News From OSA - May, 2007

This month’s general membership meeting will again convene at 125 Worth Street. In March, the meeting room at the union office was unavailable due to classes being held in preparation for the ASA exam. This month, the union office is filled each evening with candidates preparing for the Staff Analyst Trainee exam.

Exams aside, the business of the union must and does go on.

Over the past month, changes have occurred in our letterhead due to changes in officers, our legal team has made a strong case that the City has been bargaining in bad faith, and a tough ASA exam was held.

Details follow on each topic. In addition, this month, there is some important information related to health problems caused by the aftermath of the World Trade Center tragedy and the Item Analysis for the recent ASA exam.

The Improper Practice. Negotiations between OSA and the City for the 2006-08 contract began in December of 2006. Our prior contract had expired on 7/12/06, but negotiations were delayed while waiting for the UFT (the Coalition leader) to conclude their contract.

As of December, the OSA negotiators began talks seeking the 2% and 5% of the UFT settlement.

Negotiations ended on February 27th when the City negotiator informed us that we would have to give up the 1% (due from 7/1/04) in order to sign the new contract.

The prior year, OSA had completed the 2005-06 contract for 3.25% while continuing our rights to further negotiations on the 1%. We made it clear that we would not enter negotiations for 2006-08 if the City insisted on our giving up the 1%. We were told we did not have to sign a waiver giving up the 1%. Three months later, we were told, by the same representative, that, of course, we did have to waive (give up) the 1% (in fact), but that we didn’t have to sign an actual waiver. Huh?

A cynical person might suspect that the City was bargaining in extremely bad faith; that the City wanted OSA members to anticipate a quick payment of the 2% and 5% raises and, then, at the last moment, to use the anticipated raises to pressure the union into dropping the 1%.

If the City is hoping we will give up the 1% due to us, they are wrong. Our negotiating team voted unanimously to charge the City with bad faith bargaining. At the membership meeting that followed, the vote was fifty to one to fight for the 1%, as well as the 2 and the 5.

Our general counsel, Joan Kiok, filed papers. The City, after much delay, responded. Their response is incredible, quite literally. If this case gets to trial, we will win.

Our other negotiations are also stalled at present. We appear to be clearly winning an arbitration on behalf of our uniformed members in school safety and traffic enforcement. But, as always, the process is slower than sludge. Our Transit Authority raises, 1% included, are also dependent on the Improper Practice now going before the Office of Collective Bargaining.

Members always ask how long the raises will be delayed by the appeal process. Since the City gets to hold on to the money during the process, and never pays interest for late payment, we can be sure the City will do all in its power to drag the process out. In addition, since the City knows our members need the raises just to offset inflation, the City deliberately delays even more to try to entice us to settle for “half a loaf.”

On February 27th, when the City demanded that the 1% be given up, the negotiating team discussed how long a delay might ensue if we stood up for our right to the full increase. Our consensus was Christmas, give or take a month. The negotiating team did not take lightly such a delay but, not to fight for the full raise was still worse. If we let the City do this to us now, without a fight, for 1%, how much will they take from us next time?

The Exam. The Associate Staff Analyst Promotional Exam was given on Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th. Over one thousand candidates took the exam, most at either Washington Irving High School or Bayard Rustin High School. Since one site was on East 17th street and the other on West 18th street, each location was equally convenient.

The day was lovely. DCAS staff were friendly and cooperative and the exam administration went well for most candidates. The exam itself was difficult. Lots of math and lots of reading and, of course, even the math required a great deal of reading, even before you got to the actual problem.

There was a resource booklet but, unlike earlier years, the booklet had not been given out in advance. As a result, candidates had to refer back and forth between test, answer sheet, and booklet, all of which took time.

In a few cases, matters went wrong. The fact that a group of mice were holding a square dance in room 428 at Bayard Rustin H.S. was not good. The mouse hootenanny should have led to the authorities stopping the clock and moving the candidates to a vermin-free room. This did not happen and, as a result, candidates were discomforted throughout the entire exam. Also, a monitor for one room prohibited the use of scientific calculators. This was not fatal, but made no sense. Prohibiting text-type machines is okay, but most scientific calculators do not use text. Finally, prohibiting cell phones for candidates, but not for room monitors created instances when the monitors answered their phones and then went outside to talk. That was wrong.

OSA is assembling our members’ complaints and we will be setting up a meeting with DCAS to discuss them.

To balance these few, but valid, complaints, note must be taken of the extent to which some DCAS monitors went a long way towards helping our members. According to reports, Tom Duggan and Toni Wright greatly assisted three visually impaired members at the special needs testing site. A letter is due from OSA to DCAS detailing their actions and praising their efforts to provide accommodations which had not been arranged in advance.

Over all, DCAS did well on the Associate Staff Analyst exam of 2007. Next comes the Staff Analyst Trainee exam in June.

Marzie Steps Down. Marzie Eisenberg has held two roles within OSA for many years. As an Analyst on release from the Human Resources Administration, Marzie has been vital to our office and our special events. Her second role, as our Grievance Officer, gave her oversight responsibilities on a major function of our union.

Marzie did both jobs with her own mixture of charm and steel, and she will continue with her role in our office. She has asked that the Grievance Officer spot be passed on to another OSA member and, as per the OSA bylaws, the Chairperson is obligated to appoint a successor.

At the April meeting of the OSA Executive Board, Kim Vann was appointed to succeed Marzie. Kim is our Chapter Chairperson at the Police Department and had previously served as the OSART Grievance Officer.

What started out as a single retirement then turned into a sort of “musical chair,” since Kim left a vacancy when she moved up. That vacancy was filled by Sandra Thompson of the Department of Design and Construction. Sandra’s newly vacant position as Delegate-at-Large was, in turn, filled by Alice Moise, Chairperson of our Department of Homeless Services chapter.

Finally, since changes were occurring, Ed Price asked to move to the less demanding position of Delegate-at- Large OSART, and his Recording Secretary position in OSA was filled by Jay Warshofsky. Dolores Parson then moved to Delegate-at-Large for OSA from her prior spot “at large” for OSART.


The changes are more apparent than real. The members of the OSA and the OSART boards work well together and, in fact, only Marzie is stepping down and only one person, Alice Moise, is being added.

Associate Staff Analyst Exam Item Analysis. At the links following this paragraph you can download the item anaysis compiled for the May 5, 2007 Associate Staff Analyst exam (and the Sunday May 6 Sabbath Observer session). The item analysis shows how many of our members who sent us a copy of their answer sheets chose each answer to the 80 questions. To get a passing grade you need to have answered at least 56 of the 80 questions correctly.

Item Analysis For the Main, Saturday, May 5, 2007 ASA Exam Session

Item Analysis For the Sabbath Observer, Sunday, May 6, 2007 ASA Exam Session

We provide the analysis for two reasons. First, candidates can get a general idea of how they did before DCAS issues its proposed key. Second, and perhaps more important, by comparing your own answers against the analysis and the proposed key, when it is issued in June, you can single out questions where many other candidates also got the answer "wrong." This is of value if there are questions related to judgment – and there often are. If a question is a matter of fact, it does not matter if most candidates are wrong, they are just wrong.

At the test review session, you will have the opportunity to review the entire test and compare your answers with DCAS’s proposed key. The Item Analysis can help guide you toward those questions that may be especially valuable to protest. You will have 30 days to submit your protest to DCAS, in which you justify why the answer you’ve chosen should be accepted as correct. In some cases, DCAS may revise its proposed key to accept more than one answer or they may give credit for all answers to an especially poorly worded or confusing question.

In the item analysis, we have highlighted those answers selected by more than 50.1% of those responding. In cases where no answer drew more than 50.1% of total responses, we have highlighted the highest two (or in a few cases, three) answers chosen.

Thanks to George Morgan for compiling the numbers and Rob Spencer for developing the spreadsheets with the results.

Deadline Looming. For OSA members and retirees who participated in paid or unpaid rescue, recovery, or cleanup work on or after 9/11, a deadline is fast approaching to register to preserve your 9/11-related workers compensation rights. You must register with the Workers’ Compensation Board by August 14, 2007. You are not filing a claim, but simply preserving your right to do so in the future.

In 2006, the NY State Workers’ Compensation Law was changed to help individuals file a claim if they either already have a 9/11- related illness or may become sick in the future because they were exposed to toxic air and dust on or after 9/11 while engaging in paid or unpaid rescue, recovery, or cleanup work. If you do not register and are sick or become sick later, you will not be able to file or re-file a claim. Even if you are now healthy, but were exposed to contaminated air and dust on or after 9/11, you must register now to protect your right to file a claim if and when you become sick.

You may download here a fact sheet put out by the New York Committee For Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), which has launched a campaign to get affected workers to register by August 14th.

They point out that most people are eligible if they did rescue, recovery or cleanup work, either as a volunteer or for pay, between Sept. 11, 2001 and Sept. 12, 2002 anywhere in Manhattan south of Canal or Pike Streets, or on the barge operation between Lower Manhattan and Staten Island, or at the Staten Island landfill, or at the New York City morgue.

Please note that if you helped anyone out of your office building on 9/11, you did rescue work and if you were called back to your location a week after 9/11, for example, and were compelled to clean off your desk or cubicle of 9/11 dust, you performed clean-up work.

NYCOSH has much more information on its website at, including sample completed registration forms at Of particular relevance is the sample case for “Jane Smith,” an “employee of an insurance company located a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. She first returned to work in the area two months after 9/11. When she came back to work, her office and other areas where she worked were coated with dust and ash from the World Trade Center collapse. For the next week, she and her co-workers spent part of their time at work cleaning their offices and the common office areas.”

Blank registration forms are also available on NYCOSH’s website at 911info/index_english.html. You may also obtain forms and information by calling NYCOSH at 1 (866) 982-2556. The union will have blank registration forms available upon request. Call Rob Spencer at the union office (212) 686-1229.

General Membership Meeting. This month's general membership meeting is set for May 24, 2007 and will, as usual, start at 6:00 PM sharp, but at a different place. Due to the ongoing training course for the Staff Analyst Trainee exam at union headquarters, we are moving the meeting to 125 Worth St, second floor auditorium. Bring photo I.D. The security on the first floor is extensive, so give yourself extra time. See you there. You can download a meeting flyer here for posting and to remind you of the date, time and location.