News From OSA - May, 2005

PICA Change. Articles can be downloaded here detailing the changes in PICA. Our members need to be aware that the psychotropic and asthma drugs will now be covered by our health plan drug rider. If a member is not covered for the drug rider, there is a period of enrollment going on now.

You can download the Health Benefits Application form from Active employees can also go to your personnel office and ask for a form.

Non Medicare eligibles can use the website or call 212-513-0470 for an application. Medicare eligible retirees are not affected. If you are adding the drug rider, the forms need to be returned by June 1st.

Increased Cost. There will be an increase in costs of our optional drug riders due to the adding of the psychotropic and asthma drugs. This increase may be hard to notice since the normal yearly increases have already become so staggering, a bit more will make little difference. At present, the premium for our most popular plan, GHI CBP, is $36.60 for a single and $67.08 for a family, (non-Medicare) biweekly.

The extent to which our salaries are beginning to be eroded by increasing health costs is not unique to New York City employees and, on average, we are still better off by far than those many employees not represented for collective bargaining.

The Mayor, the Citizens Budget Commission, the New York Post and generally the media at large have chosen our benefits, health and pension, as targets for cost cutting. The MLC faced a complete loss of the PICA card as recently as eight months ago. As a result, the current unsatisfactory compromise is, in context, a victory. The IC portion of the PICA card is still in place. In addition, the City will provide $100 to the Welfare Funds to assist in drug costs.

This is important to OSA since we are now subsidizing the drug rider premiums for our Medicare eligible members and those costs are even higher than the costs for active employees.

Longevity and Promotion. Some of our candidates for the Administrative Staff Analyst exam will need to be aware of the current rules relating to longevity differential. The Administrative Staff Analyst title was only recently brought into the union (2001) and as a result has a lower differential for years of service in some cases.

It works like this.

Any Staff or Associate Staff Analyst whose total civil service time reaches completion of ten years of service is due an increase in pay of $1,294 at the completion of the tenth year. Fifteen months later, the longevity differential, while still shown separately on the pay stub, is considered base pay for the purpose of compounding of further raises and is pensionable.

At the completion of the fifteenth year, Staffs and Associate Staffs get a further $1,294 and fifteen months thereafter this money is also "locked in" for compounding and pension purposes.

Administrative Staff Analysts have a ten-year differential of $281 and a fifteen year differential of another $281.

If a candidate for Administrative Staff Analyst has less than ten or fifteen years of service when being offered appointment to the Admin title on a permanent basis, this is awkward. Conceivably, a member could accept appointment and gain the $1,080 promotional increase but then later lose out due to the lower differentials of the Admin title.

Most candidates will not be affected since most have already "locked in" the ten and fifteen year longevities. There is no problem with the twenty year longevity of $998 since the amount and the rules are the same for all titles. For those candidates who will be affected, it is important to be aware of the rules.

It may be possible for individuals to negotiate with management at the time of appointment or, alternatively, it may be desirable for a candidate to delay appointment until a 11 or 16 year anniversary date is reached. Finally, the union will seek, in future contracts, to convince the City to rationalize the longevity rules. Remember the list should last 4 years. Before you decline, please call the union. If you are unsure what to do, please call the union to discuss your situation.

L.T.D. Change. As of now, OSA members are no longer covered by Union Central Company for our Long Term Disability coverage. Instead we are covered by the First Reliance Standard. All of this occurred fairly quickly.

This Spring, Union Central was purchased by a larger company, but one not allowed to do business in New York. Quickly the contract was let out for bid and results were very positive. A new contract was signed in time to avoid any break in coverage and our costs went down somewhat, while our benefit was improved.

We anticipate saving over $10 per member per year and our minimum pay out for those fully covered by pension and/or social security disability, has risen from $150 per month to $300 per month. The policy is a group policy and the premiums are paid by the OSA Welfare Fund. Details will follow in the summer mailing which reports on our Welfare Fund in general.

HIP Hope. Neither OSA nor any of the component unions of the MLC want the Health Insurance Plan (HIP) to go private; i.e. to turn into a for-profit-company listed on the stock exchange. HIP, however has a Board of Directors and they do want to go private.

You can download their arguments at a public hearing. Also you can download MLC chair Randi Weingarten's remarks making a case for us to benefit from any funds generated by the conversion.

The Chair of the Assembly committee pointed out that even if the conversion of HIP goes forward and the "IPO" generates a lot of money and the union welfare funds are given a proportionate share of the proceeds, there will still not be enough money, long term, to meet growing health cost needs. Randi agreed and noted that the unions were only trying to buy some time while the nation comes to grips with the soaring costs of drugs. HIP currently covers about 30% of all OSA members.

No Money? As we all know, the Mayor had little or no money to fund our contract a couple of years ago. That was when we were negotiating. In fact, he wanted us to give him $600 million. If we didn't cough up, he would have to lay workers off. He laid them off.

Now, it turns out he had a lot of money. He had predicted he would be a total of six billion short for 2005. He turned out to be three billion ahead. Oops.

Therefore, we will all get a big raise next time?

Well, no, not as he sees it. As you can see from this MLC research material, it turns out he now projects a large deficit for 2007, just in time for our next contract.

Ferrer for Mayor. The elected leadership of the Organization of Staff Analysts (our union's Executive Board) has voted to endorse Fernando Ferrer as candidate for Mayor. Actually, the vote occurred over two months ago but Freddie asked that we go public at a point where it might help his campaign. We went public on May 10th on the steps of City Hall. Our reasons are outlined in this statement by OSA Chair Bob Croghan.

Please note that we did not presume to speak for the entire membership.

We are permitted to hope that many members will share our opinion on this election but we are well aware that there will be differing points of view. However you vote, do vote. On that, we all agree.

Associate Staff Analyst List.OSA Executive Director Sheila Gorsky continues her efforts on behalf of bypassed ASA promotional exam candidates in the Department of Transportation, as evidenced by this letter to the Chief published in the May 13th issue.

OSA General Membership Meeting. The next General Membership meeting is to be held on Thursday, May 26, 2005 starting at 6pm sharp. Please note that the meeting this time is relocated to a new site, the Department of Health's 2nd Floor Auditorium at 125 Worth Street. Union headquarters will be full that evening with candidates for the Admin Staff Analyst Exam. Hence the change in venue. To gain entry to the building you must bring a photo ID. A meeting notice can be downloaded to remind you of the date and new location.