News From OSA - January, 2003

Layoffs Redux. As noted in the copy of the December 6, 1991 article in The Chief you can obtain by clicking on the link, OSA has been faced with layoffs before. We had a suggestion and a solution back then -- and it worked. See the thank you letter from Analysts called back from layoffs in 1991. Now, three more analysts are scheduled to be laid off this month. We do not know the names of those being laid off. We were sent three names, but, after careful investigation, we are certain that two of the three names will be subject to last minute substitution. We do not yet know how many more layoffs will be announced this Spring.

DC37, under Lillian Roberts, has invested a lot of effort in the production of papers documenting the wasteful use of overpriced contracts and suggesting ways to save money other than by layoffs. OSA, supplementing that effort, will seek to have VOLUNTARY FURLOUGHS used instead of layoffs.

Mayor Bloomberg has reportedly stated that layoffs are a last resort, and we agree. Instead of layoffs, we are suggesting the use of voluntary unpaid leaves of absence.

Actually, we have been asking, for years, for our members to have the right, if they so choose, to take a year off unless their presence is somehow irreplaceable. Many of our members ask for this sort of unpaid leave each year. Their reasons are varied: some wish to return to school, or to try out another job, or to handle family business related to aged parents or troubled children.

The members of the Organization of Staff Analysts are already, theoretically, allowed to request and receive unpaid leave of absence from our jobs. The reason for the use of the modifier "theoretically" is that almost all such requests are turned down.

As far back as 1991, OSA researchers had determined that only two types of personnel could expect to find a request for a voluntary leave without pay to be granted. Agencies, we learned, would grant a leave of any desired duration to those staff who were especially close to top management. The agencies would also (it was noted) grant such leaves to employees who were especially disliked by management. The overwhelming majority of us who just did our jobs, however, were invariably turned down.

Why? Convenience.

Agencies, in our City, are generally large and employ many hundreds or thousands, even tens of thousands of staff. Agency human resources departments are not set up to respond to the convenience of our individual needs or desires, but to the convenience of the Agency. It is convenient for an Agency to keep employees who are doing a good job in place. It is inconvenient to grant such persons a voluntary leave of absence.

Until now, the City has been cold to our requests but now the City may see an advantage for itself in considering our demand. If, for example, three member Analysts wanted to get away for a year (with the guarantee that their job would be waiting for them once the leave ended) the City could save that many layoffs. The process could be repeated for as long as the fiscal crisis lasted.

We need your help. You can download a furlough survey in PDF format by clicking on this link. The question being asked is a simple one; are you willing to take a year or more off without pay? Please respond to this survey as soon as possible.

Minor Items. Compared to layoffs, all other union business is less important, but is important nonetheless.

Equity.1% Equity - After a five-month delay, the Office of Management and Budget responded to the OSA demands on 12/10/02. The first response showed only that OMB had not read the union's letter carefully. We called and sent a letter to reiterate our proposed settlement and by 12/17/02, the response came back with the right answers ($287 after 10 years, $287 after 15 and $266 after 20) but now stated that OSA's estimate overspent the award by .0003 or three hundredths of one percent.

The union responded again and now has (as of 12/19/02), the OMB numbers ($287 after 10 years, $287 after 15 and $238 after 20). Nothing about this exercise so far builds our trust in the Office of Management and Budget.

The Union office worked through the holiday and prepared extensive charts to be sent to our actuarial consultant Jonathan Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz, former City Actuary for many years, will double check OMB's numbers and will argue on our behalf if OMB is wrong.

Whichever numbers are correct, we are now closing in on getting paid the amount due to us.

Drug Plan Reimbursement. $125 Drug Plan Reimbursement - Members who were retired by July 1st, 2001 have already been reimbursed. Active members and recent retirees may see the money this month if all goes well.

GHI Drug Rider Changeover. The recent changeover for mail-order prescriptions, from Merck Medco to Express Scripts, did not go entirely smoothly. Any member who had any problem with the changeover is asked to send the union a letter detailing problems encountered. This changeover went better than the prior one three and a half years ago (which was an absolute disaster). Still, we would like to improve the process so there are no future problems.

Civil Service Law We are awaiting the scheduling of hearings on our proposed amendment to the Civil Service Law on the use of the one-in-three. City Councilman Alan Jennings' office expects those hearings late this month or in February.

Celebrations Our holiday party at the Armory was wonderful in terms of enough space and ample seating. If the elevator had not broken down, it might have been perfect. The food and the friends, the music and the conversation were enjoyable. We even had enough Charlotte Russes and other desserts.

Photographs taken at the holiday party are available by clicking here.

Next comes Black History Month. Members interested in helping on the committees preparing for that celebration should call the union office and speak to either Shirley Gray or George Morgan.

Elections. Elections came and went with only one slate nominated. Newly elected or reelected officers will be sworn in at this month's general membership meeting. On behalf of those elected, a promise is made that our union will continue to do everything we can to be worthy of the trust that has been given. We feel it to be an honor and a privilege to be permitted to serve the union.

OSA General Membership Meeting. The next general membership meeting of the union is to take place on Thursday, January 23, 2003 at 6pm at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 709, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues.