What Do Engineers and IT Professionals Want and Need?

Unions to Hold Summit on White-collar Organizing, Focus on Those Who Work in Technology and Other Technical Jobs

“Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century,” March 14-16, Crystal City Hilton, Arlington, Virginia

WASHINGTON, DC – Organized labor is often perceived as a movement of blue-collar assembly-line workers and construction tradesmen — the reality is far different.  Professional and technical occupations are the fastest growing segment within union ranks.  More than half of the AFL-CIO’s membership today is composed of white collar workers.

What will it take to further expand the numbers of nurses, IT professionals, teachers and professors, actors, journalists, engineers, scientists and other professionals in the ranks of labor?  “Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century” will bring the best white collar organizers from across the country together for three days with union decision-makers and outside researchers to study new polling data, to look at successful campaigns here and abroad, and to hear from outside experts about models that the union movement should consider.

The conference will look at:
• How multiple unions cooperated to grow union membership at Kaiser Permanente from 56,000 to 86,000 in six years.
• What unions can do to help the swelling ranks of part-time and contingent workers in the workforce?
• What lessons professional unions can learn from successful professional associations?
• How professional unions serve the public interest – and can organize more members – by protecting academic freedom for professors and artistic expression for entertainers, negotiating smaller class sizes for teachers and more reasonable staffing ratios for nurses and social workers, and strengthening the ability of professionals to function as professionals.
• Why professionals such as dental hygienists and psychologists have recently joined the labor movement in search of political clout.

These are only a few of the topics at the March conference.  A full conference agenda is available at www.dpeaflcio.org/org_conf_agenda.htm.  Many speakers and presenters are available for interviews.  For more information contact Jamie Horwitz at 202/879-4447.

The Department for Professional Employees (DPE) is composed of 25 AFL-CIO unions. DPE represents 4 million white collar union members who work in a variety of professional and technical occupations including health care, education, science and engineering, the arts, entertainment, the media, and public administration.
Organizing Professionals in the 21st Century is being held in collaboration with the Albert Shanker Institute.  For more information on the institute and its programs visit the foundation’s Web site at www.shankerinstitute.org.