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:
- Classifying Employees Properly
- Achieving RESPECT
- Working Together, Professionally
- Outreach to Professional Associations
- DPE President Almeida Addresses Senate Democrats’ Steering and Outreach Committee on Health IT
- Programming DPE
- Nurses, Leaders, Unions, Health
- Facilitating Nursing Priorities
- Unions and Professional Associations
- Mass AFL-CIO Holds 50th Constitutional Convention
- APESMA Representatives Visit DPE
- DPE Brings the Hollywood Librarian to DC Labor FilmFest
- DPE in the News
- DPE Signs On
CLASSIFYING EMPLOYEES PROPERLY – On September 12, 2007, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) introduced the Independent Contractor Proper Classification Act of 2007 (S. 2044). His original co-sponsors included Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), and Patty Murray (D-WA). Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), and Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) joined as co-sponsors within days.
The DPE Work Group on Independent Contractors and Antitrust identified misclassification of employees as independent contractors as a major concern for its participating unions. The unions in the work group reached a consensus that the IRS so-called “safe harbor” for employers in industries where misclassification has become common, called Section 530, creates a perverse incentive for more misclassification. The Independent Contractor Proper Classification Act would close the IRS loophole.
Misclassification hurts employees, makes honest employers uncompetitive, and deprives federal and state government of taxes, thus increasing the burden on other taxpayers. In a letter to Senator Obama expressing “strong support” for S. 2044, The Newspaper Guild-CWA President Linda Foley, who serves also as DPE Treasurer, told of TNG-CWA members working alongside so-called “independent contractors.” The bill, she wrote, would “correct a loophole that has become a tunnel to lower wages and fewer rights.”
In another letter of support, AFL-CIO Director of Legislation Bill Samuel highlighted the pervasiveness of misclassification and the harms to workers, including creating sometimes insurmountable obstacles to claiming benefits and protections like workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, health insurance, pensions, minimum wages, and overtime pay.
Unsurprisingly, the Associated Builders and Contractors announced its opposition to the legislation and its support for the so-called safe harbor provisions.
To read the bill, click on http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.2044:. To see the Senate press release, go to http://help.senate.gov/Maj_press/2007_09_13_a.pdf.
For information or comments, please contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
ACHIEVING RESPECT – The July DPE NewsLine reported that DPE was working with its affiliated unions, the AFL-CIO, and other unions to recruit co-sponsors for the RESPECT Act (H.R. 1644). As of the July report, the number of co-sponsors had more than doubled to 88. Since then, it has skyrocketed again, to 144.
“RESPECT” stands for the “Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradesworkers.” Introduced in the House and Senate (S. 969) in March 2007, the bill seeks a return to the intent of Congress in defining who is a “supervisor” under the National Labor Relations Act. In September 2006, the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) radically expanded the definition through a decision calledOakwood. The Bush NLRB decision threatens protections for organizing, bargaining, and collective action for millions of employees. For professional and technical employees, whose expertise often guides other employees,Oakwood poses an especially urgent threat.
To see the current roster of House co-sponsors, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR01644:@@@N.
For information or comments, please contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
WORKING TOGETHER, PROFESSIONALLY – Since July 2006, the DPE Work Group on Professional Associations has investigated how unions could learn from, and work with, professional associations. On its behalf, DPE President Paul E. Almeida, Executive Director David Cohen, and Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson have met and talked with the leaders and senior staff of 11 associations. Unions affiliated with DPE have begun joining the conversations. In August and September 2007, the discussions included the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
For more information about the project, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 14, or DPE Executive Director David Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS – THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION (APHA) – The 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Politics, Policy and Public Health, is scheduled for November 3-7 in Washington, D.C. It is expected to attract some 14,000 participants.
As in previous years, DPE has been involved in planning programs, disseminating information, and assisting in the development of policy resolutions through the Labor Caucus, currently chaired by Pamela Wilson, Assistant to DPE President Paul E. Almeida. The Labor Caucus is routinely allocated three sessions at the Annual Meeting. The 2007 sessions will be held in the Washington Convention Center and include:
* Information Technology in the Health Care Workplace: Impacts and Implications, Tuesday, November 6, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
* Dude, Where is My Retirement?, Monday, November 5, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
* International Public Health and the Labor Movement: Labor’s Response to Global Health Issues, Trade Initiatives, Globalization, and Workers’ Health, Monday, November 5, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
These sessions have been planned in collaboration with Barbara Coufal, AFSCME, Jay Witter, UAN, Liz Bettinger, USW, Cynthia Mariel, Solidarity Center, and other Caucus members. Speakers include leaders and representatives from AFSCME, UAN, USW, the AFL-CIO, AFA-CWA, the Solidarity Center and several African trade unions. DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Executive Director, David Cohen are among the moderators for these sessions.
In addition, two special sessions have been developed:
* Workers’ Free Choice to Form Unions – Myth or Reality, Monday, November 5, 8:30 – 10:00 p.m. – 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.
* The Costs of War: The Impact of War on Veterans and Their Families, Tuesday, November 6, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. – The Labor Caucus has collaborated with the Peace Caucus to plan this session, which complements the Unembedded exhibit and program (details below). In 2006, APHA adopted a Resolution in Opposition to Continuation of the War in Iraq.
Both special sessions will feature DPE affiliate and other speakers from labor and public health.
For further information about the APHA Annual Meeting, see www.apha.org; to learn more about these programs or the Labor Caucus, please contact Pamela Wilson, 202-638-0320, extension 12, email@example.com
ALSO AT APHA – LABOR, PEACE & PUBLIC HEALTH GROUPS UNITE TO BRINGUNEMBEDDED: FOUR INDEPENDENT PHOTOJOURNALISTS ON THE WAR IN IRAQ TO THE AFL-CIO – Exhibit on Display, November 4 – 8. Join us for a special opening reception on Monday, November 5, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. The program begins at 7:00 and includes leaders from the American Public Health Association (APHA) and the labor and peace movements. Nancy Wohlforth, Secretary-Treasurer, OPEIU, Co-Convener, US Labor Against the War; Linda Foley, President, TNG-CWA and member, International Federation of Journalists; Arlene Holt-Baker, AFL-CIO Executive Vice President; Mike McCally, M.D., Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility; Bob Gould, M.D., Chair, Peace Caucus, and Garret Reppenhagen, Iraq Veterans Against the War, are among the speakers. Beginning at 7:30, photojournalist Kael Alford will give a PowerPoint presentation and discuss her experiences and impressions while “unembedded” in Iraq. Please save the date!
“Unembedded” is a nationally touring photographic exhibit and book that includes 60 images showing the war’s impact on the Iraqi people “on the ground” where the war is being waged. The exhibit at the AFL-CIO features additional text – developed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health – about the war’s effect on human health and the environment in Iraq, as well as its impact on returning American veterans, their families, and communities. The exhibit includes a focus on the number of journalists who have died in Iraq while trying to tell the story, and a focus on the deterioration of women’s situation since the occupation.
DPE continues to collaborate with Alan Baker, Chief of Staff, APHA, Patrice Sutton, Peace Caucus Program Chair, APHA colleagues at the University of Arkansas, and the AFL-CIO to finalize plans for the exhibit and reception. Fundraising and promotional materials, including a flier, jointly developed by DPE, APHA and the Peace Caucus, are being broadly distributed. The on-line APHA Members News and the August, September, and October editions of The Nation’s Health, the official newspaper of the American Public Health Associationfeature information about the exhibit and reception. The exhibit will also be advertised in the program for the Annual Meeting. Along with the Peace and Labor Caucus, and DPE, APHA has been actively engaged in raising funds, and seeking opportunities to both publicize the event and invite media coverage. The flier and other information are currently being distributed by a broad range of community, peace, labor and public health organizations. Spread the word.
For additional information about the photographs and the photojournalists, see www.unembedded.net. Information about the exhibit at the AFL-CIO, including a flier, is available from http://www.dpeaflcio.org/.
To learn more about the opening event, or to help, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, 202-638-0320, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson, 202-638-0320, extension 12, email@example.com.
DPE CO-SPONSORS ANNUAL ACTIVIST PHYSICIANS DINNER AT APHA – Held each year in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and attended by several hundred health care activists, this year’s dinner will be on Sunday, November 4 from 6:00 –9:00 p.m. at Tony Cheng Seafood Restaurant, 619 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Each year, several special awards are given. This year, the Activist Physicians honor:
- Allan Rosenfield , MD, Dean, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University (Special Recognition Award)
- Douglas Gwatidzo, MD, President, Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (Edward K. Barsky Award)
- Oliver Fein, MD, Cornell University Medical College (Paul B. Cornely Award)
- Honorable Edward M. Kennedy (First Presentation of the Paul Wellstone Award)
- Student Activist Recognition: TBA
Originally sponsored by the Physicians Forum – which was organized decades ago, largely as a caucus of progressive doctors in APHA – the list of co-sponsors has expanded to include AFSCME; American Medical Student Association; DPE; Doctors for Global Health; International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War; Physicians for Human Rights; Physicians for a National Health Program; Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health; Physicians for Social Responsibility; and Committee of Interns and Residents, SEIU Healthcare. DPE was among the organizations involved in planning this event. All are welcome to attend! Please help spread the word.
For further information, contact Pamela Wilson, 202-638-0320, extension 12, firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE PRESIDENT ALMEIDA ADDRESSES SENATE DEMOCRATS’ STEERING AND OUTREACH COMMITTEE ON HEALTH IT – On October 3, 2007, DPE President Paul Almeida was invited to join other national leaders for a discussion with the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee chaired by Senator Debbie Stabenow on the Wired for Health Care Quality Act (S.1693). Twelve senators took part in the discussion. A national health information technology (HIT) infrastructure could transform one of the largest sectors in our economy, improve health care quality, and cut health care costs, stated Senator Stabenow. For several years DPE has been working on legislation affecting HIT with its affiliated unions, AFSCME, AFT, UAN, and USW, as well as the AFL-CIO and a coalition hosted by the National Partnership for Women and Families; DPE has pushed hard for input by the people who touch the patients.
As the only representative of labor at the committee meeting President Almeida said, “Health care workers, the members of our affiliated unions, have witnessed the implementation of massive health information technology systems, for example at Kaiser Permanente and the Veterans Administration. The health care professionals we represent have lessons they shared with us. If health information technology is to work, nurses, other frontline workers, and their union representatives, must be included from the start in the planning, design, and implementation. These very practical lessons have been underscored repeatedly in the research funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). We have come a long way since the first version of the Wired for Health Care Quality Act. The latest version, S.1693, encourages the input of frontline health care workers at multiple levels. It should do so at every level.” President Almeida concluded his comments reminding the Senators that over the past year we have seen countless food and product safety issues arise when our nation loses control over the production and of these goods and protections for their safety. We should not wait for the problems with HIT to start. Now is the time, he declared, to build into the development of Health IT the necessary protections.
For additional information or comments, please contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
PROGRAMMING DPE – In a continuation of strategic planning for DPE, the DPE Program Committee met on September 24, 2007. It reviewed the conclusions of the June 2007 General Board and activities of DPE in relation to those conclusions. It brainstormed possibilities for other DPE activities and suggested priorities among them. After further input from unions affiliated with DPE, the recommendations from the Program Committee will go to the DPE Executive Committee for action.
NURSES, LEADERS, UNIONS, HEALTH – The United American Nurses held its seventh annual Labor Leader Institute on September 9 through 13, 2007 in Seattle, WA. For the fourth consecutive year, DPE participated. DPE Executive Director David Cohen led two workshops. In “Making a Difference Through Leadership and Power,” the participants identified ways to overcome obstacles and achieve constructive change. In “Professionalism and Unionism: Are They Compatible?” Cohen engaged the nurse leaders in analyzing the ways a union can strengthen their ability to do nursing right. Especially notable to these health care professionals: a 2002 study from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst shows your chances of dying from an acute myocardial infarction, otherwise known as a heart attack, are 5.5 percent lower in a hospital with union Registered Nurses.
FACILITATING NURSING PRIORITIES – On October 3, 2007, in Dearborn, Michigan, UAN President Cheryl Johnson, who serves also as President of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA), introduced DPE Executive Director David Cohen to facilitate the first Michigan Nurses Caucus, an MNA initiative designed to address professional issues with a united voice. Cohen led the roughly one hundred Registered Nurse participants in identifying the top challenges they face and ways to overcome them.
UNIONS AND PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS – On September 17 and 18, 2007, the Council of Engineers & Scientists Organizations (CESO) met in Washington, DC. Among the participants were many from unions affiliated with DPE, including AFSCME, CWA, and IFPTE. Cornell Professor Richard W. Hurd, who has worked closely with DPE on its research about professional associations, delivered the keynote speech on “The Place of Professional Associations/Unions in the 21st Century.” DPE Executive Director David Cohen joined Economic Policy Institute Visiting Fellow David Kusnet and SEIU Public Services Division Communications Director Diane Minor in a panel that responded to the speech.
MASS AFL-CIO HOLDS 50TH CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION – On September 27, 2007, DPE President Paul Almeida was a keynote speaker at the Massachusetts AFL-CIO Convention in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Almeida addressed the more than 170 delegates on DPE and its activities, including DPE’s efforts on H1B high tech visas, the Kentucky River cases, and the RESPECT Act.
APESMA REPRESENTATIVES VISIT DPE – Professor Richard Hurd’s presentation to the 4th World Conference of Professional Engineer and Scientist Organizations titled, “The Place of Professional Associations/Unions in the 21st Century,” was very well received, particularly by the professional unions from the developed economies. On a recent trip to the United States, one of the unions in attendance at the conference, the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia, wanted to meet with DPE representative to continue the discussion on professional associations. John Vines, Chief Executive and Dario Tomat, National President of APESMA, were very interested in the work of DPE in this area as they are dealing with a number of similar issues in their country.
John Vines stated that in APESMA’s case, Richard Hurd’s findings corroborated its research and experience, particularly the importance of professional unions focusing on the professional identity of members. As APESMA sees the need to position itself to more effectively “reinforce the professional identity of our members,” APESMA has sought to strengthen this aspect of its activities.
DPE BRINGS THE HOLLYWOOD LIBRARIAN TO DC LABOR FILMFEST – The Hollywood Librarian, the first full-length film to focus on the work and lives of librarians in the context of American movies, premiered at the June 2007 meeting of the American Library Association. DPE and the DC Labor FilmFest co-sponsored a special screening at the AFL-CIO on October 5, during Banned Books Week, an initiative of the American Library Association. Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to choose or to express an opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular. The Week stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. Saul Schniderman, President, Library of Congress Professional Guild Local 2910, provided introductory comments, highlighting the importance of unions to library workers and libraries. The screening was attended by more than 45 people, including local public, university and union librarians, staff from DPE affiliates, the AFL-CIO, and other labor organizations, and public interest groups, among others.
This film contains hundreds of examples of librarians and libraries on screen – some positive, some negative, some laughable and some dead wrong. Dozens of interviews of real librarians are interwoven with film clips of cinematic librarians and serve as transitions between the themes of censorship, intellectual freedom, children and librarians, pay equity and funding issues, and the value of reading. For more information about the film and its producer, Ann Seidl, see www.hollywoodlibrarian.com.
Library workers are represented by DPE affiliates including AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IFPTE, OPEIU, and USW. Find the DPE fact sheet on Library Workers at http://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets/fs_2007_library_workers.htm.
DPE IN THE NEWS – On August 30, 2007, DPE Executive Director David Cohen appeared on CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight to alert viewers to a renewed information technology industry effort to eliminate the cap on H1-B visas. The visas make possible a high-tech immigration that lowers U.S. wages and feeds offshoring. For a YouTube excerpt of the segment, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPblKUSX4UY; to see a transcript of the entire show, click on http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0708/30/ldt.01.html.
DPE SIGNS ON – In a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt, DPE joined AFSCME and the AFL-CIO, as well as other organizations, in opposing a Bush Administration proposal to partially privatize government oversight for developing a national health information technology infrastructure; see http://www.dpeaflcio.org/.
In a letter to every member of the Senate, DPE joined its affiliated unions AFSCME, AFT, CWA, and IAFF, as well as other unions, in urging a temporary moratorium on Internet taxes as a compromise short of a permanent ban; click on http://www.dpeaflcio.org/.