News From OSA - November, 2017

THE CON CON ... The rich folks are loudly beating the drums for a Constitutional Convention here in New York. They tell us that (at the cost of a few hundreds of millions of dollars) wonderful things will happen if we vote for a Constitutional Convention. Politicians will be made honest, progressive causes will be served and all will be right with the world.


The last time a Constitutional Convention was held at vast expense, the voters turned down every proposal.

We are told that the Con Con is needed because the ordinary political process is so corrupted by “special interests” (read, the unions) that decent legislation cannot be passed.

So then, what sort of “decent legislation” would be opposed by the “special interests” (us)?

Well, for example, there is the rule in the New York State Constitution that once a civil servant is hired, his or her pension plan cannot be diminished. Thus, after a person works for thirty or forty years, neither the governor nor the legislature can change the rules (after the fact) to wipe out or shrink that pension.

It does seem fair to us that when we have signed up for a job with a pension, no one should be allowed to take away all or any part of that pension after we have given years of our lives in public service.

Who would do such an evil thing?

Well … In 1962, my father had over thirty years of service as a driver for the Fifth Avenue Coach and Omnibus Corporation. So, they fired him.

He had done nothing wrong, but he was due a pension in three years, so the Corporation fired him and 699 other older drivers, mechanics and janitors. By firing Dad and the other old folks, Fifth Avenue Coach could hire younger employees at lower salaries. So, it was good business.

There was a union there and it did go on strike over the firings, but Fifth Avenue Coach had planned on breaking the union anyway. This did not happen. Instead, Fifth Avenue Coach lost its franchise and its property and, to this day, the buses in the Bronx and Manhattan are all manned by Transport Workers Union members wearing Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority (MaBSTOA) uniforms.

Dad worked for MaBSTOA for three more years and then retired with his pension.

Of course, my father's story was from many years ago and no one would be as evil as Fifth Avenue Coach today, would they?

Could be. Recently, we had a mayor who was presiding over a very prosperous city. He built parks, offered free trips to Governors Island and provided wonderful public services, especially to Manhattan. For us, in the civil service, however, he had no money ... none ... zilch. We were offered 0% raises, a chance to pay for our basic health benefits for the first time since Mayor LaGuardia and, oh yes, Bloomberg told us he could not afford our pensions. (Every major New York City newspaper agreed with him; the TV stations as well.)

Then, again, there was Andrew Cuomo. He had no money for the upstate workers (0%, 0%, 0% for three years or else … layoffs!) and, as soon as they accepted the 0%, he ended pension Tier IV and brought in the far worse Tier VI.

Please note, however, that neither Bloomberg nor Cuomo was able to touch those already entitled to Tier IV because of the New York State Constitution.

And now, they want to change the New York State Constitution.

Why? Check your New York City Voter Guide on page 25. They give nine reasons to vote “Yes.” Some reasons “sound” good, like ethics reform and a great education for the kids. The ninth reason given directly concerns us. They say, “The growing burdens of our public pension system are too high. We need flexibility to ensure the state can continue to meet its obligations to retirees, but the constitution makes changes to the pension system extremely difficult.”

No thanks.

Vote NO on Proposition #1 on Election Day. It’s on the back of the ballot. Talk to your family and friends. Ask them to vote NO. If you need more ammunition, we provide several flyers and a video about the Con Con at the links below:

Organization of Staff Analysts' Vote NO on Con Con Flyer

Communications Workers of America Local 1180 Vote NO on Con Con Flyer

New York State AFL-CIO Vote NO on Con Con Flyer

Op Ed Against the Con Con By NY Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman

A Partial List of Groups and Organizations Urging a NO vote on the Constitutional Convention

A video produced by Communications Workers of America Local 1180 urging a NO vote on the Con Con can be viewed below:

ACT ... Our Activist Classroom Training is going well, but there is space for a few more good women and men. If you believe a union can be important, please sign up now by calling John La Guardia at 212-686-1229 and registering. We need you.

The next ACT session will follow the November 30th general membership meeting. We plan to hold to the pattern established in May and September, with a break for food between the membership meeting and the training session. We hope to wrap up the training session at approximately 8pm.

OSARC ... Our retirees’ club held a health fair at our office in mid-October. Dr. Perry Frankel of Advanced Cardiovascular Diagnostics brought in nurses, technicians and lots of machines. About 60 of our retiree club members were screened, evaluated and counseled by the team led by Dr. Mohamed Elsherief and Dr. Imran Khan. Two retirees, however, were referred to Beth Israel hospital due to their test results or their symptoms. It turns out checking is a good idea.

HOLIDAY PARTY ... You will find a flyer at the link below for the union’s 2017 holiday party at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn, set for Thursday, December 14, 2017. The party is a lot of fun and the ticket cost is very modest. The food is delicious. It’s your chance to see old friends and make new ones. If you’ve attended in the past, we hope to see you again. If not, join us this year.

Holiday Party Invitation

Directions to Grand Prospect Hall

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING ... November 30th is the date for our next general membership meeting. Our plan is to start promptly at 6:15pm, then take a break for food at 7pm. Those participating in the next session of our Activist Classroom Training will stick around for our next ACT session which will end at approximately 8pm. A flyer can be downloaded at this link to remind you of the date, time and location.