News From OSA - January, 2012

EXAMS. The exams have been rated and the results published. Soon, the lists will be established and hiring or promoting will begin. Personnel has let us know that their intention is to begin with the promotional ASA lists, followed by the open competitive ASA list and only thereafter using the Staff Analyst list. Although it seems counterintuitive at first, it makes good sense. Many candidates will be promoted out of the Staff Analyst title up to Associate. Thus there will be more vacancies.

It is also a factor to be considered that many of those who passed the Staff Analyst exam also passed the open competitive Associate exam. It would be inefficient to hire a candidate for Staff if that same candidate was going to be hired, a few months later, by another Agency, as an Associate.

Provisional members are in danger of job loss at this time, but there are a few ways out of the predicament. If the Agency has the budget to do so, provisional employees can be assigned to a new job with a different title. The member will still be provisional so the solution is temporary, but it does buy time.

Another option is to wrangle a promotion to Administrative Staff Analyst (non-managerial), but this is also a temporary solution.

Finally, a provisional member facing demotion can sometimes persuade the Agency to place the demotee at the top of the salary range for the lower title, reducing lost monies greatly.

Provisional members facing the possibility of termination are reminded not to resign at this time. There is no blame attached to a termination due to the moving of a civil service list. Also, anyone so terminated is entitled to collect unemployment insurance. “UIB” is a valuable safety net in a recession.

There will be another seminar about Civil Service Exams and rules for calling lists given by OSA Executive Director Sheila Gorsky on January 19th at 6:00PM. Please print out and complete the flyer you can download at this link and fax it to 212-686-1231 or mail it to OSA.

STATE OF THE UNION. Our contract expired in August 2010 and the Mayor, the newspapers and the media in general all agree there is no money for raises for civil servants. Things could be worse.

In the 1930’s the head of Citibank visited Mayor Jimmy Walker and demanded that the City workforce be cut and salaries pared down. The Mayor complied. Then, a few years later, the business interests persuaded Mayor Fiorello La Guardia to further cut City workers salaries across the board.

These days, unlike the thirties, NYC civil servants have become a unionized workforce and the City cannot cut our salaries without our agreement. We are not inclined to agree. However, just like the 1930’s, business interests, (Wall Street and the Banks especially) are pressing the government to lower taxes, reduce services, squeeze the City workers and abandon the poor. Every time we have an economic depression the rich conclude that they can’t afford us any longer.

Those young people who “Occupy Wall Street” believe that taxes are too low upon the rich. They believe the rich should pay their fair share of taxes in this time of national crisis, and we are inclined to agree. The Governor recently got credit for "raising taxes" on the wealthy, but that statement is actually open to some question, as this article from ProPublica points out.

So the Mayor is attacking us and OWS is attacking Wall Street, but how are we doing?

We are doing well thus far. Let us check the score card for 2011.

SENIORITY. The Mayor’s attack on seniority hit teachers first but it was also an attack on us. It has been made clear to us that the Mayor has no respect for years of service given to the public and if he could break down all the rules rewarding long service he would do so in a minute. He spent years gearing up to destroy seniority and he planned on using the fiscal crisis started in 2008 to enable him to purge the system of “expensive” older teachers.

It did not work. Kathy Black stumbled out of the starting gate, the Governor provided extra dollars to avoid the need for layoffs and the Mayor had to retreat. Those senior civil servants will now outlast the Mayor who wanted them gone.

CIVIL SERVICE. The Mayor’s attack on civil service has been an ongoing affair. He started with the proposed creation of 1500 Strategic Analysts to be appointed, apparently, by the Board of Directors of his Country Club. Thereafter the Mayor went on to seek the creation of about 100,000 more patronage jobs.

Our union spokespersons opposed his demands, ridiculed his rationalizations and prevented his success in Albany. He then hired Deputy Mayor Steven Goldsmith to bring us to our knees. Soon we were buried knee-deep in snow, but we were still standing. Goldsmith did a lot of damage but he never got to inflict the lasting harm he intended for us, our City and the civil service. At the end, he was not the last man standing.

CONTRACTING OUT. The Mayor specializes in contracting out and his contracting out has grown even larger as the budget for City agencies has grown ever smaller. He was doing okay for a while. Apparently only Civil Service unions found it remarkable how much money was being spent with such poor results. Then came Citytime.

A short time later Comptroller John Liu refused to approve a multi million dollar contract to recruit new teachers while the Mayor was promising massive teacher layoffs. Around that same time a contractor did such a good job on rationalizing school bus routes that children were left waiting indefinitely. DC37, Local 375 and even OSA had been protesting for years and it turned out we were right all along.

ORGANIZING. The fact that our salaries, our pensions, our health benefits, our seniority and even our jobs are being threatened is distressing and unfair. Meanwhile, we do have a union and we are able to defend us all against loss of all of the above.

We are actually doing well on our organizing efforts.

Due partly to our help and initiative the UFT has unionized 112 more Ed Analysts and Officers this Fall. Following that victory, the Supreme Court said we were right, (and so was the Office of Collective Bargaining), on the Admin Analysts MII and MIII (The City is appealing). As soon as the appeals are heard we expect the courts to rule in our favor again. Finally, we have hundreds of signed union designation cards from HHC professional staff who wish to belong to OSA. When things are going well, unions do not seem so important. We are now in hard times and unions turn out to be very important.

NEGOTIATIONS. Prior to the Mayor’s reelection, there was a “pattern” raise of 4%, 4% and .1%. The day after his reelection, strange to tell, all the money ran out. The Teachers, Principals, a wide variety of other titles and our own Traffic Enforcement and School Safety members were offered two years of zero instead of 4 and 4 and point 1.

For those whose contracts were signed before the Mayors third term, we had to wait until our contracts ran out. By that time the Governor was offering three years of zero plus givebacks or else…layoffs. Naturally the Mayor signed on to the Governors bright idea and we were offered the same three years of zero, but only if we were willing to fund them with givebacks. We said no.

Instead, we have formed a civilian coalition as we had done in an earlier fiscal crisis in the 1970’s. OSA and CWA got together with Lillian Roberts of DC37. She proposed the idea to her DC37 negotiating team and they agreed. Now, we will still be facing the Mayor across the table but we will be united as we do so.

PENSIONS. Our twenty-two billion dollar Mayor knows that each of us costs too much in retirement. He has explained to all who would listen that our benefits are outrageous and unjustified (unlike, for example, his own nest egg).

Then along came John Liu. John set up a research team to study the matter and reported that the “short fall” was due to the City gambling on Wall Street and not to improved benefits for us. John made clear that the pensions were secure over the long term even without the Mayors proposed changes. Now, we did know all this before the Comptroller’s report came out, but his report made the newspapers and undercut the Mayor nicely.

SNOW DAY APPEALS. Those members who appealed the Snowstorm Day of 1/27/11 and were denied by DCAS’s Snowstorm Task Force, please call Tim Collins at OSA.

MEMBERSHIP MEETING.The next general membership meeting will be held on Thursday, January 26, 2012 at the OSA office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 707, between Second and Third Avenues, starting at 6pm sharp. You can find a flyer to remind you of the date and time or to post at your worksite for yourself and colleagues by clicking this link.