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:
- White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Talks With DPE Unions
- U.S. Chamber Challenges DPE on Guest Worker Visas
- Mary Mahoney Joins DPE Executive Committee
- DPE Joins Intellectual Property Delegation to the White House
- New! DPE Fact Sheet on Intellectual Property Theft
- Deficits, Progressive Budgeting, and Social Security
- DPE Steps Up, Steps Back With The Berger-Marks Foundation
- Money for Profits and the CEO But Not the Workers
- Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors: DPE Joins Meeting
- DPE Gears Up For APHA: “Social Justice: A Public Health Imperative”
- DPE Hires Researcher & Representative
- DPE In the News
- DPE Signs On
WHITE HOUSE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ENFORCEMENT COORDINATOR TALKS WITH DPE UNIONS – On August 10, 2010, Victoria A. Espinel, the White House Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, came to DPE.
Hosted by DPE President Paul E. Almeida in a special meeting of the Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industries, Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI ICC), Ms. Espinel (left) focused on the 2010 Joint Strategic Plan on Intellectual Property Enforcement that her office released on June 22, 2010. Official White House photo.
For almost an hour-and-a-half, Ms. Espinel talked with representatives from the Actors’ Equity Association, the American Federation of Musicians, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; the Directors Guild of America, a guest of the AEMI ICC; the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the Office and Professional Employees International Union, the Screen Actors Guild, and DPE. The discussion centered on digital theft, the harm it does to U.S. workers, and ways to combat it.
Congress created the position that Espinel holds in the PRO IP (“Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property”) Act of 2008. The same law required developing a plan for federal action. The 2010 plan was the first.
The meeting with Espinel followed other AEMI ICC activities to counter intellectual property theft. In March 2010, the AFL-CIO Executive Council unanimously adopted a statement, “Piracy is a Danger to Entertainment Professionals,” that DPE proposed on behalf of the AEMI unions. In June, DPE President Almeida testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary: “Intellectual property equates to jobs and income for American workers. Theft of intellectual property raises unemployment and cuts income. For too many workers in the United States today, both jobs and income are hard to come by.”
Since the meeting with Espinel, DPE participated in a meeting with senior White House staff (see “DPE Joins Intellectual Property Delegation to the White House” below). It also reached out to nine U.S. Cabinet Departments that have been active in strengthening intellectual property rights and enforcement. It provided the Departments with background about the importance of intellectual property to U.S. jobs and income, including the new DPE Fact Sheet about intellectual property theft (see “New! DPE Fact Sheet on Intellectual Property Theft” below). DPE has urged each Department to undertake and support the activities that the 2010 Joint Strategic Plan outlines.
Read Almeida’s written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee here. Watch the hearing here (the hearing begins at roughly minute 19; Almeida’s testimony, at minute 82). Link to other statements submitted for the hearing here. Read the March 2, 2010 AFL-CIO Executive Council statement that Almeida submitted to the Committee, “Piracy Is a Danger to Entertainment Professionals.”
U.S. CHAMBER CHALLENGES DPE ON GUEST WORKER VISAS – A widely publicized DPE report about visas and professionals ruffled feathers at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
On August 12, 2010, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Council on International Personnel (collectively the Chamber) released an 81-page study, Regaining America’s Competitive Advantage: Making our Immigration System Work. A copy of the study can be found here. The study was drafted in response to DPE’s 2009 report, Gaming the System: Guest Worker Visa Programs and Professional and Technical Workers in the U.S. A copy of Gaming the System can be found here.
In its study, the Chamber champions the U.S. guest worker visa program for professional and technical workers, the H-1B. The Chamber does not refute the research or facts in Gaming the System; instead the Chamber relies on anecdotes and studies of limited value to advocate for H-1B visas. In fact, the Chamber’s study advocates for policies that improve the bottom line of corporations at the expense of the U.S. worker and the U.S. economy.
Most notable in the Chamber’s study are the claims that: first, H-1Bs are not used by corporations as a cost-saving measure; second, H-1Bs are crucial to the U.S. remaining competitive in the global marketplace; third, the H-1B system would be improved by eliminating the caps on the number of visas issued each year; and finally, abuses of H-1B visas, while widespread, do not demonstrate that there is a problem.
On August 19, 2010, DPE responded to the Chamber’s study. For DPE’s full response, click here. DPE highlighted some of the information absent from the Chamber’s study.
What the Chamber failed to acknowledge is that: first, corporations have laid off U.S. workers and replaced them with foreign workers who need training from the laid-off U.S. workers; second, there is no reliable data to back up the Chamber’s claim that H-1B visa holders are directly responsible for creating a significant number of jobs for U.S. workers; third, eliminating or significantly increasing the cap on the number of H-1B visas would have dire consequences for U.S. workers and their families; and finally, the H-1B system is broken and in need of reform.
The unsupported claims in the Chamber’s study reinforce the need for a systematic study by the Government Accountability Office to determine the work profile of H-1B visa holders over the last 10 years. DPE has been a strong supporter of such a study. The claims made by the Chamber in defense of corporations also demonstrate the need for an independent commission to assess and manage future flows of H-1B visa holders and the improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs.
MARY MAHONEY JOINS DPE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – By a unanimous vote of the DPE Executive Committee, Mary Mahoney was elected to replace retiring Committee member Nancy Wohlforth.
Mahoney (left) has been a member of OPEIU Local 6 for more than 30 years. During her time as a member, Mahoney was an employee of the Massachusetts Trial Court. She began as a steward and later became an Executive Board Member. After several years as an Executive Board Member, she was elected to the position of Executive Board Vice President.
Mahoney was elected to her current position of President in 1995. She became Business Manager of Local 6 in 2001. She also serves as a Vice President to the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
Mahoney was elected as an OPEIU Vice President for Region II at the 2001 International Convention and was reelected in 2004. Earlier this year Mary was selected by the OPEIU Executive Board to replace retiring Secretary-Treasurer Nancy Wohlforth and was elected by the 25th International Convention to serve as Secretary-Treasurer.
DPE JOINS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY DELEGATION TO THE WHITE HOUSE – On August 11, 2010, DPE President Paul E. Almeida joined Nancy Fox, SAG; Tom Carpenter, AFTRA; Scott Harbinson, IATSE; and Kathy Garmezy, Directors Guild of America to meet at the White House with senior staff members Aneesh Chopra, Chief Technology Officer; Victoria Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator; Andrew Kline, Senior Advisor, Intellectual Property Enforcement; Andrew McLaughlin, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer; and Phil Weiser, Senior Advisor to the Director for Technology and Innovation, National Economic Council.
The meeting focused on the importance of intellectual property to the members of the entertainment unions. Almeida conveyed the importance of the issue and presented the AFL-CIO Executive Council statement, “Piracy Is a Danger to Entertainment Professionals.” The representatives from the unions conveyed to the White House staff how piracy and other issues impact their individual members. Educating the public about piracy was something that everyone agreed on, and further discussions were proposed to determine the best way to meet that objective.
NEW! DPE FACT SHEET ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY THEFT – Intellectual property (IP) theft threatens the jobs and income of creative workers.
A new DPE Fact Sheet spotlights the costs from global IP theft for U.S. jobs, incomes, and industries. The motion picture, television, theater, and music industries employ millions of people and generate billions of dollars for the U.S. economy. Global IP theft threatens and damages these vital industries.
DPE created the Fact Sheet with valuable assistance from the nine unions of the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industries, Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI ICC), including Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE).
Read the new Fact Sheet at Intellectual Property Theft: A Threat to U.S. Workers, Industries, and our Economy.
To view all of the DPE fact sheets, visit our website, or email Marcie Lawrence, email@example.com. For further information, contact DPE Researcher and Representative Jennifer Dorning by telephone at (202) 638-0320, extension 114, or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEFICITS, PROGRESSIVE BUDGETING, AND SOCIAL SECURITY – On July 27, 2010, DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Executive Director David Cohen attended a meeting hosted by the AFL-CIO that brought together affiliated unions to discuss, in the words of the invitation, “the panic over deficits, the deficit commission, and progressive approaches to the budget.” The meeting followed an initial meeting on June 8 that asked affiliates to develop possibilities for spending and taxes that could shape an alternative progressive budget.
Lending urgency to the effort is the work of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, created by President Obama in a February 18, 2010 Executive Order. Among the items that the Executive Order mentions are “identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run” and “changes to address the growth of entitlement spending.” The Commission is to vote on recommendations by December 1.
Critics fear that the Commission will ignore the causes of the deficit and use the deficit to, among other things, cut Social Security benefits. The highly regarded and non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities observed, “If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.” Its report illustrates the point with Figure 1 (left). Social Security is not the cause of the deficit, and it should not be the victim of efforts to address the deficit.
To read the June 30, 2010 testimony by AFL-CIO President Richard L. Trumka before the Commission, click here. As he makes clear, our priority should not be a premature and dangerous focus on the deficit, but a continued economic stimulus to stabilize our economy and bring back jobs.
DPE STEPS UP, STEPS BACK WITH THE BERGER-MARKS FOUNDATION – On July 23, 2010, the Berger-Marks Foundation released its report “Stepping Up, Stepping Back: Women Activists Talk ‘Union’ Across Generations.” Based on discussions at a March 2010 summit in which former DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo was an active participant, the report offers a fascinating look at the ways women activists from different generations view the labor movement and its place in their lives.
Released to wide acclaim, the report prompted Huffington Post columnist Robert Drago to comment, “The values expressed by these young women bode well for the future of the union movement.” Recommendations that younger participants made for unions to recruit and retain younger members included:
- Developing a broader social justice agenda;
- Fostering leadership development by creating pathways for new activists to move up the ranks; and
- Being open to new ways of communicating while remembering that the substance of the message is what matters.
For more information, contact the Berger-Marks Foundation at email@example.com or (202) 243-0133.
MONEY FOR PROFITS AND THE CEO BUT NOT THE WORKERS – The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group is raising the bar for corporate greed. It’s got hundreds of millions in profits, $555 million in 2009. It paid its CEO $6.5 million last year. But it’s demanding that 305 members of Local 220 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union who work at a Mott’s apple processing plant in Williamstown, NY accept thousands of dollars less in wages and benefits. They went on strike on May 23, 2010 – and they need our help.
As an August 17 story in The New York Times observed: “For unions across the country, the stakes are high because if the Mott’s workers lose this showdown, it could prompt other profitable companies to push for major labor concessions.”
Read the commentary of Michael Winship, President of the Writers Guild of America, East here.
MISCLASSIFICATION OF EMPLOYEES AS INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS: DPE JOINS MEETING – On July 20, 2010, DPE joined a meeting with White House, Treasury Department, and other federal officials, as well as representatives from other unions and the AFL-CIO, to discuss possible legislation aimed at employers who misclassify employees as independent contractors. Under discussion: a draft tentatively titled the “Fair Playing Field Act of 2010” from Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) that has not yet been introduced. Attending the meeting with DPE Executive Director David Cohen was IATSE Third Vice President – and DPE Executive Committee member – J. Walter Cahill.
DPE GEARS UP FOR APHA: “SOCIAL JUSTICE: A PUBLIC HEALTH IMPERATIVE” – The Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA) is the premier forum for public health professionals to share and discuss public health issues. The Annual Meeting this year, entitled “Social Justice: A Public Health Imperative,” will take place from November 6-10 in Denver, CO.
The Labor Caucus, then chaired by former DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo, crafted panels that examine the unique roles unions play at the intersection of social justice and public health: The Union Effect on the Social Determinants of Health and Standing Together for Rights and Working Conditions: Union Organizing and Occupational Safety and Health.
For additional information, contact current DPE Researcher and Representative Jennifer Dorning, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 114.
DPE HIRES RESEARCHER & REPRESENTATIVE – A new Researcher and Representative, Jennifer Dorning, joined the DPE staff on August 9.
Jennifer graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington in May 2008 and from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon in June 2000. Her background includes more than two years of criminal and civil litigation and five years of Oregon state and local politics. She worked in the Oregon State Legislature as well as on political campaigns.
In a memorandum to the DPE General Board, DPE President Paul E. Almeida wrote: “DPE Executive Director David Cohen and I have been impressed with Jennifer’s glowing recommendations, quick uptake, outstanding background, and personal warmth. We were lucky to receive a wide array of outstanding applications and more lucky that Jennifer accepted our offer of employment. We look forward to her working with us, DPE, and our affiliated unions.”
DPE IN THE NEWS – The release of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce study on guest worker visas (see “U.S. Chamber Challenges DPE on Guest Worker Visas” above) garnered press about DPE from diverse sources, including stories in Oregon Business Report, TechsUnite, Human Resource Executive Online, and the pioneer.
Under the title “‘Young people want real community from labor,’” The Guild Reporter, the publication of The Newspaper Guild, CWA, published an article by former DPE Researcher and Representative Alexis Spencer Notabartolo about her experience as a discussion facilitator for the AFL-CIO’s Next Up Youth Summit; read it here.
DPE SIGNS ON – DPE joined unions, the AFL-CIO, and many other organizations in a June 30, 2010 letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform urging that its recommendations avoid doing harm to low-income and moderate-income households. To read the letter, click here.