News From OSA - April, 2002
Meeting Notice – The March general membership meeting of the Organization of Staff Analysts will be held on Thursday evening, April 11th. Normally, OSA holds its general membership meetings on the last Thursday of September, November, January, March and May. On this occasion, we ran into a conflict with religious holidays and had to move the date to early April. The meeting will be held at the OSA Office, 220 east 23rd Street Suite 709 (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) on Thursday, April 11, 2002 starting at 6pm.
The Drug Plan Reimbursement – The $125 reimbursement for members enrolled in a drug plan may actually be paid soon. One positive sign is that our retirees will receive their refund checks in April. The active employees are still in limbo. The City is seeking to figure out how to pay the money as one component of a regular paycheck. If they can't work that out, we may finally be paid by a separate check mailed to our homes. The money has been owed for a long time and some members have forgotten that it is still due to all members who are paying for a drug rider.
Early Out – OSA has a copy of the legislation (A.9758) submitted to enable New York City to provide an "early out" incentive for retirement. The terms of the bill mirror versions from earlier years. There will be one month of extra pension credit given for each year worked for the City. The maximum allowed is 36 months extra credit.
The City, at least officially, is required to bring their proposal before the Municipal Labor Committee for our approval...but this is a formality. The unions favor these incentives because they benefit our members and act as a hedge against layoffs in time of fiscal shortfall.
The down side to past incentive programs is a somewhat increased workload for those of us remaining, sometimes with involuntary staff redeployments as well. A further irrita-tion has been whimsical inclusion or exclusion of titles or departments from the offer.
Both OSA and the other unions of the MLC are certain to argue strongly for the widest possible offering. It would be outrageous if a "limited" early out was thereafter followed by even one person being laid off. We hope that Mayor Bloomberg will heed our arguments.
OSA will hold a one-time session on the "early out" program sometime in May. Please call the hotline each week starting the week of May 5th for the date of the session. It will be open only to those eligibles who have reached their 50th birthday.
Bylaw Vote – OSA covers 4,250 unionized Analysts, and we usually refer to all 4,250 as members. In so doing, we are all being a bit sloppy. According to the NY State Taylor Law, an employee covered by a union must sign a voluntary dues deduction card or else that employee is an "agency shop" fee payer.
OSA sends out a voluntary dues deduction card to all newly-covered Analysts with their welcoming Welfare Fund package. We "nudge" again thereafter at least once each year. The problem is that not everyone signs and returns the card.
In our recent vote to update our bylaws, about 3,400 "members" were sent ballots and 20% responded by voting. Since the topic was not a controversial issue, the union was pleased by the number returned.
A further 800 "agency shop" fee payers were also sent the mailing, but instead of a ballot, a dues deduction card was included. The result of the mailing was that almost 100 signed cards were returned.
The voting results were lopsided, with 610 members voting yes on the question and 63 voting no. A further three abstentions and four invalid ballots were received.
Numbers Excised – The four ballots left uncounted were those where the member had successfully defeated all efforts to read the "control" number stamped in the upper-left-hand corner of each ballot envelope to avoid voting fraud.
Whenever OSA votes, our mailing house stamps a number on each ballot envelope. They also create a list of voters, each with the assigned number next to their name. Counting the returned ballots requires that the envelope be arranged in numerical order to catch possible duplications. If problems arise (and they always do), members are called to verify that the ballot is actually the one they sent, or not. This year, one member explained that her husband had put his return name and address on the envelope, but yes, the vote inside was her own. Another member is currently checking with the Post Office because her mail was apparently misdelivered and the ballot returned by persons unknown.
About a score of envelopes had the number accidentally covered by a return label, but the election committee could use the name on the return label to find the correct number on the list. Another dozen members made efforts to obliterate the number, we assume to preserve the secrecy of their vote. In four cases they were successful. Those envelopes were returned but not opened nor counted.
Our union respects the value of a secret ballot for all of us, but just as the government requires us to sign in before voting on Election Day, so also does OSA need to control who is allowed to vote. Our long-standing practice is to never open the ballot envelope before the night of the counting. The opening of the envelope is done publicly and the still-folded votes are tossed into a huge pile before counting. This process works well unless a member folds the ballot so their vote shows. Even then, since the envelopes are numbered but lacking names, the counter may see how the member voted, but not who the member is.
A lot of thought goes into a mail ballot and our system has worked well for many years. Meanwhile, please do not scratch off the control number from the ballot envelope. It defeats the purpose.
Two Major Issues Face OSA This Spring:
The Transit Authority Contract may be ready for a membership vote late this month or early next. The bad news is that we did not get all we were seeking. The good news is we did very well indeed. Not only will our Transit members get the overdue 4% and 4%, they will also be offered a longevity package of a nice size.
The TA Analysts are being offered a (pensionable but not compounded) schedule as of 1/1/02, of $1,650 at the close of the eleventh year, $2,000 at close of sixteen and $3,000 at the close of the twenty-first year. Alternatively, the members may choose to opt for the straight percentage across the board. The terms are somewhat different from what the City offers the rest of OSA, but this is not bad for a first effort.
Our second problem is the Associate Staff Analyst List, and this problem will be with us for a while to come. The Union is aware that many agencies tend to only follow the absolute minimal letter of the law or even less.
Our Executive Director, Sheila Gorsky, stays on top of every Agency where a list exists and often attends the hiring pools as well. She has recently brought to the unions' attention two current abuses of the clear intent of the law.
First, hundreds of candidates were denied appointment using the "one-in-three" rule. Generally, the action took place without any job interviews and was done only so the agency could reach friends and relatives further down each agency's list. Now some of those agencies are telling candidates that they will not restore their names to the list. OSA is not happy to hear this. Such numerically discarded candidates should be automatically restored without delay.
Second, a few agencies have exhausted their lists and are already soliciting their staff to fill ASA jobs provisionally. No mention is made on the fliers about the exam. Now, that is foul.
If any Agency needs to fill an Associate Staff Analyst position, there are hundreds of available candidates still unappointed, all of whom have passed the exam. They must use the list. The matter will be brought to the attention of the agencies involved, to the attention of Councilman Jennings of the Civil Service Committee, the DCAS/Personnel Commissioner, and to the Mayor.
We will not ask candidates to report for demonstrations as of yet, but we do want the government to follow both the letter and the spirit of the law.
Friday Night at the Movies – OSA will be hosting and cosponsoring, along with a number of other unions, LaborFilms, a semi-monthly screening series of films on labor themes, starting in May. There are many excellent feature and documentary films that explore labor history, workers lives and the fight for economic and social justice. Many of these had very brief runs in theaters or were shown once on TV and are rarely seen.
Each screening will take place on a Friday night starting at 7pm in Room 709 at the Union office, 220 East 23rd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) and will be followed by an informal discussion on the issues raised by the film. Light refreshments will be available. This is your chance to have a little fun, discuss important labor issues and meet your fellow unionists. The schedule for the first three programs are:
May 17, 2002 – BREAD AND ROSES – (2001, 110 minutes, US)
Maya, a young Mexican immigrant, joins her older sister as a non-union night office cleaner in Los Angeles. Her hours are long, her wages low and there is no job security. Enter a young union organizer who introduces a campaign to unionize the janitors, urging Maya to join the fight for higher wages, paid vacations, and medical benefits. Surprised to learn that she has "rights," Maya encourages her co-workers to join the campaign and come to meetings and demonstrations. But her political awakening leads to conflict with her anti-union sister and her personal struggles lead to a bittersweet ending.
June 7, 2002 – HUMAN RESOURCES – (1999, 100 minutes, France)
A powerful story of the bonds and conflicts in the relationship between a father and son who find themselves on opposite sides of the labor-management divide. The father has worked 30 years on the factory floor so his son can do "better" than he has. When the son takes a management trainee position in his father's factory, what he learns transforms their relationship and forces both men to assess their principles and views of work.
June 21, 2002 – ROGER AND ME – (1989, 91 minutes, US)
Flint, Michigan was the site of one of the defining moments in US labor history - the 1937 sit-down strike against General Motors, which ended in union recognition for the auto workers. Half a century later, journalist/humorist Michael Moore returned to his home town to produce a scathing satirical documentary about the closing of GM's Flint plants and the layoff of more than 30,000 workers. Moore's persistent attempts to interview GM CEO Roger Smith form the spine of the film which examines the desperate attempts by workers, business and city government to deal with the economic catastrophe.
The series will take a hiatus for the summer and return in the Fall with screenings on September 20th, October 4th and 18th, November 1st and 15th and December 6th.
Mark your calendars now, but please call the hotline (212) 330-8833 or visit the newsline page on this site starting in early May for up-to-date information on the series and any changes in schedule.