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 is welcome; send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue:
- Change We Can Believe In
- DPE Red-Flags Retirement Funds In Crisis
- Professionals for the Public Interest
- Artists as Workers
- People With Disabilities In the Arts & Media
- A First Meeting Of The New DPE Executive Committee
- DPE Forges Global Union Ties
- Worth Noting: Technology And The Erosion Of Union Solidarity
CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN – Together we made history – and together we won the promise of a better future! Endless numbers of union activists put in endless hours, house calls, telephone calls, and sheer hard work. Welcome, Mr. President!
President Barack Obama. Vice President Joe Biden. A Democratic Senate. A Democratic House of Representatives. A return to the United States as a global beacon of hope and opportunity.
Now the work continues: undoing eight years of damage and building a better world. Together we can do it.
DPE RED-FLAGS RETIREMENT FUNDS IN CRISIS – Rising joblessness, plunging stocks: Put them together, and retirement funds face a crisis. At two DPE meetings in two weeks, the leaders of unions affiliated with DPE spontaneously raised an alarm. DPE translated the alarm into action.
DPE sparked a conference call of the AFL-CIO Pension Working Group on October 24 and of the National Coordinating Committee on Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP) and the Multiemployer Pension Plans Coalition on October 31. Our thanks for their responsiveness to AFL-CIO Legislative Director Bill Samuel, NCCMP Executive Director Randy DeFrehn, and their staffs. DPE sent out DPE Alerts! inviting unions affiliated with DPE to participate in both calls. They did so in remarkable numbers. DPE also emailed out advance and follow-up materials.
The topic arose first at a meeting that DPE hosted on October 6 of the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry, Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI ICC) (see “Artists as Workers” below), and then at the DPE Executive Committee meeting on October 21 (see “A First Meeting Of The New DPE Executive Committee” below). The subsequent conference calls gave DPE affiliates a chance to urge and shape legislative and regulatory action.
PROFESSIONALS FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST – The Professional Associations and Unions Joint Working Group (JWG) had a hard-working October.
In an extraordinarily productive September 24 meeting, the JWG – representatives from six unions, seven professional associations, and DPE – set up three subgroups to plan a coalition. The goal: strengthening professionalism against external pressures, so professionals can do their jobs and serve the public properly. In October, all three subgroups met.
One subgroup is focusing on operations and ground rules, a second on activities, and the third on communications. Each subgroup includes at least one scientific or engineering association, one human services association, and a union. After their initial meetings, two of the three subgroups convened a follow-up conference call; the third is scheduled for a conference call this week. Reporters from the subgroups will present recommendations to the next Joint Working Group meeting on November 19.
For more information about the June 5 leadership meeting, “Strengthening Professionalism in the Public Interest,” see “Unprecedented and Potentially Historic” in the July 2008 DPE NewsLine. For more information about the Joint Working Group, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, email@example.com, 202-638-0320, or Executive Director David Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
ARTISTS AS WORKERS – “The time has come to insist on an obvious but overlooked fact—artists are workers.” So writes Dana Gioia, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in his preface to Artists in the Workforce: 1990 to 2005, a research report that NEA published this year.
NEA Director of Research and Analysis Sunil Iyengar presented key findings from the report at the October 6, 2008 meeting of the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry, Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI ICC). DPE Chair Tom Lee, President of AFM, chaired the meeting; DPE Executive Director David Cohen facilitated the discussion on behalf of DPE President Paul E. Almeida. Also participating were officers and staff from AEA, AFTRA, IATSE, IBEW, OPEIU, SAG, WGA,East, and the AFL-CIO, as well as guest Susanne K. Doris, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the American Guild of Variety Artists.
For these representatives of artist workers, the concept of artists as workers was not news. Recognition of artists as workers by the U.S. government, however, was – and the AEMI ICC participants responded enthusiastically and vigorously to Mr. Iyengar’s presentation. The result: a mutual determination to continue the discussion and perhaps to pull in representatives of other U.S. agencies, such as the Census and the Department of Labor, that gather and publish information about artists and performers as workers.
The AEMI ICC participants also debated possibilities for work like that of DPE and other unions with professional associations (see “Professionals for the Public Interest” above) and exchanged reports about bargaining, organizing, and legislation. The meeting adjourned to allow participants to join an event at the National Press Club launching the Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People With Disabilities campaign, I.AM.PWD (see “People With Disabilities In the Arts & Media” below).
PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES IN THE ARTS & MEDIA – On Monday, October 6, 2008, the Performers with Disabilities (PWD) Tri-Union Committee of AFTRA, SAG, and AEA launched a major disability rights campaign to increase the opportunities in the entertainment and news media for actors, broadcasters, and sound recording artists with disabilities. Coinciding with National Disability Employment Awareness Month, events in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and New York City announced the I AM PWD campaign, Inclusion in the Arts & Media of People with Disabilities.
At the National Press Club in Washington, DC, master of ceremonies Bob Edwards, AFTRA 1st National Vice President (third from right), introduced the speakers: from left, Peter Berns,Executive Director of The Arc of the United States; Jim Ward, founder and President, ADA Watch/National Coalition on Disability Rights; Roberta Reardon, AFTRA National President; S. Robert Morgan, actor; Edwards; Donna Meltzer, Senior Director of Government Relations, Epilepsy Foundation; and DPE Executive Director David Cohen.
Among the many other union leaders and staff on hand were, from left, AEA National Executive Director John Connolly, AFTRA National Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, Reardon, SAG Deputy National Executive Director Pamm Fair, and AFTRA National Director of Equal Employment Opportunities Ray Bradford. Photos by Sam Hurd, National Press Club.
A FIRST MEETING OF THE NEW DPE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – On October 21, 2008, the DPE Executive Committee met for the first time since AFM President Tom Lee became the DPE Chair; AFT Secretary-Treasurer Toni Cortese became the DPE Treasurer; and USW Secretary-Treasurer Jim English, AFGE Director of Membership and Organization Sharon Pinnock, and AFT Assistant to the President for Organization and Field Services Phil Kugler joined the Committee.
In his opening remarks, Tom Lee noted it had been a good year for DPE with the affiliation of UWUA; the re-affiliation of RWDSU; the increased support of AFGE, FPA, and IATSE; and the enormous potential that the DPE created through its work with professional associations (see “Professionals for the Public Interest” above). Toni Cortese presented an audit report for the fiscal year from July 2007 through June 2008 – “a clean audit” – and a preliminary three-month budget report. DPE President Paul E. Almeida reviewed recent DPE activities, including the DPE move to the AFL-CIO building, its work in preparing for a new Administration and Congress, its collaboration with the Albert Shanker Institute on a skills education and training project, its participation in the Harvard Labor and Worklife Program meeting on representing professionals in science, technology, engineering, and math; its meeting with Demos about government as a means to the common good; and its efforts with regard to visa and immigration issues, which sparked prolonged discussion.
DPE Executive Director David Cohen reported on the DPE work with professional associations. Participants expressed their enthusiasm and excitement about the achievements and potential of the project. David announced a December 8, 2008 deadline for endorsing the consensus statement on professional integrity that the associations and DPE unions jointly developed. DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson detailed extensive work with the American Library Association, the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association, and the American Public Health Association. She also announced newly released DPE Fact Sheets and others in progress. To see the Fact Sheets, click on http://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets.htm.
A closing discussion looked toward 2009 with regard to politics and legislation, the economy, and globalization.
DPE FORGES GLOBAL UNION TIES – On October 22, 2008, DPE President Paul E. Almeida, IFPTE President Gregory J. Junemann, and DPE Executive Director David Cohen hosted international visitors: Gerhard Rohde, Head of Department for the Professional and Managerial Staff sector (PMS) of Union Network International, UNI Global Union; and Christer Forslund, elected President of PMS this year and International Secretary of Unionen, the largest private sector union in Sweden, created by the merger of HTF and Sif in January.
At a Melbourne, Australia PMS conference in March 2008, Rohde and Forslund heard about the work of DPE with professional associations (see “Professionals for the Public Interest” above) in a presentation by Cornell Professor Richard W. Hurd. They wanted to hear more. Also on the agenda: ways to engage U.S. unions more closely in PMS, a topic that dovetails with the increasing urgency of globalization for unions affiliated with DPE.
For more about UNI Global Union, click on http://www.uniglobalunion.org/uniflashes.nsf/By+Date/832E3AA27FC18A17C1256FDC00392D26?OpenDocument. For background about Unionen, go to https://www.unionen.se/Templates/Page____40886.aspx.
WORTH NOTING: TECHNOLOGY AND THE EROSION OF UNION SOLIDARITY – In the Fall 2008 New Labor Forum is an article by Charley Richardson, Director of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Labor Extension Program, “Working Alone: The Erosion of Solidarity in Today’s Workplace.” It argues compellingly that new technologies and the reorganization of work have increasingly isolated workers and make collective action both less likely and less feasible. It also offers possibilities for unions to counteract these trends.