Quadrennial Report to the DPE General Board 2013 – 2017
DPE 2013 – 2017
DPE’s last four years can be defined by its service to affiliates and growth. DPE’s work has included promoting the benefits of unions for professionals, creating organizing materials tailored to professionals, and bringing unions of professionals together to collaborate on common issues. While the past four years have contained both opportunities and challenges, DPE and its affiliates have worked tirelessly to serve members and grow the labor movement.
Professionals have become an increasing share of union members and continue to change the face of the labor movement. From June 2013 to April 2017, almost 430,000 additional professionals joined unions. This growth is not new though. Union membership among employees in professional occupations has been growing for decades and, with the support of DPE, affiliates have been well positioned to capture a lot of the growth.
Due to the increasing importance of professionals to the labor movement and the workforce, DPE has committed more resources than ever to providing affiliates with the tools they need to organize and represent this part of the labor force. In the last four years, DPE has created organizing guides, survey data-based resources, specialized research, and programs specifically for professionals. Together professionals, affiliates, and DPE have worked to improve the lives of professional employees through union membership, and all have become stronger as a result.
DPE’s effectiveness over the last four years led to its own membership gains with the addition of four new affiliates: American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA), Guild of Italian American Actors (GIAA), Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC), and Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS). Serving the needs of existing members and producing creative, forward-thinking work made this growth possible.
This General Board meeting marks DPE’s 40th year as an AFL-CIO trade department. DPE has never been more excited about the strength of professionals in the labor movement or DPE’s role. As we reflect on the past, our eyes are always on the future. DPE looks forward to another four years of working with affiliates to generate new ideas and launch projects that serve the needs of professionals.
DPE TURNS 40
DPE received its trade department charter from the AFL-CIO in December 1977, marking 2017 as its 40th anniversary. Professionals and DPE have come a long way in the last 40 years. Estimates are that professionals were less than 18 percent of all labor union members in 1977. In 2017, union members in professional occupations were 42 percent of all labor union members.
Recognizing the future potential of professionals within the labor movement, Jack Golodner and Albert Shanker worked to form a trade department to advance the interests and elevate the voice of professionals within the labor movement.
DPE’s ability to be an effective force in the labor movement comes solely from its 23 affiliate unions. As mentioned, four new affiliates joined DPE in the last four years: AGVA, GIAA, SDC, and PASS. DPE’s organizing, research, and legislative and policy work made it possible to bring new affiliates on board. DPE’s central purpose to serve its affiliates has remained unchanged and will continue into the future.
In the last four years, DPE has been looking to the future. Most of DPE’s recent projects have been created to help affiliates build future professional membership. Our organizing materials help affiliates with new organizing. Research resources look at the future of occupations and industries, as well as where organizing opportunities lay as a result. Our survey of professionals is being used to inform future organizing campaigns and messages. DPE’s communications infrastructure is ramping up to dispel myths about unions and demonstrate the effectiveness of unions. Finally, DPE’s future of work and workforce series is aimed at helping affiliates position their unions to represent professionals in the future.
With frequent presentations to affiliates, DPE has worked with affiliates to turn DPE resources into action. Thus, while we celebrate our 40th anniversary as a trade department and past accomplishments, we know for the labor movement to survive we must always be organizing.
DPE’s research has shown that most professionals would join a union, but this popular support that we know exists for union representation has not translated into an onrushing wave of new organizing. DPE’s survey of professionals has shown that professionals do not know a lot about unions representing professionals and have some concerns about having a union at work, including doubts about whether unions are effective.
In an effort to turn popular support for a union into union membership, in the next four years, DPE will launch pilot projects with affiliates aimed at reaching targeted professionals and generating organizing leads for affiliates. Projects will be centered on a communications program that will work to dispel common union myths, demonstrate the effectiveness of joining together in union, and build knowledge about unions for professionals. All of DPE’s accumulated organizing and research resources will be incorporated into the project.
At 40, DPE has never been more vital or relevant to professionals and the labor movement. While much has been accomplished in the last 40 years, there is much work to be done and millions more professionals to organize to continue DPE’s success in the next 40 years.
While much of DPE’s work is created to aid affiliate organizing, several resources were developed in the last four years solely to help affiliates connect with non-union professionals and make a convincing case for membership. Working to ensure a comprehensive approach, DPE organizing materials cover new organizing, internal organizing, and new hire orientations. In the last four years, DPE has undertaken more work to aid affiliate organizing than ever before. All resources were widely distributed in electronic and printed formats.
DPE stands ready to assist affiliates with crafting programs and trainings that utilize its suite of organizing tools detailed below.
Growing Your Union: Engaging Professionals Through New Hire Orientation
Growing Your Union: Engaging Professionals Through New Hire Orientation was published in March 2017 and provides an overview of a successful new hire orientation program. The resource provides step-by-step instructions on how union leaders and staff can create or enhance their own orientation program.
Growing Your Union was developed specifically for organizing professional employees. The guide draws upon interviews with union leaders and staff responsible for their unions’ orientation programs, observation of existing orientation programs, content analysis of union welcome packets, relevant social science research, and data from DPE’s survey of professionals.
Research has shown that professionals have little knowledge about unions representing professionals and are likely to believe common myths about unions. Making a positive first impression with professionals and educating them about the effectiveness of joining together to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions is essential to increasing sign-ups and commitment to the union. With Growing Your Union, DPE sought to give affiliates the information they need to make a positive first impression.
DPE did two trainings for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Broadcasting Division on Growing Your Union in Arizona in May 2017 and has another training scheduled for the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) in October 2017. The trainings were designed to give local leaders the tools they need to create and launch a new hire orientation program within their local.
Extend the Invitation: A 10 Step Approach to Internal Organizing
In August 2016, DPE published an internal organizing resource, Extend the Invitation: A 10 Step Approach to Internal Organizing. Extend the Invitation was designed to increase membership using a positive, face-to-face approach. The spread of “right-to-work” laws in the states and the threat of legal decisions with national repercussions makes an effective internal organizing program essential.
The program utilizes 10 steps to plan and ultimately launch an internal organizing campaign. Launching an internal organizing campaign can be a daunting task. Extend the Invitation seeks to demystify internal organizing with a step-by-step approach that is easy to follow and rewarding for members.
Guide to Organizing Professionals
Professionals and non-professionals are different in a number of ways. A generic union organizing message may be less effective when talking to professionals. Thus, it is essential that unions organizing professionals understand what sets professionals apart from other employees and what they want from a union representing them. DPE’s Guide to Organizing Professionals, published in May 2016 was designed to do just that.
The guide includes issue and campaign strategies, overcoming organizing obstacles, and recommendations for how unions can do strategic targeting of specific professions. The guide advises affiliates to demonstrate their union’s effectiveness with examples from previously negotiated contracts or political and policy victories for the same or similar professions they are working to organize. Tangible examples clearly demonstrate to professionals why joining together is more effective than going at it alone.
LEGISLATION AND POLICY
DPE monitors federal policy developments and coordinates activities in order to advance the interests of affiliates and professionals. Immigration, intellectual property, and federal arts funding represented particularly active policy fronts for DPE during the past four years. DPE also weighed-in on a broad range of issues from proposed updates to federal overtime regulations and efforts to weaken protections for professionals in the federal sector. DPE regularly participated in the AFL-CIO Legislative Directors’ meetings and was involved in strategic coalition spaces, serving as extra eyes and ears for its affiliates, particularly those not based in Washington, D.C.
H-1B and Other High-Skilled Visas
Numerous attempts were made in the last four years to reform our broken immigration system, all unsuccessful. The beginning of DPE’s quadrennial opened with U.S. Senate passage of comprehensive immigration reform on June 27, 2013. Leading up to the Senate vote, DPE provided affiliates with lengthy and detailed analysis of the impact of comprehensive reform and made numerous visits to Capitol Hill to lobby for amendments that would provide greater protection for U.S. and foreign workers. Comprehensive reform died in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Subsequently, piecemeal legislation, the so-called Immigration Innovation (I-Squared) Act of 2015, was introduced, which would have dramatically expanded the H-1B visa program without adequate protections for U.S. workers or H-1B beneficiaries. DPE worked alongside affiliates and allied partners to successfully oppose I-Squared. DPE President Paul Almeida participated in meetings with over three dozen Senate offices, including nearly the entire Democratic caucus. Almeida also wrote to Senate Judiciary Chair Charles E. Grassley and then-Ranking Member Patrick J. Leahy on the need for immigration reform to protect skilled American workers. DPE also hosted meetings in the last three years with leaders and members of the Society for Professional Engineers Employed in Aerospace (SPEEA), International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 2001 during their Washington, D.C. lobby week to discuss pending H-1B visa reform and its impact on science and technology professionals.
Increased scrutiny in the last two years with high profile cases of high-skilled U.S. worker displacement at Southern California Edison and Walt Disney World changed the tenor of the conversation about H-1B visas. No longer can proponents of expansion claim that U.S. workers have not been harmed by the program. Consequently, there have been no serious moves in Congress to expand high-skilled visa programs since the failure of I-Squared in 2015.
DPE continues to stand by the principles for reform outlined in the Ray Marshall Plan. The Marshall plan was incorporated into the labor movement’s framework for comprehensive immigration reform, which was adopted by the AFL-CIO and Change to Win. The Marshall Plan’s fair, rational approach to immigration reform will strengthen the security, well-being and status of all professionals.
O and P Visas
DPE coordinated discussion, collaboration, and action among affiliates around reform of the O and P visa programs. The O and P visas are temporary work visas available for performers and support personnel in the arts and entertainment industry. The 12 DPE affiliate unions that represent people working in the arts and entertainment industry serve an official advisory role in the adjudication of O and P visa petitions. Over the past four years, DPE and its affiliates have sought reforms of the O and P visa approval process to address ongoing concerns with adjudication of O and P visas.
DPE’s efforts to highlight the need for reform included meetings at both the department and congressional levels. In August 2016, DPE and representatives from affiliates in the arts and entertainment industry met with then-U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Ombudsman Maria Odom. DPE and its affiliates also articulated current problems with the O and P visa programs and our proposed reforms to Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer’s senior outreach staff in 2017 at the start of the 115th Congress.
DPE coordinates O and P visa reform work through its Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industry (AEMI) Coordinating Committee, a convening of 12 DPE affiliates that allows for better coordination, discussion, and joint action on shared interests.
Intellectual Property and Copyright
DPE supported the efforts of affiliates in the arts and entertainment industry to advance public policies that would strengthen intellectual property and copyright protections for professionals in creative industries. Intellectual property and copyright protections help ensure these professionals receive fair pay and benefits for their work.
Efforts at advancing intellectual property and copyright protections over the last four years included brokering a meeting in 2013 with affiliates in the arts, entertainment, and media industries and the then-register of copyrights and director of the U.S. Copyright Office and her senior staff on a range of topics. DPE hosted a 2015 conference on the importance of copyright protections, bringing together labor, press, congressional staff, rights holders’ organizations, and companies to stress the importance of protecting intellectual property through copyright and patents (see Programs below).
In October 2016, DPE wrote a letter to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission opposing a proposed set-top box rule that would weaken protections for content creators, and helped rally broader labor opposition to the rule. More recently, in April 2017, DPE rallied the labor movement’s support for legislation that would modernize and strengthen the Register of Copyrights office. DPE also submitted written comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), urging the ITC to fully investigate, analyze, and otherwise assess the negative impact of content theft on working Americans as part of its fact finding report on digital trade.
Included in President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint was the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and privatization of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). These three institutions ensure that Americans of all means, geographies, and abilities have access to artistic and educational content, while representing a tiny fraction of the federal budget. The NEA, NEH, and CPB also help support jobs for members of DPE affiliates.
In response, to date, DPE coordinated a joint response among the affiliate unions representing people who work in the arts and entertainment industry. DPE and these 12 affiliate unions sent a joint letter to Congress requesting continued funding of the NEA, NEH, and CPB at no less than current spending levels. Both political and entertainment trade press covered the letter’s release (see Communications below). DPE produced a communications and advocacy toolkit to help affiliate unions engage their members and the general public in the effort to protect federal funding for the NEA, NEH, and CPB. In addition, DPE organized a joint union/employer sign-on letter to Congress that showed the whole industry supports full funding for the NEA, NEH, and CPB. Press covered this letter too. DPE also served as a national partner for the Americans for the Arts’ Arts Advocacy Day.
DPE ramped up efforts to broaden its communications reach in the last four years to spread the word about unions for professionals. DPE launched Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts and modernized its website, including making the website compatible with mobile devices, to reach the almost 90 percent of American adults who use the internet. As mentioned above, DPE has also laid the groundwork for a communications program that aims to increase organizing leads for affiliate unions. In the next four years, DPE will build upon its communications infrastructure in a continued effort to reach non-union professionals and communicate the value of joining together in union.
DPE Website and Social Media
In the last four years, well over a half a million people have visited the DPE website to learn about some aspect of the professional workforce or professionals in unions. DPE’s website became mobile friendly in 2015 to keep up with the trend of reliance on smartphones for internet access. This year, DPE’s website has seen more traffic than ever before at 315,854 unique page views. Over the last four years, traffic to the DPE website has increased by 405 percent in unique page views per month and by 380 percent in users per month.
The following is an overview of the DPE website’s traffic for the past four years:
- From June 2013 through May 2014, the DPE website received 71,652 page views from 52,192 users (or people who visited the website).
- The monthly average from June 2013 until May 2014 for page views and users was 5,971 and 4,349, respectively.
- The DPE website saw a steady increase in traffic from June 2014 until May 2015—receiving 167,709 unique page views from 130,664 users during this timeframe.
- The monthly average for page views was 13,976 and for users was 11,097.
- Website traffic totaled 243,487 unique page views and 192,471 users from June 2015 until May 2016.
- The monthly averages for June 2015 through May 2016 were 20,291 unique page views and 18,683 users.
- From June 2016 to May 2017, the DPE website saw 315,854 unique page views and 244,475 users.
- The monthly average for unique page views was 30,149 and users was 20,864.
DPE’s fact sheets were a big draw for web traffic, with the fact sheet The U.S. Health Care System: An International Perspective receiving the most page views since June 2013 at 128,711. Safe-Staffing Ratios: Benefiting Nurses and Patients was the second most highly trafficked webpage with 87,774 views and Women in the Professional Workforce, which was updated in February 2017, came in third place with 86,823 views. Through these fact sheets, website visitors learn about the professions of the members of DPE’s affiliate unions as well as the union difference.
Publications and pages aimed at organizing professionals, including I’m a Professional. What Can a Union Do for Me?, The Benefits of Collective Bargaining for Professionals and the “Join a Union” webpage have received over 62,000 page views in the last four years. These resources provide professionals with answers to the common questions about union membership, overview the benefits of being a union member, and encourage professionals to reach out about joining a union. DPE frequently receives organizing inquiries through its website, which it passes on to affiliates.
In December 2015, DPE transitioned to a blog format for its news and updates about affiliates, DPE activities, and professional and technical employees. The blog has received 1,413 page views since its creation.
The quantity of web traffic to DPE’s site is not the only thing to highlight—the amount of time spent on the website is also notable. Overall, visitors to DPE’s website averaged 3:54 minutes on a DPE webpage, and this time was much higher for a number of the fact sheets. The time spent on the DPE website indicates that visitors are taking the time to read DPE’s resources and publications.
In August 2014, DPE created a Facebook page and a Twitter account. DPE’s LinkedIn account is much newer, created in January 2017. From August 2014 until November 2016, DPE’s social media accounts were largely dormant. In November 2016, DPE’s strategy changed with regard to its social media accounts and, now, DPE uses its social media accounts to: (1) make affiliates aware of DPE materials and resources; (2) reach non-union professionals and encourage them to organize; (3) put on and participate in social media campaigns.
Currently, DPE has 403 followers, which is an increase of 135 followers, or 50 percent, since November 2016. DPE has also increased its Twitter account’s monthly impressions, or how many times a DPE tweet appeared in another Twitter users timeline or search results. DPE’s tweets have earned, on average, 17,214 impressions per month for the last seven months. In September 2014, the first full month the DPE Twitter account was in existence, DPE’s tweets earned 625 impressions. DPE’s tweet impressions have increased by 4572 percent since September 2014. The best month for DPE’s Twitter account so far was May 2017 with 38 tweets, 28,300 impressions, and 197 engagements (which includes tweet link clicks, retweets, favorites, and replies).
Starting in November 2016, DPE increased the amount it tweeted per month. Previously, DPE tweeted on average less than 10 times per month, now DPE tweets at least once per day. In addition to tweeting more, DPE has changed what it tweets about. Instead of primarily highlighting news stories, DPE has focused on tweeting about its publications and resources, like its blog posts, fact sheets, press releases, and its organizing materials (new hire guides, internal organizing guide, etc.). By tweeting out blog posts about data from DPE’s survey of professionals, DPE is both letting affiliate unions know that new survey data analysis has been released and informing non-union professionals that other professionals (perhaps their colleagues) are interested in joining together in union. DPE is also focused on tweeting about affiliate unions’ successful organizing campaigns, for example Writers Guild of America, East’s (WGAE) organizing of digital newsrooms and SAG-AFTRA’s success in organizing Telemundo.
Additionally, DPE has both participated in and created its own social media campaigns. In March 2017, using DPE created hashtags (#DPEmillennials and #DPEorganizing), DPE had attendees of its Future of Work professional millennial event tweet about the event, as well as about professional millennials and unions more broadly. On March 16, the day of the event, DPE’s tweets earned a total of 3,961 impressions.
DPE’s Facebook page has 89 likes and 103 follows. The page likes for the DPE Facebook page have increased by 38 since November 2016—a 75 percent increase. DPE has started to pay to boost posts on Facebook in an effort to expand its reach. DPE’s focus for boosting has been to boost DPE content—primarily blogs about analysis of data from DPE’s survey of professionals—about the benefits of unions for professionals. DPE has spent $170.06 on boosting since January 2017 and has increased its monthly organic reach from 20 in November 2016 to 1,546 in May 2017.
DPE’s most successful posts (gaged by organic reach) include:
- “But the goal of a union isn’t to shame any particular boss or get a particular politician out of office, or even support a political party. It’s to improve the daily lives of workers.” [Links to Vice article on unions]
- Organic reach 406 and paid boost of $10.00
- “Yesterday, DPE’s 12 arts and entertainment affiliate unions joined together to tell Congress to preserve funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” #OrganizefortheArts [Links to press release]
- Organic reach 392 and no paid boost
- “Over 60 percent of professional women want a union at their current job—making professional women more likely to support a union in their workplace than professional men. Read our blog for more on the views of professional women.” [Links to blog]
- Organic reach 308 and paid boost of $20.00
DPE’s LinkedIn currently has five followers. DPE is in the process of determining how to best utilize the account. In the next four years, DPE hopes to effectively use its LinkedIn account to reach professionals in a social media space that is focused on work.
In recent months, DPE has concentrated on building relationships with members of the media through outreach and distribution of press releases. Establishing relationships with journalists will be vital in carrying out DPE’s goals in the next four years.
On January 5, 2017, DPE rebooted its press release efforts with a press release on DPE’s survey of non-union professionals. The release was sent to a list of labor reporters and included an introduction about DPE and who we represent. Affiliate unions’ communications staff, the AFL-CIO affiliate’s listserv, and the LaborComm listserv were also sent the press release. Additionally, the press release was promoted on social media and the DPE website.
DPE has continued to put out press releases for newsworthy announcements—having published five total since January 2017. Like the press release on the survey of non-union professionals, each of the following releases have been sent to journalists, publicized on social media and the website, and distributed to labor-focused listservs. Additionally, the communications teams of DPE affiliates have shared the press releases with journalists and helped earn media hits. The releases have contributed to generating the following news coverage:
- Variety, February 21, 2017, “Stage Directors Union Joins Advocacy Coalition DPE in Move Toward Political Engagement”
- PLAYBILL, April 4, 2017, “12 Unions, Including AEA, Appeal to Congress to Save the NEA and Regional Theatre”
- Broadway World, April 4, 2017, “AEA Joins 12 Unions in Congressional Appeal to Save the NEA”
- POLITICO, April 5, 2017, “Kelly stares down border skeptics”
- Current, April 6, 2017, “Arts unions protest Trump budget cuts in letter to Congress”
- In These Times, April 13, 2017, “Union Actors and Musicians Fight Trump’s Attacks on the Arts”
- Broadway World, May 16, 2017, “AEA, Broadway League, Met Opera, SAG-AFTRA & More Sign Letter Urging Fiscal Support for NEA”
- Deadline Hollywood, May 16, 2017, “Hollywood Urges Congress To Stand Up To Donald Trump And Fund NEA, NEH & CPB”
- New York Daily News, May 17, 2017, “Arts organizations fight back against President Trump’s ‘skinny budget,’ urge full funding”
In addition to press releases, DPE staff has pitched exclusives to reporters, which led to a media mention in POLITICO’s Morning Shift about University of California, San Francisco’s misuse of the H-1B visa program.
- POLITICO, February 3, 2017, “Trump to halt fiduciary rule, overhaul regs”
DPE staff has also worked to build relationships with journalists and name recognition for DPE through meetings with reporters. Due to the success and helpfulness of these meetings, DPE will continue to schedule in-person meetings with reporters to help establish relationships with the media. DPE has been meeting with reporters based in Washington, D.C., but aims to meet with journalists during trips to New York City.
Relationships have also been made with reporters when they reach out to DPE for a comment or background information. Allies and friends of DPE have recommended DPE for stories on the H-1B visa program, which is how DPE made a connection with Al Jazeera’s “The Stream.” Media requests from reporters have resulted in press hits for DPE, like the following:
- KQED, February 10, 2017, “PG&E Is Using H-1B Visas to Send IT Jobs Overseas”
- Quartz, March 24, 2017, “Silicon Valley tech workers are talking about starting their first union in 2017 to resist Trump”
DPE research projects in the last four years have been designed to help affiliates gain a better understanding of the attitudes of professionals toward unions and identify opportunities for new organizing.
Survey of Non-union Professionals
In 2016, DPE began working with Hart Research Associates in coordination with affiliates on the design of a survey of non-union professionals. The goal of the survey was to assess non-union professionals’ attitudes toward unions and then use that information to inform how affiliates communicate with and organize professionals. The survey was conducted between September 30th and October 9th of 2016. The results have proven invaluable.
Survey results included data on professionals’ attitudes about unions; knowledge of unions and union effectiveness; perceived advantages and benefits of union membership; perceived disadvantages and concerns with having a union; preferred union qualities and values; perspectives on current job; and perspectives on their profession.
Hart Research Associates made a presentation to DPE affiliates in January 2017 on the overall survey results. In order to provide as much information as possible, DPE has been breaking down the data by demographic, geographic, economic, and political factors. In 2017, DPE conducted and distributed analysis to affiliates on:
- Young professionals
- Professionals who disapprove of unions
- Public sector professionals
- For-profit sector professionals
- Younger male professionals
- Older male professionals
- Professional women
- Geographic region
- Political Independents
- Professionals earning less than $50,000
For each of the 12 groups analyzed three different resources were created:
- The survey toplines, which was the actual survey data;
- A four to five page analysis that included substantive takeaways and might compare groups, like comparing responses from younger and older men; and
- A one-pager designed for distribution to organizers, which can be used to inform conversations with potential members.
A number of affiliates have written about the survey results in their own publications, including American Federation of Teachers (AFT), United Steelworkers (USW), UWUA, and Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU).
DPE has also made and will continue to make presentations on the survey data. In February 2017, DPE made a presentation to the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Executive Council featuring the public sector data. A presentation covering the public sector data was also made to IFPTE Local 1921. In April 2017, a presentation was made to the SAG-AFTRA Marketing Council on the for-profit sector data. In June, DPE will be making a presentation at the SPEEA Leadership Conference in Seattle to talk about the attitudes of young professionals toward unions and to the AFT Program and Policy Committee to talk about the overall survey results.
Over the next several months, DPE will continue to conduct analysis of survey data and distribute it to affiliates. Finally, DPE will use the analysis it has completed to re-write its Guide to Organizing Professionals in the near future.
Beginning in 2015 DPE began producing in-depth reports about industries where DPE affiliates employ and organize professionals. The two completed reports took a strategic approach and specifically looked at how industry changes would affect affiliates’ membership and future organizing opportunities.
The Utility Industry: Workforce Changes and Organizing Opportunities
DPE published its report on the utility industry in April 2016. Low demand for power and water, the prevalence of natural gas, and an increased focus on green energy is remaking the utility industry. DPE’s report provided meaningful insight into the utility industry workforce from 2003 to 2015, including how union membership, occupation employment, demographics, and geographic distribution changed. The report also explored changes that impacted the utility industry, including price and revenue volatility, increased government regulation, and mergers and acquisitions. Finally, the report assessed the impact these industry changes had on the utility industry workforce and union members.
In its analysis of workforce, industry, and union membership changes, the report identified several areas where organizing potential may exist. The report also provided recommendations for strategic planning for those unions with membership in the utility industry or for those unions interested in pursuing organizing opportunities.
The report was distributed to DPE affiliates with membership in the utility industry. A PowerPoint presentation was also made available as a companion to the report and focuses on the significant findings and recommendations. A presentation was made to the UWUA Executive Board in April 2016.
Professionals in the Healthcare Industry: 1990 – 2015
In September 2015, DPE published its report on workforce changes and organizing opportunities in the healthcare industry. The report explored healthcare industry growth from 1990 to 2015. Three sub-industries within the healthcare industry were analyzed, including ambulatory healthcare services, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities. Growth, geographic employment, occupational employment, demographics, education attainment, public and private-sector employment, and union membership changes were analyzed.
The report looked at the policy and industry changes that have driven growth in sub-industries and explored the employment changes that can be expected in the future. Suggestions for action by affiliates seeking to organize professionals in the healthcare industry concludes the report. AFT Healthcare shared the report with organizers at a training in December 2015.
DPE regularly updates nearly 40 of its publications that are designed to educate readers about issues impacting the professional and technical workforce. All of DPE’s fact sheets and reports were updated at least once in the last four years. Fact sheets are available on the DPE website. The format of DPE fact sheets was changed to incorporate more information on the union difference, including utilizing examples from affiliates’ collective bargaining agreements.
DPE organizes programs on topics important to affiliates. In the last four years, DPE launched a new program series designed to look at where work and professionals are going, rather than where they have been. DPE also organized a conference designed to highlight the importance of intellectual property protections for professionals.
Future of Work and the Workforce
The Future of Work and the Workforce program series was created to help affiliates position their unions for changes that will affect work and the workforce. The three programs held in the last four years brought together affiliates and experts to develop a strategic approach to organizing the work and workforce of the future.
Part III: Professional Millennials: The Future of Work and Unions
In March 2017, the third installment on the future of work was held, focusing on the professional workforce of the future. The program drew 60 attendees from 13 DPE affiliate unions. Deadspin writer Hamilton Nolan kicked off DPE’s program as keynote speaker. Nolan, a member of WGAE emphasized the importance of organizing.
In addition to Nolan’s keynote address, the event featured two panels of young union members and staffers.
The first panel, “How younger professionals view work and unions,” was moderated by assistant professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Rachel Aleks. The panelists included: Kelly Stec, a grad student and state vice president of AFT Michigan; Matt Koch, a master electrician and member of UWUA Local 150; Ryan Rule, a design and analysis engineer and president of SPEEA, IFPTE Local 2001; Felicia Sharp, a professional employee at the U.S. Department of Defense and president of AFGE Local 1410; Ryan O’Boyle, a video editor and business representative for IBEW Local 1212; and Ben Whitehair, an actor and national board member of SAG-AFTRA. The first panel discussed how they were introduced to unions—which many of the panelists credited to their union family members.
Each of the panelists also described how they got involved in their current union and what they thought would attract other young members. A number of the panelists, including Whitehair, said that millennials want to get involved in union activities but don’t know the next steps.
“Building a millennial membership” was the topic of the second panel, which was moderated by Nolan. The panelists included: Alyssa Picard, director of AFT’s higher education department; Josh Austin, former content editor at Actors’ Equity Association (AEA); Megan McRobert, digital organizer at WGAE; Alan Barber, president of IFPTE Local 70; and Bill Lyons, director of the membership and organization department at AFGE.
Many of the panelists spoke about how face-to-face organizing is still the most effective way to increase membership. Additionally, some of the panelists discussed how their union’s involvement with social issues excited their members and helped with organizing.
Overall, the panels provided the DPE affiliate unions that were in attendance with guidance on how to communicate with, organize, and involve young professionals. After the event, DPE produced a one-pager that included the major takeaways from both panels, including tips on what millennials want from a union and how unions can get millennials more involved in union activities.
In November 2015, DPE hosted part II of the series. Attending were 28 representatives from seven DPE affiliates who heard from experts in different fields on how work is changing.
American Constitution Society President Caroline Fredrickson delivered the keynote speech. Fredrickson spoke to the harm caused to workers by the sharing economy. Fredrickson noted that people died fighting for Title VII yet the protections of the Civil Rights Act do not apply to workers who are not employees.
University of Texas at Austin Professor Diane E. Bailey delivered a sobering presentation on how high-skilled work is threatened by the increase in computing power and machine learning. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Thomas Kochan tackled the possibility of large-scale job losses in higher education from Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) by demonstrating a path for MOOCs to add value to the work already being done in the classroom.
George Washington University Associate Professor Patricia Pittman described how the delivery of healthcare was changing along with the skills necessary for workers. Associate Program Director for the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions Josh Rutkoff and Executive Vice President Denise Duncan from the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals (UNAC/UHCP) also spoke on the topic of how healthcare is changing. Since a labor-management partnership was ratified by the coalition unions in 1997, the coalition has been able to represent new work and train workers in new skills needed to do the work. In addition to the UNAC/UHCP and other unions, the coalition includes DPE affiliates: AFT, IFPTE, OPEIU, and USW.
In May 2015, DPE kicked off the series with an affiliate discussion of how work is changing for professionals and how unions are positioning their unions to best represent new and existing members in a changing work environment. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler kicked off the series by addressing issues that are key to professional and technical workers, including having a labor voice at the table when corporate leaders are studying the future of work. Rick Hurd and Rachel Aleks from the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations also participated in the discussion.
Why IP/Copyright Matters
On February 3, 2015, DPE hosted a conference on the importance of intellectual property (IP) protections. The conference brought together labor, press, congressional staff, rights holders’ organizations, and companies to stress the importance of protecting IP through copyright and patents. The conference included closing comments by J. Walter Cahill, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE) political and legislative director and a DPE general vice president.
A panel addressed “Why IP Protection is Critical to the U.S. Economy and Employment.” DPE affiliate panelists included Richard Masur, national government affairs committee chair, SAG-AFTRA, and Lowell Peterson, executive director, WGAE.
AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Liz Shuler delivered the opening speech for the conference by stressing the AFL-CIO’s support for IP protection. Former Motion Picture Association of America President and CEO Chris Dodd gave the keynote speech. Representative Linda Sanchez (D-CA) spoke forcefully on the need for Congress to adequately protect IP.
DPE affiliates regularly work together to offer mutual support and assistance. Connecting affiliates, both informally and formally, is an important role served by DPE. The 12 arts and entertainment unions affiliated with DPE share a common industry and desire to work together to serve the best interests of their members. To effectuate this mutual support and assistance, DPE coordinated six meetings of its arts and entertainment union affiliates in the last four years.
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industries (AEMI) Coordinating Committee
The AEMI unions rely on DPE to coordinate meetings, events, and legislative and policy priorities. By working together, the 12 DPE unions that make up the AEMI put their collective weight behind issues that affect the arts and entertainment industry. In the last four years DPE coordinated six meetings of AEMI affiliates and three special meetings between AEMI union staff and officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Registrar of Copyrights, which gave the AEMI unions an opportunity to weigh in on O and P visas issues and copyright issues (see Legislation and Policy above).
AEMI meetings are typically held twice a year in either New York, N.Y. or Washington, D.C. Meeting agenda items in the last four years were driven by events affecting AEMI unions, including collective bargaining and negotiations with common employers, advocating for arts funding, work visas for performers, and intellectual property and copyright protections.
The past four years saw the passing of five labor leaders who served their unions and the labor movement with great distinction – Dr. Emelise Aleandri, Theodore Bikel, Jack Golodner, Alan S. Gordon, and Ken Howard.
Dr. Emelise Aleandri. Dr. Aleandri was a member of AGVA, AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and GIAA. Dr. Aleandri was an AGVA regional vice president and a 4A delegate. Dr. Aleandri was an actress, singer, author, teacher, and producer.
Theodore Bikel. Bikel was a member of AEA, American Federation of Musicians, AGVA, and SAG-AFTRA. He had been the 4As president since 1988. From 1973 to 1982, he was president of AEA. Bikel’s union activism and work on social justice issues were just as prominent as his career in the arts.
Jack Golodner. Golodner had been DPE’s president emeritus since his retirement in 2001. He served as the president of DPE at the organization’s founding in 1977. Golodner also led the organization that preceded DPE, the Council of the AFL-CIO Unions for Scientific, Professional and Cultural Employees (SPACE) from 1967 until 1977. Jack’s activism and dedication to the labor community, the arts, and the rights of all workers was just who Jack was.
Alan S. Gordon. Gordon was National Executive Director of American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA). Prior to that, he worked for the Directors Guild of America. Gordon was a DPE vice president and 4As delegate. Gordon led the contentious bargaining on behalf of AGMA at the New York Metropolitan Opera.
Ken Howard. Howard was a member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. Howard was the first elected president of SAG-AFTRA. Prior to that, he was president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Howard was a DPE vice president and 4As delegate. As SAG president, Howard helped steer the union to a merger with AFTRA and was instrumental in seeing SAG-AFTRA successfully navigate the merging of the unions, as well as the bargaining of many contracts as one union.