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Unions Press White Collar Issues

October 23, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Three union groups are joining forces to push for reforms and study issues that affect white collar workers _ the fastest-growing segment of organized labor.

The American Federation of Teachers, the Newspaper Guild-Communication Workers of America and the AFL-CIO’s professional employees department launched the new group Wednesday at a forum exploring corporate influences in classrooms, newsrooms and the work place.

The Professional Rights and Opportunities Network identified threats to free expression and professional rights as proposed regulatory changes that would allow cross-ownership of newspapers and television stations in the same community, growing use of non-tenured, part-time faculty in colleges and universities and limits on scholarly research in universities by conditional corporate contributions.

``The professionals who work in these institutions need a zone of professional independence and expression,″ said William Scheuerman, vice president of the teachers’ union.

Other issues the network plans to explore include:

_How law and technology are changing intellectual property rights for writers, engineers, scientists and public employees.

_Electronic monitoring of professional workers.

_Covenants widely used in the broadcast industry that prevent TV and radio artists from speaking on programs or in ads not produced by the employer.

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