News From OSA - January, 2004

Collective Bargaining. After eighteen months of negotiations, two aspects of our collective bargaining efforts were finally concluded.

The Money. There was a 1% ACF (Additional Compensation Fund) or Equity award as a part of the prior 27-month contract. The raise was due to us as of 6/30/02.

Our Transit Authority members chose to receive the money as a straight percentage, but the City Analysts (and NYCHA, Board of Ed, HHC & OTB) sought to use if for an increase in existing longevity.

We do not know how much work was expended by the City in their efforts to figure out what we were due. On our own side, the work may have been intense, but it came in short bouts of activity followed by weeks and months of silence from the other side.

First, we awaited their numbers related to our salaries as per the City's standard "1% book" set for 12/31/00, the day before the start of the year of the new contract. Those salaries, plus our demography and costs involved in awarding a raise at the 10, 15 or 20 year level, did not reach us until just before 6/30/02.

We "crunched" the numbers, held discussions and, finally, at a formal meeting of the negotiating team, voted unanimously to spread the money out almost evenly over the three periods involved. Both the newly organized members and the longer organized title series would receive the same dollar amounts. It would be that amount only for the new members and that much more added to the longevity payment of those of our members already receiving longevity.

The City got its answer from OSA within ten days of arrival of their printed documents. We also asked to have the wording of the contract adjusted so that it would be clear that the 20-year longevity would not be lost if a member was promoted by Civil Service exam to our new title of Administrative Staff Analyst.

Months later, the City sent us new documents. On their first set of numbers, they had failed to include over five hundred newly unionized members. The new members made a bit more, on average, than the prior title series, but they were also longer in service, which affects the cost for pension purposes. (A new employee may quit without ever vesting his or her pension, a twenty- year veteran of the City employment is almost always already vested and due a pension and soon.)

Our negotiating team reconvened, we had the numbers checked by former City Actuary Johnathan Schwartz, and we were able to respond within ten days in spite of it being a holiday period. We accepted the lowered numbers and told them to pay us as before.

Months later, the City contacted us to explain that based on the wording of the contract before this one, members promoted from Associate Staff Analyst to Administrative Staff Analyst by exam would lose the twenty-year longevity. Our union's somewhat emotional response can be easily imagined (but not printed). Once past that, there remained the problem of how to avoid members losing money upon promotion.

Again, the negotiating team met and again agreed quickly. We now told the City to "fold" the entire 20-year longevity back into the 15-year longevity, using the "better" 15 year's rules. Any "lost" dollars on a per person basis that would occur through giving it to more members would be made up by use of the 1%.

This time, the City responded relatively quickly. About ten weeks later, as summer began, the City said it could not do as demanded. The union's response was our fastest to date. That very day, the union insisted on either the combining of the 15 & 20 year longevities or else provide us a letter confirming that the City would not or could not do as demanded. The matter was now twelve months overdue and had begun to look a lot like an improper labor practice. "IP's" or "improper practices" are handled by the Office of Collective Bargaining, not through negotiations.

By September, the City claimed it now would combine the 15 & 20 year longevities and so the union again tried to be patient. After a fortnight of no further response by the City, the union suggested that if combining the 15 & 20 year longevities was too complex, how much would it cost to bring the 20-year rules into accord with the 10 & 15 year rules. The City was very pleased with the union's suggestion. This should be easy. Only, it wasn't.

A very frustrated OSA leadership made its way to the Office of Collective Bargaining. At exactly what point, we inquired, would months of delay, with the excuse of alleged incompetence, be considered too much?

Soon, thereafter, with a little encouragement from OCB, the City did offer a version of what we had sought. It was not exactly what we asked for, but it will serve.

As of 6/30/02, members receiving ten and 15 year longevities will add $281 for each ($1,013 + $281 = $1,294 after ten; $2,026 + $562 = $2,588 after fifteen). Members in Analyst titles new to the union will be due the $281 or $562 depending on longevity of their service. (We apologize for any confusion that may have been caused by typos on two of the numbers in the preceding sentences that appear in the print version recently mailed to you.)

The twenty-year longevity will stay at $998 but will now, a) be compoundable (it was not before); b) become a part of base pay and thus not lost upon promotion or change of title; and c) cover all the new members as well as those covered previously. The twenty-year longevity was always pensionable after a two-year waiting period and that does not change.

The pluses and minuses of the agreement will be discussed at our next general membership meeting. Meanwhile, most members will probably be more interested in when we will finally get the money. Maybe February, but never, never spend it until the City actually puts it in the paycheck.

And Then There Was Health. Thanks to OSA having representatives on the Health Technical Subcommittee of the Municipal Labor Committee, members have been pretty well informed about the details of the past 18 months of mostly nasty negotiations. Mayor Bloomberg wanted to cut the cost of government by shifting health costs onto City workers. We did not agree.

At the end, in spite of many problems along the way, the municipal unions remained united. As a result, we finally obtained an agreement satisfactory to every union president in attendance save one. (Actually, he happened to be in the middle of voting on his close election runoff and he may have felt more militant than usual.)

Rather than present the OSA leadership's views on the agreement, we present the PBA's report to its police officer membership.(Reprinted with permission.)

The Police and Fire Unions were especially wary during the past year and a half of negotiations. For a variety of reasons (better discussed at the upcoming membership meeting than written here), the Fire/Police coalition were frequently displeased with the negotiations as they proceeded. Finally, however, they liked the deal on its conclusion and say so with considerable clarity.

For the record, you can read a copy of the signed agreement reached on 12/18/03. All things considered, we did good.

The photo shows the handshake sealing the healthcare deal between Mayor Michael Bloomberg (left) and MLC Chairperson Randi Weingarten (right) OSA chair Bob Croghan is to the left of Weingarten in the photo, taken by George Cohen of AFSCME DC37.

Good, Bad and Indifferent:

•Our brothers and sisters in the Transit Authority have forwarded to us a 12/12/03 memo from the MTA. The memo announces a 3% salary adjustment (raise) for 2004, limited to non-represented employees not covered by the Career and Salary plan. The memo also provides a merit increase pool worth 1% overall but to be varied by individual. Dependent upon one's merit (or lack thereof in the eyes of one's supervisors), this could mean from 0% extra up to as much as 4% extra. Hmmm... Another worthwhile topic for discussion at the membership meeting.

•Our uniformed forces in School Safety and Traffic Enforcement are yet without contract offer, but we are hoping to have an answer before the membership next meets.

•The Management Benefits Fund has added some improvements to their plan as of 1/1/04 and the OSAWF trustees will be examining them this month. Some of the improvements look pretty good but others are puzzling.

OSA General Membership Meeting. The next OSA membership meeting is set for Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 6:00pm in Room 709 at the OSA office, 220 East 23rd Street, between Second and Third Aves.

Black History Month Program. On Friday, March 5, 2004, OSA will hold its fifth annual black history month celebration. As always, we salute those in the African-American community who have made a significant contribution in the labor movement, government and the private sector. This year, we shift our venue to St Andrews Church at 20 Cardinal Hayes Place, located conveniently behind the Municipal Building near 1 Police Plaza. The program this year will also include a memorial tribute to City Councilmembers Mary Pinkett and James Davis and to OSA Activist Elaine Cherry. If you plan to attend, please call Alyson Brown at 212-686-1229 or download the invitation form and fax it back to the OSA office with your information.