News From OSA - June, 2018

Much of interest this month.

NEGOTIATIONS… Actually, the negotiations themselves are not very interesting at present. DC37 set off to establish a reasonable pattern of raises and improvements (or at least a bit of catch up for past losses), but the City did not cooperate.

This is unpleasant, but not unusual.

Union leaders often hope negotiations will go quickly and the City, knowing this, almost as often, attempts to wear us down and to get us to settle for less than is proper.

The Union sought reasonable wage increases. Not only is inflation moving at above 2%, but we also felt we were hurt by the low raises in the last contract.

The City responded by telling us that the Mayor had budgeted a 1% raise for labor and for anything above that, we would have to offer givebacks. To make it easy for us, the City came up with a list of $1.2 billion in health benefit changes (read givebacks.)

The list included our going from a $300 deductible that we now pay for inpatient treatment at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital to a $2500 out-of-pocket payment. This would be for each member of our family who gets ill, each year.

There were other, equally unappealing, items on the list.

The City's wish list was sent to the Municipal Labor Committee's Health Technical Subcommittee for study. After study, it was clear that if we had agreed to every change requested, only $800 million would be saved and we would still owe $400 million.

In other words, the City was not even serious about their own proposal.

This does make sense if the City is deliberately delaying settlement.

We know, from former Mayor Beame, one reason why the City delays concluding contracts: taxes.

The City never knows, in advance, how much money will come in. There are estimates, certainly, but those can be way off – consider the 1975 fiscal crisis and the aftermath of 9/11. So, it is prudent for the City to delay and pay retroactively.

A second reason for the City to delay settlement comes from our own members. The City knows that a portion of our membership wants (or needs) as quick a raise as possible. Thus, by delaying raises, the City hopes the Unions will be pressured to settle for less, sooner, but less.

This behavior, by the City, sometimes works and Unions settle for less than is proper. At present, based on comments in early May, most Union leaders are refusing to "cave in". This means that progress on negotiations will have to await the City becoming serious.

CIVIL SERVICE... The City has been giving ever more absurd “education and experience” exams. Getting a 100% on theses exams is, if you know how, easy. We know how.

So our members, many of whom, by now, know how to get a perfect mark on an e & e exam, are scoring 100% on these exams. (If they don't know how, we will tell them.)

This recently resulted in 2,300 candidates for Administrative Community Relations Specialist scoring a perfect score on the exam. Unfortunately, the City does not need 2,300 Administrative Community Relations Specialists.

As it has played out thus far, many candidates who are already serving provisionally in that or similar titles are being appointed, and even a few new employees as well. The problem is that the City is doing this by assuming they can consider all 100's to be ties and the City asserts that they can choose #1 or #2310 (or any other candidate from the list) with no regard to rank order.

The Civil Service Committee of the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) disagrees, has protested and will be going further and, if necessary, to court. There were prior cases of the City using tied scores in a questionable way, but the habit has grown out of control.

A second issue relates to the “Qualifying Incumbent Exams.” These QIE's are special exams given to provisional employees after two years' service in title.

The City has asked the MLC to approve their efforts to pass a law to provide more time for QIE's to be administered. We in turn, have a modest request. We want an end to the use of the 1-in-3 rule on promotional lists. It is a disgrace when a long-serving employee is passed over for promotion without reason or a fair trial. The City wants QIE's and we want an end to the 1-in-3 for promotions. We will see how this plays out.

MCU… The Municipal Credit Union is a valuable resource for civil servants and their families. There was a problem a dozen years ago. The Board of Directors and the Supervising Committee of the MCU had some members involved in "stacking" the MCU offices with their friends and doing so quite dishonestly. We knew of these shenanigans because we had an unpaid volunteer serving on the MCU's nominating committee.

Our Union became actively involved and we "threw the rascals out" but not until after a two year long fight, a lawsuit and a hotly contested election.

And now, there is again a problem. This time it was the Chief Executive Officer.

At our June membership meeting, we will seek to get a member of the MCU Board of Directors to speak to our members on the current matter.

MEMBERSHIP MEETING... Our May meeting was delayed by the Staff Analyst Trainee exam prep classes. We will be meeting on Thursday, June 21st at 6pm sharp. At the meeting, we will be hoping for a report from a member of the MCU Board of Directors.

There will then be a break for dinner, followed by the next Activist Classroom Training session. On this occasion, we will have a guest speaker: Stanley Hill, former President of SSEU Local 371 and former Executive Director of District Council 37.

You can download a flier at this link to remind yourself of the date and time of the meeting.

SUMMER MAILINGS... Each year, OSA sends you a summer mailing which includes reports and coupons , including offers for seminars. This year will be no different. The mailing will probably arrive in late August.

TRAINING... Our Staff Analyst Trainee test preparation course was complete as of June 15th. The exam itself will be administered in early July. As always for the past four decades, our union will be at the test sites.

THE CHIEF NEWSPAPER... Active members of OSA are entitled to receive (at no cost) an electronic version of the Civil Service Chief newspaper sent, every Monday evening, to their home e-mails. Retirees are not included in the offer at present. We worked on getting this done smoothly for about a year. Now it is in place and over 2,000 members are being sent the “E-Chief.”

If you are an active OSA member and you are not presently receiving The Chief, either you opted out of receiving the newspaper when we reached out to you by email in late 2017 or you have never provided us with your personal/home email. If you are not now receiving The Chief by email but would like to, please look for a coupon in the summer mailing that will explain how you can join the list of OSA “subscribers.”