In This Issue:
- House Republicans Lock Out Federal Employees
- Exciting AFL-CIO Convention Meets New Challenges
- DPE Provides the Latest on Guest Worker Visas
- DPE Updates Nine ‘Professionals in the Workplace’ Pages
- SAG-AFTRA Inaugural National Convention: ‘United For Our Future’
- AFGE Leaders Plan for Next Decade
- AFT, Shanker Institute: Does ‘Value-Added’ Add Value in Evaluating Teachers?
- Nominate Your Library for the John Sessions Award
- Does Technology Cost Jobs?
- DPE Signs On
- DPE in the News
No one thought it would happen. AFT President Randi Weingarten called right-wing Republican actions “craven political brinkmanship … reckless and irresponsible.” AFGE National President J. David Cox, Chair of the DPE General Board, asked, “Do they hate the notion of letting the uninsured buy affordable insurance, or just hate the idea that the government is helping them do so?” IFPTE International President Gregory J. Junemann denounced Republicans in the House of Representatives for their decision to “jeopardize American prosperity in favor of making an empty partisan political point.”
The damaging real-world consequences far exceed the rhetoric. Head Start programs giving low-income children a basis for lifetime achievement shut down. Staffing for federal firefighting went to skeleton crews. National Institute of Health programs for children with cancer cut back. The National Transportation Safety Board was unable to investigate a Metro incident this weekend that killed one worker and injured two more. And, just by the way, more than 800,000 federal employees who provide these and other services – including an award-winning civil servant who saved the Air Force $1 billion last year – went into an unpaid limbo for an unknown time.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) says, “Our people are our most important tool in facing any challenge, and we forget that at our peril.” The House Republicans seem to have forgotten. OPM says it aims “to make the Federal government America’s model employer for the 21st century.” The House Republicans appear not to have gotten the message.
Unions affiliated with DPE that represent federal employees include AFGE, AFT, IAM, IBEW, IFPTE, and SIU. The lockout follows pay freezes, benefit cuts, and the sequester. In the words of AFGE National President Cox, “…federal employees have already sacrificed more than enough to these serial, manufactured budget crises.”
When the lockout ends – which it will – will Congress do the right thing and pay federal employees retroactively? On Saturday, October 5, the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act (H.R. 3223), introduced in the House of Representatives on September 30, 2013 by Rep. James P. Moran (D-VA), passed by a vote of 407-0. The opponents of allegedly wasteful government voted to pay federal employees who want to work for the idleness House Republicans continue to force on them. Now the bill moves to the Senate.
To check the AFGE Lockout Central, click here. For an AFL-CIO blog piece listing resources for locked-out and laid-off workers, check here. To share your story about how the shutdown affects you, click here. To read a few of the many news accounts, go here (“GOP shutdown tactics will cause ‘involuntary servitude,’ union says”), here (“Union calls for fed workers to ‘fight back’ against shutdown”), or here (“Bill Would Provide Retroactive Pay to Fed Workers Caught in House Republican Shutdown”).
EXCITING AFL-CIO CONVENTION MEETS NEW CHALLENGES – On September 8-11, 2013, the AFL-CIO convened its quadrennial convention in Los Angeles. The burst of exciting activities promises to remake the labor movement in the United States. The goal: build a movement for all working people to deal with the new challenges and political landscape working families must navigate.
The convention launched important discussions and plans that will continue and expand. Here are some key initiatives that emerged:
1. Opening Up and Broadening the Labor Movement: The delegates recognized the need to expand the labor movement to be more broad and inclusive and to recognize all working families, whose rights have been under assault. No fewer than six resolutions were passed to expand the labor movement and partner with allies in new ways.
2. Economics for Shared Prosperity: The convention delegates approved several resolutions that call for new ways of thinking and talking about the economy, moving away from a conservative, pro-corporate approach. The first initiative calls for an economics of shared prosperity, which focuses on creating living wage jobs for all who seek them, providing workers a voice on the job, health care for everyone, aging with dignity, jobs that support families, and high-quality education for all children.
3. A Road Map to Citizenship for Aspiring Americans: At the convention, the AFL-CIO recommitted to its ongoing support for and leadership in creating an immigration system that protects U.S. workers, reduces the exploitation of immigrant workers, reduces employers’ incentives to hire undocumented workers, keeps families together, creates a road map for aspiring Americans, and contributes to shared prosperity for all.
4. Embracing and Including the Diverse Workforce: The AFL-CIO embraced diversity at its convention as never before, with people of color and women representing 46 percent of delegates. An inclusion conference before the convention kicked off ways to work more closely with communities of color, young workers, and the LGBT community. In addition to the resolution on the road map to citizenship for aspiring Americans and the resolutions on expanding the labor movement, the delegates passed resolutions on working women and young workers. DPE President Paul E. Almeida addressed the Convention in support of Resolution 18; to see his full remarks, go here.
5. Retirement Security for All: With seemingly endless attacks in recent years on retirement security, the AFL-CIO called for strengthening and improving Social Security benefits, much stronger protections for private and public pensions, and other legislative improvements to laws that protect working families in their retirement years. Any proposal to cut Medicare or Social Security to fund lower taxes for corporations and the 1 percent is immoral and unacceptable.
6. A New Approach to Trade and Globalization: The convention also passed a resolution calling for improvement in international trade deals, with a focus on protecting workers’ rights around the world, environmental protection, preventing corporations from interfering with national sovereignty and public interest regulations, and making clear that the AFL-CIO will oppose trade deals that don’t live up to these ideals.
7. Reclaiming the Promise of Public Education: As a key component of any strategy of improving the lives of working families, the AFL-CIO supported a broad range of educational reforms that ensure that all children have the opportunity to attend safe, high-quality schools.
For more information and complete coverage of the AFL-CIO 2013 Convention, go here.
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, firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE UPDATES NINE ‘PROFESSIONALS IN THE WORKPLACE’ PAGES – The “Professionals in the Workplace” pages of the DPE website provide information for 12 occupation groups. Nine pages have been updated, including:
• Life, Physical, and Social Scientists;
• Professional Performers;
• Health Care Professionals and Technicians;
• Librarians and Library Paraprofessionals;
• Teachers: Preschool through Postsecondary;
• Community and Social Service Professionals;
• Women in the Professional Workforce; and
• Professional and Technical Employees in the Labor Force.
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, email@example.com.
SAG-AFTRA INAUGURAL NATIONAL CONVENTION: ‘UNITED FOR OUR FUTURE’ – On September 29, 2013, the inaugural SAG-AFTRA National Convention concluded after four days of bringing together member delegates from across the country to celebrate union solidarity and conduct business. Inspiring speeches from the union’s top officers focused on the convention’s theme: United for Our Future.
SAG-AFTRA National President Ken Howard called upon delegates to take the hard work they did at convention back to their locals and continue the conversation. The last day of the convention began with Howard congratulating the newly elected national and member category vice presidents. He also thanked former Co-President Roberta Reardon for her service and dedication to the merger campaign.
Newly elected National Executive Vice President Gabrielle Carteris delivered closing remarks, saying, “What we have done – at this convention – is beginning the shape of our foundation. We have listened, we have debated, we have worked through interests and concerns …What we have done is create a framework to better members’ lives. I believe we have begun a proud and enduring legacy upon which our later generations will reflect and benefit.”
At the invitation of SAG-AFTRA, DPE President Paul E. Almeida attended as a guest. For more information about the SAG-AFTRA Inaugural Convention, go here.
AFGE National President J. David Cox inspired some 700 AFGE leaders from across the country to “forge a strategy big enough to overcome the attacks and win the future of our choice.” An Event Planning Team (EPT), drawn from every level of the union, designed a maximally democratic process that propelled the participants through long, intense, and constructive days.
The EPT provided the participants with a draft of a vision, mission, core values, and strategic objectives. Beyond response forms, flip charts, and oral reports, each of the 76 tables used an iPad, connected by a central information technology team, as an additional tool for input. Over the three days, the EPT design set the scene, offered a necessary factual context, and moved the leaders from consensus revisions to specific, achievable projects.
In addition to AFGE officers and senior staff, contributing as speakers and panelists were, among others, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler and Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre; North Carolina State AFL-CIO President James Andrews; and AFT Assistant to the President for Organization and Field Services Phil Kugler. At the invitation of AFGE, DPE was honored to observe and participate through its Executive Director, David Cohen.
A high point as the meeting closed was the news that almost 3,700 Department of Defense healthcare employees chose AFGE to represent them. An inevitable and necessary low: planning for a lockout of federal employees (see “House Republicans Lock Out Federal Employees” above).
AFT, SHANKER INSTITUTE: DOES ‘VALUE-ADDED’ ADD VALUE IN EVALUATING TEACHERS? – On September 11, 2013, AFT President Randi Weingarten moderated a panel of academics speaking on “The Use and Misuses of Value-Added in Teacher Evaluations: Three Perspectives.”
Co-sponsored by AFT and the Albert Shanker Institute (ASI), the panel included Douglas N. Harris, Associate Professor of Economics, University Endowed Chair in Public Education, Tulane University; Thomas J. Kane, Professor of Education and Economics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Faculty Director of its Center for Education Policy Research; and Linda Darling-Hammond, Professor of Education at Stanford University and Co-Director of the Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. DPE Executive Director David Cohen attended.
At issue was a spectrum of possibilities. At one end was not using evaluations of progress through student testing or other measures of student performance to evaluate teachers. At the opposite extreme was making changes in student performance the almost exclusive means to evaluate their teachers. In the middle were a range of possibilities, including one that Harris urged as a focus of experimentation: using student performance as a screen to decide which teachers need closer scrutiny. By contrast, Kane set up argument after argument against “value-added” as a tool for teacher evaluation and dismissed each. His clear preference was to use value-added. Noting the many confounding factors that might affect student and teacher performance, Darling-Hammond pushed for a more integrated and holistic approach to evaluating teachers.
To see the slides of each panelist or watch a video of the event, go here.
NOMINATE YOUR LIBRARY FOR THE JOHN SESSIONS AWARD – The American Library Association Reference and User Services Association is accepting nominations for the John Sessions Memorial Award. DPE sponsors the award.
The award recognizes a library or library system that has made a significant effort to work with the labor community and brought recognition to the history and contribution of the labor movement to the development of the United States. Efforts may include outreach projects to local labor unions; establishment or significant expansion of special labor collections; initiation of programs of special interest to the labor community; or other library activities that serve the labor community.
The deadline for nominations is December 15, 2013. For more information, contact Jennifer Dorning, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 114.
Debating the answer on September 10, 2013 were Dr. Andrew McAfee, principal research scientist at the Center for Digital Business in the MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author of Race Against the Machine (2011), and Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). DPE Executive Director David Cohen attended the ITIF event.
McAfee called himself a huge fan of technology. He argued, though, that while technology once brought more jobs for everyone, it has contributed to net job losses over the past several decades. Technology grows the overall economy, he said, but does not lift all groups equally.
Instead, technology increasingly has become able to perform the sensory, motor, and cognitive functions of humans, taking on knowledge work that people once thought no machine could do. The result is fewer jobs, accompanied by three trends: 1) to reward high skills, evident in increasing income only to those with college or higher degrees; 2) to favor capital, as seen in the growing disparity in the returns to capital versus labor; and 3) to make “superstars,” who as the 0.01 percent reap ever greater shares of income and wealth. As to globalization, McAfee said, it is just one step on the way to greater automation.
Atkinson asserted categorically that technological advances do not cause or contribute to net job loss. He contended that while technology might enable a given organization to produce more goods with fewer workers, this “first-order” effect generates a positive “second-order” effect: higher profits, lower prices, and more spending on other goods, which generates other jobs. He conceded that wage stagnation – that the other jobs might pay lower wages – was a different argument, and he favored raising the minimum wage. He feared a Congressman hearing McAfee might chose to end subsidies for technological innovation, which he viewed as essential to maintain U.S. competitiveness globally.
For the ITIF announcement with links to other materials and a video of the event, go here. For more about Andrew McAfee and Race Against the Machine, click here. For an account of other views on the topic, check “How Technology Is Destroying Jobs” in the MIT Technology Review.
DPE SIGNS ON – – On August 5, 2013, DPE joined a letter supporting a California legislative bill that “takes a multi-prong approach to preventing human trafficking by foreign labor recruiters.” To read the letter, click here and scroll down.
DPE IN THE NEWS – A July 2013 blog post by the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) reported that a presenter from CLUW cited DPE on the advantage in wages for women in a union, as opposed to unorganized working women, at the National Council of Women’s Organizations.
A September 9, 2013 column in the Pocono (Pa.) Record on the value of teachers cited DPE research on the size of the teaching workforce.