News From OSA - October, 2016

ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL an observation coined by Byron Price, the Associated Press Washington Bureau Chief in 1932. We are concerned with the national election but, first, there are local issues of importance.

NEGOTIATIONS... Our New York City Health + Hospitals negotiators are seeking the regular unit contract, plus two items unique to the newly-organized titles at H+H. We believe their 3% raise should have been paid in September and that “grandfather” status is due them based on time and leave rules. Our request on the time and leave issues reflects our prior experience in organizing new members.

The City continues to be uncooperative in negotiations and the issue may result in “impasse.” Those involved are members in the titles of Senior Consultant MIS, Clinical Business Analyst, and others.

Our non-economic negotiations with the New York City Housing Authority did seem near to concluding, but now a new NYCHA Labor Relations director has been appointed. We will see if this slows matters down.

EXAMS AND LISTS... Much of the union’s time has been spent on phone calls and meetings related to the recent Analyst exams. Many calls are from members seeking guidance or advice. Those calls are easily handled.

However, there are two problem areas:

As members are aware, a reopener was offered by DCAS for the promotional and open competitive Administrative Staff Analyst exams. The reopener was offered to some, but not all, candidates after the exams were given, graded and the results known. This was improper and can affect candidates (very seriously) who were not offered the chance to retroactively “cross file.”

Suppose, for example, you are on the promotional list for your agency and are “passed over” (considered, but not selected). If you were denied the opportunity (by your agency) to “cross file” retroactively, your name will not appear on the open competitive list.

In effect, your agency can refuse you promotion and also deny you the opportunity to advance in any other agency. That does not seem either fair or legal.

The obvious remedy is for DCAS to reopen filing to any and all candidates who were excluded from the prior retroactive reopeners. Both OSA and CWA have urging DCAS to take this step for weeks now.

We have also asked DCAS to offer a similar reopener for our Associate Staff Analyst candidates.

The second area of difficulty is that many agencies were unclear about the increase in salary due to our members as they moved up. The union became aware of this problem two months ago. At that time, we had agencies telling our members, in some cases, they could be promoted, but the member’s pay would drop as a result.

In response, the union sent out a letter to all of the candidates that contained pages from our contract. You can download the letter at this link. This information did help in many cases, but confusion still pops up in some agencies. It will all be straightened out in time.

Please call if there is a problem at your agency. Also, do not, repeat, do not, decline promotion or appointment without checking with the union.

ACRS... For those of our members who did not pass either the recent Administrative or Associate Staff Analyst exams, a further opportunity may be available.

In November, DCAS will issue the Notice of Examination (NOE) for Administrative Community Relations Specialist (ACRS). Our weekly newsline will remind you as soon as the NOE is issued.

The ACRS exam will be an Education and Experience exam. You will be graded on your E&E and a list will be prepared. OSA will be able to advise you on the process. On November 2, 2016, please go to the DCAS website (as you did for prior exams) and read and print out the NOE.

At least some, and possibly many, of our members will have the proper background for this exam. We will know better once the NOE is issued.

There are other issues related to exams, but they can wait until our upcoming membership meeting.

HOLIDAY PARTY... Enclosed is a flyer for the union’s 2016 holiday party at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn on Thursday, December 15th. The party is a lot of fun. 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. You can download a flyer to order tickets at this link. and directions to Grand Prospect Hall at this link.

GENERAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING. November is the month for our next general membership meeting. On the agenda will be nominations for the OSA and OSART Executive Boards, as well as the normal reports of new and old business. Food will be available as early as 5:30pm. The meeting will be held, as usual, in the union office. There will also be a discussion of this article from the Civil Service newspaper The Chief. The fact that DC37 will have to raise its dues a lot is not that significant to us. Far more important, is their request for a three month contract extension in return for a $200 annual increase in income for their benefit plan. A flyer can be downloaded at this link to remind yourself of the date, time and location.

NOVEMBER... is also the month for voting on the leadership of our country for the next four years. The OSA Executive Board voted unanimously to support one of the two candidates for president. They gave permission for Chair Bob Croghan to make the case for our choice:

"Many, but not all of us, would have preferred Bernie Sanders. He was quirky, way out in left field, but absolutely correct that globalization has benefitted the rich unfairly and done damage to many of us. The problem is not free trade (generally a good idea leading to a richer world and lower prices), but how our nation has handled it.

Had the profits of globalization been fairly shared, laid-off workers in the “rust belt” could at least look forward to free college education being offered to them and/or their children bright enough to benefit from it.

We had our own experience with globalization early on. In the 1950's through the 1970's, New York City lost manufacturing jobs to the South. Those same jobs later went to Mexico and Asia after a brief stay in the South.

Our leaders (the mayors) did not handle the shrinking tax base well and, by 1975, we were near bankruptcy. The banks, in effect, seized power and dictated terms to the City for avoiding full bankruptcy. One change upon which the banks insisted was charging our children to go to City College. It is now 40 years later and our city has been prosperous for at least a quarter of a century. Even so, we are still forced to pay tuition and take out loans to send even our brightest children to the City University.

As New York City went, so went the nation. New York lost a few square miles of perfectly adequate housing in the Bronx and parts of Brooklyn. Our nation, later, saw entire cities and regions abandoned.

Yet, our nation was getting richer and richer. The failure to respond to national problems was less forgivable than the failure of New York. As a nation, we could easily have done better.

This is not a new problem. As far back as the ancient Greek city-states studied by Will and Ariel Durant (the authors of the 11-volume history of the West, The Story of Civilization), it was clear that wealth tended to concentrate in ever fewer hands. The inevitable result was a redistribution of wealth either through taxation or through rebellion.

The extreme popularity of candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump is a repudiation of our political elites.

Once before, our democracy was equally challenged. At that time, we were fortunate. Neither Huey Long nor Father Coughlin was elected to lead us. Instead, we got Franklin Roosevelt.

He “saved” the wealthy from revolution (fascist or communist) by limiting the wealthy’s wrong doing (regulation), insuring social welfare (Social Security/Unemployment Insurance/ Home Relief and, especially, the right of workers to organize into unions) and by convincing the average American that the president was on their side.

Germany, Italy and Japan were not as fortunate.

Hillary Clinton is a middle-of-the-road Democrat. We have to hope she will move a bit in the direction of helping the ordinary American. She is knowledgeable, capable, and skilled, and she must respond to the forces unleashed by an unfair, overly complex tax code. The average American thinks he or she is getting a bad deal. The average American is correct.

Donald Trump has appealed to racists and those who hate the strange or different. He throws insults so casually and lies so frequently we cannot say for what he stands, save that he is always in favor of himself.

He makes fun of fat people, yet he is hefty himself. He likes Vladimir Putin, a man who is our enemy.

His treatment of women is often appalling. He wants South Korea and Japan to obtain nuclear weapons.

He is clear that NATO allies can count on him if he feels like it, or not, as the case may be.

He favors tax policies that will further increase the wealth of the wealthiest, and expand the national deficit vastly. He will then renegotiate our debt, triggering a loss of faith in our dollar, an increase to the cost of borrowing and probable national fiscal collapse.

He has “always been right” on foreign policy. (Please ignore his earlier statements. He did not say them. Ask Hannity.)

He signs contracts with workers and vendors, refuses to pay, meets them in court and then settles for pennies on the dollar.

He brags he does bankruptcy “very well.” I believe him on this. He does very well for himself. For others, he creates loss and tragedy.

If we elect him, he will divide our country as it has not been divided since the Civil War. He will get a chance to see how well he does on national bankruptcy, and if he is upset, he can always start a nuclear war.

In comparison, Sarah Palin was a far more attractive candidate. She might have listened to wiser heads. He is sure no one is ever wiser than him.

I could go on, but instead I will close here. Always before, I have closed these letters with “vote for whomever you want, but do vote.” On this occasion, I speak for our union's executive board and strongly urge you to vote for Hillary Clinton."