The purpose of this newsletter is to inform you of recent activities by the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) 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:
- May 20: A Launch!
- Arts, Entertainment, Media: Economy in Crisis
- Power for America
- How to Fix the Nation’s Immigration System
- American Creativity at Work
- Americans for the Arts
- DPE Hires PftPI.org Web/New Media Intern
- DPE in the News
- DPE Signs On
MAY 20: A LAUNCH! – Tell your story. Share your ideas. Find out more.
That will be the invitation as 19 national and global organizations launch Professionals for the Public Interest: Associations and Unions Defending Professional Integrity (PftPI). Join them from 9:30 to 10:30 am on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 in the First Amendment Lounge of the National Press Club, 529 14th Street, NW (the intersection of F and 14th Streets), Washington, DC.
Heightening the timeliness of the launch is a March 9 memorandum from President Obama. He directed the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop recommendations for strengthening scientific integrity in the Executive Branch. On April 23, OSTP announced a public comment period that ends May 13.
To see the President’s memorandum on scientific integrity, click on http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Memorandum-for-the-Heads-of-Executive-Departments-and-Agencies-3-9-09/. To read or respond to the OSTP invitation to comment, go to http://blog.ostp.gov/2009/04/22/presidential-memo-on-scientific-integrity-request-for-comment/.
Integral to the launch will be the new PftPI website, which will go live that day. It will invite professionals across the United States to describe external pressures on professional integrity, to share ideas about defending against those pressures, and to find additional information.
Among the speakers on May 20 will be DPE President Paul E. Almeida, AFT President Randi Weingarten, UAN President Ann Converso, and American Library Association Senior Associate Executive Director Mary Ghikas. Other organizations from which speakers have been invited include OSTP and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The event represents the culmination of more than two years of outreach by DPE. Eight professional associations, 10 national and international unions, and DPE developed and endorsed a consensus statement, Defining Common Ground on Professional Integrity. Its focus: taking into account the interests of the public, doing the job right, and fending off external pressures to do otherwise.
To say that you plan to attend the event, please email Marcie Lawrence, email@example.com. For more information about Professionals for the Public Interest, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 ext 112, or Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 ext 113.
ARTS, ENTERTAINMENT, MEDIA: ECONOMY IN CRISIS – On April 16, 2009, DPE hosted an extraordinary meeting of the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industry, Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI ICC). National experts reported on unemployment among artists, the devastation to pension plans, and federal bailout measures.
Sunil Iyengar, Director of Research and Analysis for the National Endowment for the Arts, noted that unemployment for artists, like that for other workers, increased sharply in the last quarter of 2008. While artists are grouped with other professionals, the 6 percent rate of artists’ unemployment was double the rate of 3 percent for professionals generally. For performing artists, the unemployment rate was a still higher 8.4 percent. To read Artists in a Year of Recession: Impact on Jobs in 2008, go to http://www.nea.gov/research/Notes/97.pdf.
Ian W. Jones, President/Senior Consultant, Marco Consulting, detailed the damage that spread from the collapse of a housing bubble to banks, corporations, consumers, hedge funds, and markets. The ripples left no place for pension plans to hide. While Jones saw markets suggesting a change for the better, bond defaults and unemployment are still likely to increase for a time, and the impact of federal responses will be gradual.
Damon A. Silvers, Associate General Counsel, AFL-CIO, and Deputy Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP) for the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP), recounted an extraordinary chronology. The Bush Administration response to economic crisis brought an unprecedented federal role. In previous crises, the U.S. protected insured depositors. In this one, the Bush Administration increasingly protected equity shareholders – the richest people – at the risk and expense of taxpayers. Silvers questioned whether, even now, the federal government was doing enough to insure an upside for the public that matches the risks it is assuming.Beyond the economic crisis, participants discussed specific AEMI concerns. Kim Roberts Hedgpeth, National Executive Director of AFTRA, and AFM President Tom Lee reported on the legislative fight for performance rights. (See “Almeida to Congress: Enact Performance Rights” in the April 2009 DPE NewsLine.) Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East, raised a provision governing minimum prevailing compensation for performers and related workers. DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Notabartolo circulated a draft DPE Fact Sheet on artists in the workforce.
POWER FOR AMERICA – On April 22 through 24, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) hosted Power for America, P4A, a conference that drew more than 400 participants to Las Vegas for a rich agenda highlighted by the appearance of U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis. At the invitation of UWUA President D. Michael Langford, DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Executive Director David Cohen played multiple roles.
Almeida served as a keynote speaker on April 23 and then joined a panel on professional and technical issues. Cohen moderated the panel, which also featured presentations and discussion by Cynthia Cole, President of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, Seattle, WA; and Susanne Paradis, Systemwide Director for University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE), CWA Local 9119, Berkeley, CA. Cohen then facilitated an afternoon discussion in which the panelists joined. On April 24, he led a workshop for some 65 conference participants on “Professionalism and Unionism: Are They Compatible?”
HOW TO FIX THE NATION’S IMMIGRATION SYSTEM – On April 16, DPE President and Vice Chair of the AFL-CIO’s Immigration Committee Paul E. Almeida joined former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Vice President Ross Eisenbrey at a Capitol Hill press conference to announce the release of an EPI report written by Marshall, Immigration for Shared Prosperity: A Framework for Comprehensive Reform.
The immigration system is badly broken and needs a comprehensive overhaul. The Obama administration has put immigration reform on the legislative agenda this year by calling for a new system that “controls immigration and makes it an orderly system.” The White House also says such a plan should include a path to legal status for undocumented workers.
The Marshall report lays out an approach to fixing the system in a way that protects the rights of all workers. Both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win support its recommendations.
Marshall told the Capitol Hill press conference: “Current immigration laws subject foreign workers to grave risks, exploitation, and uncertain futures, while depressing wages and working conditions for all workers. This framework addresses these defects. All workers will benefit from these reforms.”
The Marshall report points out that the American economy has become dependent on foreign labor. Most of our workforce growth since 1990 has come from immigration. According to the report, however: “The programs for admitting foreign workers for temporary and permanent jobs are rigid, cumbersome, and inefficient; do too little to protect the wages and working conditions of workers (foreign or domestic); do not respond very well to employers’ needs; and give almost no attention to adapting the number and characteristics of foreign workers to domestic labor shortages.”
Almeida told the press conference that a major problem with employment-based immigration is that there is no correlation to the actual labor market conditions. On April 1st, the window opened once again for the H-1B visa program set to allow upwards of 100,000 workers to apply for a visa plus an additional 100,000 plus to renew their visas. These numbers, set by Congress, are not altered even as unemployment climbs to 8.5%.
Almeida also pointed out that the Department of Labor projects that science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs will grow by 120,000 per year over the next eight years. Next month, the U.S. will graduate 300,000 students with bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in these same fields. The disparity should raise questions. Almeida also stated that the Marshall report details a systemic problem with all visa categories in that 40 to 45% of illegal immigrates are overstays. Immigrants enter the U.S. legally on one of the many visas programs and then just stay here.
Marshall’s approach calls for the establishment of an independent commission to monitor industry trends and labor needs for future immigration. The commission, which would be established in two stages, would improve the way labor market shortages are measured and put in place procedures to efficiently adjust foreign labor flows to employers’ needs while protecting domestic and foreign labor standards.
To see Immigration for Shared Prosperity: A Framework for Comprehensive Reform, click on http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/book_isp/.
With credit to James Parks, AFL-CIO Now Blog, http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/04/16/heres-how-to-fix-nations-broken-immigration-system/, from which much of this text is drawn.
AMERICAN CREATIVITY AT WORK – On April 21, DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Executive Director David Cohen attended a symposium at the National Portrait Gallery, “The Business of Show Business 2: American Creativity At Work,” organized by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Released at the symposium was an MPAA report, “The Economic Impact of the Motion Picture and Television Industry on the United States.” It highlighted the 2.5 million U.S. jobs across every state, from accountants to electricians to costume designers, that the motion picture and television industry supports.
AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS – On April 3, DPE President Paul E. Almeida, Executive Director David Cohen, and Researcher and Representative Alexis Notabartolo met with key staff at Americans for the Arts: President and CEO Robert L. Lynch; Nina Ozlu Tunceli, Esq., Chief Counsel of Government and Public Affairs; Randy Cohen, Vice President of Local Arts Advancement; and Narric W. Rome, Director of Federal Affairs. Among the topics: gathering data about the economic impact of the arts; arts education; and raising the visibility of the arts. For more about Americans for the Arts, go to www.AmericansfortheArts.org.
DPE HIRES PftPI.ORG WEB/NEW MEDIA INTERN – DPE has hired Evan Miller as a Web/New Media Intern to manage the web presence of Professionals for the Public Interest (PftPI). Evan is a sophomore at George Washington University majoring in Political Communication and comes to DPE from Senator Patty Murray’s office. A nationally recognized blogger in his own right, Evan writes for TheNewArgument.com and worked on President Obama’s campaign in Washington State.
DPE IN THE NEWS – On April 8, the AFL-CIO Now Blog featured the recently released DPE Fact Sheet, “The Employee Free Choice Act, Professional Employees and the Public.” To read the article, click on http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/04/08/professional-workers-public-would-benefit-from-employee-free-choice/. To see the Fact Sheet, go to http://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets/fs_2009_EFCA_and_Professional_Employees.htm.
On April 16, the AFL-CIO Now Blog cited DPE President Paul E. Almeida in an article about “The Labor Movement’s Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” Almeida is Vice Chair of the AFL-CIO Executive Council Committee on Immigration. To read the account, click on http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/04/14/afl-cio-change-to-win-agree-on-joint-immigration-framework/.
Media coverage of the April 16 Capitol Hill press conference on “The Labor Movement’s Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform” was extensive. To read or hear accounts quoting or interviewing DPE President Paul E. Almeida, click on: Nextgov, “Labor groups seeking tighter limits on H-1B visas” by Kassie Hunt, http://www.nextgov.com/nextgov/ng_20090416_1957.php?oref=search;
CQ Politics, “Labor Movement Finds New Unity Behind Immigration Proposal” by Karoun Demirjian; and WNYC, The Brian Lehrer Show, “Labor Accord on Immigration,”http://www.wnyc.org/story/30237-labor-accord-on-immigration/.
DPE SIGNS ON – On April 27, DPE joined a letter urging Congress to pass S. 182, the Paycheck Fairness Act. See http://dpeaflcio.org/pdf/DPE-Paycheck-Fairness-Letter.pdf.
Also on April 27, DPE President Paul E. Almeida wrote Senators Durbin and Grassley to commend their work on the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act of 2009; click on http://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters/H-1B%20and%20L-1%20Visa%20Reform%20Act%20of%202009%204-27-09.pdf.