News From OSA - February, 2002

Ballot Mailing. On February 19, 2002, a mailing went out to all members of the Organization of Staff Analysts, along with a ballot for a vote on a proposed change in the OSA Constitution and Bylaws. We last changed our constitution about fifteen years ago. At that time, the OSA Executive Board noted that our success in organizing had outpaced our own bylaws. Until then, both unionized and not-yet-unionized Analysts belonged to OSA. This violated the New York State Taylor Law. The Taylor Law prohibits management from membership in employee organiza-tions and, by 1985, we had begun to achieve a collective bargaining status for at least some Analysts.

We created OSA and OSART as two separate organizations to remedy the problem. All unionized Analysts would belong to OSA and Analysts awaiting union status would belong to OSART. Initially, almost everyone belonged to OSART, and only a few hundred of us to OSA, but as the years passed, OSA was able to extend union coverage to over 4,000 members.

This year's proposed revision of our rules affects the same provision (# III Membership) as the prior amendment, and for similar reasons.

We have been successful. We now represent more types of members working in more places than we ever envisioned in the late 1980's.

When you review the "current wording" on the ballot, you may note the absence of mention of employers other than the City. As it happens, we now have over a thousand members working for non-City Agencies. There are also, as far as we know, no remaining employees in Program Research, Quantitative or Methods Analyst Occupational Groups.

The proposed revision was presented to the January General Membership meeting and two issues were raised by members attending.

The first question relates to the need for a signed dues deduction card. A member felt that since Agency Shop Fee Payers paid the equivalent of full dues, such persons should be entitled to membership rights without the necessity of signing a voluntary dues deduction card.

In response, it was pointed out that it is the New York State law that requires the signed voluntary dues deduction cards. The proposed revision of membership rules is geared towards conformity with that law. Every effort is made to provide the cards to all newly-appointed Analysts and our yearly summer mailing generally includes a designation card and a return envelope.

The second question raised pertained to the propriety of allowing persons employed by the union to belong to the union. It was suggested, instead, that union employees might wish to sign up with another union in order to "bargain" with OSA.

In fact, our union does not and legally can not prohibit employees from seeking to belong to another union. If there has been no interest on the part of our staff in doing so, it is because of the strange nature of OSA in the first place.

The strength of OSA as a union stems from the extent to which our union has attracted and retained willing volunteers over the years. OSA can field a dozen well-qualified and committed union organizers during an organizing drive, but most of them are pure volunteers who receive only (limited) reimbursement for expenses.

Our professional staff in Grievances are generally retirees who are former union activists who either volunteer or who are paid at or below their City salaries.

The small number of actual, regular 9-to-5 employees who handle our continuing administrative tasks are provided with health benefits, vacation and sick leave allowance and holidays identical to OSA members. Staff salaries are certainly low to start but move up steadily (so long as OSA is doing well) and a non-contributory 13% 401K is provided after one year. Once a "staffer" reaches the Staff Analyst salary level, raises thereafter are the OSA contract raises, including longevity.

The one "employee" who was the most insistent that staff should be considered fully members, voting and all, was Hank Mandel, our Senior Grievance Representative. Hank was a founding member of OSA, our Chairperson for the Health Department for many years before he retired and our first volunteer Grievance representative after he did retire. He now oversees our Grievance operation three days a week.

So then, the revised membership rules are intended to provide those who work for OSA the opportunity (but never the requirement) to be members if they so choose.

The ballot was sent to all current dues-paying members, as you would expect. In addition, as we have before, we are also sending out a slightly different mailing to the Agency Shop Fee Payers. The content is the same save that, instead of a ballot, we are sending out a dues designation card with the return envelope. By signing and returning the card, the Agency Shop Fee Payer is transformed into a Union Member with voting rights.

Ballots must be received by March 18, 2002.

Black History Month Celebration. Our Black History Month celebration is set for March 1st.. Already confirmed are attendees Lillian Roberts (likely to be DC 37 Executive Director as of next month), Bill Thompson, the Comptroller for the City of New York, Anthony Wells, VP of Research and Negotiations for SSEU Local 371, Albert Van Lare, Secretary of CWA Local 1180, and our own Troy Johnson, coordinator of the 9-11 Call Center. Your presence will complete the set. To download a copy of the flyer for the event, click here.

OSAPAC Meeting. City Councilmember Allan Jennings, Jr., the new chair of the Civil Service and Labor Committee will be the guest speaker at the next meeting of OSAPAC, our political action committee. Councilmember Jennings has expressed concern about several areas of civil service procedures of interest to OSA members. The meeting is to be held Tuesday, February 26th at 6pm at the union office. You are invited. To download a copy of the flyer for the event click here.