News From OSA - August, 2001

Collective Bargaining. The process continues throughout this summer and is going well thus far. Our negotiating team received over 120 economic and non-economic demands from members. These demands were screened and consolidated into a couple of dozen demands in hopes of a speedy negotiation.

The demands were presented to the City and our initial arguments were heard in July. The City has promised us a response in the month of August and then, unless we are satisfied with their answer, it is our turn again.

If all goes well, we could hope for a settled contract by early this Fall, but there are no guarantees. The only reasonable bargaining posture for our union to take is a tough one since our opponent, the City, will seek to take advantage of any weakness that they perceive.

OSA's short history as a bargaining unit has been one of tough negotiations, but also of gains that were worth the fight. On two separate occasions, OSA negotiated a better deal for our members than other City employees got. In 1991, we were the only union to restore our laid off members to their jobs. Again, in April of 1998 we were able to stop the layoffs set for our HHC members and, incidentally, for over 600 members of other unions as well.

We have also been the opposite of agreeable and passive when the City would seek to save money by offering less of a raise than we knew to be our due.

The Systems Analyst negotiation for their first contract opened with an offer that was short, by our calculations, by approximately 1.55%. The offer was for 7.16%, and it was a lot of money since it was due, retroactively, a long way back. Two years later, we had won most of our demands and a year later the disputed titles were getting the full longevity entitlement.

The current Transit negotiations for 1995-2000 were hung up on the TA's insistence on giving the 1.37% equity of the last contract as merit raises. As of 7/5/01, the TA agreed to give even their non-represented Analysts the 1.37% across the board. Thus, one of three issues left in dispute between OSA and TA is now resolved to our satisfaction and bargaining has resumed. That said, OSA is perfectly willing to settle our contract quickly if the City offers a fair deal.

On an early contract, a dispute arose over the interpretation of the .4% equity of that contract. The City's view of the matter would have reduced the value of the settlement to one third of the full amount. Had OSA accepted the City's arithmetic, our 10-year longevity would be worth $300 less than its current rate of $1,013. We did not accept their numbers and they finally gave in. We settled soon thereafter.

On the current contract, there is a 1% equity available but no details about the dollar value of the equity were provided. A demand for those details was a part of our recent July meeting with the City.

A great many phone calls come in to the union's office from members anxious for the union to settle so that we can all get paid our retroactive raises. Since the OSA staff and officers are subject to the same contract for their own salaries, we share the desire. Even so, we would be foolish to take less because we were in a great hurry. We would, for our haste, pay in this contract and in contracts to come.

The PICA drug card is in effect and, judging from the low level of calls from distressed members, working mostly well. That's good.

Meanwhile, we never did get the $125 per member rebate on health plans on our drug rider. Most members are paying a small fortune for their drug rider and the $125 one-time payment is designed to reduce that cost somewhat.

It turns out that the City's promise to pay that money is hung up on technical details. The new projected date of payment is now set for October of this year. OSA has representatives on the Committee implementing the one shot tax-free payment and we are very interested in how it is accomplished. It opens up possibilities.

Test questions. The exam is over, the protest/review period has drawn to a close and the Test Validation Board, including an OSA representative is busy. The Final Answer key should shortly follow and with the key, result cards.

Members anxious about the effect of seniority on one's final score can relax. Seniority can matter a lot on a 5,000 name sergeant list at the Police Department, but the ASA promotional lists will be by Agency. Since there are over 50 Agencies, the lists will be relatively short in each Agency. (One exception, HRA, may have as many as one to two hundred successful candidates -- but HRA is by far our largest Agency.)

Calculation of seniority is easy if you like math. The Raw score is multiplied by .85 and a seniority score of between 10.5 and 15 points is added. The seniority score is determined as follows: 70% of the 15 points is for being a permanent Staff Analyst and 2% of the 15 points is given for every year of service as a permanent civil servant before the exam. (DCAS breaks it down into quarters of a year but we are simplifying it.)

If math is not your strong point, an example could help. An analyst who scored a perfect 100% on the actual exam and had just been appointed to the permanent service a week before the exam would have a final adjusted score of:

Raw Score    100 x .85 = 85.0 points
Seniority    15 x .70 = 10.5 points
Years Service    15 x 00 = 00.0 points
Final Adjusted Score    95.5

Had the same person been appointed with ten years of service, the example would change. Line three would now read 15 points x .20 = 3.0 points. (The .20 multiplier came from ten years of service x .02 per year.)

Well, easy for some, confusing for others. Basically, not to worry. Adjustment for the seniority seldom affects an OSA candidate's chance for appointment to any extent, although it can delay it somewhat.

Our normal bulk rate summer mailing is due out soon but, since it's "bulk rate", it is hard to judge how fast it will arrive. Included will be the yearly audit and various and sundry reports, articles, etc. Lots of reading.

A Memorial Service will be held next week on behalf of Jack Reubens. The newspapers over the past few years have been full of stories of greed and the wrongdoings of various union activists and officers. At the same time, it is not at all newsworthy when someone does their job more than adequately and absent all self interest.

In the early 1960's, the Social Services Employees Union was blessed with a young and aggressive grievance representative. Jack Reubens quickly made his mark as a superb defender of union members. Jack's specialty was arbitration and no lawyer ever had a better win/lose record than Jack.

Jack became an institution at SSEU. Presidents came and went in those days, but Jack was kept on without question by each newly-elected administration.

Sometime around 1980, Jack was enticed away from the union by an offer to help establish the Personnel Department of the newly-created Department of Juvenile Justice.

In his new role, Jack played Management by day, but his heart remained with the union. Jack's new title was Analyst. Theoretically, he could not belong to a union. In practice, he never left us.

The Organization of Staff Analysts came into official existence as a recognized collective bargaining unit in 1985. We started with a highly trained and intensely motivated arbitration representative available from the first day. Jack never wanted a salary for his work on behalf of OSA. He helped us for years before he retired and once he had left the City, he gave us far more time yet.

About a year ago, Jack relocated to Arizona and OSA lost his services. Before he left, he had trained our Grievance reps up to his own demanding standards and he was satisfied that he could leave a job well done.

I spoke to Jack a few days before he passed away. We talked of the old days and Jack said that of all his life, he was proudest of the work he had done for the union. He had every right to be proud. He had done brilliant work and had done it simply for the love of justice.

Jack's memorial will be held a 6:00 pm on Tuesday, August 14th, at St. John's Cathedral Synod House on 110th St and Cathedral Parkway (aka Amsterdam Avenue). All members and retirees are invited.

Join OSA On The March in the Labor Day Parade. Last year about 40 OSA members marched in the Labor Day Parade for the first time. This year, we hope to top that number. Members are urged to join our contingent. All who participate will receive an OSA T Shirt, OSA cap, drinks - and lunch at the end of the parade. The parade is on the Saturday after Labor Day, September 8, 2001. We are assembling on the southeast corner of 44th Street and 6th Avenue in front of Hippodrome Software (on the 44th Street Side). Be there at 11AM sharp.

OSA mourns the loss of Debra Bernhardt. OSA remembers and honors Debra E. Bernhardt, archivist, activist and historian, who died in March of this year after a long illness. Born in 1953, Bernhardt was the head of the Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives/Tamiment Library at NYU. Photo by Ann Rosen.

Photos. The photos in this edition of News From OSA were taken by Director of Media Services Rob Spencer at the August 24th negotiating session between OSA and the City.