OSA Newsline - April 30, 2007

A single retirement sparked a series of changes in the OSA and OSART executive boards last week. At the April meeting of the OSA executive board, grievance officer Marzie Eisenberg retired from the executive board of OSA.

Marzie was replaced by Kim Vann, formerly the grievance officer of OSART. Kim is the chairperson of our Police Department chapter and had served as a member of the OSART board for a number of years.

The OSART grievance position will now be filled by Sandra Thompson of the Department of Design and Construction, and the vacancy created by Sandra moving up from Delegate-at-Large will be filled by Alice Moise, chairperson of the Department of Homeless Services chapter.

Our deep thanks to Marzie Eisenberg for her years of service to OSA and good luck and many thanks, also, to those members of the board who are taking on new responsibilities. More details in the mail.

On the negotiations front, of course, there are no negotiations, since we have filed an Improper Practice against the City for bad faith negotiations on the one percent piece of earlier years. News from that front is predictable. The City has requested more time to compose their response. Delay, of course, is their tactic. We wait for overdue raises and they delay. The City has a $4.4 billion surplus (according to The New York Times) and, yet, they still delay the process and our raises.

At the Health and Hospitals Corporation, our newly organized workers are being told that they can not use vacation or sick leave accumulated before August of 2006.

Nonsense. If the HHC chooses to differentiate between leave accumulated as a rule 11 employee versus leave accumulated as a rule 12 employee, they are being a bit silly, but we don’t care. On the other hand, all such leave is, and must be, available for usage by the employee who earned that leave. Any member being told that their leave is being denied because their time was earned before August and is, therefore, not available, please call our grievance office immediately.

OSA Newsline - April 23, 2007

The Personnel Division of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services will be sending out admission cards this week for the scheduled Associate Staff Analyst exam. The exam is set for May 5th. Meanwhile, the union has learned that there will be only two sites for this exam, both of them in Manhattan: Washington Irving High School at 40 Irving Place (between 16 and 17 Streets, a block east of Union Square) and the Bayard Rustin Educational Complex at 351 West 18 Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. Candidates who live in the other boroughs will be taking the exam at these schools as well, so remember to leave enough travel time.

Other news this week is the startup of a new agency. A branch of the Finance Department is being combined with an existing commission to create our newest agency. The agency will be handling real estate tax appeals but, it turns out, will continue, in place, all existing staff in their current roles.

Normally, whenever the City makes a change, the union reps are on high alert because bureaucratic foul-ups frequently occur and impact upon our members. In this case, the changes are mostly a formality and we do not anticipate problems. On the other hand, we will see.

OSA Newsline - April 16, 2007

The Associate Staff Analyst exam preparation course was completed last week and the exam is three weeks hence.

Meanwhile, at the last minute, the Police Department has hired a number of Staff Analysts, which is good. If you were recently appointed Staff Analyst, please call Sheila Gorsky at the union office. Sheila is working with the personnel representatives at PD to try and get applications in before the deadline for the ASA exam.

And now, of course, the union presents the Staff Analyst Trainee exam preparation course, starting this week.

On a different topic, our representative to the Health Technical Subcommittee of the Municipal Labor Committee reports that the Blue Cross portion of our health benefit coverage was renewed with only a 4% increase in cost. Since we had all feared greater increases after privatization, this year’s moderate rate increase is unexpected and welcome. The City pays the entire premium, but if the costs had soared, we did expect the Mayor to arrive at the bargaining table looking for us to contribute.. Given the moderate increase, he has less excuse to cry poverty.

OSA Newsline - April 9, 2007

We had a big victory in Grievances last week. One of our members was improperly fired in April of 2003. Well, it was our belief the firing was wrong. The City took a different position. The battle went on from Step I to Step II to Step III and, finally, an arbitration was held. Corey Berlow handled the original case, until he left to return to graduate school. Richie Guarino then picked it up and carried the case forward. At the last stage, Ken Berman did an excellent job of arguing the case. The City contested our right to arbitrate the case, but we got past that objection and the arbitrator heard the case.

The decision is marvelous. Our member is restored to the job just in time to file for the Associate Staff Analyst exam. In addition, any salary and benefits lost during the past four years are to be restored, seniority credit recognized, lost leave days reinstated, and credit given for annual leave that would have been earned during the four years between termination and reinstatement.

The term “due process” sounds both technical and uninteresting – until it applies to you. In this case, an improper firing was corrected after four years, thanks to our right to due process and a very dedicated team of grievance reps.

Our negotiations, organizing and benefits sections all get a lot of mention on this newsline, but we don’t usually announce the day-to-day good work done by the OSA grievance section. On occasion, however, a victory is so spectacular as to mandate a mention on the newsline. This victory is clearly one of those moments.

OSA Newsline - April 2, 2007

We were worried about a quorum at last week’s membership meeting. Not only are training classes going on, but we had to move from the normal site to 125 Worth Street. It turned out well, with surprisingly good attendance – and the room itself has excellent acoustics.

The main topics were the negotiations and arbitrations going on at present. As most members are aware, OSA was told by the City on February 27th that we could have the 2% and 5% raises only if we gave up the 1% from 2004.

We subsequently filed papers asserting our belief that the City is bargaining in bad faith. This improper practice case could now take from a few to as long as nine months to resolve, but the bargaining team could see no alternative.

At least one member disagreed at the meeting and suggested that, since victory is not certain, the meeting should be polled to see if it might make sense to give up on the one percent, in order to avoid further delay on our other raises.

The question was duly asked of the group, and only one member attending favored giving up on the one percent. Other members pointed out that the other raises would be retroactive as usual, and for OSA not to fight would embolden the City to act even worse the next time.

It should be noted that, for reasons connected to Carl Haynes’ retirement, Local 237 of the Teamsters did, in fact, give up the one percent last week. President Haynes had also planned to fight for the 1% originally, but finally decided to close out all open business before his retirement.

Gregory Floyd, the new president of Local 237 Teamsters, is a good friend of OSA and, while we will miss Carl, we also look forward to working alongside Greg.