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 email@example.com.
In This Issue:
- Union Membership Rises, Especially Among Professionals
- A Transition We Can Believe In
- Professionals For The Public Interest
- Employee Free Choice Act
- New Fact Sheet Examines The Costs And Benefits Of Safe Nurse Staffing Ratios
- DPE At American Library Association Midwinter Meeting
- Pension Relief Becomes Law
- Pamela Wilson Announces Retirement
- DPE In The News
- DPE Signs On
UNION MEMBERSHIP RISES, ESPECIALLY AMONG PROFESSIONALS – The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) annual survey of union membership, released January 28, shows a 0.4% increase in union membership and representation among professional and related workers in 2008. That exceeds the 0.3% increase in union membership in the workforce as a whole.
Almost 19% of professional and related workers (5,244,000 people) were union members in 2008, as compared to 12.4% of all workers. The rapidly growing professional and related workforce constitutes the largest contingent of union members among all the occupational classifications. White collar workers now account for 53% of all union members.
Among the highlights of the 2008 data:
- Government workers were nearly five times as likely to be union members as were private sector workers.
- Workers in education, training and library occupations had the highest unionization rate at 38.7%.
A TRANSITION WE CAN BELIEVE IN – After eight years of wandering in the tundra, working people have a President and federal officials they can talk to.
Nothing brought the point home more clearly than the first piece of legislation that President Obama signed, or the Obama transition meetings that preceded the Inauguration. For a change, people who take into account the needs and views of working people occupy both sides of the table.
Take equal pay. On January 29, President Obama – how wonderful to say those words! – signed his first piece of legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. He celebrated the law as a shining example of our shared ideals: a right to equality regardless of gender, race, or age. CongressDaily noted the President signed “much to the delight of representatives of labor unions and women’s groups.”
President Obama observed, “Equal pay is by no means just a women’s issue — it’s a family issue. It’s about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition and child care; couples who wind up with less to retire on; households where one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves; that’s the difference between affording the mortgage — or not; between keeping the heat on, or paying the doctor bills — or not. And in this economy, when so many folks are already working harder for less and struggling to get by, the last thing they can afford is losing part of each month’s paycheck to simple and plain discrimination.”
For an account of the event and President Obama’s complete remarks, click on http://www.whitehouse.gov/a_wonderful_day/.
Or take the transition that began after November 4th. Among other exchanges, DPE Executive Director David Cohen was able to highlight the urgency of combatting employers’ abuses in misclassifying employees as independent contractors at a transition meeting hosted by the AFL-CIO on December 4 and at another hosted by Change to Win on December 10. The DPE Work Group on Independent Contractors and Antitrust developed the message that he delivered. IATSE Third Vice President – and member of the DPE Executive Committee – J. Walter Cahill, a participant in the DPE work group, accompanied David to the latter meeting.
PROFESSIONALS FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST – For professionals, a top priority is the ability to do the job right. Taking into account the interests of the public – and fending off external pressures to do otherwise – resonate across disciplines and organizations. At last count, 19 organizations – eight professionals associations, 10 national unions, and DPE – have signed on to a consensus statement, Defining Common Ground on Professional Integrity, that evolved from outreach by DPE over two years.
That consensus statement provides a core for Professionals for the Public Interest: Associations and Unions Defending Professional Integrity. In meetings on December 15, 2008 and January 22, 2009, the Joint Working Group (JWG) of Professionals for the Public Interest took essential steps toward its public launch. With continuing work by its subgroups on operations and ground rules, on activities, and on communications, the JWG discussed and revised a proposal for a common website. It also heard from the participating organizations their priorities for federal action relating to professional integrity, with an eye toward establishing a regular forum for public policy action.
For more information about Professionals for the Public Interest or the Joint Working Group, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320, or Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 113.
EMPLOYEE FREE CHOICE ACT – As organized labor mobilizes for a defining battle in the 111th Congress over the Employee Free Choice Act, DPE is doing its part.
In addition to participating in the weekly meeting of union legislative representatives that the AFL-CIO hosts and leads, DPE has coordinated with its affiliated unions to devise strategies and action directed at Members of Congress in both chambers. It has worked with allied professional associations, which have passed resolutions supporting the proposed legislation. And on January 13, DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Executive Director David Cohen joined a meeting of global labor leaders that the AFL-CIO hosted to build international support.
For information about DPE activities, contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 113.
NEW FACT SHEET EXAMINES THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SAFE NURSE STAFFING RATIOS – Adequate nurse staffing is key to patient care and nurse retention, while inadequate staffing endangers patients’ lives and drives nurses from their chosen profession. This fact sheet details the overwhelming evidence that understaffing endangers patients’ lives, results in longer hospital stays, endangers nurses, and causes costly nurse turnover. It examines the cost to hospitals of implementing safe staffing ratios, the enactment of state safe staffing legislation and regulations, and the evidence that nurses return to nursing when safe staff ratios are in place.
To obtain copies of this and other DPE fact sheets, visit the DPE website, http://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets.htm, or email Marcie Lawrence, email@example.com. For questions or comments about the fact sheet, contact Pamela Wilson, by phone 202-638-0320, extension 112, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE AT AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION MIDWINTER MEETING – Expanding DPE’s connection to the American Library Association (ALA), DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson participated in the ALA Midwinter Meeting, held in Denver from January 11-14. Library workers are represented by DPE affiliates including AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, 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), AFT (Kathleen De La Pena McCook) 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. 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 23-28 to finalize plans for its program, booth, and new publications, and promotion of a Labor Tour for the 2009 Annual Convention, scheduled for July 9-15 in Chicago.
The Committee’s program for 10:30 am to 12 noon on Monday, July 13, features David Kusnet, author of Love the Work, Hate the Job, the title given the program. A visiting fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, David Kusnet was chief speechwriter for former President Bill Clinton from 1992 through 1994. “With energy, fine reporting, and a sure grasp of the realities of people’s working lives, David Kusnet.… makes a case everyone needs to hear: America’s workers, including high-tech professionals, want to do their jobs right and they want to do them well, and what they need is more freedom in the workplace to achieve those ends. May Kusnet’s book make us realize that liberation and productivity go hand in hand,” wrote E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post syndicated columnist, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and the author of Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right (2008).
The Joint Committee also discussed and agreed upon a program for the 2010 Annual Conference: “Labor Rights Are Human Rights.” Detailed planning for this program will take place when the Committee meets on July 11 in Chicago.
In addition to its work with the Joint Committee, DPE works closely with the ALA-APA Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers. Its subcommittees as well as the full committee met during the Midwinter Meeting.
ALA-APA programs scheduled for the 2009 Annual Conference include:
- “Medicare for All,” with Quentin Young, MD, National Coordinator, Physicians for a National Health Program
- “Love the Work, Hate the Job,” with David Kusnet, co-sponsored with the AFL-CIO-ALA Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups
- “Toot Your Horn: Image Building,” with Donna Cardillo, RN (www.dcardillo.com), a nursing career development “guru”, professional keynote speaker, author, consultant, and coach, who knows that librarians, like nurses, don’t get the status and credibility they deserve
- “he Union Difference,” a panel presentation featuring members of AFT and other unions and including a discussion of the importance of the Employee Free Choice Act, as well as the findings of 2006 ALA-APA Salary Survey
- “Engaging Excellence through Leadership & Mentoring: What Does Certification Have to Do With Me? Am I Missing Something?” This program focuses on the Library Support Staff Certification Program for the Empowerment Conference
- “Sirsi-Dynix – ALA-APA Award Networking Breakfast” The program includes union and other speakers
The ALA-APA committee also worked to fine-tune policy resolutions on The Need for Overtime Pay Protection and Outsourcing Library Work that it plans to present for adoption at the Annual Meeting in July. DPE has been working with Committee Chair Patricia Anderson, members of the committee and AFL-CIO Legislative Representative Kelly Ross on the resolutions and background materials.
National Library Workers Day, April 14, 2009 was another topic for discussion. This year, ALA-APA hopes to nominate a Great Library School or Library Technical Assistant Student, or a Great Supervisor for the ALA-APA Galaxy of Stars. Other nominations are also welcome. See the National Library Workers Day website – www.ala-apa.org/nlwd, which includes many ideas for ways to celebrate library workers.
Materials including fact sheets and reports from DPE were distributed at this meeting.
For further information about ALA-APA and the Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers, contact Jenifer Grady, Director, ALA-APA, by phone, 312-280-2424 or email, email@example.com or Committee Chair Patricia Anderson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
PENSION RELIEF BECOMES LAW – On December 23, 2008, President George W. Bush signed legislation providing at least a temporary respite for pension funds facing a combination of plummeting employment and stocks. Unions affiliated with DPE sounded an alarm at two meetings in October 2008, which DPE relayed to both the AFL-CIO and the National Coordinating Committee on Multiemployer Plans; see “DPE Red-Flags Retirement Funds In Crisis” in the November 2008 DPE NewsLine. The AFL-CIO and NCCMP helped in turn to shape the Worker Retiree and Employee Recovery Act of 2008.
PAMELA WILSON ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT – DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson (left) plans to retire at the end of February.
In a message to the DPE General Board, DPE President Paul E. Almeida commented, “I know many of you have had the pleasure of working with Pamela and so will join me in recognizing her commitment, integrity, kindness, and intellect. DPE, its affiliated unions, and the working people whom we represent have benefited greatly from her work.”
Pamela has had a distinguished career of labor movement and social justice activism. She became Assistant to the President of DPE in 1996 and served as DPE’s Research Associate from 1987 to 1996. Her responsibilities have included overseeing DPE research and reaching out to professional associations, including the American Library Association, the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association, and the American Public Health Association.
DPE has begun a search for a researcher and representative.
DPE IN THE NEWS – On January 16, the Los Angeles Times quoted DPE President Paul E. Almeida at length in an article about the candidacy of Chicago attorney and arts policy expert Michael Dorf for chair of the National Endowment for the Arts; see http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/01/obama-nea.html.
On January 26, the Radio Business Report/Television Business Report quoted a statement from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the Screen Actors Guild acknowledging DPE President Paul E. Almeida as a part of the team that brokered a cooperation agreement in preparation for the joint SAG-AFTRA negotiation of their commercials contract; click on http://www.rbr.com/media-news/12521.html.
On January 28, Reuters News distributed an article, “White-collar blues play well with U.S. labor unions,” that quotes DPE President Paul E. Almeida and argues organized labor sees an exceptional opportunity to organize white-collar workers; see http://www.reuters.com/article/email/idUSTRE50R6MU20090128.
On January 30, the AFL-CIO Now Blog published “What Happens When Your TV Goes Blank?” by DPE President Paul E. Almeida, which urges readers to contact their Members of Congress and seek a delay of the transition to digital broadcasting; see http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/01/29/what-happens-when-your-tv-goes-blank/#more-9791.
On January 23, the AFL-CIO Now Blog cited DPE in “New Report: 30 Million Service Jobs May Be Shipped Overseas” for an estimate of the number of white-collar jobs sent abroad since 2000; check http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/01/23/new-report-30-million-service-jobs-may-be-shipped-overseas/print/.
The Winter 2009 edition of Perspectives on Work, the journal of the Labor and Employment Relations Association (LERA), includes “Changing Occupations, Changing Challenges: A Review Essay” by DPE Executive Director David Cohen; see http://www.dpeaflcio.org/pdf/Changing%20Occupations-Changing%20Challenges.pdf.
DPE SIGNS ON – DPE President Paul E. Almeida sent letters on December 8, 2008 to every Member of Congress urging a vote for legislation providing emergency bridge loans to domestic automakers; see http://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters/PA%20letter%20on%20auto%20industry%20bridge%20loan%2012-8-08%20-%20House.pdf and http://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters/PA%20letter%20on%20auto%20industry%20bridge%20loan%2012-8-08%20-%20Senate.pdf.