News From OSA - January, 2014

Happy New Year To Us All. Let’s hope this will be a good year. We can start the year with a victory, because there was one in negotiations. We can also discuss the big negotiations to come but there matters get complex.

The Victory. Our union contracts at the Transit Authority do include longevity payments, but the amounts have been in contention for a number of years. Recently, Tim Collins, our chief negotiator with Transit, was able to resolve a long- standing dispute.

The terms of the settlement with the Transit Authority state that any member who had been receiving one or more longevity increments (for 10, 15 or 20 years of service) as of September 30, 2008, shall receive a $47 per annum increase for each increment, effective January 6, 2014. This is not a great deal of money – even if you had the full 20 years as of September 30, 2008 and are due an annual increase of $141 (3 times $47) – but it is an increase, and the first we have seen in a while.

Things To Come. Ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg believed in pattern bargaining and retroactive pay increases for his first eight years in office. He relied upon both practices to maintain labor peace.

The custom of retroactive pay increases has been in place since before Mayor Robert Wagner. Members of the city work force would have preferred to get these raises on time, but we generally became accustomed to “late” pay increases. Some of us even found that the practice helped savings since, when the monies came, it was paid in a retroactive lump sum.

The reason why retroactive pay became part of our lives had to do with city government and finances. Mayor Beame, himself a long-term civil servant, told us the reason. The city, he explained, received money from many sources, but there were enough variables so that no mayor could be sure he had enough money to approve future raises. By negotiating beyond the union contract expiration dates, the city could determine how much they were receiving. Later, they could always pay out retroactively.

If anyone, hearing Mayor Beame’s explanation for delayed negotiations, doubted his analysis, he later supported his argument in 1975 by being in charge when the city nearly went bankrupt. Some unions that year had already obtained a raise. However, New York City could not pay the raise, and even had to lay off 50,000 workers. The negotiated raise was deferred until the city came out of the fiscal crisis.

So, the reason why city employees have been frequently paid raises retroactively was to meet management’s needs for budgeting. In return, city employees have been very calm about delayed raises because we did expect to get the money eventually.

Mayor Bloomberg chose to say, during this last four years, that he could not pay anyone retroactively, and no one else could either. He was talking dishonestly, as he often did. He had paid retroactively during his earlier terms.

Pattern bargaining stems mostly from the fiscal crisis. Under such custom and practice, the city settles with a large representative group, and all other smaller groups get the same offer.

Mayor Bloomberg used pattern bargaining to hold down police union bargaining on more than one occasion. OSA, in turn, used that custom and practice to eventually obtain the extra 1% won by DC37 for “productivity” in one of its early Bloomberg contracts.

Therefore, Michael Bloomberg knew full well what he was doing when he offered DC37 (and OSA) a contract, in 2008, for 4%, 4% and 0.1%, before his reelection. It was a remarkably generous settlement in light of the 2008 gigantic fiscal downturn in the city and national economies. Michael, however, had no intention of giving any other union one cent in raise after his final re-election. His offer to negotiate in his last term started off with finding out how much you had to give him.

He openly repudiated pattern bargaining and retroactive raises as if he had not relied upon them himself in his first two terms. Not one single Democratic candidate for mayor agreed on the issue of ending pattern bargaining nor of ending retroactive pay increases. Thus, conceptually, there is no problem.

Financially is another story.

Mayor Bloomberg spent the money that should have gone for raises for the teachers and the uniformed forces, etc. He has bragged about offering Mayor de Blasio a balanced budget, but he ignored the $17 billion hole he had created in that budget, the amount “owed” under a pattern he established in 2008. (Note: the 17 billion dollar figure was mentioned in the newspaper. It could be off by half and it still would be a lot of money.)

Thus, in the year 2014, we look forward to difficult bargaining. We have no hopes for large raises in the near future. Our contract expired in August of 2010 and we will be seeking a reasonable raise with, we would hope, retroactivity.

We can but try.

Staff Analyst Trainee Exam. An SAT exam is scheduled for June 2014. The application period for this exam will open March 5, 2014 and end March 25, 2014. The application and the Notice of Exam (NOE) will be available on the DCAS website at that time. Applications will be completed online using DCAS’s Online Application System. OSA’s website will provide links to the application and NOE as well. OSA will provide assistance to those needing help in completing their application.

The only requirement for this exam is a college degree, which must be obtained by June 30, 2014. No extra experience is necessary.

If you are a college graduate:

  • working for the city less than two years and earning less than $35,538 per year, or working for the city more than two years and earning less than $40,869, or
  • you are a pure provisional in a higher title with no underlying permanent title, or
  • you have an underlying permanent title outside of the analyst series that is paid less than the SAT salary,

    you should definitely consider taking the Staff Analyst Trainee exam.

    If you are presently on the Staff Analyst or Associate Staff Analyst lists and your list number is near the end of either or both of those lists, you might consider taking the SAT exam.

    Health and Hospitals Corporation employees are considered non-competitive employees, i.e. you do not have to take a competitive exam for your title. The Staff Analyst Trainee title is a competitive title, therefore an exam is given.

    Since the title is a citywide title and is not used in HHC, you would have to leave HHC if you were appointed from the SAT list. All city agencies, including the Transit Authority and the NYC Housing Authority, use this list.

    A reminder that the probation period for SAT lasts two years. After two years of satisfactory probation, SAT’s automatically promote to permanent Staff Analyst Level I.

    OSA will hold training classes for the June SAT exam in April and May, weekdays in the evenings and weekends during the day. Training is free for OSA and OSART members. The training dates have not yet been determined, but once they have been, training materials will be available on the OSA website and training DVDs will be available for purchase from the union.

    Please complete the forms which are currently available on the "Exams, Lists and Training" section of this website.

    Finally, if you know someone who is not presently an OSA or OSART member who would like to or should take the exam, you can encourage them to join OSART for a fee of $97.50 per year. OSART membership entitles a person to the training classes, assistance for all exams in OSA covered titles and the information we send to you as a regular member. Interested individuals should print out, complete and send in the form described in the prior paragraph, as well as an application for OSART membership and a money order for $97.50. The OSART membership form can be downloaded at this link.

    General Membership Meeting. The next general membership meeting will be held on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 707, between Second and Third Avenues, starting at 6:15pm. You can download a reminder flyer for the meeting by clicking this link.

  • top