News From OSA - May, 2012

Something Good. The best thing on our horizon these days is the twentieth anniversary of the Organization of Staff Analysts’ Retirees Club. OSARC is where all good Analysts go after their years of active service.

OSARC is open to all of our retired OSA members and the yearly dues follow OSA tradition by being kept low – $18 per year. In return for their dues, the retirees get a special retiree newsletter and a monthly meeting so old friends can get together. There are also trips and outings, lectures and films and, most of all, a chance to stay attached to the organization they helped to build.

So, on Wednesday, June 13th, from 12 noon to 3pm, at Churrascaria Rodizio Plataforma (316 West 49th Street), there will be an anniversary party. Given the timing during a work day, few, if any, active service OSA members can attend, but the nice thing is that the party is being held. We all look forward to a happy retirement and it is nice to know we already have friends and former coworkers waiting for us. You can download information about the Anniversary event at this link and about affordable local parking at this link.

Mayor Redux. One of the incidents that turned the OSA leadership against the Mayor occurred early in his administration. Mayor Giuliani had given us fairly decent raises on the way out of office, but he had failed to conclude a contract with DC 1707.

District Council 1707 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees represents about 25,000 employees of vendor agencies. The more familiar DC 37 represents actual employees of New York City, but 1707 handles bargaining for those indirectly paid by the City through contract agencies. Wages are negotiated with the City rather than with the many vendor agencies.

Rudy had stiffed DC 1707's members by not concluding a contract for years, even though the wage pattern had already been established through earlier collective bargaining with unions representing City employees. Mayor Bloomberg, on arrival, chose not to move quickly either and, by the time the Mayor concluded bargaining, it was seven years between contracts. The settlement followed the pattern set for the City work force and, after seven years of no raise, resulted in a significant jump in salaries for the thousands of workers covered. The one great flaw in the contract was there was no retroactivity whatsoever and, thus, the employees had been done out of thousands of dollars that they had expected and (by virtue of past practice) deserved.

At that time (a time of no fiscal crisis whatsoever), the Mayor went on television to announce how happy he was to have found the money to pay for a raise for these truly deserving Day Care Teachers and other staff. He didn’t mention the missing retroactivity.

His choice of the words “found the money” did raise the image of the Mayor energetically chasing down a rainbow and grabbing the tail of the coat of a leprechaun standing next to a pot of gold.

Of course, that image was false, as was the image of a kindly Mayor concerned about Day Care workers.

These days, he no longer bothers to hide his true feelings toward us. Some OSA members are now four years behind in their contract and most of us are two years behind as of August of this year. He is negotiating with no one and no one is negotiating with him since he has no money for us, but would like some from us.

Far from chasing rainbows in order to find money for us, he has now announced that our contract, once settled, will have no retroactive pay attached. That comment would constitute bad faith negotiation on his part if he was negotiating, but since he is not, it is only the gratuitous rubbing of salt in our wounds. He is using his final term in office to reduce all civil service salaries and he is taunting us about it.

He need not chase rainbows. He need not even (the ultimate horror!) raise taxes on the rich. He has and has had enough money to give us fair raises. You can download information provided by the Municipal Labor Committee’s Policy Research Group at this link. Both projected deficits and actual surpluses are shown year by year in constant 2012 dollars.

For fiscal year 2011 (July ‘10 to June ‘11 - Table F4), he projected a shortfall for New York City of $3,387,000,000. As it turned out (whoops), he was a bit off. NYC ended with a surplus of $3,836,000,000 (Table F2). This past year, he foresaw another three billion dollar shortfall and ended up with a surplus of over a billion and a quarter.

This, of course, is the same Mayor who was furious that those of his friends who obtained (at a minimum) one million dollars of City funds as a subsidy might have to pay $10 per hour to a security guard. So, it’s a good idea, by him, to give our tax dollars away to his friends, by the million, but an atrocity if those friends have to pay their security guards $10 per hour. He has not changed in 10 years, he is just now more open about who he always was.

The Workers Defense League 2012 Awards. The Workers Defense League is a fine organization that goes back to the Great Depression (the last one, not this one.) Their job, for many years now, has been to represent workers who become unemployed. Many employers do seek to challenge unemployment benefits, and the WDL offers excellent representation for the former employees.

The Workers Defense League has chosen to honor the OSA Chairperson and Executive Director at their 76th Anniversary Dinner on May 24th. We are very appreciative of the recognition being shown to OSA. Also being honored at the event are Michael Goodwin of OPEIU and Julie Kushner of the UAW.

Photos of the dinner will be on this website in the May OSA Photo Gallery page.

May Day. On May first, about sixty OSA members marched some or all of the way down Broadway from Union Square to the Bull and beyond. It was a nice day and a very peaceful crowd. Some of the Occupy Wall Streeters were young and may have been looking for adventure, but most of the crowd was from organized labor and the tone was kept resolute but not excited.

The police were not the least hostile and often very openly supportive.

The late television news did not cover the march at all. Even so, the numbers attending had doubled since last year and we can expect those numbers to keep growing. Mainstream television can and did ignore a rally and parade of between fifteen and thirty thousand persons, but it will be harder to ignore if the numbers keep growing. (This march was hard to count since it was so large. The parade filled the streets for three quarters of a mile, but some marchers joined as we reached them and others left before the march ended at 8pm.)

OSA members are not the most likely of protesters. We are possibly among the least eager to march or parade for the excellent reasons of age (middle) and family obligations. Still, as time passes and contract negotiations go nowhere, it becomes clearer that something must be done.

On the day when even one quarter of the civil service work force marches down Broadway as a group, the newspapers will change sides and start to urge the Mayor to be reasonable. We do hold the power in our hands to obtain a fair raise, but only if we are seen as standing together, united and ready.

You can see photos of the May Day march in the OSA Photo Gallery section of this website on the page for May 2012.

220 Law. The Mayor’s Office did us a sort of back-handed favor last month. They cancelled an arrangement going back about 100 years. Until now, many “trades” workers, carpenters, electricians etc., did not have to bargain with City Hall. Instead, they were awarded the prevailing rate for their trades in private industry.

Henceforward, the Mayor announced, those workers would be required to enter collective bargaining with the City. Of course, the City has absolutely no money for them either.

How is that a favor? It is no favor for the construction trades. For the leaders of their unions, who are mostly in the private sector, it is a sharp slap in their face. However, for OSA, it is a sort of favor because it adds to the overall unity of labor against the Mayor.

Promotion. Most agencies have called the Associate Staff Analyst promotional list by now. In twenty-four agencies, every candidate on their list was promoted.

Of the remaining fourteen agencies with lists, four have not yet moved the list and ten have promoted some, but not all, candidates. The chart you can download at this link was created by Michael Schady, and gives the details for all agencies. The chart is updated as fast as the agencies have hiring pools.

We have found two major problems occurring in some agencies. The first problem is the alleged hiring freeze. An agency can call in a candidate already serving as an ASA or higher, provisionally. The agency can officially hire the candidate as a probable permanent civil service Associate Staff Analyst, completely ignoring the hiring freeze because there is no additional cost. Yet, if the agency calls in a candidate who is a Staff Analyst, the agency may refuse to promote the candidate because of the hiring freeze. This is possibly illegal, and it is definitely awkward for both the agency and the candidates.

Not only does the agency build ill will in the hearts of career civil servants when this occurs, it also ends the movement of that agency’s list and often upsets favored employees further down the list who are not reached.

The second problem stems from the first. A couple of agencies call candidates back to pools repeatedly. On each occasion, a candidate could be absent or, if present, considered and not selected. In either case, the candidate must request restoration to the list, but “restorations” are limited to three. Thus, a candidate could be knocked off a list for an absurd reason.

Some agencies are acting more egregiously than the rest. HPD, for example, has refused to restore to its list permanent Staff Analysts who have been considered but not selected for promotion to ASA. At present, there is one vacancy that HPD states is not applicable to those SA’s, and is therefore planning to call the open competitive ASA list and promote a candidate from that list.

There is a DCAS plan to replace all provisional employees with permanent civil servants. It is a five-year plan and the five years are nearly up, yet agencies continue to shift provisionals from title to title to avoid lists.

In effect, the City continues to be addicted to hiring civilian employees without prior testing for merit and fitness.

Hundreds of positions have “disappeared” since December 2010, and other positions (where there is no list in existence) have “appeared.” Keep this in mind when next the City argues against the impossibility of obeying the civil service law. If New York City would simply halt all new provisional appointments, the problem of “illegal” employees would slowly cease to exist, as those on board slowly passed the various exams or retired.

General Membership Meeting.The next union General Membership Meeting will be held on Thursday, May 31, 2012 at the OSA union office, 220 East 23rd St., Suite 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.