News From OSA - October, 2010

Negotiations. Our main contract expired in late August. At that time, we were supposed to receive the tiny increase in longevity payments generated by a .001 (1/10 of one percent) equity award. We did not get the money because the City had not completed calculations. Recently, we were shown some numbers, but it turned out the City made an error, so we are still waiting.

At the Transit Authority, matters are notably worse. Our TA members did not get the ’08-’10 raises at all, yet. The contract was finally negotiated by the summer of 2010, and approved nearly unanimously a week later. Months later, the MTA board has not yet taken the matter up and thus no approval has been given and no monies paid.

In both cases, the City’s tiny longevity increase and the TA’s raises for the last two years, we do expect to get the money, with retroactive payments as well, but the delays are distressing.

No, Seriously. There are no serious negotiations going on regarding the “2010 to whenever” period. Mayor Bloomberg is offering the United Federation of Teachers less than we received. The UFT contracts are two years behind OSA’s contracts in terms of pattern bargaining. Thus, since DC37, CWA, 237 Teamsters and OSA received 4% and 4% raises, the UFT was due the same 4% and 4%. The Mayor has chosen to offer the UFT 0% and 0% (or less if you count givebacks).

The negotiations with DC37 for the next period have not progressed since inception six months ago, and yet negotiations of a sort have been going on anyway. The Mayor is negotiating in the newspapers and informing all who will listen that we (civil servants) are too expensive, our health benefits are too generous, and our pensions unsustainable entirely.

Recently, Mort Zuckerman, publisher of the New York Daily News, editorialized for two pages in a national magazine about “class warfare.” His take on the issue found no fault with the rich getting richer, but did set forth two new warring classes: the private sector work force and the public sector work force.

The Organization of Staff Analysts’ leadership are friends of (and not at war with), workers in the private sector. We want them to pay less taxes, not more. Any shortfall, in taxes to pay for the government, should be made up from increased taxes on the very, very rich.

We are, basically, fiscally conservative and we do wish to reduce the national deficit. We are also strongly in favor of democracy and believe it to be weakened when a tiny group of families become incomprehensibly richer than all the rest of us put together. The proper remedy to the fiscal problems created by the recession is to restore the progressive income tax to the level it was at years ago. All the workers in this City and this country are already paying too much to support the government and the very, very rich are paying too little. (See the New Yorker article "Soak the Very, Very Rich" and Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's "‘Saving’ Social Security From Its Previous Rescue" at this link.)

Qualifying Analysts. All of the recent open competitive Analyst exams required candidates to file E&E (education and experience) papers, along with the application to take the exam. Our union’s education division offered help on filling out E&E papers last December. Most of those who received OSA advice were found qualified by DCAS. Those who were found “NQ” (not qualified) were sent letters by DCAS in late September and had two weeks to appeal.

OSA again provided assistance, in the evenings and on the weekend, for any candidate who was sent a notice of disqualification. The candidates who arrived seeking help were often obviously qualified, and had said so on the paper. In those cases, a simple appeal was sent in and, we assume, as soon as the original paper is reviewed, the candidates will be marked as qualified.

Some candidates were qualified, but had not stated so clearly. It is an innocent and common error for a candidate to fill out an E&E paper by telling the story of his or her life. Such papers are generally interesting, but because they do not focus on the specific requirements of the Notice of Exam, they frequently lead to initial disqualification.

A properly worded appeal, noting that the candidate in the original paper did state that he or she had the experience required, although, perhaps not in the exact words of the NOE, can often result in a finding of qualification by the Committee on Manifest Error. The actual facts are more important than the original presentation.

In a few cases, the candidate did not have the actual years of experience or education needed, and there was nothing we could do to help. Meanwhile, in most cases that were seen, it made excellent sense to appeal the original disqualification and we expect success on these appeals. Our experience in prior years has taught us that, given the volume of papers received, errors can often occur at the first level of review, far less so at the second level (the Committee on Manifest Error) and only occasionally at the final level (The Civil Service Commission).

On a personal note, the brother of the OSA Chairperson was once disqualified for the exam for Assistant Transit Management Analyst due to no prior work history in the field of transportation. The candidate’s appeal noted that his original E&E paper listed thirty years of salaried employment at Greyhound, followed by another ten years at the NYC Transit Authority. The appeal resulted in his being found qualified. No errors quite that extreme showed up this year.

Election Day. Members of the Organization of Staff Analysts and their families may not be rich, but (according to demographers) they are likely to vote.

The Organization of Staff Analysts has not spent members’ money on political endeavors over the years (except, of course, for voluntary PAC contributions), but we do often share our opinions with our members. If you recall, we took exception to Assemblyman Jonathan (lay off the older teachers first; they cost more ) Bing. The Mayor, however, may not like our saying anything to our members about him or his friends. He seems to have slipped a gag order into Question #2 on amending the City Charter.

Question #2 on the ballot on election day includes seven complex issues. It is arrogant and offensive for Mayor Bloomberg’s appointees on the Charter Revision Commission to offer seven different questions to be answered with a single yes or no. Some civil service unions are arguing that the public disclosure provision is aimed at mailings like this one. They believe, for example, that OSA would have to notify the Campaign Finance Board that we sent out a letter to our members expressing a negative opinion about either Question #2 on the ballot or about the Mayor himself.

Another provision increases fines on civil servants for conflict of interest law violations. It is not as if the conflict of interest law was being evenly administered presently. Other provisions reduce the number of the petition signatures needed by candidates for elective office, mandate the merger of different agencies, create a commission empowered to waive requirements for advisory bodies and/or reports and, finally, add various facilities to the City’s facility siting map.

Is all that clear? Are you clear on the benefits of Question 2?

Actually, it is not clear at all and, if Analysts can’t figure out what Question #2 is about, it is a really good idea to go to the trouble of voting NO on Question #2.

We are also against Question #1 on the ballot. This question is not complex; it simply adjusts term limits from three terms (maximum) to two terms, and forbids the City Council from altering the limit. We favor a NO vote on Question #1, because we do not favor term limits except, perhaps, for the Mayor. As we have all learned, this Mayor favors term limits for everyone except, perhaps, this Mayor.

Election Year. The Organization of Staff Analysts (the union) and OSART (Related Titles), both have biannual elections held at the close of even numbered years. Our November general membership meeting will be held on Thursday, November 18th at 6 PM at the union office and nominations for the next two years will be accepted at the start of the meeting. You can find a flyer for posting at your work location or to remind you of the date and time at this link.

Anniversary Year. Joan Doheny has been busy tracking down former OSA chairpersons for the 40th anniversary party. She has done well, but we are still missing Guy Palumbo. In addition, we are trying to locate Morris I. Naham, who worked for the Department of Personnel for many years and was active in efforts from the mid 1950's to the early 1970's to get some form of organizational representation for Personnel Examiners. If you are able to help Joan with information about our missing chairperson or brother Naham, call Katie Guarino at the union office and she will pass the information on to Joan.

If you were active in the early days of OSA or one of its predecessor organizations (COPE, the Assn. of Methods Analysts, etc.) and have any photos or documents you can share with us, we’d be grateful. Time is of the essence in order to take advantage of anything you may be able to share. Contact Rob Spencer at the union office.

Also, please make your reservation soon for the Thursday, December 9th party. We are hoping for an unusually nice event. Members can find a coupon to order tickets for the Fortieth Anniversary Party by clicking here. As now envisioned there will be a cocktail hour preceding dinner, followed by speakers and award presentations, followed by coffee and dessert and concluding with live band and dancing. You can also reserve advertising space in our event journal by downloading this form.

Financial Reports. Financial reports for FY 2009 for the union and the welfare fund can be viewed by clicking on this link.