News From OSA - May, 2013

Negotiations. Mayor Bloomberg is soon to be gone. Meanwhile, he is doing all that he can to hurt working people. It is his legacy. He forced the school bus drivers out on strike and then said he was not involved when, of course, he was. He is enraged that security guards would be paid $10 an hour if they work for an employer who is given $1,000,000 or more of taxpayers’ money. (He is not enraged that he presided over an administration that hands out million-dollar grants of our money to selected employers, but that’s another story.)

The mayor will soon veto a City Council bill requiring employers to offer five days of paid sick leave to employees if the firm has twenty workers on staff. Our mayor says the bill will hurt employers. He does not say that his veto hurts the employees and the public who will be infected by ill employees.

Recently, the mayor invited us to the bargaining table so we could give him givebacks in return for less. He did not send a letter of invitation, nor did he call, nor did he email us. He didn’t even “tweet.” Instead, he sent Cas Holloway, deputy mayor, to tell the Citizens Budget Commission not only that he wanted to negotiate with us, but also what was on offer and what we would have to accept.

The mayor’s idea of negotiations brings to mind the comedic ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. The mayor has Cas Holloway and the CBC, Bergen had two dummies, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. The mayor has apparently read the book “Negotiations for Dummies.” We are not dummies, so he read the wrong book.

Fact Finding. Most OSA members received the 4% and 4% raises that were won before the mayor was re-elected. Teachers did not. The United Federation of Teachers has had no success negotiating with the mayor, so they have sought the process called “fact finding.”

The mayor’s negotiating position was not that the long-established practice called pattern bargaining was wrong or invalid. Instead, he claimed he had no money. (There is some humor here.) Fact finding will determine if NYC is impoverished or if, in fact, the mayor is deliberately spending monies elsewhere in order to have no money to pay the teachers. Early reports are very favorable to the UFT.

It is hard to accept that there was plenty of money for a 4% and 4% raise after the crash in 2008 but, the minute after the mayor was reelected in 2010, all the money suddenly disappeared.

To Your Health. The mayor is seeking to save money on health care costs. He has come up with two ideas, both bad.

First, he will use an outside consulting firm to demand that city workers prove they have a right to cover their dependents for health coverage. Then, if there are persons being covered inappropriately, those dependents will be removed from coverage. We have our doubts about the firm chosen, based on their prior performance at the MTA, but the idea of an audit is not unreasonable and the last one was in the 1990s.

We do, however, object to the city’s blithe pronouncements that seem to imply holding responsible for all prior costs the employees whose dependents are no longer covered. One hypothetical result could be astronomical retroactive hospital bills. Another possible result (given Hizzoner, the mayor) would be agency actions against employees who had failed to notify the city to cease health coverage for a divorced spouse, etc.

The Municipal Labor Committee’s Health Technical Subcommittee is working hard to ensure that this audit is done responsibly. We have warned the city that the choice to wait until the twelfth year of the Bloomberg administration to do an audit puts much of the onus for any uncorrected errors on the city.

Second, the mayor wants to change your health coverage. He can and will say he wants to improve your wellness and also drive down the city’s costs for health coverage. You can believe the second part of his statement.

There are many definitions of the fashionable word “wellness.” Mayor Mike’s definition would be to charge virtually all employees for their health care, but to charge more if the employee was willfully, deliberately choosing to live an unhealthy life style. For example, if they are fat.

Recent scientific studies show that moderately overweight persons may actually outlive the average person. That is beside the point to our mayor. He knows what is best for us 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and he wants us to pay for any misbehavior.

The key word for Mayor Mike is pay. EmblemHealth has offered to provide wellness programs on many occasions over the past ten years. The city was never interested because the city would have been paying, not the member. It is a part of Mayor LaGuardia’s legacy that he established free healthcare for city workers and their families. Mayor Bloomberg wants it to be his legacy that he ended free healthcare for city workers.

We will see.

Your Part. No raises, punitive audits and a plan to make you pay for your health benefits amount to a personal invitation for you to come and visit with the mayor. We will be coming to City Hall on June 12th, and you should too. We plan to let the mayor know how he is doing. See the flyer you can download here.

Incidentally. Our mayor is against guns. He has said so, has taken great credit for saying so, and is planning to make America gun-free as soon as he gets around to it. Why, then, did he instruct his representative to vote against divesting the New York City Employees Retirement System of “gun” stocks?

He explained those stocks are doing well, and he sees no reason not to make money off them until he finally gets Congress to act. How do you spell hypocrite?

Oh yes; H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E.

The other NYCERS trustees outvoted the mayor, and we no longer benefit from Smith & Wesson’s ammo sales.

For Your Information. Bill Douglas was our vice chairperson for nearly fourteen years and, prior to that, had been active on behalf of us all for another dozen years.

Since his retirement from city employ, Bill has found a second career by being trained as a psychotherapist. He is now a licensed clinical social worker with over twenty years of practice. The leadership of the Organization of Staff Analysts may not be qualified to judge on the professional issues, but we do know that Bill is an excellent listener and a very caring person. If any of us ever feels a need to talk to a professional, New York State licensed therapist, Bill can be reached at the following address for a confidential appointment:

William Douglas, LCSW

56 East 87th Street, Office #1B

New York, NY 10128


Short Term Disability. Current members of OSA can take advantage of a special open enrollment flyer which you can download at this link for our short-term disability program, offered by OSA as a voluntary payroll deduction benefit. The STD plan covers the member for the first six months before the OSA Long-Term Disability Plan Benefit takes effect. This open enrollment period is through November 2013. If you have any questions, please call Winston Financial at 1-800-347-6071. (Retirees, members of our related professional association, OSART, and prospective union members are not eligible for the STD plan.)

General Membership Meeting. The next general membership meeting will be held on Thursday, May 30, 2013 at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 707, between Second and Third Avenues, starting at 6pm sharp. You can download a reminder flyer for the meeting by clicking this link.