OSA Newsline - April 28 2008

The results of the layoffs at the New York City Housing Authority are now complete. Initially, OSA was notified of a small number of layoffs but, of course, even a few are too many.

As matters played out, most of our members who were affected held other Housing Authority titles, but two did not.

One member was laid off, but she indicated that she had been planning to return to school soon anyway.

The final member who was affected by the layoffs was put on a special list and has just now been picked up by the Transit Authority.

We are still awaiting State government action to avoid layoffs from a second agency. Our members at the Off-Track Betting Corporation are in danger of agency closure, unless the government can revise its rules to enable the agency to be self-sustaining. We have to expect action by the State legislature to resolve this problem. If not, bookmaking will again return to the hands of organized crime and that would be incredible.

Municipal Labor Committee negotiations continue in response to Mayor Bloomberg’s request for health benefit savings of $200 million. The Health Technical Subcommittee of the MLC has put together a list of actions that could save money for the City, while causing no harm to our members. For example, a minimum premium arrangement with Blue Cross could save about $25 million in reduced State taxes paid by that now-privatized carrier. In return, the City’s costs would go down that much.

A long list of other items is being proposed related to savings but, in return, the MLC is asking for a share of the savings being proposed. We do have a list of health benefit improvements we believe should be made if enough money is found.

Finally, Richard Beck of HRA’s Office of Fiscal Operations informs the union that his department is looking to fill two Staff Analyst Level 2 job vacancies. The postings for the two jobs can be downloaded by clicking here. You must be permanent in the title of Staff Analyst to qualify. If you need more information about the positions, you can call Richard at 212-331-3837. The closing date for the postings is May 9, 2008.

OSA Newsline - April 21 2008

There were two negotiating sessions last week. The first was a health benefit negotiation between the City and the Municipal Labor Committee. Mayor Bloomberg is seeking a $200 million cut in the cost of providing health benefits for City workers and retirees.

City Labor Relations commissioner Jim Hanley offered a list of generally unappetizing choices, including initiating a charge for HIP doctor office visits.

In response, MLC chairperson Randi Weingarten noted that there were other, less detrimental, savings that could be achieved, citing the uncompleted RFP process and other areas of potential savings.

Both sides agreed to meet again this week and, in the meantime, the Health Technical Subcommittee will prepare proposals and suggestions for savings.

Our second negotiation was with the Transit Authority. Our negotiating team was pleased that the Authority accepted a number of our demands and made a serious offer financially as well. This is only the second session, but it appears to be going well.

The City has already accepted our demand for an increase in the meal allowance and has agreed to the Transit Check improvements, as well. More as it develops.

OSA Newsline -April 14, 2008

Hand scanners are becoming more common these days. Over a hundred years ago, time clocks were common in City offices and no one has yet explained any need for any change.

Even so, New York City continues to spend money to replace both time clocks and computerized timekeeping with hand scanners.

At a recent meeting at ACS, it was mentioned that, for procedural reasons, Associate Staff Analysts at that agency were exempt by title. That was a mistake, it was true a few years back but at present it is no longer true.

Meanwhile, members earning over $68,490 per year are exempt from the hand scanners.

Negotiations were begun at the Transit Authority last week. The negotiating team presented our list of demands.

The Transit Authority work rules are somewhat different from the other City agencies. This is reflected in the bargaining demands. For example, since some of our Transit members regularly visit train yards and car barns, the demand for a $100 annual shoe/boot allowance makes sense in a safety context.

Also, since TA analysts have never been restricted by the residency rules affecting most analysts, the proposed expansion of the Transit Chek program is of more interest to those workers than before.

Previously, the Transit Chek program was a case of “ice in winter” for many of our TA members. They already had a free pass for the subways. The expansion of the Transit Chek program to suburban bus and rail lines makes the offer of more interest.

There were a total of 21demands presented and, as always, the first session consisted of the union explaining the demands to management.

Management will now consult with their supervisors and will get back to us in about two weeks.

Although there was no in-depth discussion of money at this stage, both sides are aware of the existing pattern set by OSA in the recent City contract. More news as it develops.

OSA Newsline -April 7, 2008

We are still awaiting publication of the Associate Staff Analyst list, but the Staff Analyst Trainee list is in agency hands and appointments are starting to be made.

The Staff Analyst list is also active and hiring is occurring.

Meanwhile, Sheila Gorsky, Executive Director of OSA, met with the leaders of the personnel branch of DCAS last week. The topic was the length of probation of Staff Analyst Trainees. There is no history of Staff Analyst Trainee permanent appointments.

One piece of good news that came out of the meeting concerned our members who are currently serving as provisional Staff Analyst Trainees. Current provisional SAT’s who are appointed from the SAT list will have up to nine months of service credited toward the three years of probation normally required for SAT's (24 months of probation as an SAT and then 12 months probation as a Staff Analyst). Instead of a two year probationary period as an SAT, the probationary period as a Trainee will be shortened by each month of prior service as a provisional SAT up to a maximum of nine months, reducing the total probationary period to a maximum of 27 months (15 months of probation as an SAT and then 12 months probation as a Staff Analyst). This abbreviation of the Trainee period of service will have a very positive financial impact on those candidates who qualify.

There is a scheduled meeting with the Transit Authority regarding negotiations. More news as we learn it.

Finally, this coming Sunday, April 13th, OSA has endorsed a community health forum for those who may be suffering ongoing ill effects from the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. The forum, which will be held at Borough of Manhattan Community College starting at 2pm, will provide an opportunity to learn about WTC illnesses and available treatment at the World Trade Center Environmental Health Center, which includes clinics at Bellevue, Gouverneur and Elmhurst Hospitals. The Center is the city's sole treatment provider for non-first responders, including office workers who either were present on 9/11 or who returned to worksites in the downtown area in the weeks immediately following 9/11.

The College is located at 199 Chambers Street between West and Greenwich Streets. For more information, you can download a flyer here. Please share it with any of your co-workers who you think may be interested in attending.