News From OSA - October, 2003

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING...ROUND TWO. There was some hope, when the Mayor accepted the MLC's invitation to speak at the annual conference of the municipal unions, that things might get better. The Mayor made short work of any such hope.

He began by insulting us, telling us that the unions had chosen Suffolk County for our conference so we could be close to where our members live. It was a deliberate slap in our face and, of course, statistically and legally untrue.[OSA Vice-Chairperson Tom Anderson got curious about how many of our members do live in Suffolk County. He checked (by zip code). It turns out that (in all of Nassau and Suffolk Counties combined), less than 2% of our members live where the Mayor thinks we live. Many of those have "waivers to do so from...that's right...the Mayor's appointees.]

He went on with a few more amusing (to him) insults and then, as he put it, got down to serious business. He told us that he did not believe in negotiating in the newspapers and then turned and faced directly into the T.V. cameras he had brought with him. He said we had been no help in stopping the layoffs (and he lied; OSA offered 25 voluntary no-pay furloughs, he chose 22 involuntary firings for "fiscal cause").

He said we had offered no help on getting taxes raised (and he lied; OSA and the MLC had lobbied Albany and gotten support from Senator Bruno and Assembly leader Silver).

He said the problem was caused by Giuliani but, "I don't blame Giuliani for that. I think that's exactly what the public wanted" (and he lied; the public never wanted Corporate tax relief in return for subsequent homeowner tax increases, never wanted stadiums built and given away to baseball owners in return for reduced garbage collection and loss of other services).

This Mayor started out honest.

He told us, last year, that he wanted to lower the cost of government. He was willing to let us choose if we would save money by hurting those already retired through huge health cuts, or hurt those yet to come by establishing a new and lousy pension system or hurt, instead, ourselves by, for example, adding five hours to our work week for no extra pay. We would even mix and match our own give backs.

In return for our sacrifices, he honestly explained, we would receive credit from him and if, in addition we would come up with some convincing (to him) productivity ideas, we might be able to fund "cost of living" raises out of a portion of the monies saved. Naturally, he explained, no new raises would be retroactive so the workers needed to hurry to cooperate with him.The Mayor did not continue his initial approach once he discovered that no City employees would accept his offer. Instead he unleashed his media campaign to blame us for the entire crisis and discarded honesty along the way.

AND IN OUR CORNER. Our own defending champion, Randi Weingarten, Chairperson of the Municipal Labor Committee, has been seeking to keep labor united and negotiations ongoing. The Mayor has been a great help on her first task but scant help on her second. The reality is that the Mayor is wrong and Randi knows it. The Mayor gave us unneeded layoffs (to teach us a lesson?) And labor was made desperately unhappy, but did not yield.

The Mayor is now moving to destroy the PICA card and to use increasing hospital costs as a political card to play against labor. The matters are complex but the bottom line is not. The Mayor knows that by delaying decisions on health-related matters he creates a health cost crisis. The resulting increased costs to us will make labor yet more unhappy.

He is sure that if we become unhappy enough, we will call "Uncle". He is wrong.

VOTING. We know the Mayor is wrong about where we live because it would be illegal for most of us to live in Huntington, Long Island. Since 1986 most New York City civil servants must try to live and pay taxes in our City. Housing prices are very high but there is one small compensating factor, we do get to vote.

Out in Huntington, Long Island the Mayor assured us of one more thing, he will be re-elected. We do not know if the Mayor is wrong when he assures us he will be re-elected. Maybe he is right. He spent about eighty million dollars on his first campaign.

Money buys a lot.

He has a lot of money.

All we have is our right to vote. We have a right to vote on each Election Day. We even have the right (thanks to organized labor) to take Election Day off as a holiday so we can vote. This Election Day, November 4th, we have a good reason to vote. Almost no major races are being run and in many districts, there are few, if any, contested elections. There are, however, the Mayor's "Ballot Proposals" put forth by the Mayor's Commission.

We can vote, No!

On Proposal #3, the Mayor would like us to get rid of the Democratic and Republican and other parties when it comes to City elections. That way, the richest candidates could more easily take power without the bother of political parties and the like.

There would be no more hard fought primaries and the well paid elite of the press and media, in general, could offer their balanced opinions alongside the paid commercials and advertising so helpful to public discourse.

The Mayor, (on advice) has chosen to reset the target date for this proposal for 2005 lest we think he dreamed it up just to favor him. Not at all. He dreamed it up to give an edge to rich men in general.

We can vote, No!

On Proposal #4, the Mayor wants to amend the City Charter on City purchasing. Details are left out of the actual ballot proposals. Meanwhile, high flying words about enhanced opportunities for small businesses, minority and women owned businesses do sound like the typical flim flam trotted out regularly to hide power grabs and political chicanery.

Unless you have some reason to trust this Mayor, we can vote, No!

On Proposal #5, "Government Administration" gives the Mayor increased powers in many areas, allows him to dominate the Voter's Assistance Commission, appoint the coordinator of voter assistance and reduce reporting requirements.

He also wants to increase the enforcement powers of the Conflicts of Interest Board (incidentally, appointed by him).

We can vote, No!

November 4th is a Tuesday. It is great to have the day off. The Mayor has been very clear. He believes you now have too many holidays off.

We live in New York City and we can and must vote.

It is not a small thing to be able to vote.

THE STAFF ANALYST LIST. The SA list has expired as of 10/24/03 but a new exam is set for this Spring. The City has chosen to design a traditional competitive exam in addition to a required experience paper. Our union's experienced Executive Director, Sheila Gorsky, will be in charge of preparing our training course.

THE ASSOCIATE STAFF ANALYST LIST. The ASA list has been extended for another year (the third). Our over-all rate of promotions to permanent status from that list is now quite high. Unfortunately, there are specific problem agencies that are attempting to make a mockery of the civil service law. In those cases, the Civil Service Merit Council and our union will soon be in court seeking justice for our members.

PRIOR CONTRACTS. The resolution of the drug rider assistance problem (for an explanatory overview, click here) leaves only two remaining issues to be resolved from the prior contracts; the one percent equity monies (for non TA members) and the proper minimum salaries for our uniformed groups. The union is working on both problems.

REGARDING ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORTS. There may be some news in next month's mailing regarding organizational efforts. Our organizers always proceed quietly until an election seems within reach. Nonetheless, OSA is always organizing and has always been organizing since 38 members were first allowed union status in 1985.

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING. The next general membership meeting is to be held on Thursday, October 30, 2003 starting at 6:00 p.m. at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 709.

OTHER MATTERS. For those who would like to see a copy of the upcoming ballot propositions as they will appear on the voting machine, click here.

The Central Labor Council has produced a flyer with positions on two of the propositions, #3 and #6. We post it here as a courtesy to that fine organization.

Our labor film series continues November 14th with Business As Usual starring Glenda Jackson and December 12th with Brassed Off. For information about the films, which are screened at the union office, starting at 6:30pm, click here for a flyer.

On October 29th there will be a major demonstration by DC37 down at City Hall. A flyer for the demonstration can be dowloaded by clicking here.

Finally, we provide, with permission, a reprint from DC37's outstanding labor publication, the Public Employee Press about the soaring cost of drugs and its impact on the DC37 Welfare Fund.