OSA News - August 1998

The topics for this month are: the July raise (now due for August), a few improvements in the Welfare Fund, and the September WEP vigil.

The Money. You were due to receive a raise on 7/1/98. The City is expected to pay it on 8/7/98. That pay period will cover, due to the normal pay lag, the dates 7/20/98 - 7/31/98. OSAMEM1.jpg - 11834 Bytes

You will also be due thirteen days of retroactive pay for days worked before 7/20/98. (Members at the Board of Education are owed more, due to different contract dates. They are owed seventy-eight days retroactive).

To make sure the City gives the correct amount, use a 70 hour (no overtime) regular pay stub from before the raise, and multiply the old "total earnings" by 1.03. The answer will be your new regular gross.

To check retroactivity, subtract the old gross from the new gross and divide by ten for the raise on a daily basis. Then multiply the daily raise by the number of days of retroactivity you are owed.

If your figures differ from the City by more than a couple of cents, ask one of your co-workers to check your numbers. If the City is wrong, submit a payroll complaint form to your agency's payroll department.

Meanwhile, do not spend it until you get it. It is all promises until it is paid.

And for our next trick. The 1995-2000 MCMEA included an "equity raise." OSA had dealt with equity raises in the past and felt confident we could do so for this contract.

On our first multi-agency contract, the membership voted, by mail ballot, to choose to use the 1.15% then available to create a $700, 15 year longevity differential. That first referendum was to determine if members preferred a smaller across-the-board raise or a larger raise going only to senior workers.

A few years later, our second contract made .4% (four tenths of one per cent) available for an equity award. On this occasion, the members were asked to choose the year for the next longevity award. Members could choose to get the money at the 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 year point. OSAMEM2.jpg - 9052 Bytes

Counting from 5 year longevity upwards, a majority of members fell between year ten and fifteen. Thus, a ten year longevity was chosen. The award for that year was $379. For our current contract, the negotiating team, therefore, assumed that members desired some kind of improved longevity and that it be somewhat tilted towards the middle rather than later.

There was no obvious need for a further vote on the matter since we could reasonably assume the members would want what was chosen on the last two such votes. That's fortunate, since the City has put us into a time squeeze anyway. We do not yet have the numbers we need for final discussion.

There are two sets of City numbers for OSA's 1995 to 2000 Collective Bargaining. One set is dated April 17, 1998 and, the set below is dated June 25, 1998. Please note that the number of both OSA members existing as of December 31, 1994 and the amount down at the bottom line vary from April 17th to June 25th.

If you regularly consult the OSA newsline, you may recall complaints regarding a dispute over numbers between our negotiating team and the City. The problem was simple. OSA was sure the City had miscounted our membership on December 31, 1994 as they had done for the prior contract date of December 31, 1992. OSA is an organizing local; we add new titles every contract. We told the City our problem early on, but as of early May 1998 we did not have an appropriate answer from them.

In May, the City acknowledged that some OSA members had not been counted for "equity" purposes (187 in NYCHA for example) but countered that OSA would not be "charged" for those members when it came time to compute the costs involved in their longevity awards. That was acceptable.

Still, we were unclear as to the details in the handling of the HHC members. Even so, the bargaining team proceeded to begin considering how to spend the equity monies based on the numbers the City gave us. A tentative report was even presented at the May membership meeting.

It was good practice, but it turned out the City's May 1998 numbers were wrong. WEP1.jpg - 20025 Bytes

The numbers we received in late June were $194,000 better. Good. Unfortunately, as we learned the day of their receipt, there were still more difficulties to resolve. We think the City is still inadvertently off on some numbers, although not much, but there is yet another problem.

The Longevity\15 month rule vs. the Equity Longevity\2 year rule. As we learned at the last bargaining session, OSA and the City have misunderstood each other on the meaning of longevity for some time now.

It turns out that our first longevity, the 15 year $700 longevity, went under the 15 month rule, as we understood. Under that rule, on the first day after completion of 15 years service in any title, a member is paid at a rate that adds the $700 per year. Fifteen months later, the City will begin counting that longevity as part of base pay both for pension purposes and for compounding of raises as well.

The City, however, was under the impression that our 10 year longevity was covered by different rules. Apparently most contracts that year used the longevity\2 year rules. Under these rules you only get the longevity on the calendar "quarter" after the year you qualify. Also after completion of the service requirement, it takes two years before the City counts the payment for pension purposes and the longevity is never used to compound future raises. OSAMEM7.jpg - 11341 Bytes

Different rules lead to different costs and a $100 increase under the old 15 month rules costs more than the same increase under the newer 2 year rules. When the union had been asking the cost of adding a $100 extra to the 10 year longevity or to the 15 year longevity, the City had been using the 2 year rules for the answers on the 10 year item and the 15 month rules for the answers on the 15 year item. Clearly more work and discussion are needed.

And now for the bad news. According to the Municipal Coalition Memorandum of Economic Agreement, the City did not have to pay us this year's three percent until we had completed fiscal negotiations of the rest of the contract. We could not complete those negotiations until we had the right numbers.

And then the (sort of) good news. As it turned out, OSA was not alone in having a problem completing the equity discussions with the City. In June 1998, came the MOU which now modifies the MCMEA. Stan Hill, Chair of the Coalition, agreed with the City that if a union agreed to be bound by the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) the City would pay the 3% for 1998 as soon as possible.

The MOU is a simple document. We have two more months to either work out an acceptable (to us and the City) allocation of the equity monies or, at worst, we will receive a 1.37% raise across the board in the 60th month of the contract (March 1, 2000 for most members). (The magic number of 1.37 percent is related to the 1.52 percent of December 31, 1994. The Contract raises of 3 percent, 3 percent and 4.75 percent raise the salaries by a cumulative total of 11.13 percent. So, if you were to get a 1.52 percent raise on a 1994 salary of $10,000 it would be worth $152. If instead, you got the MCMEA raise of 3, 3, and 4.75 percent your $10,000 salary would be up to $11,112.93 and 1.37 percent of that is $152.25. Close enough).

OSA signed the "Certification of Compliance" with the MOU and as a result, the 3 percent raises are being paid.

But, as of now, we still don't have the first numbers on the equity. OSAMM100.jpg - 20260 Bytes

Improvements in the Welfare Fund. The normal yearly audits will be sent later this summer, but our Welfare Fund is doing well. Our goal of a one year reserve has been met and we can now consider improving benefits. Here's a preview.

Participating Dentists. OSA is now a part of "Metrodent." Most of our OSA Welfare Fund panel dentists have chosen to join the larger panel. The dentists get an increased group of potential customers, we get a far larger list to choose from and, best of all, there is no out of pocket cost at all. Previously, OSA members using panel dentists were charged $50 deductible cash out of pocket payment for each crown. It was not a lot of money, but now there is no cost at all with the new panel.

If, however, your own favorite participating dentist has chosen not to join the Metrodent panel, not to worry. The OSA Welfare Fund panel will continue as before and you can continue using your current dentist. The OSA\Metrodent panel listings will be available on this website shortly and were included in the bulk mailing.

Non-participating Dentists. If you prefer a non-panel dentist, as of 7/1/98, the $50 deductible will be waived for preventative care such as the oral exam and X-rays.

The Orthodontic benefit has been increased from a $1500 lifetime cap per patient to a $2500 lifetime cap.

Survivor Benefits. Until now, if you passed away, your spouse or registered domestic partner could buy health coverage for self and dependents at the "COBRA" rate for up to 36 months. The new change is that the OSA Welfare Fund will now pay for the first year of the COBRA coverage along with any optional riders that you had in place, along with full OSA Welfare Fund benefits as well.

Retirees Benefits. As you will note in our report due out later this month, the recent Disability Insurance costs have been going down since 1995. It is not that we are getting more healthy, it is that we are (as a group) getting older. Retirees (405 out of 3505 currently in our fund) do not need Disability coverage, and the numbers of retirees grows yearly.

Since we are saving a couple of bucks on the retirees, the trustees chose to spend a couple on them as well. Until now, if a retiree was enrolled in an HMO, he or she paid the drug rider costs directly from their pension checks. The OSA Welfare Fund will now pay that cost to the HMO directly and retirees will no longer have a deduction from their pension checks. OSAMEM8.jpg - 12774 Bytes

The WEP Vigil. The Organization of Staff Analysts will be sponsoring a WEP "vigil" this September. On the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th of September, OSA will be present at Union Square from 7 am - 7 pm during the week, and in the morning on Saturday as well.

As members are aware, OSA is quite opposed to the Work Experience Program as it is now constituted. Our major objection (among others) are those aspects of the program which deprive WEP workers of the right to representation, the right to organize and even the rights to due process.

Last year, OSA was the sponsor of a WEP Conference attended by two hundred participants and we plan on doing another conference next year.

Even so, our WEP Committee felt we could do a bit more. Our "vigil" will be a simple affair. We will have a table or two, chairs, a flag and some signs. Members will essentially be "bearing witness" to our objection to a bad program and literature will be available as to our objections.

Thus far, OSA has been joined by a number of other organizations in this effort. Judson Memorial Church, Workfairness, CWA, The Federation of Protestant Social Welfare Agencies and others. We deliberately set the hours of the vigil to be from seven to seven that at least some of our active members could join the tables before or after their work day.

If you can give an hour or two to this vigil you should call Sheila Gorsky or Bill Douglas, and the committee will provide you with more detailed information as it develops.

We are all aware that a vigil drawing attention to the hypocrisy of the WEP program will not, of itself, solve the problem. Even so, doing something against wrong is better than doing nothing at all.

OSA officers will be at the tables both in the AM and the PM. On Saturday, at the close of the 40 hours of WEP vigil, we will join Brian McLaughlin, the President of the Central Labor Council, and the Labor Day parade. Organized labor in New York City has awarded a spot in the line of march to WEP workers. The courts may refuse "WEPs" the status of workers, but we will not.

The rough outlines of our equity settlement are now tentatively clear. The City is still checking its own numbers, but most of the bargaining team has already voted to accept the concept of how OSA will handle its equity package.

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First, we have chosen to exchange the "annuity" payment for an early payment (and slight increase) of our other equity monies. The City had offered the union up to $522 per member for most members. Logically, the union was to establish a fund, invest it wisely and perhaps add to it in future contracts. Eventually, any member entitled would retire and these monies would go to help their retirement.

As noted in prior membership and chapter meetings, the leadership of OSA did not feel comfortable with the "annuity." Since a separate account should be maintained for each eligible member, administrative costs would be high. Also, union leaders are elected for many reasons but a talent for stock market investing is not a normal criteria.

Second, as noted in the most recent mailing, members have previously expressed (by mail ballot) a preference for longevity payments tilted toward the middle years of full career.

One of OSA's long term goals has been to set up a longevity ladder and this settlement will go a long way towards meeting that goal.

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As of June 1, 1999, our 10 year longevity will go from $379 per annum to $1,000. Our 15 year payment will rise from $700 to $1,000 as well. (Note, the final amount may be a bit under or over $1,000. It should be very close.) In both cases, this "old" 15 month rule will apply, i.e., the money is added to annual salary on the anniversary date of completion of the 10th or 15th year. It is not pensionable and not compoundable until 15 months thereafter. The service requirement, however, is without regard to title.

As of June 1, 1999, a new 20 year longevity award will go into effect, again for $1,000. This last differential is, however, under the "new" rules. It is not paid until the nearest quarter after completion of the 20th year, is not pensionable for 2 years thereafter and is never compounded.

More details will be available, as well as the exact numbers, at the general membership meeting on Thursday, September 24th starting at 6pm at 125 Worth Street, 2nd Floor auditorium.

Assuming the City does not come up with any last minute dramatic changes, the bargaining team has already voted to accept the package. This will conclude over two years of hard bargaining.

Enjoy the Summer!