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:
- In Memoriam: Cheryl Johnson
- Nurses on the Line for Patients
- Associating with Professionals
- For Media Ownership Limits, FCC Chair Tries a Bum’s Rush
- DPE Work Brings Foundation Attention
- Outreach to Professional Associations: The American Public Health Association (APHA)
- AFT Civil, Human and Women’s Rights Conference
- DPE in the News
- DPE Signs On
IN MEMORIAM: CHERYL JOHNSON – DPE joins the United American Nurses (UAN) and the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) in mourning the untimely death of Cheryl Johnson, President of both UAN and MNA.
Johnson, 57, died on October 28, 2007 of a brain aneurysm. “Cheryl provided a powerful and pioneering voice for nurses,” said DPE President Paul E. Almeida. “As the founding president of UAN, she took advocacy for staff nurses, and quality health care for the rest of us, to the highest councils of the labor movement and the United States.”
Under the UAN Constitution, UAN Vice President Ann Converso, RN, will serve the remainder of Johnson’s term, until the March 2008 UAN National Labor Assembly elections.
For the UAN statement on Johnson’s death, see http://www.uannurse.org/media/press.html?view=press_release&press_id=285&year=2007. For information about messages of sympathy, memorial contributions, and remembrances, go to http://www.minurses.org/news/CJohnsonUpdate1007.shtml. For Johnson’s biography, click on http://www.uannurse.org/who/council/president.html.
NURSES ON THE LINE FOR PATIENTS – Nurses advocate for patients. Sometimes that leads to a strike.
Safe staffing is at the heart of a strike entering its second month by members of the United American Nurses. The strike aims to change deplorable conditions at nine hospitals, seven in Kentucky and two in West Virginia, owned and operated by Appalachian Regional Healthcare and employing more than 800 nurses.
The AFL-CIO and many unions affiliated with DPE have already provided strong support for the strikers, locally and nationally. For contributions, please send checks payable to the AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer, Attention: Accounting Department, AFL-CIO, 815 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20006; note on your check that it is in support of UAN Striking Nurses.
For questions about the strike, contact AFL-CIO Director of Collective Bargaining Rick Bank, 202-639-6212, email@example.com. For an account of strike activities, check http://blog.aflcio.org/2007/10/26/honk-if-you-support-nurses/. For news accounts, go to http://www.uannurse.org/media/news.html.
ASSOCIATING WITH PROFESSIONALS – On October 16, 2007, representatives from eight unions affiliated with DPE – AFM, AFSCME, AFT, AFTRA, IAM, IFPTE, SAG, and USW – conferred in the DPE Work Group on Professional Associations. The meeting paved the way for a first joint meeting with associations scheduled for late November, which will plan for a top-level discussion in 2008.
Since July 2006, the work group 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 met this year with leaders and senior staff of 11 associations, and unions affiliated with DPE have begun joining the conversations. In October 2007, the discussions included the American Chemical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. A common theme: a need to strengthen the ability of professional and technical workers to do their jobs right – and an equally strong need to bring home to the public its stake in professional integrity.
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.
FOR MEDIA OWNERSHIP LIMITS, FCC CHAIR TRIES A BUM’S RUSH – On October 31, 2007, in Washington, DC, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held its fifth public hearing about media ownership.
News outlets reported before the hearing that Bush-appointed FCC Chair Kevin Martin intends to seek a vote on December 18 to end long-standing limits on the number of newspapers and broadcast stations a media conglomerate may own in a single market. Democratic Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein oppose the bum’s rush, a poorly disguised attempt to give media billionaires even greater profits at public expense. The date Martin proposes comes soon after the release of massive and, according to many, massively flawed studies that the FCC commissioned; even sooner after a yet-to-be-held sixth public hearing in Seattle; and before adequate analysis of low levels of minority ownership and reporting local news.
The consequence: a raucous outpouring calling on the FCC to slow down and heed the call of Congressional leaders not to act rashly. Among the speakers quoted in many news accounts was AFTRA National First Vice President Bob Edwards, who decried the decrease in broadcast localism that consolidation has brought. For his testimony, see http://www.aftra.com/press/pr_2007_10_31_edwards_fcc.html.
For an account of how consolidation harms the quality of journalism, see this story from The Guild Reporter (TNG-CWA), http://www.newsguild.org/gr/index.php?ID=4520. For news accounts about the FCC hearing, see “Breaking News” on the DPE website, www.dpeaflcio.org.
DPE WORK BRINGS FOUNDATION ATTENTION – Over the last three years, unions affiliated with DPE have investigated under DPE auspices how professional and technical work in the United States is changing, and how our unions should adapt. One result has been the DPE Work Group on Professional Associations (see “Associating With Professionals” above). The work is beginning to draw attention beyond the labor movement. It led the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to invite DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Executive Director David Cohen to brief its President, Vice President, and program directors. On October 22, 2007, the two presented “Unions, Associations, and the Future of Professional Careers” for the weekly internal Sloan seminar. Sloan has supported programs to maintain a healthy science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce in the United States; for more about its programs, see http://www.sloan.org/main.shtml.
OUTREACH TO PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS: THE AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION (APHA) – The 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Politics, Policy and Public Health, is scheduled for November 3-7 in Washington, D.C. It is expected to attract some 14,000 participants.
As in previous years, DPE has been involved in planning programs, disseminating information, and assisting in the development of policy resolutions through the Labor Caucus, currently chaired by Pamela Wilson, Assistant to the DPE President. The Labor Caucus is routinely allocated three sessions at the Annual Meeting. The 2007 sessions will be held in the Washington Convention Center and include:
DUDE, WHERE IS MY RETIREMENT? Monday, November 5, 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Too Old To Work, Too Young To Die, Ron Blackwell, Chief Economist, AFL-CIO
Restoring the Promise: Recent Trends, Examples from Key Industries and Future Prospects for Retirement Security, Beth Almeida, Executive Director, National Institute on Retirement Security
Retirement Income and Health: A Clear Connection, Michele Tingling-Clemons, Chief, Nutrition and Physical Fitness Programs, D.C. Department of Health, Maternal & Primary Care Administration
Moderator: Paul E. Almeida, President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC HEALTH AND THE LABOR MOVEMENT: LABOR’S RESPONSE TO GLOBAL HEALTH INITIATIVES, GLOBALIZATION AND WORKERS’ HEALTH, Monday, November 5, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.
South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland: Examples from the labor movement’s response to the AIDS epidemic in garment factories, Vivian Ndlovu, RN, SACTWU AIDS Project, Durban, South Africa
Nigeria: Examples from the labor movement’s response to the AIDS epidemic and the health workers’ perspectives, Esther Ogunforwora, RN, HIV/AIDS Unit, Nigeria Labor Congress
Uganda: Examples from the labor movement’s response to the AIDS epidemic among long-distance transportation workers, Romano Ojiambo-Ochieng, HIV/AIDS Project, Amalgamated Transport and General Workers’ Union of Uganda
Linking US trade unions to global issues, Dianne Tamuk, Council 5 – JFK, Association of Flight Attendants, AFA-CWA
Solidarity Center: Examples from a U.S. labor organization working globally to improve the health of workers and their families, Ellie Larson, Solidarity Center, Washington, DC
WORKERS FREE CHOICE TO FORM UNIONS – MYTH OR REALITY, Monday, November 5, 8:30 – 10:00 p.m. – In collaboration with Peter Dooley, Director of LaborSafe and author of the APHA Resolution on the Right for Employee Free Choice to Form Unions, http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/policysearch/default.htm?id=1332, the Labor Caucus helped to develop a session on the need for the Employee Free Choice Act. The resolution was sponsored by the Labor Caucus and the Occupational Health Section.
This session will present speakers who have direct experience in the current reality of labor rights in U.S. workplaces.
The session will include:
Overview of Employer tactics to intimidate workers to discourage unionization, Barbara Rahke – Director, PhilaPOSH;
Report from the Detroit Medical Center campaign, Cerefine Sharpe, RN, United American Nurses (UAN); and other presentations.
AFT CIVIL, HUMAN AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS CONFERENCE – In October, DPE President Paul Almeida was a panelist at this AFT conference. “The War on America’s Workers: From Kentucky River and Ledbetter to the Freedom To Organize” focused on decisions by the Supreme Court on the right to belong to a union, the struggle to pass legislation that protects the choice of workers to have unions, and the Ledbetter pay equity decision; all point to the embattled position in which workers are placed.
DPE IN THE NEWS – A DPE Fact Sheet, “Professional Women: Vital Statistics,” sparked a feature on the AFL-CIO Weblog, “Working Women: Better Educated but Still Paid Less Than Men.” To see the blog feature, click on http://blog.aflcio.org/2007/10/16/working-women-better-educated-but-still-paid-less-than-men/. For the fact sheet, go to https://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets/fs_2007_Professional_Women.htm.
A second AFL-CIO blog entry referred to an October 18 DPE Alert! “Stop the Bush FCC From Fast-Tracking Media Consolidation” and quoted DPE President Paul E. Almeida. To see “Help Stop Big Media Giveaway,” click on http://blog.aflcio.org/2007/10/23/help-stop-big-media-giveaway/.
DPE SIGNS ON – In a letter to members of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, DPE joined its affiliated unions AFSCME, AFT, CWA, and IAFF, as well as the AFL-CIO and other unions, in supporting a temporary extension of a ban on Internet access taxes as a reasonable alternative to a permanent ban; see https://www.dpeaflcio.org/.
In a letter to Congressional conferees on the Department of Defense appropriations bill, DPE joined the United Department of Defense Workers Coalition – which includes many unions affiliated with DPE – in seeking to de-fund the National Security Personnel System; click on https://www.dpeaflcio.org/.
In a letter to Senate appropriators working on the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor-Health and Human Services-Education appropriations bill, DPE joined an effort to sustain the ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to require an annual fit test for respirators with regard to tuberculosis. Other signers included unions affiliated with DPE such as AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, CWA, IAFF, UAN, and USW; the AFL-CIO and other unions; and public health organizations including the American Public Health Association; see https://www.dpeaflcio.org/.