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 is welcome; send it to email@example.com.
In This Issue:
- In Memoriam: Gene Upshaw
- DPE: Always On The Move!
- DPE Executive Committee Announces New Members
- U.S. Health Care System: Steep Decline In Access, Efficiency Especially Low
- STEM Education, Girls, And Challenges From Classroom To Careers
- New Edition of DPE Fact Sheet on Nursing Profession
- There Is A Union Difference In Library Salaries
- Women Better Educated Than Men, Still Paid Less
- In The News: Nurse Understaffing
- Spotlighting A Crucial Untold Story
- DPE Signs On
- DPE In The News
IN MEMORIAM: GENE UPSHAW – On Wednesday, August 20, NFL Players Association(NFLPA) Executive Director Gene Upshaw died unexpectedly at age 63. The NFLPA, a longtime and valued DPE affiliate, issued this statement: “We are deeply saddened and shocked by the sudden and unexpected death of our leader, Gene Upshaw. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Terri, and their three sons – Eugene, Justin and Daniel. Gene learned he was sick just this past Sunday and he died with his family at his side. We ask that the media respect our need to begin the process of dealing with this unexpected tragedy and to begin the grieving process.” For information about and tributes to Upshaw as well as ways to honor his memory, see http://www.nflplayers.com/user/index.aspx.
Photo from www.nflplayers.com.
DPE President Paul E. Almeida and Executive Director David Cohen represented DPE at a September 2 memorial service for Upshaw. For an account of the service, click on http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/02/AR2008090203066.html.
DPE: ALWAYS ON THE MOVE! – In July, DPE moved. Its new offices are on the 7th floor of the AFL-CIO, 815 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20006. All email addresses, telephone and fax numbers remain the same.
DPE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES NEW MEMBERS – At the DPE General Board meeting on June 11, 2008, AFM president Thomas Lee won election unanimously to Chair of the DPE Board. (See “DPE General Board Marks Milestones” in the July DPE NewsLine. His elevation and several retirements created three vacancies for General Vice Presidents. On July 21, 2008 the incumbent members of the DPE Executive Committee unanimously elected the following new members: Jim English, USW International Secretary-Treasurer; Phil Kugler, AFT Assistant to the President for Organization and Field Services; and Sharon Pinnock, AFGE Director for Membership and Organization.
U.S. HEALTH CARE SYSTEM: STEEP DECLINE IN ACCESS, EFFICIENCY ESPECIALLY LOW – Despite spending more on health care than any other industrialized nation, the U.S. continues to fall far short on key indicators of health outcomes and quality, with particularly low scores on efficiency. The U.S. scored just 65 out of 100 on key indicators; its access to health care score fell furthest, with 42% (75 million) of working age Americans uninsured or underinsured, up from 35% in 2003.
The second national scorecard from the Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System was released in July. The first national scorecard on the U.S. health care system was released in 2006.
The U.S. also failed to keep up with improvements in many other countries, falling from 15th to last among 19 industrialized nations in premature deaths that could have been prevented by timely access to health care. Comparing U.S. national average performance to benchmarks of achieved performance, the Commonwealth Fund Commission found that the U.S. health care system could save 100,000 lives and up to $100 billion annually if it improved on key indicators.
In addition to scoring poorly in comparison to other countries, quality varies greatly from state to state, region to region, and across areas and health plans. The Fund states: “While the top tier of the U.S. system achieves excellence in some areas, the uneven performance across the country indicates a need for major improvement. Rates at the bottom of the distribution are often well below the leaders and the national average – with as much as a fivefold spread between top and bottom rates.”
On July 17, the Commonwealth Fund sponsored a program at the Columbus Club in Washington, D.C. Titled “Making the Grade: Improving the U.S. Health System,” it included presentations by Cathy Schoen, Senior Vice President, the Commonwealth Fund; Christine Cassel, President and CEO of the American Board of Internal Medicine and the ABIM Foundation and a leading expert in geriatric medicine, medical ethics and quality of care, and Carolyn Clancy, Director, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The program was moderated by Commonwealth President Karen Davis. DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson was among the participants at this highly informative program.
STEM EDUCATION, GIRLS, AND CHALLENGES FROM CLASSROOM TO CAREERS – On July 16 in the Rayburn House Office Building, a special program on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and careers for girls featured presentations by Marcia C. Linn, Ph.D., Professor, Graduate School of Education, University of California at Berkeley, who summarized her research on STEM education and its implications for girls, and Pamela Ann Melroy (COL. USAF, Ret.), Mission Commander, STS-120 Discovery, NASA astronaut, who shared her experiences as a shuttle commander and astronaut and outlined NASA’s efforts to attract and retain women.
The program was sponsored by 16 organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society (ACS), the American Psychological Association (APA), the Society of Women Engineers, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Science Teachers Association, Women’s Policy, Inc. and the American Association of University Women, among others. The event was held in cooperation with Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Co-Chairs, Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues; Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Mary Fallin (R-OK), Vice-Chairs, Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues, and Representatives Mark Udall (D-CO) and Vern Ehlers (R-MI), Co-Chairs, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education Caucus. DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson was among the many participants.
Dr. Linn’s slides and Col. Melroy’s remarks can be found on the Women’s Policy, Inc. website: www.womenspolicy.org/site/pageserver.
NEW EDITION OF DPE FACT SHEET ON NURSING PROFESSION – A new DPE fact sheet, “Nurses: Vital Signs – A Brief Overview of the State of the Nursing Profession in the United States,”includes a wealth of statistical and other information about nurses in the workforce. Registered Nurse was among the fastest growing occupations in the 1990s. This trend continued. Between 1997 and 2007, the number of employed RNs increased from 2,065,000 to 2,629,000 – an increase of 27%. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor identified “Registered Nurse” as the occupation expected to experience the largest job growth in the 10 years from 2006 to 2016.
The need for RNs is projected grow rapidly, rising by 23.5%, compared to 10.4% during the same period for all occupations. More than 500,000 openings for RNs are projected by 2016 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.
Gleaned from a variety of sources, the topics for the fact sheet include 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; nurse-to-patient ratios; mandatory overtime and floating; nurse burnout, job dissatisfaction, and departure from the profession; the effects of recruiting nurses from abroad; the high risk of occupational safety and health hazards; wages and benefits; union organizing, and recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions that hinder nurses’ rights.
To obtain copies of DPE fact sheets, visit the website, https://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets.htm, or email Marcie Lawrence, firstname.lastname@example.org. For information about ongoing research, contact Pamela Wilson, by phone: 202-638-6684, or email: email@example.com.
THERE IS A UNION DIFFERENCE IN LIBRARY SALARIES – The American Library Association-Allied Professional Association (ALA-APA) and DPE collaborated on The Union Difference for Library Workers, which found that salaries in unionized public and academic libraries were higher than those in non-union libraries for staff in positions that do not require an ALA-accredited Master’s Degree in Library Science. Data from the 2006 ALA-APA Salary Survey: Non-MLS – Public and Academic revealed that average salaries were higher for many of the 62 positions, including Library Technical Assistant, Library Clerk and Associate Librarian. DPE analyzed the data by position and educational attainment.
This publication clearly demonstrates the power of unions to raise salaries in the predominantly female, underpaid library world. The percentages on the graphs indicate the union difference as the raise that would be required to equalize the union and non-union salaries.
Each year, ALA-APA conducts an extensive salary survey of librarians in conjunction with the ALA Office of Research and Statistics (ORS). In 2006, thanks to the suggestion of the ALA-APA Standing Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers, the inaugural ALA-APA Salary Survey: Non-MLS – Public and Academic included a question about union membership, making possible a detailed analysis of the pay differential for union library workers in different positions and in different types of libraries throughout the nation.
DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson, member of the ALA-APA Standing Committee and co-chair of the AFL-CIO-ALA Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups, distributed the draft publication at the annual ALA conference in Anaheim in June, where it was very well received. The finalized publication has now been posted to both the ALA-APA and DPE websites.
ALA-APA is planning a program based on the findings for the 2009 annual meeting, scheduled for July 9-15 in Chicago. In addition, an article is being written for Library Worklife: HR E-News forToday’s Leaders, an ALA-APA publication.
Find the ALA-APA-DPE report at www.dpeaflcio.org and www.ala-apa.org. The latest DPE fact sheet on Library Workers can be found at https://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets.htm.
Library workers are represented by DPE affiliates including AFGE, AFSCME, AFT, IFPTE, OPEIU, and USW. For information about ALA and its annual conference, see www.ala.org. For information about the meetings of the Joint Committee or the ALA-APA Committee on the Salaries and Status of Library Workers contact ALA-APA Director Jenifer Grady at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about DPE’s involvement, contact Pamela Wilson by phone, 202-638-6684 or email, email@example.com.
WOMEN BETTER EDUCATED THAN MEN, STILL PAID LESS – A July 13 AFL-CIO Now Blog by James Parks highlights the findings of the new DPE Fact Sheet, Salaried and Professional Women: Relevant Statistics, released at the end of June. The Blog quotes DPE President Paul Almeida, who said that even though women are increasingly responsible for the well-being of their families, “wage disparity remains a serious and pervasive problem….Women still earn less than men in professional and all other occupational categories. The numbers in this fact sheet demonstrate the power of unions not only to raise wages, but also to combat racism and sexism. Union membership narrows the income gap that disadvantages women and people of color.”
See http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/07/13/women-better-educated-than-men-still-paid-less/. The DPE Fact Sheet can be found at https://www.dpeaflcio.org/programs/factsheets/fs_2008_Professional_Women.htm.
IN THE NEWS: NURSE UNDERSTAFFING – DPE Assistant to the President Pamela Wilson worked with WPFW To Heal DC producer and host Joni Eisenberg, and RNs Working Together Executive Director Steve Francy to facilitate interviews on the dangerous and sometimes tragic impact of understaffing on patient care and on the need for nurse-to-patient ratios. Speakers from AFGE (Jane Nygaard, RN, Vice President), AFSCME (Barbara Blake, RN, State Secretary of United Nurses Associations of California/AFSCME), and CNA (Deborah Burger, RN, President, CNA/NNOC) were featured. These interviews immediately preceded a July 14 roundtable on Capitol Hill, sponsored by RNs Working Together. The roundtable discussion included Ann Converso, RN, President, UAN, Suzanne Gordon, nursing professor and co-author of the new book, Safety in Numbers: Nurse to Patient Ratios and the Future of Health Care, Jane Nygaard, Barbara Blake, and Deborah Burger.
SPOTLIGHTING A CRUCIAL UNTOLD STORY – Read this book! That’s the word from DPE about a new book from David Kusnet, Love the Work, Hate the Job: Why America’s Best Workers Are Unhappier Than Ever.
On July 30, DPE hosted a book event for Kusnet at the AFL-CIO co-sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). For a full report, see http://blog.aflcio.org/2008/07/31/book-talk-all-workers-want-respect-freedom-to-do-their-jobs/. The next day, EPI hosted another event for Kusnet, at which DPE President Paul E. Almeida was a panelist.
Kusnet, an EPI Visiting Fellow and former Clinton speechwriter, spotlights a crucial untold story of workers trying to do their jobs right despite their employers. He details cases that illustrate his title. Among them is the 2000 strike by Boeing engineers, organized as the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), in which DPE President Paul E. Almeida played a role as the then president of IFPTE.
The wide resonance of Kusnet’s topic has already brought engagements into next year. On July 13, 2009, at the American Library Association (ALA) annual meeting, the AFL-CIO-ALA Joint Committee on Library Services to Labor Groups and the ALA-Allied Professional Association will sponsor a talk by Kusnet from 10:30 am to 12 noon.
Single copies are available through the Union Shop of the AFL-CIO,https://unionshop.aflcio.org/General_Nonfiction_C106.cfm?Page=4 (scroll down; titles are in alphabetical order). For bulk orders, contact Estelle Conklin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DPE SIGNS ON – DPE joined a June 3, 2008 letter to the Chairman and several Members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce responding to draft legislation about health information technology, https://www.dpeaflcio.org/policy/letters/EnergyCommerce_0608Final.pdf. Among the other signers were AFSCME, AFT, and the AFL-CIO.
DPE IN THE NEWS – In a story about foreign workers and H1-B visas, BioWorld Today (by subscription online at www.bioworld.com) for July 21, 2008 extensively quoted DPE President Paul E. Almeida.