The purpose of this newsletter is to inform you of recent activities by the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO as well as emerging issues affecting the professional and technical workforce. NewsLine will be published on the first of every month. Issues of Newsline are accessible on the DPE web page www.dpeaflcio.org. Feedback welcomed; send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue:
- FCC Media Rules
- Outreach to Professional Societies: The Library Association
- Outreach to Professional Societies: The National Society of Professional Engineers
DPE in the News
- CNN Sunday Morning: Debating Offshoring
- Workers Independent News Service: Overtime
- Perspectives on Work: The Magazine of The Industrial Relations Research Association
- PRISM: The Magazine of The American Society for Engineering Education
- Coalition Building: DPE and The Jobs and Trade Network (JTN)
- Organizing Conference 2005
- Workplace issues and Collective Bargaining
- DPE Meetings
FCC MEDIA RULES—500 labor and community supporters turned out in San Antonio Texas for the January 28th FCC forum on localism in broadcasting. With a lot of help from a number of DPE media and entertainment unions, their staff as well as the San Antonio Labor Council, DPE Executive Director Mike Gildea helped coordinate the successful grassroots labor piece of the mobilization which saw activists lining up at 4:00 a.m. to get seats for the evening event at city hall. This was the second Commission field hearing—an event targeted last November by the Department’s Arts, Entertainment and Media Industry (AEMI) Committee. Thanks to Mona Mangan, Executive Director of the Writer’s Guild, East and chair of the AEMI committee, Jesus Sanchez of the Guild’s New York staff was dispatched to be the lead organizer for the Department. He along with Mike Munis of AFM, working with Alicia Garza—President of the labor council—provided invaluable on-site assistance. A number of public interest groups including Common Cause, Move On and Free Press also mobilized for the event.
The effort featured a labor press conference to release an AFL-CIO commissioned report on Clear Channel Communications—the nation’s largest radio and entertainment venue conglomerate. San Antonio is the corporate headquarters of Clear Channel. The corporate profile, authored by Cornell University, detailed the media giant’s business plan, history of adversary labor relations, regulatory scrapes, and political wheeling and dealing. Linda Foley, Newspaper Guild President and DPE Secretary-Treasurer, along with AFTRA’s Director of Broadcasting Tom Carpenter, Dallas/Ft.Worth AFM local President Ray Hair and Common Cause’s President Chellie Penigree participated in the press event along with nearly 100 union members and retirees. The event was featured on San Antonio television and in the city’s largest daily newspaper which in its morning edition had run ran an op-ed article by Carpenter critical of Clear Channel’s use of voice tracking. Jayne Wallace of AFTRA’s New York staff worked with local labor on the press outreach.
For the official FCC forum, the DPE—working with the staff of Commissioners Copps and Adelstein—brokered a spot on one of the official panels for Ray Hair who regaled the full commission about Clear Channel practices that hurt local musicians and recording artists. Hair brought the house down when he criticized the Commission for its repeal of media ownership rules, slammed the AFL-CIO report on the table and demanded that it be put into the official record of the hearings—all to a standing ovation of the 500 plus activists that were in attendance. The three GOP commissioners—Powell, Abernathy and Martin were not amused. A copy of the Clear Channel report, entitled The Clear Picture on Clear Channel can be found here.
OVERTIME – The Bush attack on overtime pay prompted the first Senate hearing of 2004 and figured prominently in the first three Senate roll call votes of the year. On January 15, 2004, DPE President Paul E. Almeida wrote every member of the Senate. He highlighted news reports that the Bush DOL has been advising employers how to evade their overtime pay obligations, which undercut DOL’s advertising that it wanted to help low-wage workers. He urged that Senators vote against the omnibus funding bill and advise the White House and DOL to withdraw the proposed regulations.
On January 20, Congress reconvened. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) chaired a hearing of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees DOL. He chastised DOL Secretary Elaine Chao for failing to meet or talk with him and other appropriators and expressed his doubt that the proposed DOL regulations would “clarify” the overtime rules. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard L. Trumka testified: “The Bush proposal would effectively gut the 40-hour workweek through administrative regulation …”
That afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-ND) called for a vote against cloture on the omnibus appropriations bill. He highlighted its omission of protection for overtime pay and its ignoring the will of Congress on media ownership. To invoke cloture requires a three-fifths majority; it received 48 votes in favor and 45 against and thus failed. Two days later, the Senate reversed itself with a vote of 61-32 on cloture and passage of the omnibus, which combined seven appropriations bills, by 65-28.
DOL has announced its intent to publish final regulations by March. Polling shows that 89 percent of the public favors expanding or maintaining current overtime employee coverage.
BROADCASTERS—The DPE continued assisting the local AFTRA campaign in the Maryland legislature to outlaw non-compete agreements in broadcast and radio markets throughout the state. (See January 2004 Newsline for details) Non-compete covenants, which are forced upon off and on-air talent, forbid these employees from working for a competitor within the same media market even if they are terminated–with or without cause—or their contracts are not renewed. The local effort is part of a national, state-by-state AFTRA initiative to prohibit these covenants in as many jurisdictions as possible. DPE’s Mike Gildea has been working with local AFTRA leadership and the Washington Metropolitan Labor Council to secure co-sponsors of the legislation. In January the bill to outlaw non-competes—H.B. 234—was introduced with 44 co-sponsors, more than double the number from last year. Co-sponsors include a number of key delegates in House leadership and from the House Economic Matters Committee to which the bill was referred. In January, Mike Gildea and AFTRA lobbyists met with the Speaker of the House of Delegates, Michael Byrd, the President of the State Senate Mike Miller and the chair of the Senate Finance Committee Thomas “Mac” Middleton. A Senate bill will be introduced shortly and House hearings are expected soon.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES: THE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
Expanding its connection to the American Library Association (ALA), Pamela Wilson, Assistant to President Paul Almeida, attended the mid-winter meeting of the American Library Association, chaired the meeting of the ALA-AFL-CIO Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups, whose mission is “to initiate, develop and foster …ways and means of effecting closer cooperation between the librarian and labor organizations and the larger constituency represented by labor organizations”, and participated in the meetings of the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA), a companion organization to ALA, and its working groups. ALA-APA promotes unionization as a key strategy to improve the status and salaries of librarians (www.ala-apa.org).Librarian activists from AFSCME, SEIU, RWDSU-UFCW, and other affiliates were involved in the formation of this new organization and its materials, including Advocating for Better Salaries and Pay Equity Toolkit (www.mjfreedman.org/freedmanf/toolkit.pdf).
DPE hopes to assist its affiliates to further increase their visibility and membership among library workers at ALA. The Annual Meeting (June 24-30 in Orlando) will include an All Unions Breakfast cosponsored by DPE, ALA-APA and AFSCME Local 1930, a discussion of unions for professional and technical workers featuring DPE President Almeida, and other programs with a union focus. Library workers are represented by AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IFPTE, SEIU, and UFCW. Materials are being developed to further this work, including a fact sheet on library workers.
For further information, contact Pamela Wilson: 202-638-6684, or email@example.com.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL SOCIETIES: THE NATIONAL SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS – Expanding its connection with societies that represent professional and technical workers. President Almeida was invited to address the winter meeting of the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE). President Almeida was asked to speak on the subject of the “Unionization and the US Engineering Workforce.” In a day-long continuing education program “Current Challenges in the Engineering Workplace: Legislation, Regulation and Professional Issues” the NSPE also examined the issues of: Guest workers under H1-B and L-1 visas; Effect of Off Shore Engineering on the US Engineering Workforce; and A-76 Competition and Federal Contracting.
DPE in the News
CNN SUNDAY MORNING: DEBATING OFFSHORING – On Sunday January 11, President Almeida appeared on CNN’s Sunday Morning news show to debate Bob Thibedeau CEO, White Label on the issue of offshoring. See DPE’s web page www.dpeaflcio.org/breakingnews for the transcript of the debate.
WORKERS INDEPENDENT NEWS SERVICE: OVERTIME – On January 19, the Workers Independent News Service, which serves some 60 radio stations, broadcast a news story about overtime pay and the coming Senate vote on whether to cut off debate – cloture – on the omnibus bill. The piece excerpted interviews with AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson and DPE Assistant to the President David Cohen. To download the audio, click on: http://www.laborradio.org/audio/features/mp3/winsfeat011904.mp3.
PERSPECTIVES ON WORK: THE MAGAZINE OF THE INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS RESEARCH ASSOCIATION –– The winter 2004 issue features a series of article “Turbulence in Airlines and Aerospace.” Among the article was “Losing Altitude: Employment in the Aerospace Sector,” contributing to this article were Steve Sleigh (IAM), Faraz Kahn (IFPTE) and DPE President Almeida. For a copy of the article, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRISM: THE MAGAZINE OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR ENGINEERING EDUCATION – The December publication Prism features “Eating America’s Lunch: How global competitors are swallowing up the nation’s high-tech jobs.” As part of this series of articles President Almeida’s testimony before the House Small Business Committee is quoted in their article “My Job Lies Over the Ocean.” For a copy of the article email email@example.com.
COALITION BUILDING: DPE AND THE JOBS AND TRADE NETWORK (JTN) –
Current United States Trade Policy has led to a crisis in jobs, manufacturing, and the off-shoring of white collar work in both professional and technical fields. These same trade policies have had chain-reaction effects on our communities, immigration policy, environmental protections, healthcare, and a host of other issues. Unions, fair trade organizations, worker groups are coming together to raise the issues adversely impacting the workforce at all level in the hope bringing some sanity to our trade policies.
The initial meeting will include formation of the JTN, a Press Conference, and an opportunity to socialize and share experiences.
It is the hope that the JTN can create a mechanism that can serve as a national fair trade information clearinghouse; can help coordinate activities amongst the many fair trade groups in America; can provide research and commentary on fair trade issues; can coordinate efforts to influence legislation and public policy debate on fair trade issues, including the 2004 election cycle.
The JTN will be holding the initial meeting of this new group on February 24, 2004 in Washington, D.C. For more information please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ORGANIZING CONFERENCE 2005 – On January 27, 2004, the Planning Committee for an organizing conference met at DPE. The Committee identified possible dates in March 2005, refined objectives, decided on the intended participants, and brainstormed possibilities for plenary sessions, panels and workshops. It will reconvene in March after DPE investigates possibilities that the Committee proposed. Among those possibilities: attitudinal research focusing on professionals and students, demographic work force forecasts, and research about organizing messages and themes that flow from the attitudinal and demographic findings.
WORKPLACE ISSUES AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING – The Community Services Agency of the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO has received a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services grant to implement a program of “Workplace Issues and Collective Bargaining in the Classroom in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.” DPE co-sponsored the grant application. Paul E. Almeida and David Cohen attended the first meeting of the joint labor-management committee overseeing the grant on January 22, 2004. On the agenda was a timeline for carrying out the terms of the grant, which will enable Washington-area schools to implement innovative curricula over the next 18 months.
DPE MEETINGS—The 2004 schedule for key DPE governance meetings was set in late January and notices were sent to DPE leadership. The schedule is as follows:
- Executive Committee— April 28 and December 1 (both are Wednesdays) from 12:30-3:30pm at AFT Headquarters.
- General Board–June 15 (Tuesday) from 10am-2pm at the AFL-CIO in the 8th floor Meany Conference Room