News From OSA - May, 2004

CONTRACT NEGOTIATIONS. Negotiations between DC37 and the City are now completed. You can read the proposed terms by clicking here. The members of DC 37 will be voting on these terms and will have decided to accept or reject by June. The expectation is that they will accept the terms offered.

The Organization of Staff Analysts has requested that the City provide us with a date to begin negotiations. We are hopeful that our negotiations will not take as long as DC 37's, although negotiations are never instantaneous.

We are now closing out the last details on various contracts covering the years 2000 through 2002. The most contentious unit contract was that covering School Safety and Traffic Enforcement, but even that one may be nearing completion.

Over two hundred members submitted bargaining demands last month. Our research department has broken the demands down into various categories. Most economic demands become moot if OSA accepts the DC 37 economic pattern. Non-economic demands that affect all City employees are set aside for Citywide bargaining at the proper moment. Most of the other demands are made a part of our unit bargaining demands.

As always, there were a few self-defeating demands submitted and those demands will not be included. For example, it may benefit a particular member to have a yearly evaluation done, or it may not. The City will not ensure objective evaluations and, as a result, the union will not demand yearly subjective evaluations. The results would be certain to hurt as many members as it would help and the results would hardly be reliable.

Tim Collins led the contract demands evaluation team and will report at our May 25th meeting. Tim has reported a number of contract demands related to Civil Service matters (exams and lists). While these are not matters for collective bargaining, OSA is very active in seeking improvements in these areas using other forums.

NYCHA LAYOFFS. Layoffs at the New York City Housing Authority did occur in April as we had been forewarned. The union will provide continuing health and welfare fund benefits until our members get re-employed or the eighteen month legal COBRA limit is reached.

There is only one bright note in an otherwise very sad situation. The Housing Authority agreed to work with OSA in seeking to reduce layoffs by offering unpaid leave of absences to any interested permanent employees in the same title.

The results of our joint efforts, finally, was that one Staff Analyst scheduled for layoff was retained and transferred to cover for another Staff Analyst who wished to take a one-year leave of absence. We almost did better, but when a second member had indicated that he wanted a leave of absence, his superiors offered to advance him to avoid losing him. He naturally took the offer.

The Organization of Staff Analysts is deeply grateful to the Personnel and Labor Relations leadership at the Housing Authority. They went out on a limb to try to mitigate the suffering involved in involuntary layoffs and, at least in part, they succeeded.

In the movie Schindler's List, Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) nudged Oscar Schindler (Liam Neeson) in the direction of taking action that eventually led to the saving of over two thousand lives. At one point, Stern quoted a Talmudic verse to Schindler "He who saves one life, it is as if he has saved the entire world." Schindler replied, "Of course, of course."

The New York City Housing Authority has helped us save one job through the use of voluntary furloughs. City Councilman Kendall Stewart has submitted a bill to make voluntary furloughs a required option of last resort to avoid layoffs. We can and will keep trying.

STAFF ANALYST EXAM TRAINING. The Staff Analyst exam preparation courses have been going forward each evening and on weekends as well. We should pay tribute to Executive Director Sheila Gorsky, her cadre of teachers, her chief assistant George Morgan and a dozen of our most helpful staff and volunteers. Training fifteen hundred students in a variety of skills in a short time is no simple task. Those interested may still purchase a set of three videotapes of the training sessions with a $35 money order at the union office or with a $42 money order by mail. Members can pick up the course materials at the OSA office. Click here to download an order form for the videotapes.

ASSOCIATE STAFF ANALYST LIST AND CITY COUNCIL HEARINGS. The Associate Staff Analyst exam list is three years old and, in many Agencies, the list has been exhausted. Some Agencies have been abusing the one-in-three rule and appointing provisionals while refusing to restore to the list candidates previously "considered but not selected."

On May 4th, a hearing was held before Councilman Joseph Addabbo, Chairperson of the New York City Council's Civil Service and Labor Committee at City Hall. Representatives of the Personnel branch of DCAS described the entire process accurately, but noted that they could not force an Agency to restore a candidate to a list. In fact, the Personnel Director, Joe DiMarco, had written a letter to the errant Agencies helpfully noting they could restore candidates. Some Agencies chose to ignore his letter.

Following the representative of Personnel, eight ASA candidates each took their turn before the microphone. Their presentations were superb. Councilman Addabbo waived the normal rules and heard each witness out and asked each person for recommendations for remedy of the existing situation.

The official union presentation can be read by clicking here. After his presentation, the union representative was questioned at length by the Committee Chair.

As soon as the hearing closed, Councilman Addabbo praised the union for its extensive and well-organized notebook provided to him (in advance) on the subject matter. When he was informed that the notebook had been prepared by OSA's Executive Director and her assistant, Michael Schady, he went out of his way to go over and thank her. He also promised her that he would do his best to try to correct this clear case of injustice. Special thanks are due to our Chief Legislative Analyst, Neal Tepel, who was able to arrange to provide our members with a chance to make their case. An article in the May 14th edition of The Chief about the hearing can be downloaded by clicking here.

ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF ANALYST EXAM. The Admin exam is still not yet promised to us by DCAS, so we have asked union attorney Joan Kiok to write an appropriate letter to them. Absent appropriate response, legal action will follow.

BIG DOINGS. At the May 26th General Membership meeting, we will be visited by the most powerful Democratic officer in the entire City government. City Council leader Gifford Miller is an open friend of labor and has been responsive to OSA concerns over the past years. We look forward to his remarks, especially since he may very well become our next Mayor.

OSA GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING. The next general membership meeting will be held in a new location and on a different day, due to the Staff Analyst Exam training course which is presently occupying all space in our headquarters. For a flyer about the meeting click here.

The meeting is scheduled for the Department of Health Building, 125 Worth Street in the 2nd Floor Auditorium in Manhattan on WEDNESDAY, May 26, 2004 starting at 6pm. You must bring a picture ID. Take the #4, 5, & 6 trains to Brooklyn Bridge Station and walk north or the #1/9 to Franklin Street and walk east to Lafayette Street.