News From OSA - March, 2008

This month’s edition of News From OSA discusses a number of serious matters, starting with layoffs. Eventually, if you keep reading, we get to the cheerful part about the raises affecting many of our members. Finally, as usual, there is a notice of this month’s membership meeting. At that meeting you will be introduced to Joan Smith (Co-Chair of OSA/HPD) in her new role as a Trustee of the OSA Welfare Fund.

Layoffs. OSA has been warned of layoffs due in the New York City Housing Authority, effective April 18, 2008. There are seven Staff Analysts involved, three provisionals and four probationary Analysts. Of the three provisionals, two are “step up” provisionals who will fall back to their civil service permanent jobs. Of the four probationary Analysts, three are serving in higher provisional titles. Thus, only two of our members will actually be unemployed if the layoffs go through.

Sheila Gorsky has been in touch with the members affected and has also spent time making sure that NYCHA is following all the rules. The Department of Citywide Administrative Services has been helpful in this matter.

OSA will seek to negotiate the use of voluntarily furloughs instead of layoffs. Also, the Welfare Fund will be asked to approve payment for the members cost of health benefits for a year if the layoffs do occur.

One bright note is that the law requires that any laid off employee be placed on a preferential rehiring list. The probationary Staff Analysts will very likely be rehired by NYCHA, if and when the current fiscal difficulty is past.

Even so, a lay off can be very traumatic for those affected.

Computer Alert. If a member uses the agency computer to download a game, can the member be fired?

Yes, it could happen.

A number of City agencies are cracking down on personal use of agency computers. OSA’s grievance section is defending members who are being brought up on charges for personal, non-work-related use of the internet on their computers at work. We are defending more such cases than ever before and, nearly always, the members involved are astonished to be brought up on charges for such a “minor” infraction.

In one case, there are fifteen specifications (disobeyed a direct order, violated code of conduct, unprofessional behavior, theft of City property, etc., etc., etc.), all based on the member using an agency computer to access the internet for non-work-related activities.

For many years, the City allowed relatively liberal use of agency computers, but this is changing. The agency does own the computers and is paying for the network and the internet access. Computers at work are not private and members must remember the difference between the computer at work and their own computer at home.

SAT List. The Staff analyst Trainee exam is now graded and score cards have been sent out to candidates. Our congratulations to all who did pass and our sympathy to those who did not.

Many candidates, especially those who scored close to passing, may wish to appeal their score, but the appeal process is limited in this case.

The SAT exam was multiple choice and candidates were allowed to request the right to appeal the exam for up to ten days after the date of the test. If a candidate did mail in this request to DCAS at that time, the candidate was later called in to a review session. [In addition, in the case of this exam, candidates were allowed to “walk in” to the review session at 26 Washington Street on the 4th Wednesday after the exam.]

At that session, the candidates were given a second look at the exam plus the tentative answer key. Protests or appeals written at that session were examined carefully by the test validation board and may have led to one or more changed answers. [There are seven questions on the exam for which DCAS in the end accepted two answers as correct.]

The test cards sent out allow disappointed candidates to request to have their test re-scored, but that is all. Meanwhile, if a candidate did pass the exam, but was disqualified based upon the experience paper, he or she is able to appeal that disqualification and, in such cases, do call the union office for help on the appeal.

There are some issues that need to be addressed for those serving provisionally as Staff Analyst Trainees. We will be discussing them with DCAS and will share all information by the time the list is called.

Since there are over 1,000 names on the list, and the test was open-competitive, it would be helpful if you know someone on the list to have them call the union so we can add them to our mailing list. It is easier to monitor the movement of the list if we can communicate with the candidates.

You can find the final answer key and other information for Staff Analyst Trainee candidates on the Current Campaigns and Updates page of this website.

Money Matters. The main City contract covers over four thousand of our members. The raise due for that contract was expected to arrive on 3/7/08 and the retroactive payment on 3/21/08. As matters occurred, we learned that some (or all) agencies might be able to pay both the raise and the retro in the same paycheck. Thus this mailing had to be speeded up and may still arrive after both the raise and the retroactive payment.

The Missing Chart. In the beginning days of our union, OSA’s leadership regularly generated charts showing how salary increases affected our titles. Since ninety percent of our first six hundred members were at minimum, either as Staff Analysts (no level II in those days) or Associates, the charts were simple affairs, easy to compute, easy to read.

Alas, complexity entered the picture as we added longevities and members from newly organized titles. At present, we have a half dozen contracts, two dozen titles, and a number of different employers and, as a result, a single chart would no longer work.

Even so, you can calculate your own raises...maybe.

The “easy” calculation goes as follows.

If you were in your current title and at your current salary on or before the date of the first contract raise (8/13/06), you are due a 2% increase for six months until (2/13/07) when the 5% raise takes effect. From 2/13/07 until now, you are due a 7.1% increase over your current salary. [Why 7.1%? Because a 2% raise compounded by a 5% raise results in a 7.1% raise in your salary. Check on your calculator as follows: Punch in 100 x 1.02 = 102, then 102 x 1.05 = 107.1]

The first raise is for the six month period 8/06 - 2/07, so a 2% rate increase equals a 1% of a year salary as a retroactive lump sum due to you.

The second raise, if paid on 3/7/08, covers a little more than a year since the retroactive part involves time worked up to the start of the 3/7/08 pay period i.e. 2/23/08.

To make the retroactive pay calculation simple, 7.1% is owed for last year and 1% is owed for the six months before that. This adds up to a total of a bit over a 8.1% of your annual salary. To be more exactly accurate requires keeping track of the one week pay lag that affects our salaries and counting the exact number of days of work. Meanwhile, for most members the 8.1% of annual salary will be close.

If you do not know your annual salary, divide your biweekly gross by 14 and multiply by 366 (fiscal leap year).

Exceptions. Some members came into our title series or got merit increases after the dates of the raises. If a member arrived after 8/13/06, he or she “missed” the 2% raise unless they are serving at minimum for the title. If a member was appointed after 2/13/07, he or she “missed” both raises, again, unless he or she is serving at minimum. In one case, a member who transferred from one agency to another in August of 2007, was given a 10% raise to switch agencies. The member is due the retroactive increase on the old prior-to-August-2007 salary, but is not legally due the 7.1% rate increase going forward.

Meanwhile, since the member changed agencies for an increase of 10%, and since everybody who did not change agencies has now had their salary go up by 7.1%, the member is now only 2.9% ahead of where he or she would have been without transfer. In such case, the union counsels members to appeal to their bosses to seek a further 7.1% raise to offset their loss. Often the appeal works.

Also, any member who was out on sick or on other leave without pay for a while, or was promoted during the contract period, or who worked paid overtime will, in each case, need to do a detailed (and not easy) calculation to verify the correctness of their retroactive payment.

Finally, members who are receiving longevity need to take that money into account as detailed below.

Longevity.Our most recent contract either initiates longevity pay or increases existing longevity amounts. One question that often puzzles members due longevity is the confusion over how the 10 and the 15 year longevities differ from the 20 year longevity.

The 10 and 15 year awards were won in earlier years of our history as a union and the awards follow rules that differ from the 20 year award. There are two specific differences.

First, the 10 and 15 year longevities are part of a member’s base pay upon receipt, but the additional increase does not count for pension purposes for fifteen months after receipt of the raise.

The 20 year longevity is also a part of base pay upon receipt but does not count for pension purposes for 24 months.

Clearly, the 10 and 15 year longevities are better for pension purposes because the waiting period for counting towards ones pension is shorter.

Second, the 10 and 15 year longevities are taken into account when subsequent raises arrive, but the longevities themselves are not affected. In the current contract, a Staff Analyst (non-TA) with 12 years service is now receiving $1,294 for over 10 years of service. The 2% raise and the 5% raise (compounded) are worth a rate increase of 7.1%.

If the member is earning $50,000 a year plus the $1,294 longevity, the total increase in rate is $51,294 x .071 = $3,641.87.

As soon as the raise arrives, the $3,641.87 is added to the prior salary of $50,000 to equal $5,3641.87 (actually rounds out to $53,642). Note that the $1294 ten year longevity is not increased, but remains as a separate item on the paycheck.

On the other hand, if a member is due the Staff Analyst 20 year longevity, the current amount ($1,049) does increase with each raise.

The 20 year longevity for this year is affected by the 2% raise and the 5% raise and, this year, by the 3.25% raise of the prior contract. [We did not get credit for the 3.25% raise on the 7/05 - 7/06 contract although we had expected to do so. When, in 2005, after the membership had voted to accept the contract, we were informed that the 10 and 15 year longevities were affected by the raise, but not the 20 year longevity, we were furious. Meanwhile, to delay the rest of the raise for that year made no sense, so we promised ourselves to address the matter on the very next contract. Staff negotiator Tim Collins was in the forefront on this particular issue and the money is now ours.]


1049 x 1.0325 = 1083
1083 x 1.02 = 1105
1105 x 1.05 = 1160
1160 + 520 = 1680

Our original longevity award back in the early 90's was for $700 for 15 years of service. As of August of this year, a Staff Analyst with over twenty years of service will have $5,300 due in longevity payments. That is a nice increase for less than eighteen years of contract negotiations.

General Membership Meeting. This month's general membership meeting is set for Thursday, March 27, 2008 and will, as usual, start at 6:00 PM sharp at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street Suite 707 NYC (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). You can download a meeting flyer here for posting and to remind you of the date, time and location.