DPE President’s Report
June 1, 2017 – May 31, 2018
I was honored seventeen years ago to be elected by the DPE Executive Committee to serve as your president. Culminating my career with service to union professionals has been an incredible opportunity, not to mention personally and professionally fulfilling. I retire this year knowing DPE has never been stronger or more vital to the labor movement. The dedicated and creative team at DPE will serve you and union professionals well into the future.
Today, perhaps more than ever before, powerful people and well-funded organizations are banding together to eliminate unions and workers’ voices. Despite fierce attacks on working people, professionals continue to organize and join together. Union professionals reached a new high mark in 2017 with 6.15 million union members and 2018 is shaping up to be another strong year for member growth.
The struggles we face only reinforces that our movement and our unions are stronger when we stand together to collaborate and strategize. As a result, DPE has been intensely focused this year on helping affiliates grow the number of union professionals, strengthening members’ commitment to their unions, and facilitating the collaboration of unions representing professionals.
DPE launched its inaugural effort to craft and deploy a communications campaign designed to generate organizing leads for affiliates in February 2018. The pilot project has been showing success among progressive nonprofit sector professionals in Washington, D.C. Consequently, DPE plans to partner with affiliates on additional campaigns with the end goal of developing resources for affiliates who want to launch their own campaigns.
In April 2018, DPE hosted a forum on enhancing member commitment. The forum was DPE’s second foray into member engagement, the first being its printed resource on new hire orientations, Growing Your Union: Engaging Members Through New Hire Orientations. During the April 2018 forum, DPE brought affiliates and experts together to share knowledge about how affiliates can increase member commitment. Affiliate leaders and staff in attendance found the forum to be valuable and DPE will continue to provide affiliates opportunities to come together to share knowledge and best practices on member engagement.
DPE also facilitated collaboration among its 12 arts, entertainment, and media industry (AEMI) union affiliates. DPE worked with AEMI unions this year to coordinate a response to the proposal to eliminate federal arts funding and reform the work visa programs utilized by foreign performers who seek employment in the United States. The AEMI unions who represent members in broadcast news came together in a collaborative effort coordinated by DPE in May 2018 and resolved to work together to address common workplace issues.
DPE’s work this past year is discussed in more detail under these headings:
- DPE Member Growth
- Support for Affiliate Organizing
- Communications Organizing Campaign
- Legislation and Policy
- Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industries
- DPE Communications
- In Memoriam
DPE Member Growth
DPE continued to grow its membership with the re-affiliation of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) bringing our number of affiliate unions to 24. After a DPE presentation to IAMAW leadership in December 2017, a request for re-affiliation was made in January 2018. Serving the needs of existing members and producing creative, forward-thinking work has continued to help DPE make the case for membership, recruiting three new affiliates in the last two years.
Support for Affiliate Organizing
DPE has created a suite of organizing resources, which are complemented by trainings and workshops for affiliates’ conventions, conferences, and meetings. DPE organizing resources cover organizing professionals, internal organizing, and new hire orientations. This year, DPE updated its Guide to Organizing Professionals, one of its three resources, and provided trainings and workshops to affiliates to explain how to put the advice into action. Printed resources continue to be widely distributed in electronic and printed formats.
Guide to Organizing Professionals
DPE released the 2018 Edition of the Guide to Organizing Professionals in January. The Guide breaks down professionals’ attitudes towards unions and provides pointers to develop strategies that will help win over professionals in an organizing campaign.
The Guide relies on survey data from nonunion professionals and breaks down professionals’ attitudes by age, work sector, political party, gender and age, race and ethnicity, and earnings. DPE’s Guide to Organizing Professionals is a must-have for union organizers and local union leadership aiming to organize professionals.
In adding the 2016 attitudinal survey data, DPE’s goal was to keep the Guide short enough to make it accessible to busy organizers, while at the same time providing insightful information. DPE included the data it believed would be most helpful to organizers and kept it to just two or three bullet points. Also
included in the tailored issue strategies section are bar graphs that indicate the level of support for a union among different types of professionals.
Trainings and Workshops at Affiliate Meetings
DPE continued to conduct training presentations for affiliates as part of its outreach work over the last year, making presentations at three affiliates’ conferences since the last DPE General Board meeting. DPE is also happy to attend affiliates’ trainings and conferences to learn more about their approaches to organizing and member engagement. In January 2018, DPE staff attended the IAFF’s Affiliate Leadership Summit and Human Relations Conference.
In October 2017, DPE President Almeida and DPE Legislative and Outreach Director Michael Wasser traveled to the UWUA’s Power 4 America conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Almeida and Wasser provided information for UWUA’s leaders on how to use new hire orientations to make a positive first impression on new potential bargaining unit members. The presentation also stressed the importance of strategic internal organizing for building stronger local unions with more committed members.
In March 2018, DPE returned to the IBEW’s Broadcasting, Manufacturing, and Telecommunications Conference, held in San Diego, California, where Wasser led two workshops for over 60 IBEW leaders and activists on strategies to enhance member engagement ahead of contract negotiations. The workshops provided practical, ready-to-implement tips and tools that could help cultivate more committed, engaged members. Workshop participants were also able to try out the strategies through interactive exercises.
DPE also traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to participate in OPEIU’s All-Regions Educational Conference in April 2018. Two workshops were conducted for over 80 OPEIU members on the basics of internal
organizing, including new hire orientations. The trainings drew from two of DPE’s organizing resources, Extend the Invitation: A 10 Step Approach to Internal Organizing and Growing Your Union: Engaging Professionals Through New Hire Orientation.
Presentations, trainings, and speeches are a service DPE is happy to provide affiliates. DPE can present on the department’s
organizing resources or other topics as requested. DPE adapts the trainings to the specific affiliate, its members, and the industries and sectors in which the members work.
Communications Organizing Campaign
In February 2018, DPE launched a campaign designed to test ways to generate organizing leads. DPE’s survey of nonunion professionals reinforced that most professionals would support union representation at work. The question for DPE was whether there were ways to translate majority support for a union at work into more union members. This question led DPE to think about ways to generate organizing leads.
Instead of giving theoretical advice of what might work we sought to partner with an affiliate on a campaign to test some of our ideas. DPE believed a campaign could be successful in generating organizing leads if the campaign focused on a specific type of professional or profession in a single metropolitan area.
DPE had collaborated in the past with Alan Barber, President of IFPTE Local 70. Local 70 is a small local, made up of progressive nonprofit sector professionals, mostly in Washington,
D.C. They represent the folks at the Economic Policy Institute, Center for Economic and Policy Research, and in 2016 organized the professionals at the Center for American Progress. Local 70’s recent success in organizing and motivation to grow led DPE to seek to partner with them on a campaign to generate organizing leads.
The campaign launched in February 2018, and will run through July 2018. About two months before the public launch, DPE and Local 70 worked together on a rebranding effort—a new name, logo, and website in an effort to show that Local 70 is a union of nonprofit professionals with shared values that other progressive nonprofit professionals could see themselves in. Local 70 became the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU).
The website was important since much of the campaign is focused on driving quality traffic to the NPEU website (https://npeu.org). Thus, the website needed to make a positive first impression.
In the last four months, DPE worked with NPEU to raise the profile of the union by: 1) reaching out to the media to generate press hits, 2) writing blog posts about pay, benefit, and working condition improvements negotiated by current bargaining unit members; 3) posting graphics and other content to NPEU’s social media accounts, and 4) using social media platforms to get content in front of potential members (i.e. paid advertising).
From February through May 2018, NPEU received 17 organizing leads. Prior to the start of the campaign, NPEU was receiving about one organizing lead every two months. About half of the leads have been high quality, meaning that the lead came from a person employed by a progressive nonprofit organization in the Washington, D.C. area. One lead that came in during the campaign period has resulted in a request for voluntary recognition and three of the leads resulted in ongoing conversations. NPEU noted that several of the organizing leads they received were from individuals who had already had conversations with their colleagues about starting a union.
Legislation and Policy
DPE monitors federal policy developments and coordinates activities in order to advance the interests of affiliates and professionals. Immigration and federal arts funding represented particularly active policy fronts for DPE in the last year. DPE also weighed-in on a broad range of issues from efforts to improve intellectual property protections for creative professionals to attempts to weaken workplace and union protections for professionals in both the private and public sectors. DPE regularly participated in the AFL-CIO’s 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.
Advancing Protections for Dreamers and TPS recipients
In spring 2018, the U.S. Senate debated and voted on four potential responses to President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program. In the lead up to these votes, DPE joined with affiliates and other unions to advocate for a permanent solution for Dreamers and TPS
recipients. DPE also worked to keep harmful amendments to expand the H-1B guest worker program out of any negotiated, compromise package. Ultimately, the Senate failed to pass any legislation to provide a solution for Dreamers and TPS recipients. DPE remains engaged with affiliates and other allies in urging Congress to act.
H-1B and Other High-Skilled Visas
In January 2018, Senator Orrin Hatch re-introduced his Immigration Innovation (“I- Squared”) Act, which would dramatically expand the H-1B program without adequate protections for U.S. professionals or people working on H-1B visas. Previous versions of I- Squared were introduced on a bipartisan basis. DPE’s advocacy helped ensure that no Democrats, including previous co-sponsors, joined Senator Hatch in introducing this legislation. To date, there has been no action on I-Squared. DPE continues to educate members of Congress and their staff on why the H-1B program should be reformed, not expanded, and why Congress’ focus should be on protecting those living and working here as Dreamers and TPS recipients.
O and P Visas for Performers and Support Personnel
DPE coordinates efforts to reform the O and P visa programs 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.
DPE organized a meeting between U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director L. Francis Cissna and representatives of AEMI unions to discuss concerns with the current O and P visa adjudication process. AEMI unions have consultation rights in the O and P visa application process. Director Cissna heard from eight AEMI unions on their experiences with fraud and abuse. DPE and the AEMI unions shared our recommendations on how USCIS can reform the adjudication process through the regulatory process. DPE is spearheading a follow up effort to seek necessary regulatory reform.
DPE coordinated participation by arts and entertainment unions during Arts Advocacy Day, sponsored by Americans for the Arts in March 2018. With the Trump administration again proposing to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), DPE and representatives from seven affiliate unions in the arts and entertainment industry met with staff from five key congressional offices. There we made the case for full federal arts funding in FY 2019 appropriations and highlighted the contributions of creative professionals and their unions to the success of the arts and entertainment industries. In addition, DPE updated and distributed its Federal Arts Funding Communications and Advocacy Toolkit for affiliates to use with its members.
The advocacy for full federal arts funding in the federal government’s 2019 fiscal year came amidst Congress voting to fully fund the NEA, NEH, and CPB for the remainder of the 2018 fiscal year, which runs through September 30th, as part of the omnibus legislation signed into law in March 2018. DPE and the arts and entertainment unions had advocated for full FY 2018 federal arts funding when the Trump administration first proposed elimination of the NEA, NEH, and CPB.
Shortly after DPE and the AEMI unions participated in Arts Advocacy Day, Rep. Louise Slaughter, Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, sadly passed away.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi named Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine) the new Democratic Co- Chair. In May 2018, DPE organized a meeting for the AEMI unions with Rep. Pingree, where the unions introduced Rep. Pingree to their members and priority issues.
Arts, Entertainment, and Media Industries
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.
DPE continued to coordinate meetings, events, and legislative and policy priorities for the 12 member unions of the AEMI as, in part, discussed above. The AEMI provides a venue for DPE affiliates in the arts, entertainment, and media industries to coordinate and connect on issues pertaining to public policy and bargaining with common employers. In the last year, the AEMI: held two in-person meetings; convened a special meeting for those unions with members in broadcast news; hosted a meeting with USCIS Director Cissna; and participated in advocacy for full federal arts funding, meeting with seven congressional offices. All the while, DPE provided AEMI affiliates with regular updates on relevant federal policy developments.
Several AEMI unions have members working for the same employers in the broadcast news industry. DPE brought these unions together to discuss common issues and concerns in May 2018. From the meeting came a plan for continued coordination and collaboration at a time when there is significant upheaval in the broadcast news industry that is creating serious challenges for representation and bargaining.
DPE’s communications work aims to promote DPE affiliates, their members and campaigns; reach non-union professionals to communicate the effectiveness of joining together; and spread the word about DPE and its work. DPE strategies to accomplish these goals are to promote: affiliates’ work and members; DPE materials; and news stories about the organizing and bargaining success of unions of professionals.
One of the tools DPE has used to accomplish its communications goals is social media. DPE has a presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. DPE also has a YouTube page that we aim to use more frequently in the future.
In December 2017, DPE celebrated its 40th anniversary and used the occasion to highlight professionals and their unions on social media with graphics that included pictures of affiliates’ members. Affiliates, including AFGE, IFPTE, USW, and UWUA also took part in the celebration with videos wishing DPE a happy birthday that were shared widely on Facebook and Twitter. We also used the celebration to highlight the growth of professional union membership in the 40 years of DPE’s existence.
DPE has also used social media to promote affiliates’ conferences, rallies, and legislative priorities. DPE staff attended a number of affiliates’ conferences this year, including IAFF’s Affiliate Leadership Summit and Human Relations Conference and IBEW’s broadcasting conference, and took part in the action on social media by taking photos and using the event hashtags to help promote the conferences. Affiliates like AFGE have sponsored rallies to support their members, which DPE staff attended and promoted on social media. DPE has pushed out statements on legislative priorities like federal arts funding, H-1B reform, and opposing the Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act with graphics and other materials on social media.
Additionally, DPE continues to spread the word about professionals’ organizing and contract victories on social media. Examples of what we promoted this year include Talking Points Memos staff joining together with WGAE, AEA’s contract with Norwegian Cruise Line for the Norwegian Bliss, and New Bedford’s (Mass.) City on a Hill charter school staff joining together with AFT.
DPE’s work on social media has helped the performance of its social media accounts, which means more people are hearing about unions for professionals, DPE, and our affiliates’ work.
From July 2017 through May 2018, DPE’s Twitter account reached more people than ever before. DPE’s tweets made 949,000 impressions, meaning almost a million people on Twitter viewed DPE’s tweets during this time. The Twitter account has averaged over 100,000 impressions per month since January 2018. For comparison, last May (2017) DPE’s Twitter account earned 28,300 impressions. DPE’s following on Twitter (people who follow DPE’s Twitter account) has also grown in the last year increasing to 723 followers from 403 followers.
DPE’s presence on Facebook is also growing and spreading the word about unions for professionals. DPE’s Facebook posts made 74,349 impressions from July 2017 through May 2018, meaning DPE’s posts were seen almost 80,000 times. DPE’s Facebook page has 182 likes and 213 follows up from 89 likes and 103 follows about this time last year.
DPE’s Instagram account was created in early April 2018 and so far the account has 57 followers. DPE’s LinkedIn account, which was created last year, has 16 followers. DPE aims to reach the different audiences that use each of these social media platforms to maximize the number of people that hear about DPE and its affiliates.
DPE’s website houses fact sheets on professional union members, information on DPE’s materials and resources, the press releases DPE publishes, and other information about unions for professionals and DPE. In the past year, DPE’s website saw 275,434 unique page views— similar to last year’s traffic of 315,854 unique page views. The monthly average for unique page views was just over 25,000. DPE’s top performing webpages include DPE’s fact sheets on the safe staffing for nurses (29,066 page views), the benefits of collective bargaining for professionals (8,493 page views), and recourse for misclassified employees (10,334 page views).
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 4:48 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 June 2017, DPE moved its blog over to Medium.com, in the past year DPE’s blog posts have been read 560 times and viewed even more. The benefit to Medium.com is that it makes it easier for interested parties to find our blogs, to share individual blog posts on social media, and see individual blog post analytics. Our blog telling the stories of affiliates’ members who benefited from DACA and President Almeida’s blog on professional millennials have been some of the most popular on our Medium.com page.
DPE has continued to foster relationships with members of the media through meetings, publishing press releases, and pitching news stories to ensure stories about unions for professionals are published in the press.
In the past year, DPE staff has met with reporters from The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Jacobin, and CNN Money. These meetings have helped build an awareness of who DPE is and of unions for professionals among members of the media.
DPE continues to publish press releases for newsworthy announcements and statements. In the past year, DPE has published and pushed out to members of the media nine press releases. In addition to press releases, DPE staff has pitched reporters exclusive story offers related to unions of professionals and has also been solicited by reporters for information about professional union membership. The interest from members of the media has mostly been around growth of professional union members in 2017 and the introduction of I-Squared legislation by Senator Hatch. By working with members of the media, DPE had 10 press hits in the past year:
POLITICO, January 12, 2018, “DREAMers deal?”
Bloomberg BNA, January 19, 2018, “Union Membership Rate Stays Steady in 2017”
The Rick Smith Show, January 24, 2018, “Paul Almeida shares Growing Professional Labor Movement”
Bloomberg, January 25, 2018, “GOP Lawmaker Wants to More Than Double High- Skilled Worker Visas”
The Mercury News, January 29, 2018, “Facebook, Microsoft and other tech firms support bill to increase H-1B visas”
Bloomberg BNA, February 21, 2018, “Think-Tank Workers Think About Joining Union”
The Boston Globe, March 12, 2018, “Millennials, white-collar workers bringing new life to unions”
People’s World, March 27, 2018, “Teachers’ unions strongly back gun control campaign; most other unions silent”
Broadway World, May 16, 2018, “Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO Lauds Senate Vote to Protect Net Neutrality”
People’s World, May 18, 2018, “Senate vote to preserve net neutrality faces GOP roadblock”
DPE organizes programs on topics important to affiliates. On April 6, 2018, DPE brought affiliates together to learn, discuss, and strategize on member engagement, an important tool for cultivating committed members and weathering political and employer attacks on unions. The program, “Strategies for Effective Member Engagement,” drew 27 attendees from 13 DPE affiliate unions.
The April 6th event featured a keynote presentation from Penn State professor Paul F. Clark on his research demonstrating the integral role of engagement on developing union commitment among members. Professor Clark also shared the findings from his longitudinal study of new union members who participated in formal orientation programs and the tie-in to long term member engagement. In addition, the program included a panel discussion about successful internal organizing and member engagement initiatives with representatives from AEA, AFGE, AFT, and IAFF. DPE is working to continue the conversation started at the April 6th program between affiliates on successful approaches to member engagement.
DPE research projects in the last year have been designed to help affiliates gain a better understanding of the professional and technical workforce and union members as well as identify opportunities for new organizing.
Industry & Sector Reports
DPE produces in-depth reports to assist affiliates in their representation and organizing of professionals. DPE created a new report on the federal sector workforce and union members and updated its report on the healthcare industry.
The Federal Sector: Employment and Union Member Changes, 2003-2017
DPE’s in-depth analysis of the federal sector explored the education attainment, demographics, occupations, industry employment, and geographic distribution of federal sector employees and union members. The objective of the report was to provide information that could inform union organizing and representation of federal sector employees.
The report noted modest employment and union membership gains from 2003 to 2017 (all postal service occupations were excluded from data and analysis). Union density was largely stable for the last 15 years with nearly 100,000 additional union members. The majority—about 75 percent—of federal sector employment gains in the last 15 years were concentrated in professional occupations. The strongest union member gains were also among those employed in a professional or technical occupation. The report concluded with several suggestions for action.
Professionals in the Healthcare Industry: 1990 – 2017
In September 2017, DPE updated its report on workforce changes and organizing opportunities in the healthcare industry. Three sub-industries within the healthcare industry were analyzed, including ambulatory healthcare services, hospitals, and nursing and residential care facilities. Geographic employment, occupational employment, demographics, education attainment, public and private-sector employment, and union membership changes were analyzed. Suggestions for action by affiliates seeking to organize professionals in the healthcare industry concluded the report.
DPE regularly updates its nearly 40 publications that are designed to educate readers about the professional and technical workforce. Fact sheets are available on the DPE website.
The last year saw the passing of labor leaders in the DPE family who served their unions, professions, and the labor movement with great distinction – Diann Woodard and Mike Hodge.
Diann Woodard – President of the American Federation of School Administrators, Woodard was a vocal advocate for school administrators and professional union members. Through her 36-year career as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, trustee, and leader of the national union for school administrators, President Woodard dedicated her life to public education and enriching the lives of young people.
Mike Hodge – SAG-AFTRA New York President Hodge enjoyed a career as a performer that included Broadway, TV, film, and commercials. He joined the Screen Actors Guild’s (SAG) national board in 2001, following the 2000 commercial strike. In 2009, he became president of the SAG New York local and was a key player in the 2012 Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists merger. Mike was a pleasure to work with, a great trade unionist, and a good friend.