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:
- Pushing for RESPECT
- Associating Professionally
- Employers Misclassifying Employees
- How Do American Children Fare in Comparison to Children in Other Countries?
- American Public Health Association: “Unembedded”
- DPE Signs On
PUSHING FOR RESPECT – In July, DPE joined its affiliated unions, the AFL-CIO, the Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council, and other unions in seeking House of Representatives co-sponsors for the RESPECT Act (H.R. 1644). The number of co-sponsors more than doubled to 88. The challenge: to find more co-sponsors over the Congressional recess in August.
“RESPECT” stands for the “Re-Empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradesworkers.” Introduced in the House and Senate (S. 969) in March 2007, the bill seeks a return to the intent of Congress in defining who is a “supervisor” under the National Labor Relations Act. In September 2006, the Bush National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) radically expanded the definition through a decision called Oakwood. The NLRB thus threatened legal protections for organizing, bargaining, and collective action for millions of employees. For professional and technical employees, whose expertise often guides other employees, Oakwood poses an especially urgent threat.
For the July 13 letter from DPE President Paul E. Almeida to every Member of the House, click on https://www.dpeaflcio.org/pdf/22314.pdf. To see the current roster of House co-sponsors, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR01644:@@@N.
For information or comments, please contact DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
ASSOCIATING PROFESSIONALLY – Since July 2006, the DPE Work Group on Professional Associations has investigated how unions could learn from, and work with, professional associations. On its behalf, DPE President Paul E. Almeida, Executive Director David Cohen, and Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson have met and talked with the leaders and senior staff of 10 associations. In July 2007, the conversations included the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the American Pharmacists Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Association of Social Workers.
For more information about the project, please contact DPE President Paul E. Almeida, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-638-0320 extension 14, or DPE Executive Director David Cohen, email@example.com, 202-638-0320 extension 13.
EMPLOYERS MISCLASSIFYING EMPLOYEES – On Tuesday, July 24, 2007, the Subcommittees on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions and on Workforce Protections, of the House Committee on Education and Labor, conducted a joint hearing, “The Misclassification of Workers as Independent Contractors: What Policies and Practices Best Protect Workers?” Clicking on the link will take you to an archived webcast of the hearing, opening statements, and the witnesses’ testimony.
The DPE Work Group on Independent Contractors and Antitrust identified misclassification as a major concern for its participating unions, and many of those unions have joined an AFL-CIO legislative task force on the topic. Their perspective parallels that of Rep. Andrews, Chair of the HELP Subcommittee: Misclassification hurts employees, makes honest employers uncompetitive, and deprives federal and state government of taxes, thus increasing the burden on other taxpayers. Chair of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections Rep. Woolsey’s perspective: The Bush Department of Labor isn’t doing enough.
Especially valuable is the statement by David J. Socolow, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which recommends steps Congress might address; go to http://edlabor.house.gov/testimony/072407DavidSocolowTestimony.pdf. Among his points: NJ is acting on misclassification, which is widespread and does major damage, through coordinated enforcement and legislation presuming employment status. Congress should: 1) redefine “employee” clearly and strongly, 2) push agencies to coordinate, 3) eliminate the IRS “safe harbor” provision that rewards employers’ collective bad behavior by allowing a defense that everyone else does it, 4) help workers and worker representatives seek proper classification, and 5) expand DOL enforcement.
HOW DO AMERICAN CHILDREN FARE IN COMPARISON TO CHILDREN IN OTHER COUNTRIES? – The Foundation for Child Development’s Child Well-Being Index (CWI) provides a research-based look at the status of children over the last 30 years. Now, for the first time, the CWI examines the status of American children in relation to children in other English-speaking democracies with strong market-based systems – including the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – to provide a more meaningful portrait of the relative well-being of American children.
On July 17, the New America Foundation hosted an event, Child Well-Being in America and Abroad, where Kenneth Land, Ph.D., Duke University, Coordinator of the Child and Youth Well-Being Index Project, presented the results of this new international comparison. Among the key findings:
- The percent of households without an unemployed adult is lower in the U.S. than in all comparison countries. However, poverty rates are higher in the U.S. than in all comparison countries.
- Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.K. have better child health outcomes than the U.S. Relatively high rates of infant mortality and children who are overweight and obese disadvantage the U.S.
- A relatively high percentage of young adults in the U.S. finish high school and obtain baccalaureate degrees. However, the percentage of children who attend preschool is lower in the U.S. than in all countries except the U.K.
- 15-year old American students scored lower in mathematics and reading than their counterparts in all comparison countries on internationally administered standardized tests.
The program, which was moderated by Rev. David Gray, Director of the Workforce and Family Program at the New America Foundation, also featured Ruby Takanishi, Ph.D., President of the Foundation for Child Development, who discussed the implications of the study for the social contract; Janet Gornik, Ph.D., Director of the Luxembourg Income Study, whose research shows that the U.S. and the English-speaking countries in the study generally take a different approach to employment policy than do their continental European counterparts; Doug Steiger, a recent British Council Atlantic Fellow, who contrasted the differing approaches of the U.S. and U.K. to measuring and combating poverty, as well as highlighting instances in which the two countries have learned from and emulated one another; and Adam Carasso, Research Director, Fiscal Policy Program, New America Foundation, who presented research on the historic and projected share of the federal budget dedicated to children’s programs.
DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson participated in this event. For further information about the event for the report, see http://www.newamerica.net/events/2007/child_well_being_america_and_abroad.
AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION: “Unembedded” Photo Exhibit on War in Iraq on Display at the AFL-CIO During APHA Annual Meeting – DPE is continuing to work with Alan Baker, Chief of Staff, APHA, and Patrice Sutton, Peace Caucus Program Chair to bring “Unembedded — Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq” to the AFL-CIO during APHA’s 2007 Annual Meeting. Fundraising and promotional materials, including a flier, have been jointly developed, and are being distributed. A notice appeared in the on-line APHA Members News,and the program is advertised in the August edition of The Nation’s Health, the official newspaper of the American Public Health Association. The exhibit will be advertised in the program for the Annual Meeting, which is expected to attract more than 14,000 public health workers. In addition, APHA has sent letters and fliers to its leadership and the members of key Sections. The Peace and Labor Caucuses, as well as DPE, are actively engaged in spreading the word about the exhibit, raising funds, and seeking opportunities at APHA and elsewhere to publicize the event.
“Unembedded” is a powerful photographic exhibit that includes 60 images showing the war’s impact on the Iraqi people “on the ground” where the war is being waged. It also features additional text – developed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ College of Public Health – about the war’s effect on human health and the environment in Iraq, as well as its impact on returning American veterans, their families, and communities. The exhibit includes a focus on the number of journalists killed in Iraq – more than were killed during two decades of war in Vietnam. Seewww.unembedded.net.
The exhibit will be on view at the AFL-CIO building during the APHA convention (November 4-9) with a special opening reception on Monday, Nov. 5, from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m. The program will include speakers from APHA and the labor and peace movements. Photojournalist Kael Alford will make a PowerPoint presentation and discuss her experiences and impressions while unembedded in Iraq. Please save the date!!
To learn more about this important event, or to help, please contact DPE President, Paul E. Almeida, 202/638-0320; firstname.lastname@example.org, or Assistant to the President, Pamela Wilson, 202/638-0320, ext. 12; email@example.com.
DPE SIGNS ON – In a letter to Members of the House of Representatives, DPE joined its affiliated unions AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAFF, UAN, and USW; the AFL-CIO and other unions; and professional associations including the American Public Health Association, to oppose limiting the ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to enforce an annual fit test in relation to tuberculosis.
In another letter to the House, DPE added its name to those of its affiliates AFSCME, AFT, and IAM, as well as education and business organizations, to seek co-sponsors for a bill permanently extending Internal Revenue Code section 127, which encourages employer-provided undergraduate and graduate-level educational assistance.
DPE President Paul E. Almeida also sought support in the House for an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense appropriations bill to de-fund the National Security Personnel System, which represents a frontal attack by the Bush Administration on federal workers’ ability to participate in unions; see https://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters/.