In This Issue:
- ‘Why Citizenship Matters’
- DPE Contributes as Utility Workers Convene
- New! DPE Fact Sheet on the Professional and Technical Workforce
- DPE Updates Five Fact Sheets
- DPE Updates Three ‘Professionals In The Workplace’ Pages
- AFT Launches ‘Reclaiming the Promise’
- AFM Re-Elects Hair, Folio; IATSE Re-Elects Loeb, Cahill
- AFT: Student Debt + Higher Ed Cuts = Crisis
- ‘New Knowledge Economy’ Highlights College costs, Tech Tools for Teaching
- Recognize Women Contributing to Social Justice: Nominations Due August 16
‘WHY CITIZENSHIP MATTERS’ – On July 30, 2013, the AFL-CIO Now Blog published reports by AFL-CIO writers Mike Hall and Kenneth Quinnell about a half-day event that day, “Why Citizenship Matters.” DPE President Paul E. Almeida attended – in the standing-room-only Gompers Room at the AFL-CIO – and commented: “It would be hard for anyone to listen and not understand why citizenship matters.” With thanks to Hall, Quinnell, and the blog, DPE provides this edited version of their reporting:
The panels addressed the political, economic, and personal sides of the immigration debate. The answers were varied, but took two main directions. The first is the concrete benefits that immigration provides, both to immigrants and to the communities they move to and work in. The second is the moral dimension that accompanies the efforts of people seeking work so they can improve the lives of themselves and their families, particularly in a system that allows them to be exploited.
Pointing to the “broad spectrum of support” from faith, labor, and business groups that lined up to support comprehensive immigration reform and a road map to citizenship, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told the forum, “I am confident we can prevail.”
McCain (at right in photo) and Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA; at left in photo) kicked off the forum with a question-and-answer session about the bill’s prospects in the House after bipartisan (68–32) passage in the U.S. Senate. McCain said that whatever emerges from the House, a path to citizenship must be a “fundamental element.” He said polls show the American people overwhelmingly support allowing immigrants the opportunity for citizenship.
Every poll I have seen, and I have seen hundreds, shows well over 70% of the American people support a path to citizenship….They support a path to citizenship because they realize this is an issue of 11 million people who are living shadows, who are deprived of their rights as citizens and can’t live normal lives and are not going back to where they came from.
Without the protection of citizenship, said McCain, immigrants “are exploited in a wide variety of ways.”
Becerra said the four key elements the House must address are citizenship, workplace rights, border enforcement, and fixing the current visa system.
According to the various panelists, there are a number of concrete benefits that citizenship for immigrants, particularly undocumented immigrants, brings. Economist and former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin noted that immigrants who are citizens make 8–11% more in pay than do non-citizens, when you control for other factors. He also noted that a new Regional Economic Models, Inc. report found that a road map to citizenship will create 600,000 new jobs.
Ross Eisenbrey, vice president of the Economic Policy Institute, pointed out that undocumented immigrants don’t have access to the right to collectively bargain. The more workers have access to collective bargaining, the better all workers do in terms of workplace rights and wages. When workers’ wages grow, the economy grows with them. With a path to citizenship in place, employers are less likely to take advantage of the workers, particularly when employers lose deportation as leverage against workers who attempt to organize. Once undocumented immigrants are given legal status and put on the road to citizenship, they will gain workplace protections under our labor laws, which will inevitably lead to higher wages – not to mention the moral aspect of lessening the exploitation of immigrant workers.
Many aspiring citizens report that their lives are filled with incidents that deprive them of their humanity, DREAM activist leader Gaby Pacheco (left) said. Citizenship would change that. “Citizenship is beyond a piece of paper. It is the opportunity to live, to be engaged, to be seen as equal,” she said.
Eisenbrey argued that the more open the system is to immigrants, the more benefit they add to the economy. “As immigrants come out of the shadows, income goes up, spending goes up, the economy grows,” he said. Immigrants add to the economy in numerous ways, from paying taxes to starting businesses. Journalist Jose Antonio Vargas said that he has paid taxes since he was 18 years old. “I am not an economic burden to them. I am not taking away a slice of the pie; I’m making the pie bigger.”
Many of the panelists agreed that it isn’t going to be simply economic statistics that change the way people think about immigrants, though, it’s the personal stories and the values and morals associated with them that are important. The numbers can help confirm the values that immigrants profess are true, which they do, but people’s hearts and minds are changed by people, not figures.
The panelists were in agreement that a new immigration policy was going to happen regardless of the outcome of the current legislative debate. It might be delayed, but it is inevitable, particularly since younger conservatives are much more in favor of reform than they have been in previous attempts to pass a comprehensive immigration policy. “This debate is about the changing face of this country…and also the fear of that change,” Pacheco said. Vargas added that for change to come, people need to have more face-to-face conversations and not just get stuck in their own corners. “Be uncomfortable. Try to talk to those who don’t agree with you. Because our futures are at stake,” he said.
DPE CONTRIBUTES AS UTILITY WORKERS CONVENE – On July 17-19, 2013, the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) hosted its Power for America conference in Chicago, IL. At the invitation of UWUA President D. Michael Langford and Executive Vice President Steven VanSlooten, DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Executive Director David Cohen led a workshop for professional and technical workers on July 18.
In “Professionalism and Unionism: Are They Compatible?,” some 50 participants joined Almeida and Cohen in spelling out what being a professional means, the elements of a union, the distinctions between a union and a professional association, how a union strengthens professionalism, and effective responses to professionals who hesitate to organize in unions.
The conference drew more than 350 UWUA members, officers, and guests. UWUA initiated the conference in 2009, when Almeida and Cohen also participated. Also on the agenda this time: workshops on “Taking Back our Country – a UWUA Strategic Plan” led by the Human Rights and Young Workers Advisors; recognition of the successes of the UWUA’s Military Assistance Program (UMAP) by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn; and other industry focused break-out sessions.
NEW! DPE FACT SHEET ON THE PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL WORKFORCE – A new DPE Fact Sheet provides an overview of the professional and technical workforce. The Fact Sheet includes data on employment levels; gender, racial and ethnic makeup; a snapshot of older and younger professionals; the union density and education attainment of the professional and technical workforce; and earnings and unemployment information.
Among the findings:
• Compared to the workforce as a whole, professional and technical workers earned $340 more per week in 2012;
• Women made up 51.5 percent of the professional and technical workforce in 2012;
• Baby boomers made up 38 percent of the professional and technical workforce in June 2013;
• Sixty-four percent of workers in the professional and technical workforce had a bachelor’s degree or higher in June 2013; and
• In June 2013, the unemployment rate for the professional and technical workforce was 4.1 percent.
Read the Professional and Technical Workforce Fact Sheet here. For more information, contact DPE Researcher and Representative Jennifer Dorning, (202) 638-0320 extension 114, firstname.lastname@example.org.
• Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians: Facts and Figures
• Social Service Workers: An Occupational Overview
• School Administrators: An Occupational Overview
• Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors
• The World of Work: A U.S. Labor Market Overview
To view a complete list of DPE Fact Sheets, visit our website. For more information, contact DPE Researcher and Representative Jennifer Dorning, (202) 638-0320 extension 114, email@example.com.
DPE UPDATES THREE ‘PROFESSIONALS IN THE WORKPLACE’ PAGES – The “Professionals in the Workplace” pages of the DPE website provide occupation information for 11 occupation groups. Three pages have been updated:
To view a list of the Professionals in the Workplace pages, visit our website. For more information, contact DPE Researcher and Representative Jennifer Dorning, (202) 638-0320 extension 114, firstname.lastname@example.org.
AFT LAUNCHES ‘RECLAIMING THE PROMISE’ – On July 22, 2013, AFT President Randi Weingarten launched a new campaign, “Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education” – “the promise of a great public education for all children.”
Her speech to the AFT TEACH conference listed daunting obstacles:
“Nearly 1 out of every 2 students in public schools lives in poverty. Children from these households come to school with one-fourth the vocabulary of children from wealthier families…. Three out of every 5 teachers in America report they have children who regularly come to school hungry. There are more homeless families than at any time since the Great Depression.”
To overcome those obstacles, Weingarten said, requires “fighting for neighborhood public schools that are safe, welcoming places for teaching and learning…ensuring that teachers are well-prepared, are supported and have time to collaborate…enabling them to teach an engaging curriculum that includes art and music and the sciences…[and] ensuring that kids have access to wraparound services to meet their emotional, social and health needs.”
AFT accompanied the launch with a poll of parents that showed their views differ dramatically from those of many vocal so-called education reformers who attack public schools, teachers, and unions. The parents, according to the poll, want not charters or vouchers, but strong neighborhood public schools.
AFM RE-ELECTS HAIR, FOLIO; IATSE RE-ELECTS LOEB, CAHILL – DPE extends its congratulations. In separate conventions the same week of July 2013, AFM and IATSE delegates re-elected four people integral to the support and governance of DPE.
Re-elected by acclamation at the AFM gathering were International President Ray Hair and Secretary-Treasurer Sam Folio; Folio serves on the DPE General Board, while Hair is an alternate. Unanimously re-elected at the IATSE convention were International President Mathew D. Loeb and Second Vice President J. Walter Cahill; Cahill is a member of the DPE Executive Committee as a General Vice President.
AFT: STUDENT DEBT + HIGHER ED CUTS = CRISIS – An AFT report spotlights a double whammy for higher education: less support by states for public colleges and universities and greater debt for students and their families.
Released on June 20, 2013 as Congress grappled with student loan interest rates, “On the Backs of Students and Families: Disinvestment in Higher Education and the Student Loan Debt Crisis” recognizes that “students face a stark choice: go to college and acquire a mountain of debt that will come due right after graduation, or forgo college altogether. Moreover, this choice is most common among those who stand to gain the most from higher education: the economically disadvantaged and people of color.”
The 21-page report recommends ways to:
“Relieve the debt burden for current borrowers;
“Promote debt-free higher education for current and future students;
“Enhance state funding for public higher education;
“Prioritize academic needs in the budgets of colleges and universities; and
“Eliminate the fraud and abuse that allow borrowers to become trapped in debt.”
To see the AFT press release about the report, with comments from AFT President Randi Weingarten, go here. To read the report, click here.
‘NEW KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY’ HIGHLIGHTS COLLEGE COSTS, TECH TOOLS FOR TEACHING – Different students, higher costs, new technology, and changing jobs: The challenges for higher education are many. As some tout massive open online courses (MOOCs) as a cure-all, others point to community colleges. On July 10, 2013, a panel of experts took up these possibilities and others.
Organized by National Journal with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “The New Knowledge Economy” opened with a keynote address by Robert Shireman, executive director of California Competes and former deputy undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Education. He questioned whether MOOCs can provide the motivation for students that a residential campus and faculty do. He also noted the responsibility of a faculty for the quality of the degrees it grants, which may be difficult to maintain with online courses and assessments. Community colleges, meanwhile, increasingly serve poorer students of color drawn by the sometimes illusory promise of moving later to four-year colleges.
The panel that followed – David A. Bergeron, vice president, Postsecondary Education Policy, Center for American Progress; former Congressman Steve Gunderson, president and chief executive officer, Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities; Mohammad H. Qayoumi, president, San Jose State University; Cathrael Kazin, chief academic officer, College for America at Southern New Hampshire University; and Kevin Carey, director, Education Policy Program, New America Foundation – took up multiple aspects of higher education: the role of colleges in credentialing students for employment; having students demonstrate competencies rather than attendance; and moving from campuses to student-designed curricula.
DPE Executive Director David Cohen asked about the shift from grants to loans as the primary mode of student aid, which increases economic inequality. Kevin Carey responded that levels of student grants and subsidies remain constant. A rise in the gap between what people can afford and the increasing costs of higher education, he said, drives the need for more and bigger loans.
For video and photos from the event, go here.
RECOGNIZE WOMEN CONTRIBUTING TO SOCIAL JUSTICE: NOMINATIONS DUE AUGUST 16 – The Berger-Marks Foundation is inviting nominations for its 2013 Edna Social Justice Award, which honors a woman age 35 or younger “who has made an extraordinary contribution to social justice and to improving the lives of working women and men.” Nominations are due by August 16, 2013. The winner, to be announced this fall, receives $10,000.
For more details, click here.