OSA News - January, 1999

BoardsOur Constitution schedules biannual elections at the end of each even calendar year. Thus, in 1998, notices were mailed out about the nominations meeting held on Thursday evening, November 19th.

Nominations, under our rules, are very easy. The only requirement for office holding is membership. There are no petitions and members can nominate themselves at the meeting or up to ten days thereafter by mail.

At the November 19th meeting, all current incumbents were renominated -- as well as one more candidate, Ner Bresler. Ner is a long time OSART member at the Police Department and as a manager, is not eligible for union coverage (OSA) but is eligible for our parent, professional organization (OSART).

There was no election in December because Ner chose to withdraw his nomination, both to save the union money, time and trouble, and also because of the political structure of OSA\OSART. The money, time and trouble part came from the need, if the election had gone forward, for a 3000+ piece mailing for ballots, paid by the union, equal number of campaign letters for each of the two "sides" running or twice as many if each side chose two mailings. All of this would, of course, have occurred while the union was involved heavily with the Transit collective bargaining election.

The second reason is more important. OSA and OSART are very open organizations. We have up to fifty Agency chapters, each of which could make use of from one or two up to a dozen activists, office holders, and local representatives. In the Hospitals, each hospital needs its own delegates and grievance reps, and at least one seat on the OSA\OSART Executive Boards should to go an HHC representative.

Given our organization's design to encourage active involvement at every level, our problem is not too many candidates for office but too few. (Ner agreed to shore-up our Police Department Chapter, formerly one of our strongest under the lead of the late Paul Gorman.)

The result was that there was no election this year and all incumbents were reelected.

Election. There is, however, an election (a collective bargaining election) going on at the Transit Authority and MaBSTOA (Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority.

Management has denied us access to bulletin boards, interoffice mail, all work locations during or after business hours, etc. Management threatened our organizers with arrest for trespassing or even standing too close to their buildings, and finally went to the Public Employment Relations Board to seek to bar our use of home addresses for mailings.

None of the above tactics did more than slow us down. We obtained the 30% showing of signed cards required by law two years ago and have become used to "stealth" organizing. We proceed quietly about their buildings and, if many of our organizers have been thrown out of one work site or another, we always return soon thereafter.

Finally, of course, Management lied. Since there was no good argument against the union and very good arguments in our favor, the Transit Authority Office of Labor Relations issued page after page of lies. Delivered to all TA\OA employees on Christmas eve, with the pay checks, was three pages of questions and answers and two pages of charts.

The sort of information being provided by the "neutral" TA and our answers are shown below:

TA Since 1990, non represented Analysts received the same salary raises as OSA members.

OSA No they did not. OSA's first citywide contract gave us a 1.15% equity piece used to create the $700 fifteen year longevity. OSA's second such contract added a 0.4% equity piece and led to our having a ten year $379 year longevity. Our current contract has a 1.52% equity piece that will bring our member's salary up still more.

As of 6/1/99, after the tenth year, our members are due a $1,007 increase in annual salary, after fifteen a total of $2,014 and for those over twenty years, a total of $3,012 more than a non represented Analyst is due.

OSA's Research Department notes that the combination of an extra 1.15%, 0.4% and 1.52% (with the first two extras subject to compounding by all the other increases) resulted in additional increases between 1990 and this June of 3.83% cumulative (see chart).

TA There is no value to a union since Civil Service permanent Analysts have a right to a disciplinary hearing.

OSA Nonsense. All MaBSTOA Analysts are provisional and many TA Analysts are as well. Even if you are a permanent Analyst entitled to a formal hearing, the cost of a lawyer to defend you will easily surpass the cost of a lifetime of union dues.

TA The Q&A sheet issued by TA's Office of Labor Relations stated that a commonly asked question was, "How do my benefits compare with those of the Analysts in the City?"

OSA In five years of this campaign, not one Analyst ever asked that question. Many did ask if there would be any change in benefits and the answer was no. OSA has never changed benefits when Analysts have voted to join our union.

The TA knew this and deliberately implied the opposite. Once the TA had opened the topic by deliberately seeking to mislead the voters, they followed up with a wondrously inaccurate chart comparing the TA benefits with the OSA benefits. The chart had a major impact on the election. Not only did the chart imply a change in benefits where none was planned, but also many Analysts could not imagine that their employer would indulge in bold faced lies to sway an election.

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We were, naturally, forbidden to respond. We were not allowed to their work locations (we did anyway). We were not allowed to use their inter-office mail, nor telephones, nor fax machines (we did anyway). We were not allowed to call the Analysts during working hours nor were we allowed to send mail to their homes (we did anyway).

The Office of Labor Relations has even insisted that PERB order us to stop because we continue to communicate with out fellow Analysts. We will never stop.

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Longevity. A chart by Jay Warshofsky appeared in our December mailing. The chart detailed how to compute the additions to gross caused by the compounding of the ten year longevity. Whoops!

The chart, while correct, had two omissions. Jay did not cite the rule that requires one to be in receipt of the differential for fifteen months before it is compoundable. No less a person than Richard Yates, our Labor Relations case officer, called to mention that omission. Also, Jay did not go into the sort of lengthy discussion that longevity rules require and this too led to confusion.

Please be patient. We have not posted the chart on this website yet for this reason. However, in our News From OSA in February there will be a fuller presentation of the same topic and more detailed remedies suggested. Hold on to your pay stubs.

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OSA Chair Bob Croghan On The State Of The Union. On my own behalf and on behalf of the recently reelected Executive Board, I wish to thank the members of OSA for their support and cooperation. We are justly proud of what we have all accomplished together. Since 1982, there has been a very tiny number of organizing locals in New York City. We, left to our own devices upon withdrawal from organizing by DC37, CWA and IBT showed what could be done. In 1985 we had 38 covered members; by 1992, 3000. Since then we have not stopped.

We spend our dues income on organizing, not on trips to exotic locations; on rent to provide space for volunteers willing to assist the union in providing service to our members, not on expense accounts for staff; on communicating by mail, telephone and even this website rather than on stipends for our Executive Board.

OSA is the best type of union, one that can inspire members to serve unselfishly with their only gain the fact that they are doing good work in a worthy cause.

I am intensely pleased and very much honored that I have the chance to work daily with tough, intelligent, concerned and, above all else, idealistic brothers and sisters.

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There are challenges ahead for OSA. We start negotiations anew and now with a more aggressive Municipal Labor Committee leadership. We will have an exam for Staff Analyst, and thus a training course and potentially, lawsuits as well. The City is bitterly resisting the unionization of Administrative Staff Analysts, Managerial levels I, II and III. 1999 should be the year of decision for that effort.

There are always grievance hearings, disciplinary cases to defend and a hundred minor or major problems not yet foreseen. Our union is made up of many folks from every corner of the globe but we are united by our insistence that all members of our group be treated decently and fairly by Management.

We will do our best over the next two years. We are a family.

Our next OSA\OSART General Membership Meeting is Thursday, January 28, 1999 at 125 Worth Street, Second Floor Auditorium.