News From OSA - March, 2011

Mayor Bloomberg Has Plans For Your Health Benefits. At a meeting on 2/28/2011, we were told he would be very happy if, instead of free basic health, we agreed to pay premiums biweekly to help him out. He would also be pleased if we would agree to our giving up the contractual $35 million per year contribution, by the City, to the Health Stabilization Fund.

Assuming we would not mind, he also wants to end the Medicare Part B reimbursement received by all retirees.

He still had two more items on his shopping list. He believes it would be advantageous for the City to require at least twenty years of service before a worker qualifies for health benefits after retirement. (He did not specifically ask for fifty years of service before eligibility for health benefits in retirement. He only specified a “minimum” of twenty years, but we do suspect what he would truly prefer.)

Finally, the Mayor would like equalization of the HIP and GHI co-pays. This last one sounds modest, until you note that the 20% of the City workforce who choose HIP usually do so because they have a low income or are blessed with many children. By equalizing co-pays, he can squeeze a few dollars from the poorest among us and he may even be able to kill HIP entirely.

To be sure, the Mayor’s final request would lead to some parents skipping doctors’ office visits (for themselves or their children) for lack of the $15 to $20 co-pays, but it would be a small price to pay if it really makes Mayor Bloomberg happy.

On the other hand, Harry Nespoli, Chairperson of the Municipal Labor Committee felt these requests might need careful study (before we agree) and so the matter has been referred to the MLC Health Technical Subcommittee.

After the Mayor’s folks had made their requests, Harry gently inquired about the fact that some of our members never got the 4% and 4% (Department of Education). Jim Hanley, the Mayor’s chief negotiator confirmed that he was aware of this, but that he hoped that would not hold up the proposed health givebacks.

Labor will seriously consider these proposed givebacks, along with the Mayor’s proposals to destroy the civil service, eviscerate due process and diminish our pensions. We will also wonder why the three billion dollar surplus the Mayor has for this year has not slowed down his cries of poverty. Is that money already earmarked for reduction of taxes for millionaires? Does New York City need to build another yacht basin, a stadium or more bike lanes?

He hasn't told us.

Light Stuff. The last two mailings told of attacks on us and this one is far from cheerful, but we do have some nice things happening.

Our union includes more than one published author and it is our pleasure to take note, when one of ours is honored or has a book published.

In this case R. D. Coleman is not actually a member, but he was a part of the Analyst organizing campaign in the 1970's and early 1980's. He was also the chairperson of the Nominating Committee of the Municipal Credit Union until, due to excessive integrity, he was removed from that office.

Those who removed him were themselves out of office two years later and Dennis (as he prefers to be called) had a hand in ousting them. The book he wrote does not mention his MCU experiences, but is interesting anyway.

The book (published by NY Quarterly Books) is called “Beach Tracks,” and is a book of poetry, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s Books. For those who prefer to shop in person, Three Lives and Company, located at 150 West 10th Street (on the corner of West 10th and Waverly Place) or Book Culture located at 536 West 112th Street have the book in stock.

40th Anniversary Video Now On The Web. Members who attended OSA’s 40th Anniversary celebration at Grand Prospect Hall in December were treated to OSA: The Story of Our Union, a short video marking OSA’s growth from 38 members in 1985 to nearly 5,000 active members today. It outlines the functions of the union and the role dedicated civil servants play in the effective running of New York City government. Considering what’s happening in Wisconsin and what our Mayor would like to have happen here, it’s timely. The video can be viewed by clicking on the button at the bottom of the first page marked “OSA Intro Video.” Then, email the link to your friends, family and colleagues and post it to your Facebook page.

Womens Committee Roundtable Forum. Mark your calendars for Thursday night, April 28, 2011 when OSA's Women's Committee will host a forum entitled "Women on the Move: A Roundtable Discussion on the State of Women's Affairs in the Labor Movement," from 6-9pm at the union office. Three unionists from three of our sister locals will be the panelists. For more details consult the flyer you can download at this link. Please RSVP to Carol at the union office no later than April 22, 2011. It should be an interesting program.

At the following links you can find a few items worth reading:

Just Say No! No More Cuts For Workers - by Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director of National Nurses United, AFL-CIO.

Making Unions The Enemy - an editorial from the Berkshire Eagle.

A Few Cartoons From the Front Lines of the Class War

General Membership Meeting.The next union General Membership Meeting will be held on Thursday, March 24, 2011 at the OSA union office, 220 East 23rd St., Ste 707, starting at 6pm sharp. You can download a flyer at this link which you can post or share with colleagues or use to remind yourself of the date.