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:
- Building Strength in Arts, Entertainment and Media
- Professional Integrity at Work
- Workers Need RESPECT
- Nurses: New Fact Sheets – “Vital Signs” & “The Costs and Benefits of Safe Staffing Ratios”
- Outreach to the American Library Association – DPE at ALA Midwinter Meetings
- Outreach to American Public Health Association
- Hollywood on the Hill: Cervical Cancer Awareness Program
- DPE Signs On
BUILDING STRENGTH IN ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT AND MEDIA – On Thursday, December 6, 2007, the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry (AEMI) unions affiliated with DPE met in the Industry Coordinating Committee (ICC) to review and analyze research on industry segments. The objective: to build power for AEMI workers through strategic multi-union organizing.
Chaired by DPE President Paul E. Almeida, the meeting brought together officers and key staff from AEA, AFM, AFTRA, TNG-CWA, IATSE, IBEW, OPEIU, SAG, and WGAeast. It marked the culmination of 18 months of collective work, from designing a research template to unearthing information to conducting careful analysis. With an introduction by AFL-CIO Director for Strategic Research Ken Zinn, Maria Figueroa and Jeff Grabelsky presented the research that Maria led.
Other items on which participants reported included Free Exchange on Campus, a coalition working to preserve academic freedom; the Federal Communications Commission proceedings on its media ownership rules; the RESPECT Act, pending legislation to undo a radical redefinition by the Bush-appointed majority of the National Labor Relations Board of who is a supervisor and thus not entitled to union protections (see “Workers Need RESPECT” below); proposed legislation to minimize counterfeiting and piracy affecting intellectual property; the Writers Guild strike; bargaining with ABC and CBS; an organizing victory for actors at American Girls; and a campaign for performance rights that would entitle musicians and singers to pay for broadcasts of their work on terrestrial radio.
For additional information, 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.
PROFESSIONAL INTEGRITY AT WORK – On January 24, 2008, representatives from the DPE Work Group on Professional Associations met for a second time with representatives from professional associations. The themes: what professional integrity means to professional and technical workers, the challenges they face in doing their work right, and the high stakes for the public.
Since July 2006, representatives from unions affiliated with DPE – including AFM, AFSCME, AFT, AFTRA, IAM, IBEW, IFPTE, SAG, UAN, and USW – have met in the work group to investigate how unions could learn from, and work with, professional associations. A November 2007 meeting brought together volunteers from the work group with representatives from eight professional associations, in disciplines ranging from engineering and science to education, health care, and human services, for the first time. The goal: to plan for a top-level discussion later in 2008.
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.
WORKERS NEED RESPECT – In March 2007, allies of U.S. workers in the House of Representatives and the Senate introduced the Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Trade workers (RESPECT) Act (H.R.1644 and S.969). (See the April 2007 DPE NewsLine, “Protecting Union Protections.”) Events in organizing, bargaining, and before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) underscore the importance of passing the RESPECT Act into law.
The RESPECT Act aims to bring back the intent of Congress in drawing a line between workers – who are entitled to union protections before the NLRB – and supervisors, who are not. Three decisions in September 2006 by the Bush-appointed NLRB majority moved that line dramatically. The decisions enable employers to argue that endless numbers of professional and technical workers should be classed as “supervisors.”
Reports from arts, entertainment, and media unions at the December 2007 AEMI ICC meeting (see “Building Strength in Arts, Entertainment and Media” above) confirmed that the NLRB decisions have become an obstacle to successful organizing and collective bargaining.
An outrageous outcome in Salt Lake Regional Medical Center did the same. In February 2007, an NLRB regional director found that, under the 2006 NLRB decisions, more than 60 percent of the nursing unit for which the United American Nurses (UAN) petitioned was supervisory. He found that all rotating charge Registered Nurses were supervisory and should not be a part of the bargaining unit. On December 6, 2007, two Bush appointees to the NLRB affirmed the regional director’s decision over the dissent of Member Wilma B. Liebman. UAN withdrew its petition, and the ballots cast more than five years earlier went uncounted.
To see the 157 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives for the RESPECT Act, click on http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR01644:@@@P. For information or comments, please contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
NURSES: NEW FACT SHEETS –
VITAL SIGNS: A Brief Overview of the State of the Nursing Profession in the United States – Registered Nurse (RN) has been among the fastest growing occupations in recent years. In 2006, the number of employed RNs was 2,417,000 – an increase of 71% since 1996. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor identified “Registered Nurse” as the occupation expected to have the second largest job growth in the 10 years from 2004 to 2014. The need for RNs is projected to grow by 29.4% between 2004 and 2014, compared to 13% for all occupations. More than 1.2 million openings for RNs are projected by 2014 due to growth and replacements. At the same time, the U.S. is experiencing a severe nursing shortage that will intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. Understaffing affects both nurses and patients, and the high rates of emotional exhaustion and job dissatisfaction associated with inadequate staffing and low nurse-to-patient ratios are linked to the large number of nurses who have left their positions. Some 500,000 RNs in the U.S. are not practicing their profession – fully one-fifth of the RN work force and enough to fill vacancies twice over. Furthermore, recent National Labor Relations Board decisions expanding the definition of “supervisor” allow employers to take union protections away from nurses and other workers. (See “Workers Need RESPECT” above.)
This new fact sheet includes statistical and other information gleaned from a variety of sources on the size and demographic composition of the nurse work force; the projected need for nurses; enrollment in nursing schools and the shortage of nursing school faculty; pervasive understaffing and its dangers to both patients and nurses; mandatory overtime and floating; nurse burnout, job dissatisfaction, and departure from nursing; the effects of recruiting nurses from abroad; the high risk of occupational safety and health hazards; wages and benefits; union organizing, and the effects of recent National Labor Relations Board decisions.
THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SAFE STAFFING RATIOS – Adequate nurse staffing is key to patient care, nurse retention, and recruitment, while inadequate staffing endangers patients’ lives and drives nurses from their chosen profession. This fact sheet details the growing evidence that understaffing threatens patients’ lives, results in longer hospital stays, and affects nurses’ health, increasing their risk of musculoskeletal injuries, as well as causing hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and depression. Understaffing leads to job dissatisfaction and burnout and causes nurse turnover, which is very expensive. The fact sheet examines the cost to hospitals of implementing safe staffing ratios, as well as the evidence that nurses return to nursing when safe staff ratios are in place.
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. To comment on the fact sheets or for information about ongoing research, contact Pamela Wilson, email@example.com, 202-638-6684 extension 12.
OUTREACH TO THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION – DPE AT ALA MIDWINTER MEETINGS – Expanding the DPE connection to the American Library Association (ALA), DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson attended the ALA mid-winter meeting, held in Philadelphia from January 11-14. Library workers are represented by several DPE affiliates including AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IFPTE, OPEIU, and USW.
DPE connects with ALA through two main committees: the ALA-AFL-CIO Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups and the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association’s Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers.
The Joint Committee includes representatives from AFSCME (Jessica Storrs), CWA (Barbara Rosen), and the National Labor College (Jannie Cobb), and ALA appointees with a clear interest in labor, including labor archivists among others. Recent meetings have been attended by guests who are interested in the Committee’s work. It is co-chaired by Pamela Wilson and Mary Parker, Associate Director, MINITEX Library Information Network at the University of Minnesota’s Andersen Library. The Committee met on January 12 to finalize plans for its program for the 2008 Annual Convention, scheduled for June 26-July 2 in San Diego.
OUTREACH TO 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. Chaired by DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson, the Caucus is preparing for the 2008 Annual Meeting, Public Health without Borders, scheduled for October 25-29 in San Diego. Caucus members have suggested topics and speakers for major plenary sessions, which can attract several thousand participants, and planning for its own sessions is underway. Sessions on health and safety as focal issues in organizing campaigns; the outsourcing of medical jobs; and the impact of the U.S. nurse staffing crisis on health care in poor countries, as well as the effects of importing nurses to the U.S., are among those being developed. The Labor Caucus is also planning another session in conjunction with the Peace Caucus. Labor Caucus sessions will include speakers from DPE affiliates and other labor organizations, as well as public health academics and advocates.
For additional information about the Labor Caucus and its programs, contact Pamela Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 12. For information about the Annual Meeting, visit the website, www.apha.org.
HOLLYWOOD ON THE HILL: CERVICAL CANCER AWARENESS PROGRAM – On January 29, about 150 women and men from labor, government, academia, and public interest organizations gathered at the American Federation of Teachers for the first screening of the Cervical Cancer Awareness video, featuring real women who share their stories of triumph over cervical cancer. In the video, women and their doctors discuss how advances in screening and prevention made a difference. A panel of three included two survivors and activists, Tamika Felder, Tamika and Friends, and Christine Baze, Yellow Umbrella, plus Nancy Berman, MSN, APRN, BC; the panelists were available to answer questions. The program was introduced by Susan Scanlan, Chair, National Council of Women’s Organizations. Carolyn Jacobson, director of the Coalition of Labor Union Women’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Works, is co-chair of the NCWO Women’s Health Task Force, which helps support the work that NCWO member organizations are doing to advance women’s health, as well as to promote NCWO’s health care policy agenda, http://www.womensorganizations.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=29&Itemid=58.
DPE SIGNS ON – DPE joined a January 9, 2008 letter to the Chairs of the Congressional Armed Services Committees about the National Security Personnel System, contracting out, and a pay raise for the military. See http://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters/UnitedDODWorkersCoalition.pdf.