer Grady, Director, ALA-APA
- Getting Even: How Library Staff Can Get Paid Fairly, with Evelyn Murphy, President, WAGE Project, Inc., a national organization to end wage discrimination against women
- Open Mike on Salaries in Libraries (Your Opinion Counts)
- Getting What You’re Worth Salary Workshop
- Rural and Small Libraries vs. Small Salaries
- Certification Update: What’s Happening with CPLA [Certified Public Library Administrator] and Other Programs?
The AFL-CIO – ALA Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups is presenting a program, “Aging and Activism,” on Monday, June 25, from 10:30 am – 12 noon in the Chairman’s Room of the Doubletree Hotel (1515 Rhode Island Avenue, NW). It will include findings from the latest research on brain health and psychology, as well as a discussion of the need for activism to ensure social and economic justice and full civil rights for all citizens, with a special focus on retiree legislative and political issues. This program features Gene Cohen, M.D., Ph.D., Director, Center on Aging, Health and Humanities, George Washington University, author of Mature Mind and Edward Coyle, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans.
A booth in the Exposition Hall (#2534) will feature labor materials, including pamphlets, brochures and bibliographies. The Joint Committee will be meeting in the Convention Center from 10:30 am – 12 noon on Saturday, June 23 to begin planning for 2008.
Library workers are represented by several DPE affiliates including AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IFPTE, OPEIU, and USW. For information about ALA and the Annual Meeting, see www.ala.org; for information about the meetings of the Joint Committee or the ALA-APA Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers, or to learn more about DPE’s involvement, contact Pamela Wilson by phone, 202-638-6684 or email, email@example.com.
MISCLASSIFYING EMPLOYEES AS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS – On Tuesday, May 8, 2007, two subcommittees of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means held a joint hearing on “The Effects of the Misclassification of Workers as Independent Contractors.” The DPE Work Group on Independent Contractors and Antitrust identified misclassification as a major concern for the participating unions, and many of those unions have joined an AFL-CIO legislative task force on the topic.
Among the testimony at the hearing: A study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) showed independent contractors in the total employed workforce rose between 1995 and 2005 from 6.7 to 7.4 percent – a total of 10.3 million by 2005. GAO also explained the potential consequences of misclassification for employees: no coverage “under key laws designed to protect workers” and no “access to employer-provided health insurance coverage and pension plans.” The damage extends to federal and state programs including workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance. For a complete witness list and copies of their testimony, see http://waysandmeans.house.gov/hearings.asp?formmode=detail&hearing=556&comm=2.
ASSOCIATING WITH ASSOCIATIONS – How can DPE unions learn from and work with professional associations? That question drives the DPE Work Group on Professional Associations. Its meeting on May 29, 2007 drew representatives from AFT, AFTRA, IFPTE, IUPAT, SAG, and USW, as well as the Albert Shanker Institute and Cornell.
In starting a response to the question, DPE reported on its meetings and conversations with leaders and senior staff at the American Chemical Society, American Library Association, American Public Health Association, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers, and National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and its outreach to others.
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.
BEST CARE ANYWHERE – PROGRAM EXAMINES VA BENCHMARK HEALTH CARE – Recent headlines about Walter Reed Army Medical Center brought the military health care system under scrutiny. Yet despite problems with access, the Department of Veteran Affairs (which doesn’t run Walter Reed) turns out in study after study to be the highest-quality healthcare provider in the United States. It outperforms other providers by virtually all measures, including patient satisfaction, patient safety, prevention, disease management, use of evidence-based medicine, information technology, and cost-effectiveness.
In a May 4 program sponsored by the New America Foundation, Phillip Longman, Schwartz Senior Fellow, New America Foundation; Author, Best Care Anywhere: Why VA Health Care Is Better Then Yours, 2007, argued that precisely because the VA is a big government bureaucracy with a near-lifetime relationship with its patients, it has incentives for investing in prevention, disease management, electronic patient records, and other quality measures that are lacking in for-profit medicine.
The program also featured Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, Undersecretary for Health in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 1994 to 1999; CEO and Chairman of the Board, Medsphere Systems Corporation and was moderated by Len Nichols, Director, Health Policy Program, New America Foundation. A panel comprising Gerald Cross, MD, Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Health Administration; John Holahan, Ph.D., Director, Health Policy Center, The Urban Institute; John F. Sommer, Jr. Executive Director, American Legion; and The Hon. Harry N. Walters, Managing Commissioner, Commission on the Future For American Veterans; Former Administrator, Veterans Administration provided other perspectives and comments.
DPE Assistant to the President, Pamela Wilson, participated in this event which addressed the lessons that can be learned from the VA’s example; whether access should be expanded to more veterans — many previously denied benefits — and perhaps to their families, as well; and whether it is feasible to replicate the VA model of care for the general population, including the uninsured.
DPE SIGNS ON – In May, DPE joined many of its affiliates and other unions in a letter to the House and Senate Chairs of the Armed Services Committees opposing Bush Administration measures encouraging privatization and contracting out; see http://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters/00233865.pdf.
DPE IN THE NEWS – On May 23, 2007 DPE issued a press release “Immigration Bill – Bad News for College Grads,” which several wire services picked up. To see the release go to http://www.dpeaflcio.org/news/press/pr_2007_05_22.htm. Lou Dobbs Tonight featured DPE Executive Director David Cohen regarding the comprehensive immigration bill before the Senate, specifically the portion dealing with increases in the number of H1-B high-tech visas. The show aired on May 30, 2007; to see the transcript go to http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0705/30/ldt.01.html.