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November 2011, Week 3

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Corporations Go After Tech Workers, Professionals Turn to
Labor & California Faculty Union Goes on Strike

(1)

Corporations Pushing Bill to Take Away Overtime from
Computer and Web Workers

By Adele Stan
AFL-CIO Blog
November 10, 2011

http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/11/10/corporations-pushing-bill-to-take-away-overtime-from-computer-and-web-workers/#more-64439

Apparently unsatisfied by the enormous profits they've
made while average Americans suffer in a difficult
economy, corporations are pushing Congress to enact a
new law that would exempt a large class of workers from
receiving overtime pay. And they're receiving support
from members of both parties on Capitol Hill.

Dubbed the Computer Professionals Update Act (CPU Act),
Senate bill 1747 would change the Fair Labor Standards
Act (FLSA) to remove overtime protection and
compensation from "almost everyone working primarily in
information technology" who earns either a salary, or
an hourly rate of $27.63, according to Paul E. Almeida,
president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional
Employees (DPE).

Information technology companies are focused on cutting
pay for the people who work for them. If their effort
succeeds, however, it will suggest to every other
industry that the time is now to gut FLSA for every
covered private-sector worker.

Introduced in the U.S. Senate last month by Kay Hagan
(D-N.C.), the CPU Act has found a Democratic co-sponsor
in Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who is joined by two
Republican co-sponsors, Sens. Mike Enzi (Wy.) and
Johnny Isakson (Ga.).

In a letter to senators, DPE President Almeida said of
the corporations pushing the bill:

    [T]he same companies that send work offshore and
    bring lower-paid workers to the U.S. on H-1B visas
    now want to pay U.S. workers less in the U.S.

At at least one major anti-labor law firm, cheerleading
for the bill borders on the exuberant. On the Wage &
Hour Defense blog of Epstein, Becker & Green, Douglas
Weiner and Meg Thering write:

    Unlike much of the other legislation affecting
    employers that has been proposed or passed this
    year, the CPU Act would make business easier for
    employers and decrease the risk of employee
    misclassification lawsuits. If the proposed
    legislation passes, employers would be able to
    classify more employees as exempt from the overtime
    provisions of the FLSA.  This would be a welcome
    change from the persistent drum beat of enhanced
    enforcement initiatives announced by government
    agencies and upticks in class and collective
    actions this year.

In July, Epstein, Becker & Green's Jay P. Krupin
testified before the National Labor Relations Board
(NLRB) in opposition to proposed modest NLRB rules
changes.

http://www.employerdefenselaw.com/announcements/epsteinbeckergreens-labor-and-employment-practice-chair-jay-p-krupin-testifies-on-union-election-rul/

http://blog.aflcio.org/2011/08/22/workers-back-nlrbs-proposed-union-election-rule/

(2)

Professionals Moving to Organized Labor

By Sharon Kyle
Publisher
L.A. Progressive

November 18, 2011

http://www.laprogressive.com/rankism/labor-social-justice/professionals-moving-to-organized-labor/

Although labor union membership has declined
significantly in the United States over the last 50
years, there is a segment of the labor market that is
showing remarkable signs of increased union activity.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, professionals and
white-collar workers are joining labor unions in record
numbers. According to independent labor writer, Cynthia
Green,  white collar workers are one of the fastest
growing among the rank in the  AFL-CIO.
http://tinyurl.com/7weut3d

The AFL-CIO is attributing this growth in recruits from
the professional ranks primarily to the reduction of
the manufacturing sector in the United States. But the
economic downturn is also forcing more professional,
technical and administrative support workers to look
for new ways to build power.

In a study conducted by the AFL-CIO Department for
Professional Employees (DPE) it was determined that
white-collar union recruits is outpacing all other
occupational groups, including the building and
construction, hospitality and service sectors.
Explaining this surge in professional membership, the
DPE reported:

"The movement is no longer just an economic safe haven
for the blue collar and service workers that once
dominated the institution. It is, more and more, the
destination of choice for professional workers seeking
fairness, equity and a voice on the job."

In a report the DPE entitled, "Rising Tide:
Professionals: The New Face of America's Unions",
[http://dpeaflcio.org/programs/pubslist.htm]the authors
noted that even though professionals have sought union
protections for more than a century, the accelerated
numbers of recent years appear to be driven by the
dominance of multinational corporations and health
maintenance organizations as employers, where workers
have fewer possibilities "to exercise independent
judgment."

The AFL-CIO's Department for Professional Employees is
dedicated entirely to assisting affiliated unions who
are working on behalf of professional and technical
workers. This Department is comprised of a coalition of
21 national unions affiliated with the AFL-CIO which
represent over four million skilled professional and
technical workers.

According to the federation, the professional and
technical workers in organized labor now represents the
majority of its 9 million members. Hundreds of
disciplines and occupations are included in this
representation. Sectors such as science and
engineering, technology, healthcare, education, public
administration, journalism, entertainment and the arts
all fall under the AFL-CIO structure which was
chartered by the Federation in 1977 in recognition of
the increase in professional and technical employees
among union members.

DPE affiliates such as the International Federation of
Professional & Technical Engineers and the Office and
Professional Employees International Union are
providing a much needed source of support particularly
during these difficult economic times. These unions are
seeing their numbers swell as more professionals turn
to them to protect the interests.

The following highlights were excerpted from DFP's
Vital Workforce Statistics FAQ.

White-collar workers are a broad grouping of
occupations of workers preforming nonmanual labor,
typically working in offices and other non-production
phases of industry. The education required and/or
salaried job entails mental or clerical work; typical
occupations fall under professional, managerial, sales
coordination or administrative positions. As of 2009,
10.9% of white-collar workers (sales, office,
management, professional, and other related
occupations) are members of unions (about 8.3 million
people) and 12.3% (over 9.3 million white-collar
workers) are represented by unions.

        In 2009, white-collar workers accounted for
    53.9% of all union workers.

        In 2009, 4.8% of all management, business,
    financial operations, and related occupations
    workers were members of unions (822,000
    workers).12 Of the total number of sales,
    office, administrative support, and related
    occupations workers, 7.2% are union members
    (over 2.2 million workers).

        As of 2009, there are more union members among
    professionals than any other occupational
    group, making up 39.3% of all union members
    (not including management, business, sales, and
    office workers). These professionals are broken
    down into the following sub-groupings of
    occupations:

1. Computer and mathematical occupations: 5.3% of total
workers in this field are union members (175,000
workers);

2. Architecture and engineering occupations: 7.7% of
total workers in this field are union members (194,000
workers);

3. Life, physical, and social science occupations: 10%
of total workers in this field are union members
(122,000 workers);

4. Community and social services occupations: 16.1% of
total workers in this field are union members (366,000
workers);

5. Legal occupations: 5.9% of total workers in this
field are union members (79,000 workers);

6. Education, training, and library occupations: 38.1%
of total workers in this field are union members (over
3.17 million workers);

7. Arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media
occupations: 7.4% of total workers in this field are
union members (136,000 workers); and

8. Healthcare practitioner and technical occupations:
13.6% of total workers in this field are union members
(962,000 workers).

        In 2009, over 5.2 million professional and
    related occupations workers were union members;
    over 5.8 million were represented by unions
    (not including management, business, sales, and
    office workers). Of the total number of these
    professionals, 20.9% had union representation
    (18.7% actual members of a union), while among
    the entire workforce, only 12.3% had union
    representation. Significant numbers of office
    and administrative support workers are
    represented by unions: over 1.8 million, or
    10.3% of all such workers. Women comprised
    44.8% of the labor movement in 2009, up from
    19% in 1962. Women, and especially women of
    color, are forming and joining unions at a
    faster rate than men. Many of the unions
    organizing in industries dominated by women,
    such as education and government, have
    consistently shown much higher win rates than
    those unions organizing in industries with
    fewer women members.20 The economic recession
    is having a large impact on the ability to find
    sustaining work. The number of non-agricultural
    workers not working a full work week for
    economic reasons, which include slack work or
    unfavorable business conditions, furloughs,
    inability to find full-time work, or seasonal
    declines in demand rose between March 2009 and
    March 2010.

The excerpt is provided as an enticement to go to the
Department for Professional Employees Fact Sheets which
are well researched and well sourced including
footnotes.
http://dpeaflcio.org/programs-publications/issue-fact-sheets/

Please check the links provided throughout this article
for more information on how to become active in the
labor movement.

(3)

California Faculty Union goes on Strike

By Duane Campbell
Talking Union - DSA
November 19, 2011

Photo by David Bacon ;

    Thursday, Nov 17, thousands of faculty
    members made history by participating in
    the first-ever strike of the California
    State University system.
    http://talkingunion.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/cfa1.jpg

http://talkingunion.wordpress.com/2011/11/19/california-faculty-union-goes-on-strike/

The message to the Chancellor was loud and clear from
six in the morning until dark: "If you don't start
making decisions based on what is right for the 99%
this system serves - instead of the 1% of executives
and upper managers running the system - these actions
will continue."

At CSU Dominguez Hills in Southern California, 2,000
people over the course of the day picketed the ten
gates surrounding the campus.

At CSU East Bay in Northern California, according to
published reports, 93% of classes were canceled for the
day. Traffic was backed up for over a mile and a half
into the city of Hayward. At noon, police were forced
to cordon off the main entrance on Carlos Bee Blvd,
effectively closing campus for the rest of the day.

"This week, we sent the Chancellor a powerful message,"
said CFA President Lillian Taiz, a professor of History
at CSU Los Angeles.

Taiz continued, "People are fed up with his `management
first' priorities. The CSU community is tired of seeing
the Chancellor give huge raises to executives while
student fees are hiked, faculty pay is stagnant, class
sizes keep growing, and class offerings and faculty
jobs are eliminated.

"Huge numbers of people came out to support the faculty
this week - students, community members, staff,
supporters from other unions, political leaders, and
parents.

"Chancellor Reed is out of touch with the needs of the
people in the trenches. Instead, he focuses obsessively
on the compensation and perks of his presidents and his
managers. The time has come for the Chancellor to
prioritize the future of the people of California.

CFA is a member of NEA, and SEIU.

State and local governments provide the most basic
services to our populace - public education, police and
fire, transportation, parks, libraries and basic
infrastructure, not to mention funding half the costs
of unemployment insurance and Medicaid. Yet with state
and local governments facing a recession-induced budget
shortage of close to $200  billion ( out of annual
expenditures of $1.7 trillion dollars), the standard
conservative and moderate Democratic solution is to
slash essential services. Most localities will witness
significant layoffs of police and fire personnel and
close to 200,000 of the nation's 3.4 million K-12
teachers received  pink slips by September 2011.

This fiscal crisis of the states did not fall from the
sky; it resulted from the Great Recession brought on by
unregulated financial speculation.

Absent renewed federal aid to states and localities,
painful recessionary slashing of basic human services
will accelerate in 2012.  Increased class sizes,
withdrawal of Medicaid services, and cuts in basic
uniform services have  devastated  the lives of
ordinary working people and will send the economy into
a further recessionary downturn.

It is clear that democratic policies will not be
granted from on-high by politicians funded by corporate
interests. They will only come through democratic
protest  such as strikes and Occupy Wall Street and
mobilization that forces elected officials to serve the
people and not powerful private interests. That's why
Democratic Socialists of America will be working with
people across the nation to mobilize against state and
local cuts in basic human services and in favor of fair
tax policies and sane national priorities that put
human needs ahead of empire and corporate greed.

___________________________________________

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