News From OSA - August, 2002

Summer Mailing. The annual "bulk rate" mailing was mailed in August with all the normal reports prepared and finalized during the past summer. Since it is mailed "bulk rate" you can expect to receive it sometime in September. Included will be the normal offerings, financial reports, audits and analysis, along with a copy of Labor History magazine.

Members who read carefully will note that the OSA Welfare Fund trustees continue to refuse to pay an Actuary to provide an estimate of our ability to meet "post retirement employee benefit obligations." Since there are no such obligations, OSA (and a dozen other union welfare funds) continue to refuse to waste fund resources paying an actuary to estimate our ability to meet them.

OSA has applied for the help of a Labor Intern from Queens College Labor Studies Program this Fall. Our application cited OSA's intent to assign the intern to investigate and resolve the problem created by the AICPA. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is the source of the demand for an "estimate" that seems to make no sense, and yet is expected as a part of all audits.

OSA members will learn more as matters develop, since Queens College has apparently approved our request. Meanwhile, retired members who become nervous over the missing "estimate" should relax. As our Fund report shows, our reserves are healthy, we are managing well on income received, and we have a cushion against emergencies.

Early Outers. All new and old (those previously retired) retirees should note that the first OSARC retirees lunch meeting for the fall will be held September 18, 2002, at the OSA Office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 709, at 12:30 P.M. You are all invited.

New Issue. The upcoming Early Retirement has opened a new issue for OSA. As described by chair Bob Croghan: "I am currently an Associate Staff Analyst on released time from ACS in order to work full time as Chairperson of OSA."

"I entered city service in 1965 as a Caseworker and became immediately involved with the union. In 1974, I was placed on released time in order to work full time for SSEU Local 371. In 1978, I passed the ASA open competitive exam and began the long struggle to unionize the Analysts. This was finally first accomplished in 1985 with 38 Board of Education Analysts. I have been working steadily through today as Chairperson of OSA to continue building our union."

"At this time, I wish to take advantage of the early out program. I also wish to continue as your Chairperson of OSA. However, the current constitution of OSA would need an amendment to allow this to occur."

"The new suggested language, adopted by the OSA Executive Board, that would be added to the OSA rules on election of officers is as follows:"

To be eligible for office, a candidate must be a member in good standing. An incumbent officer who retires from a covered agency while in office shall be eligible to stand for re-election to office in subsequent elections.

A membership meeting is scheduled for discussion of the proposed amendment, and it would then be sent to the membership for a vote.

The 1% Equity. Prior to the 1965 contract, most city workers were paid under a system called the Career and Salary Plan. That plan provided for small, but automatic raises based on lengths of service. In addition, some years, an across the board raise went to all union represented workers as well.

In 1965, after a strike, a large increase in salary was won for all of us. Unfortunately one casualty of that year was the Career and Salary Plan. Victor Gotbaum, our Chief Negotiator, at that time, did not like the Career and Salary Plan. Meanwhile, another labor leader of that time, Albert Shanker, favored the old system and kept it for the teachers.

The contracts for 1965 through 1974 achieved sizeable financial gains for municipal employees. As a result union members did not, at first, mourn the loss of the Career and Salary Plan, at least, until hard times occurred.

During the fiscal crisis, the City's financial hardship resulted in some years of no increases in pay and others of tiny raises that did not keep up with inflation. Members began to become nostalgic over the loss of the old Career and Salary Plan because, under that system, at least small raises were guaranteed most years for most employees.

In the 1980's, negotiations under Ed Koch resulted in the setting aside, from each contract, of an "Equity" award. These awards were meant to allow for each local union to "tailor" a portion of the raise to fit the unique situations of the members of those unions.

OSA's members did not begin to benefit from "Equity" awards until our union was recognized as a collective bargaining agent. Our very first award created a $700 longevity payment for any union covered Staff or Associate Staff Analyst who had completed 15 years of service, regardless of prior title. Thereafter, OSA from each contract, improved upon the "longevity" differential, and by the 1995-2000 contract some of our members had added as much as $3000 a year to their salaries based on length of service.

In effect, OSA has been slowly recreating a new version of the old Career and Salary Plan. Most other city unions have been doing the same thing with local variations, and with the major exception of the teachers. (They never gave up the rewards for seniority in the first place).

Ever since May of last year, once DC 37 accepted the City offer of 4%, 4% and 1%, OSA's negotiating team has known that there would be money available for longevity. The 1% Equity would establish a longevity payment for titles newly covered by our union and would increase the longevity awards for those titles already receiving longevity differentials won in prior contracts. The actual dollar increase could only be estimated.

This summer (at long last) the City has gotten around to negotiating the details of our 1% award. The City had kept citing both the UFT and the PBA arbitrations as reasons for delay in the completing of our contact, but finally our issues were addressed.

It is clear that we are due more that $250 for each of our three anniversary dates: after 10 and 15 and 20 years of service. The City has not yet confirmed our estimates as to exactly how much more.

With a little bit of luck, we will have the City answer by the September general membership meeting. If, however, the City and the union fall into dispute over exactly how much is due to us, we are prepared. We have hired Jonathan Schwartz, retired City actuary to assist us in the past and we will do so again if he is needed to insure we receive the full value of the award. More details at the meeting.

General Membership Meeting. The next general membership meeting is to be held Thursday, September 12, 2002 at 6pm at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street Suite 709 (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues).