News From OSA - September, 2004

It only seems like a plot between the City and DC 37 to always settle their difference just before the Summer. It is not reasonable to believe that the City and DC 37 are doing this just so that OSA gets stuck trying to negotiate a series of contracts all at once while everyone else is going on vacation. It keeps on working out that way, but we assume it's an accident. Still...

Contracts. As most of you are aware, OSA represents its members for collective bargaining purposes, but many are not aware that our union negotiates a number of separate contracts. Our main contract affects nearly four thousand members but of equal importance are our Transit Authority contract, our NYCHA contract, our "uniformed" members contracts etc.

We will probably conclude the NYCHA contract soon since that tends to follow the City contract closely, but we have only begun the bargaining process for our Transit Authority members. The issues relating to the School Safety and Traffic Enforcement members are such that we are deliberately awaiting developments for this last grouping.

OSA does not take the lead in collective bargaining. This is understandable, because the City would not make a reasonable offer to a small local. In fact, the City often does not make a reasonable offer to a large local or even to a larger composite of locals.

It took nearly two years of collective bargaining for the City to finally decide to offer DC 37 the settlement that was considered acceptable. Police, Fire, Corrections and Teachers unions do not consider the DC 37 settlement adequate and are potentially strong enough to do better.

Most of the other non-uniformed, non-pedagogical unions are less than pleased with the current terms offered to DC 37. Still, most believe that the "pattern" set by the agreement will be all that will be available to them absent special circumstances.

Therefore, is it easy for OSA to negotiate a settlement within the pattern? Not entirely. On the largest OSA contract, there were a number of issues that held up agreement. OSA members have 13 more vacation days that DC 37 members over the course of their careers. We needed details clarified on promotional guarantees for the upcoming exams and a number of other points. It got done, but it took time.

Our Transit Authority contract will also be somewhat of a challenge. We do know, already, a number of issues unique to our members at the Transit Authority, that we will be seeking to clarify in our members favor. We have not heard yet from where the Transit Authority is coming for this round of bargaining.

We have put forth our demand to begin bargaining and we are awaiting the Authority reply.

The Exam. Over a thousand of our members took one or more of the recent Analyst exams. The exams were tough and a surprise to those candidates who had heard of the (somewhat atypical) earlier education and experience exams. Actually, most Analyst exams since 1975 have been very challenging and all of the Associate level exams have been downright difficult. Personnel's decision to return to multiple choice exams was, as they have stated, due to other agencies expressing dissatisfaction with the lists generated by the "E & E" type exams.

The letters OSA received from those of our members who took our training course were generally friendly and spoke well of the training, but the one repeated suggestion was for OSA/OSART to provide extra training in math for the next Staff Analyst course. We will do so.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services has promised to get the list out as soon as possible. The main delay now is, of course, the test validation board. On the one hand, we would all like to see the results and, especially, to what extent extra points may be added to the generally low scores. On the other hand, the test validation board can and should do a thorough job to insure that each question was fair and each proposed answer valid. Wherever there are two answers that are valid for one question, some candidates' scores will rise.

Organizing. Our chief organizer, Joe Sperling, has recently been in the hospital, but we do expect him to be back at work by the Fall. Meanwhile, his volunteer cadre of dedicated union organizers are out there in his name and OSA's.

OSA was formed by employees denied the right to, and benefits of, collective bargaining in 1970. It took us fifteen years to win those rights for our first group of thirty-eight unionized Analysts. It took so long to win the first victory that we developed the very good habit of organizing others who wished to be represented. We are now more that one hundred times the size we were at the time of our fist victory.

As of today, OSA is seeking to represent Senior Management Consultants in the Health and Hospitals Corporation. We are also in a campaign to provide collective bargaining rights and protections for Enrollment Sales Representatives at HHC as well.

A short time ago OSA opened its Welfare Fund to provide coverage for a new group that had organized themselves the Uniformed Sanitation Chiefs and we have been asked and will do so on behalf of the Emergency Medical Service Chiefs as well.

There are other campaigns temporarily on hold, or in process of being arranged, at the Transit Authority and MABSTOA, in another half-dozen minor areas of employment. There is also one last big one with the City itself, the Administrative Staff Analyst title.

OSA is the first union to successfully win the right to represent hundreds of city employees in the Administrative Staff Analyst title (Level MI) and we are now seeking to represent Analysts working at pay grade Levels II and III.

The Admin Analysts are a dramatically underpaid group of skilled employees who have been denied paid overtime, grievance rights and job security.

OSA, in the brief time since winning the MI level, added from the start $500 to all the incumbents with 15 years seniority. We subsequently added $281 for those with 10 years, $281 more for those with 15 years and $998 more for anyone with over 20 years experience. ($500 + $281 + $281 + $998 = $2060 extra for a 20 year veteran. Not great, but not bad either.)

OSA has also won a number of out-of-title grievances for our members, moving our unionized pay grade level MI's to not-yet-unionized level MII's. More interesting yet, OSA has detected a major increase in management promoting Associate Staff Analysts, provisionally, directly to the Admin Levels MII and MIII. We are, in effect raising the pay rates of the level above Associate.

It is however, far more important that, after a hiatus of very many years, OSA has been able to persuade Personnel to give an exam for Administrative Staff Analyst. Permanent status only comes from exams.

No one likes to take exams. Analyst exams are often hard exams. Still, it is far worse to serve provisionally in a time of lay-offs. New York City is currently predicting a fiscal crisis for itself, not next year, but perhaps by the year after and certainly by 2007.

In the recent tragic series of lay-offs at NYCHA, one of our titles that was hit heavily was the title of Administrative Staff Analyst. Our members with permanent status were safe. Those serving provisionally were not.

The Administrative Staff Analyst exam is set to open filing as of March, 2005. We will be asking Personnel to let us know the areas to be covered. A training course will be set up for all OSA and OSART members, as always.

The Organization of Staff Analysts was established by a small group of employees of the Department of Personnel in 1970. Our goals, set at that time, were to assist one another, to obtain collective bargaining rights and secure permanent status for all our members. Thirty-four years later, our goals remain unchanged.

The Vote. For those interested in details, the main contract vote was 173 against and 930 in favor of accepting. The "yes" votes often included comments expressing regret over the settlement. A few ballots were, as usual, not counted because the identifying number on the envelope was crossed out. The numbers are put on by the mailing house and used to avoid duplicate votes being submitted. At the public counting, envelopes are slit open and the still-folded ballot is put into a ballot box. Only when all the envelopes are separated from the ballots does the counting begin with the unfolding of the ballots.

Most comments added to the ballots were pretty reasonable, but there was one comment that all the ballot counters found marvelous. The voter stated definitively that this union could easily have obtained exactly this settlement three years earlier. As three years earlier was July of 2001, the 2000-20002 contract had, at that point, neither been negotiated nor expired, and the Mayor's first name was Rudy. The voter's clear faith in our union leadership's ability to work negotiating miracles was inspiring. Unjustified, perhaps, but still inspiring.

Another Contract. The School Safety and Traffic Enforcement contract for 2000-2002 is still not final. As this is being written we are awaiting final language from the City. The agreement will go out to vote as soon as we have a document on which to vote.

OSA Contract. Did you notice the contract enclosed in the summer mailing is, of course, the "old" contract. We won't get a signed final version of the "new" contract until September or later yet. Why are we sending out the "old" one? Because the old contract stays in force unless changed, and the new contract changes only affect the monetary provisions. The rest of the contract is the same.

Welfare Fund Audit. The accountant's audit of our Welfare Fund was late this year and was not available for inclusion in the summer mailing. It should be available by the September General Membership meeting.

OSA General Membership Meeting. The next general membership meeting is to be held on Thursday, September 30, 2004 at the OSA office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 709, Manhattan, starting at 6pm.

Bits and Pieces. Click on the link to download each article or item as a PDF file.
Three mortgage company flyers offering discounts on home mortgages.
Rules to Expose Long-Term Cost of Health Plans
Chief Article on the 1 in 3 Rule, City Council Hearing
1 in 3 Resolution, AFL-CIO
As Doctors Write Prescriptions, Drug Company Writes Check
A Day in the Life of a Middle Class Joe
Encouraging Job Flight & Benefit Reductions
Union Advantage by Numbers