OSA Newsline - April 30, 2012

The mayor has angrily vetoed living wage legislation passed by the City Council last week. He kvetched about it in a snarly fashion for fifteen minutes and promised he would go to court to stop it. He noted that the rule would now mandate at least $10 an hour for security guards in city-leased office buildings. That, according to him, would be a terrible thing.

The rich can get ever richer, but Bloomberg will preserve us from a security guard earning enough to live on. After all, workers don’t need a living wage. Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?

In one sense, the mayor’s comments reassure us. We thought Ebenezer Bloomberg only disliked us and all other civil servants. No, it turns out he despises all workers, public or private.

In response, we need to let him know how happy we are that he has dedicated his last term to a war on all workers.

This Tuesday, meet us at 14th Street and Broadway, anytime from 4pm on. Between 5:30 and 6pm, we will head south on Broadway, carrying our union flag. If you can’t make it to 14th Street, go to Broadway and watch the march until we show up and then join us.

We’ll be marching from 14th Street to the Bull and beyond and, along the way, we’ll pas City Hall and give the mayor a Bronx cheer.

P.S... City Comptroller John Liu had the following to say about the mayor's veto: "As a City employee, the mayor continues to ignore the widening wealth gap within the five boroughs. In opposing these bills, he is sending the wrong message, that our scarce taxpayer resources are better spent on lining the pockets of wealthy corporate executives rather than creating fair-paying jobs to support working families and the communities in which they live. Needless to say, my office looks foward to the Council overriding these vetoes, and to continuing to enforce Prevailing Wage Laws, which help promote equality and fairness in our City."

OSA Newsline - April 16, 2012

About twenty of our members came to the May Day rally last year. We weren’t sure we would attend at all this year.

The early plans looked like a non-starter. There was talk of our members taking the day off from work, but absent a vote to do so by our members, the union found such talk to verge on the irresponsible.

There was also a plan to march from place to place during the day and, this too, we found inappropriate for OSA’s membership.

Finally, however, the organizers’ plans became more practical, and now we do intend to take part as a union.

The folks from Occupy Wall Street have a full day of activity planned, but for labor, the activity starts at 4pm or whenever most members get off from work.

There will be a gathering at Union Square, starting at 4pm and a march down Broadway starting at 5:30pm. OSA will gather on the Southeast corner of Broadway and 14th Street or, if the crowd is huge, the Northeast corner of Broadway and 13th Street. Our flag will be there.

We will join the march about 5:45, as appropriate, and will march down Broadway past City Hall and Wall Street and will end south of the bull at Stone Street.

This is a perfect route for all those OSA members in Manhattan. We are not asking everyone to meet us at 14th Street. Instead, if you get out of work around 5pm, wander over to Broadway and join our contingent as we pass by, where you are waiting. We’ll be carrying both flag and banner, so we should be easy to spot.

Why should you march?

First of all, OSA members are now two to four years behind on cost-of-living raises and the mayor seems intent on faithfully serving the 1% and depriving you of any increases ever.

Second, Pension Tier V did not satisfy the Wall Street Journal, nor did Pension Tier VI.

And, third, your health benefits are definitely on the chopping block.

Finally, a union is only as strong as its members show it to be and your participation really is needed.

Please be ready to march on Tuesday, May 1. Start with us at 14th Street or join us as we march south on Broadway.

By the way, tomorrow is "tax day" when returns are due to be filed. Take a look at the graphic from the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees that you can download at this link. What in the world could we as a society do with the taxes we don't collect from General Electric? Well, take a look. Then, go to this website and tell your elected officials that it is time for GE to pay its fair share.

If there is no news between now and May 1, this tape may not be changed for two weeks.

OSA Newsline - April 9, 2012

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey recently doubled the tolls on all the bridges that had tolls, but apparently that was not enough. Now, the chair of the Port Authority has decided to remove health benefits from the realm of mandatory collective bargaining.

Okay. Port Authority employees are not New York City civil servants, but they are a career governmental workforce, so they are a lot like us.

The Municipal Labor Committee has, accordingly, sent a letter to Governor Cuomo asking him to veto the Port Authority move. It is amazing how consistently the powers that be are going after the little guy recently. Will it never end?

Perhaps, the future is hinted at by the experience of the retired employees of the Century Aluminum Corporation of West Virginia. That corporation unilaterally decided to terminate health coverage for their retirees as of June 2010. After months of litigation, some of the retirees, in December of 2011, began to occupy their former workplace.

As of February 29th, the corporation agreed to restore the health care benefits for retirees.

The whole story can be found at the following link: West Virginia Retirees Occupy and Win

The moral of the story is clear. Sometimes, you’ve got to fight.

OSA Newsline - April 2, 2012

Quite a few members came to last week’s membership meeting. The members heard Rob Murray describe the early days of the Occupy Wall Street movement and their plans for the future.

Rob is a full-time union organizer for SEIU (the Service Employees International Union) and last year was doing a similar job for the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY.

When, during the discussion that followed, some OSA members urged a more formal structure for OWS, Rob, for himself, quickly agreed.

On the other hand, Rob works for a union and union types do generally prefer a structured organization. OWS is energetic, but loosely structured.

On May 1st, they plan on joining a large number of unions. These unions are preparing a sort of “May Day Parade” that will start at 4pm and will eventually march past City Hall down to Wall Street. We will have more details about the May 1 march later on.

Over the past two weeks, many of our members talked to co-workers who were not in the pension system. Our members suggested, reasoned, cajoled, argued and even insisted that their co-workers join the pension system as Tier 4 members, before Tier 6 would come into effect on April 1st.

As a result of our efforts and of the efforts of other unions and, even, in some cases, of management, thousands of our co-workers have now joined in time. Good work all.