News From OSA - November, 2008

Elections. OSA seldom spends money on national elections and we have not done so this year. We did allow a group of Obama supporters to meet at our office, but the organizer, Ron Lehman,personally paid for the coffee and cake himself. Even so, the leadership of OSA does have a position on the upcoming election. We strongly favor Obama.

  • The War. The leadership of OSA supported the U.S. attack on Al Qaeda and their allies, the Taliban in Afghanistan. We did not support the invasion of Iraq. John McCain did. Five years later, he still does. Mr. McCain has expressed no regret over a war started in error (No WMD, no Al Qaeda camps, a regime change that led to a civil war) and is still focused on winning. Winning what?
  • The Economy. During our years of prosperity, the rich got richer. The rest of us did not. John McCain voted against increases in the minimum wage and against unions every chance he got. For the future, John offers us more tax cuts. Nonsense. We have been hearing about tax cuts since Ronald Reagan and yet our taxes are still high, while hedge fund managers and Warren Buffet find that their taxes are really, really low.
  • Social Security. 0bama voted against privatization. McCain voted for privatization and still thinks it's a good idea. It always was a good plan for Wall Street and a very bad one for the rest of us -- and for our nation.
  • Judgment. Barack Obama chose Joe Biden as his running mate. Thus, if Obama dies or becomes incapable while in office, our nation has a respected and knowledgeable replacement available to fill out his term. John McCain skipped over a great many highly respected Republicans (male and female) to choose Sarah Palin.
  • The leadership of OSA supports the Obama/Biden slate but, whoever you vote for, please do remember to vote.

    More Elections. OSA is itself approaching an election. Our union holds its biannual elections in even numbered years. The nominations for the Executive Boards of both OSA and OSART will be opened at the November membership meeting and will remain open for ten days thereafter. The officers of the Executive Board are unpaid positions save for the Chairperson and First Vice-Chairperson who both work for the union.

    Newly Elected. The OSA Constitution requires the Executive Board to fill any vacancies on that board as they occur. Members are aware that Richard Guarino, our Treasurer, passed away this year. Richie's torch has been passed on to Wilfred St. Surin, a long term Executive Board member and Chairperson of our Transit Authority Chapter.

    Wilfred's vacated position as an at-large member of the Board has been filled by Kathy Gray, our Chapter Chairperson for the Department of Youth and Community Development. Kathy has been Chairperson for her agency for as long as it has been in existence and she had a major role in the unionization of the Staff Analyst title series.

    Our last vacancy, an at-large position on the OSART board, has been filled by Cirino Lotta from Bronx Municipal Hospital (Jacobi). Cirino's work on OSA's behalf covered all the Bronx hospitals during the last three organizational drives. Cirino is seeking to fill the shoes of Ed Price, our recently retired Chairperson of the Department of Transportation Chapter.

    Ed Price was an active supporter of our union and the worker's cause in general. He spent thirty years carrying the union banner at DOT and, upon retirement, Ed became a volunteer organizer for OSA three days a week. Sadly Ed has become ill and is no longer able to be active. If you knew Ed during his years of activity on our behalf, I am sure he would welcome a note or a card. Ed's address is: Ed Price, 64-101 Welshtract Road, Newark DE, 19713.

    Still More Elections. As you may remember from "earlier" mailings, the leadership of OSA became distressed by the actions of the Municipal Credit Union leadership last spring.

    As soon as the 2008 candidates for the Board of Directors were set for the election, one group of incumbents successfully moved to revoke their opponents' nominations. Mark Brantley, a member of the Board of Directors, took the matter to court. The court has ruled in Mark's favor and an election may be set for approximately December 10, 2008. If, however, the other side were to appeal, the election would be delayed once again.

    If you are a member of the MCU and wish to be added to a special mailing list, fill out and return the coupon you can download here.

    Longevity Increment. The recent increase in longevity led to a number of phone calls from members who could not translate $520 per year into a biweekly amount. Since OSA is the Organization of Staff Analysts, we also had a number of members sending us estimates in advance that came out correct to within one cent.

    For those who are challenged by arithmetic, the recent raises were worth a bit less than twenty dollars per increment biweekly. For those preferring more precision, the following information will be more satisfying. Biweekly the 10+ year increase (or new money for some titles) was $19.79, the 15+ increase is $39.58 (10+15 together) and the 20+ increase comes to a total of $59.53 all together. Our thanks to Analyst Alan Hauser of HRA who usually double checks our numbers and who is himself most accurate.

    Retirement Concerns. There is no retirement incentive being offered at present, but that could change. For six years, OSA' s leadership has been stating that a retirement incentive package was not likely in the near term. Our reasoning was based on the economic and political conditions between 2003 and 2008. As of now, conditions have changed. The economy may soon slow down to the point that either lay offs or an incentive retirement could be used to reduce the City payroll.

    In addition, OSA has been receiving phone calls from both active and retired members about the economic downturn. There seem to be two fears uppermost in the callers' minds. The first is a fear that our pensions are not safe. Actually our pensions are safer than most other forms of investment because New York City has an obligation to pay regardless of stock market losses. That said, if the city actually went bankrupt, it would be worrisome from all directions. It's not likely, and did not occur during the Great Depression. The second fear, that of inflation, would be especially hard for retirees on a fixed pension. The Federal government will have to judge carefully between the need for economic stimulus and avoiding inflation. Fortunately, Social Security is adjusted for inflation so we do have a margin of safety in all circumstances.

    Analysts Lists. The Staff Analyst Trainee list has begun to move. Since this is a new list, the number reached so far is only #238, but pools continue to be held. The Staff Analyst list is not new at all and, as of the last pool, #1276 had been reached. Sheila Gorsky has been urging DCAS to hold another Citywide pool before the list expires on January 19, 2009.

    Our promotional lists have been chronicled by Agency thanks to Mike Schady. His two charts tell of the status of theAssociate and Administrative lists. You can download the ASA Chart here and the Admin Chart here.

    Michael uses the number/number format to highlight patterns of appointment.

    The Admin list is now old, but results have been fairly good. At present, only 25 candidates remain not appointed out of a list of 872 candidates. The Associate Staff Analyst list is only recently established, but nearly 240 candidates have been appointed. On that chart there are numbers and slashes. For example, for Social Services, under APPTS it says 16/19. The 16 is the number already appointed; 19 is the number of eligibles in that category. Thus, 16 Staff Analysts, serving as Staff Analysts, have been promoted to Associate Staff Analyst and three are still awaiting appointment.

    When The Police Tell You To Decline, Don't. Sheila Gorsky, our chief civil service maven, is angry at the Police Department. At hiring pools this year, some Staff Analysts and S.A.T. candidates were already "on board" with the City in higher paying civil service jobs. Since the Police Department (unlike all other agencies) refuses to hire above the minimum salaries, the P.D. instructed the candidates to decline appointment.

    Nonsense. The proper answer was to refuse to decline, and to refuse to accept a lower salary either. If this caused the Police Department to consider but not to select the candidate, okay. At least, the candidate would not have a declination on record. This matters because DCAS will only restore a candidate to the list (after declining a job) three times.

    Sheila has been discussing with our OSA legal staff the Police Department's pernicious habit of instructing candidates to "falsify" official documents. In the meantime, their practice is worthy of mention and public censure.

    Non-Residence. Joe Addabo, the Chairperson of the City Council's Civil Service committee visited the OSA office last week. Joe has personally assured us that when the city worker residence bill is passed, our members will be covered. An early version of the bill would have restricted the benefit to DC37 members alone, but that version did not pass.

    Good and Welfare. Bill Douglas, the former Vice Chairperson of OSA is a graduate of New York University Graduate School of Social Work, and a graduate of The Metropolitan Institute for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. Bill has a New York State License, LCSW, private office practice and is a fully-qualified eclectic oriented psychotherapist.

    The Analysts of OSA do not normally have expertise in this sort of analysis, but Bill does, and the one thing we do know is that for all his life, Bill has been a good and attentive listener. That, of course, is at least one part of his role. Bill can be reached at 56 East 87th Street, New York, NY 10128. Telephone: (212) 876-6787. All calls are confidential.

    General Membership Meeting. The next general membership meeting is set for Thursday, November 20, 2008 and will, as usual, start at 6:00 PM sharp at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 707, NYC (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues). You can download a meeting flyer here for posting and to remind you of the date, time and location. Take note of the OSA/OSART Executive Board election notice on the flyer.