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 is published every month. Issues of NewsLine are accessible on the DPE web page www.dpeaflcio.org. Feedback welcome; send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In This Issue:
- Working to Build New Models
- Bigger Media, Bigger Money, Bigger Media
- Nurses: 2006 Facts Sheets
- Lunch and Learn with DPE – Depression & the Workplace
- Outreach to Associations: APHA Annual Meeting
- DPE in the News
- DPE Signs On
WORKING TO BUILD NEW MODELS – In response to a seismic shift in work, unions affiliated with the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) are working to build new models for unions. Two work groups, on union learning representatives (ULRs) and professional associations, met for the first time in July. A third, on independent contractors and antitrust, met this month.
Among them, the three meetings engaged representatives of 15 unions, almost two-thirds of the DPE affiliates: AEA, AFM, AFSCME, AFT, AFTRA, CWA, IAFF, IAMAW, IATSE, IBEW, IFPTE, IUPAT, SAG, UAN, and USW. Participants discussed candidly their unions’ interests in – and experiences with – each topic.
The Work Group on Union Learning Representatives met on July 24, 2006. In preparation, DPE conducted interviews and research to report on the political and union context of states in which participating unions might undertake pilot ULR programs and work toward state funding. DPE has since provided additional background on the English unions’ model, a draft setting out the functions of a ULR, and a list of questions a union creating a pilot program would need to answer.
Over the last 12 years, ULRs connected tens of thousands of English workers with educational and training programs, reversed membership losses, and brought into union activism women, minorities, and younger employees. The number of ULRs soared to some 14,000, with a target of 22,000 by 2010. For more information, click on http://www.unionlearn.org.uk/.
The Work Group on Professional Associations met on July 25, 2006. Its advance reading included a briefing from Cornell University Professor Richard W. Hurd. Two of the participating unions agreed tentatively to recount their interactions with professional associations to the other participants. The group’s next steps include identifying professional associations with which to meet.
The Work Group on Independent Contractors and Antitrust met on September 8, 2006. The work group participants suggested three primary interests: 1) to investigate how individuals and unions can combat employers’ abuses in mischaracterizing employees as independent contractors; 2) to analyze the limits for individuals who are genuinely independent contractors and who want to organize for collective action through unions; and 3) to clarify the role of a union in a unit affected by independent contractors in the same occupations or providing the same services. AFL-CIO Associate General Counsel James Coppess provided an overview of the applicable law and a sampling of union experiences.
BIGGER MEDIA, BIGGER MONEY, BIGGER MEDIA – On July 24, 2006, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) returned to the sore topic of media ownership.
To defend democracy, local news, and a diversity of voices against a renewed Bush Administration assault, DPE is working with its affiliated unions; the Arts, Entertainment and Media Industries, Industry Coordinating Committee (AEMI ICC); and the AFL-CIO to prepare comments by a October 23, 2006 deadline. It plans also to file reply comments by a December 21 deadline. Consulting on the comments for DPE is Joel S. Yudken, who was primarily responsible for the 2003 AFL-CIO comments.
The first FCC foray in 2003 saw its former chair Michael Powell try hard to open the way for big media conglomerates to grow bigger. In a case called Prometheus, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit sent back to the FCC many aspects of the FCC proposals and left the previous rules in effect.
Hearings by Commissioners Copps and Adelstein, the two Democrats of the five Commissioners, have brought impassioned statements about the importance of a free and diverse media. The FCC as an agency has scheduled its first hearing for Tuesday, October 3, 2006 in Los Angeles. It says it will hold five more. To see a list of topics that may be appropriate for the hearings, see http://www.fcc.gov/ownership/hearings.html.
Meanwhile, on September 14, 2006, the Associated Press reported “The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage…” See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14836500/ns/politics/t/media-ownership-study-ordered-destroyed/.
NURSES: 2006 FACT SHEETS
VITAL SIGNS: A Brief Overview of the State of the Nursing Profession in the United States – Registered nurse was among the fastest growing occupations in the 1990s. By 2005, the number of employed RNs was 2,416,000 – an increase of 52% since 1990. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Labor identified “Registered Nurse” as the occupation expected to increase the second largest job growth in the 10 years from 2004 to 2014. The need for RNs is projected grow rapidly by 29.4% between 2004 and 2014, compared to 13% during the same period for all occupations. More than 1.2 million openings for RNs are projected by 2014 due to growth and replacements. At the same time, the U.S. is experiencing a severe nursing shortage that will intensify as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows.
This new fact sheet includes a wealth of statistical and other information gleaned from a variety of sources on: the size and demographic composition of the nurse work force; the projected need for nurses; enrollment in nursing schools and the shortage of nursing school faculty; pervasive understaffing and its dangers to patients and nurses; mandatory overtime and floating; nurse burnout, job dissatisfaction, and departure from nursing; the effects of recruiting nurses from abroad; the high risk of occupational safety and health hazards; wages and benefits; and union organizing.
THE COSTS AND BENEFITS OF SAFE STAFFING RATIOS – Adequate nurse staffing is key to patient care and nurse retention, while inadequate staffing endangers patients’ lives and drives nurses from their chosen profession. This fact sheet details the growing evidence that understaffing threatens patients’ lives, results in longer hospital stays, and causes nurse turnover. It examines the cost to hospitals of implementing safe staffing ratios, as well as the evidence that nurses return to nursing when safe staff ratios are in place.
To obtain copies of these and other DPE fact sheets, visit the Website, www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/factsheets/htm, or email Marcie Lawrence, email@example.com. For information about ongoing research, contact Pamela Wilson, by phone: 202/638-6684, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LUNCH & LEARN WITH DPE –
DEPRESSION & THE WORKPLACE: LABOR’S ROLE IN PROMOTING WELLNESS – “Today, we’ll be looking at an illness that has touched everyone in this room: Depression,” said DPE President Paul E. Almeida in his introduction to the Lunch & Learn. “We’ve all either experienced depression ourselves, or we’ve been close someone who has, in our family, in our workplace, and among our friends. And we know how devastating it can be.”
Pointing to a key connection, he noted that, “By their very nature unions promote mental and physical health. Unions are empowering. A union provides a counterbalance to the otherwise unchecked power of the employer. In the absence of a union, the employer makes the decisions…And the grievance system is very important: If a union member is being discriminated against, if favoritism exists in his or her workplace, if work isn’t allocated fairly, there’s a mechanism for sorting it out.”
The program attracted more than 70 representatives from labor, public health, government, community, and consumer organizations, university faculty and students, media representatives, business, and the representative of a foreign embassy. Among the organizations represented were AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAFF, IAMAW, IFPTE, LIUNA, NEA, OPEIU, UNITE HERE, Utility Workers, the AFL-CIO, CLUW, U.S. Department of Labor, National Labor Relations Board, D.C. Department of Health, D.C. Child & Family Services Agency, American Medical Women’s Association, National Association of Social Workers, Metro D.C. Public Health Association, Suicide Prevention Action Network, National Council of Jewish Women, American Rights at Work, Alliance for Retired Americans, Labor & Employment Relations Association, DC Primary Care Association, Consumers Union, Summit Health Institute for Research and Education, George Washington, Howard, and Johns Hopkins Universities, IBM, the Japanese Embassy, Southwest Neighborhood Assembly, Take It To The Streets Unlimited, Press Associates, and WPFW, 89.3 FM.
The program featured former Assistant Surgeon General Marilyn Gaston, M.D., former Johns Hopkins and Howard University clinical psychologist Gayle Porter, Psy.D.,
who are jointly Co-Directors of the Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center and co-authors ofPrime Time: The African American Woman’s Complete Guide to Midlife Health and Wellness; Dianne Polowczyk, Ph.D., President-Elect, New York State Psychological Association, American Federation of Teachers, and Gwend Johnson, Director, Human Rights, Communications Workers of America. The program was moderated by psychotherapist Pamela Brewer, host of MyNDTALK on WPFW, 89.3 FM.
LUNCH & LEARN RECORDINGS AVAILABLE! This program was recorded and can be heard from the DPE Website, www.dpeaflcio.org, under Items of Interest. Also recorded and posted is the previous Lunch & Learn, VA Health Care: It’s the System! CDs of each of these programs can be purchased for $10, including postage and handling. To place an order, contact Pamela Wilson at email@example.com
COMING IN OCTOBER… HEALTH CONSEQUENCES OF THE WAR IN IRAQ & AT HOME, Noon – 2:00 p.m., Thursday, October 5. A reprise of our February program featuring Barry Levy, M.D., co-editor of War and Public Health; Past-President, American Public Health Association and a panel including, Brooks Sunkett, Vice-President for Public, Healthcare and Education Workers, CWA; Nancy Wohlforth, Secretary-Treasurer, OPEIU; Co-convener of U.S. Labor Against the War; Garret Reppenhagen, Iraq Veterans Against the War, who served in Iraq as Cavalry Scout/Sniper with the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division; Elizabeth Frederick, Military Families Speak Out, an organization of 3,000 military families who oppose the war in Iraq and have a loved one who served or serves in the military. This program will be recorded and broadcast. The recording will be posted to the Website; cds of the program will be available from DPE.
BEING PLANNED – A Lunch and Learn on the Out-Sourcing of Medical Jobs.
Written Materials from Lunch & Learn programs are available from the Website, https://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/lunch_and_learn.htm.
For further information about the series – or to register for the October 5 program, contact Pamela Wilson at 202/638-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE IN THE NEWS – Lunch & Learn: As a prelude to the Lunch & Learn program on Depression & the Workplace: Labor’s Role in Promoting Wellness, DPE worked with the Washington, D.C.-based Pacifica station, WPFW, 89.3 FM to help facilitate an edition of To Heal DC. The program featured Drs. Marilyn Gaston and Gayle Porter, Co-Directors of the Gaston & Porter Health Improvement Center, recently announced winners of the 2006 Civic Ventures Purpose Award, http://www.civicventures.org/prize/finalists/gaston-porter.cft, two key speakers at the Lunch & Learn. The Lunch & Learn was promoted on this and other programs on WPFW.
The program was covered in two articles by Press Associates Union News Service, “Panel: Workplace Stress, Depression, Costs Jobs, Leads to Physical Ills” and “A Union Contract is Better for Your Health,” posted under Breaking News on www.dpeaflcio.org.
From 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. on September 1, WPFW 89.3 FM MyNDTALK broadcast an edited one-hour version of the August 2 Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) Lunch & Learn program, Depression and the Workplace: Labor’s Role in Promoting Wellness. MyNDTALK is hosted by psychotherapist Pamela Brewer, Ph.D., who moderated the Lunch & Learn.
OUTREACH TO ASSOCIATIONS: APHA ANNUAL MEETING, which attracts some 15,000 participants, will be held from November 4-8 in Boston. The programs for the 2006 Annual Meeting have been organized by Pamela Wilson, Assistant to DPE President Almeida and chair of the Labor Caucus, in collaboration with the DPE nurse affiliates, American Rights at Work, the APHA Occupational Health and Safety Section, and other Labor Caucus members. The three 90-minute Labor Caucus sessions at this year’s Annual Meeting are:
- Labor Rights Are Human Rights (4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Monday, November 6) Includes a focus on Union Status & Employment-Based Health Care (Emily Ihara, Ph.D., George Mason University; Nurses, Unions and Patient Outcomes (David Keepnews, Ph.D., MPH, JD, Adelphi University); and Occupational Health and Safety (Linda Rae Murray, M.D., MPH, Cook County Community Health Network).
- Nurse Supervisory Status: Prescription for Instability? (12:30 – 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 7) Includes a focus on Collective Bargaining as a Solution (Ann Twomey, President, Health Professionals & Allied Employees, AFT); Licensed Practical Nurses Providing Long-Term Care (Katherine Cox, MPH AFSCME); Messages that Resonate: Nurses, the Public & the Implications of Changes in Supervisory Status (Ann Converso, RN, Vice President, UAN); Implications of Changes in Status for Other Workers (Kathleen Cassavant, Director, AFL-CIO Voice @ Work).
- Labor, the War in Iraq & Public Health (2:30 – 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 7) Includes a focus on the health consequences of the war in Iraq (Barry Levy, M.D., MPH, former president APHA; adjunct professor, Tufts University), Labor Views the Cost of War (Nancy Wohlforth, Secretary-Treasurer, OPEIU on ; Co-convener, U.S. Labor Against the War); The War on US Workers (Russ Davis, Executive Director, Massachusetts Jobs With Justice); Effects of the War on Health Care (Ann Hirschman, RN-C, FNP, University Behavioral Health Care). This session will be followed by a special discussion session, Taking Action, from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. In addition, a plenary session, War & Public Health, sponsored by the Peace Caucus, (Monday, 12:30 – 2:00 p.m.) will feature a focus on U.S. Labor and the War in Iraq (Nancy Wohlforth).
The sessions will be cosponsored by several major Sections and Caucuses within APHA. The session on Labor Rights Are Human Rights is also co-sponsored by American Rights at Work. Continuing education credits are available for all three Labor Caucus sessions.
A resolution, Freedom to Form Unions: the Employee Free Choice Act, co-sponsored by the Labor Caucus and the Occupational Health and Safety Section, will be discussed and voted on by the Governing Council following a public hearing on Sunday, November 5 at the Annual Meeting.
We urge you to encourage participation at these events and at the Labor Caucus Business Meeting (6:30-8:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 7) where the program for 2006 will be discussed.
For additional information about the Labor Caucus and its programs, contact Pamela Wilson: 202/638-0320 or email@example.com. For information about the Annual Meeting, visit the Website, www.apha.org
DPE SIGNS ON – DPE joined other unions, including its affiliates AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAFF, and IFPTE, in opposing the “Business Activity Tax Simplification Act of 2006” (H.R. 1956), which would enrich businesses at the expense of state and local revenues.
DPE also signed on to oppose the “Government Efficiency Act” and the “Abolishment of Obsolete Agencies and Federal Sunset Act” to establish one or more sunset commissions that could lead to abolishing federal agencies and programs (H.R. 5766 and H.R. 3282). Other unions affiliated with DPE joining the letter were AFGE, AFM, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAM, IBEW, IFPTE, and USW.
Most recently, DPE added its name to a letter “to retain the bipartisan Kennedy-Hatch Amendment to the FY07 Senate Defense Appropriations Bill in the conference report.” Its goal: to make sure Department of Defense privatization reviews not reward outside contractors in bidding competitions for inferior retirement benefits. Other DPE affiliates signing on: AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAFF, IAM, IBEW, and IFPTE.