News From OSA - November, 2013

State of the Union. Normally a state of the union report is offered at the start of a year, but in this case it is being offered at the close of an administration – Mike Bloomberg's administration.

Mayor Bloomberg was not endorsed for office by our union on any of his three runs for mayor. It was in February of 2003 that one of the mayor's favorite groups, the Citizens Budget Commission, began by suggesting New York City civil servants would not object to working a forty hour week with no increase in pay. Then, by March of that year, the Mayor had settled on an even better idea. He would allow city unions to choose how we would give back $600 million a year. We could agree to take it from the retired members or the work force not yet hired, or we could absorb the hit ourselves.

The Village Voice, The New York Times, the Post and the News all agreed and so, of course, did the rest of the major media.

The unions, one and all, disagreed but, under the leadership of Randi Weingarten, the Municipal Labor Committee sat down to negotiate the proposed give backs with the mayor.

On the one hand we had the mayor and all the media insisting on a need for us to pay back monies which he had never given us and then, in return, we would get nothing, not even a thank-you-very-much. On the other hand, we were informed that if we did not hand over the money there would be twelve-thousand layoffs and New York City would probably collapse as well.

In the end, we agreed to pay $5 more for GHI doctors' office visits and a few other increases in co-pay, but the city gave as much or more back to us in our welfare fund payments. The mayor did lay off a couple of thousand provisional employees, but he hired as many again within a year or so.

Needless to say, New York City did not collapse.

Since Rob Spencer has preserved, on this website the history of OSA's reports on Mayor Bloomberg's actions towards us over the following years there is no need for detail here.

Basically, we survived the Bloomberg years because we were united and because we had enough decent elected officials on our side that the mayor was not able to do as much to us as he wanted to.

During the mayor's last four years he mostly dropped all pretense of being a nice guy and tried to play out his fantasy where he is all-powerful and the rest of us live only by his sufferance.

Members are aware that the mayor did not agree to a single contractual raise once he was re-elected. Our own raise in August of 2009 came to us only because we had completed negotiations and signed a contract before his re-election.

The mayor deprived us and, to an even greater extent, many others of cost of living raises, but he achieved far less than he sought.

He sought to make city employment a hire-at-will, fire-at-will, patronage game for the wealthy. He sought to fire older workers because they made more than younger workers. During his last year, he sought to scapegoat and demonize innocent civil servants through an audit of health care dependents, and also to diminish our existing health care programs from now until the far far future.

There was one moment in the past four years when he spoke honestly, and with sincerity, about a group of workers. It was when the city council mandated a $10 an hour minimum wage for workers who were employed by friends of his who had received at least over one million dollars of New York City taxpayers' money for their “worthy” projects. He exploded.

“That's the wrong message,” he pouted in an interview. He was furious because paying a security guard $10 an hour would “drive away all the job creators.”

Mayor Bloomberg's administration has been excellent for the rich. We are awash with luxury buildings enjoying 25-year tax exemptions. The statistics on the increase in homeless New Yorkers tell a very different tale.

Joe Lhota has complained that Bill de Blasio was declaring class warfare by insisting on taxing the rich. No. Class warfare began as early as 2003. It was declared by Mayor Bloomberg. For the next ten years he won some battles and lost some.

If there had been no unions and no decent legislators in New York and Albany, Mayor Mike would have won far more than he did, and you and I and our city would have lost far more.

Once before, there was an executive who became so in love with his own rule that he coined the phrase “après moi, le deluge.” Mike Bloomberg spent his last term in office doing all he could to ensure the failure of any person succeeding him as mayor. He has made it difficult for his successor, and for us as well. At least, and at last, he is gone.

Exams. There will be a Staff Analyst Trainee (SAT) exam sometime next year. We do know the filing dates are March 5 through March 25, 2014. OSA, as usual, will be helping applicants complete their applications, and their appeals if necessary. And OSA will also be conducting training classes right before the exam. There is no experience as an analyst required for this exam. The only requirement is a college degree.

If you are a ‘pure’ provisional in the SAT or any higher title, you most definitely should apply for this exam. Agencies will often accommodate provisional employees by appointments to “SAT” with no loss from current pay.

The SAT title has a two-year probation, and promotes to a permanent SA after that period.

If you are presently on the ASA or SA lists and your list number on each exam is near the end of those lists, you might consider taking this exam.

There is more information on this website under “Exams, Lists, and Training," including a form needed to register for our training course. Please complete the form and fax it to 212-686-1073. You should check the website again after January, since we expect there will be updates.

Negotiations. Mayor de Blasio was endorsed by our union and almost every other New York City civil service union as well. His opponent, Joe Lhota, had publically rejected the idea of retroactive pay, and had embraced the radical labor policies enunciated by Mayor Bloomberg.

We are now hoping for a return to sanity with our new mayor, but we do not expect miracles. It will be very difficult.

Holiday Party. The OSA holiday party will be held at the Grand Prospect Hall on Thursday, December 19th. The food and drink will be good, and the company even better. We hope to see you there. To order tickets, please return the coupon you will receive in the mail with the print version of this newsletter. Payment should be made in the form of a money order only, payable to "OSA". Directions to Grand Prospect Hall can be downloaded by clicking this link.

General Membership Meeting. The next general membership meeting will be held on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 707, between Second and Third Avenues, starting at 6:15pm. The one week delay in the meeting date is due to both Thanksgiving and Hannukah which fall on the last Thursday of November. You can download a reminder flyer for the meeting by clicking this link. We are planning on serving food before the meeting, so we have shifted the starting time to 6:15pm.

Interesting Reading. Finally, we recommend to you the following recent New Yorker magazine article about Mayor Bloomberg's policies on housing for homeless New Yorkers. You can read it by clicking this link.