OSA Newsline - April 27, 2015

A mailing has gone to the mailing house and should begin arriving in your mailboxes as soon as May 1st. That same mailing is also up on this website as the May OSA Newsletter. Click on the OSA Newsletter button to your left. The mailing gives details on our current negotiations.

In addition to the information in the mailing, there are two other items not available when the letter was being written. First, our research department went back through our files and located the case we lost many years ago on the four day work week. Members should be aware that the compressed work schedule, on a voluntary basis, was widespread during the Koch administration. As it was slowly eroded thereafter, OSA members sought help from their union. We grieved and took the case to the Office of Collective Bargaining, seeking to retain the schedule for those affected members. We lost the case because the rights to that schedule had never been a part of our contract.

Some members have asked our union to complete the contract and then seek the four day week thereafter. As we learned fifteen years ago, that does not work.

On the plus side, our leadership met with Henry Garrido, executive director of DC37 last week. Director Garrido expressed his satisfaction with the demands being sought by OSA. He was even kind enough to state that DC37’s current moves to bring Administrative level employees into their union was simply following the path blazed by OSA. We deeply appreciate those kind words and welcome the support of our giant ally in labor.

Our next negotiating session is set for this Wednesday.

OSA Newsline - April 20, 2015

We had one disappointment last week. We had hoped that the City would have computed the value of turning the signing bonus into recurring longevity, but they had not done so. They did promise to have the information for the next session.

Other than that, the session went well. It was a full, formal session. The entire OSA bargaining team was there, with more than twenty on our side of the table, and the City did as well by bringing in agency representatives, as well as their own team.

Two major moves occurred. First, the City addressed our demand for our noncompetitive civil servant members to be allowed to take competitive civil service exams on a promotional basis. The City suggested that the issue be taken “off-line” and addressed by those concerned: DCAS, the affected agencies and the union. This is a move in the right direction.

Second, the City ceased suggesting that our demand for equal longevity payments for Administrative Staff Analysts, regardless of level, be paid for out of the settlement package. Instead, they made reference to an Office of Collective Bargaining decision that they believe supports their case. They may be right or they may be wrong, but at least the City and the union are finally on the same page. That should speed things up.

Discussion of our demands for the four day week and voluntary furloughs went forward with further clarification of both sides’ positions, but that was the only progress on those two items.

We had somewhat more progress on the compressed work week in our discussion with City Comptroller Scott Stringer. He was very pleased with the idea and asked his staff to see what could be done.

OSA Newsline - April 13, 2015

Busy Week. On Monday, our full bargaining team meets with the city. We are expecting to secure an answer on the costing of converting the signing bonus to a more permanent recurring raise. We are also looking forward to the city’s response on a pilot project of the four day week. A mailing will go out detailing our progress after the meeting.

There are also meetings set this week with the comptroller and the Department of Health. Comptroller Scott Stringer issued a report last month. The report pointed out that New Yorkers worked a longer work week than other folks, due mostly to the difficulty of our daily commute. We are hoping, as a result, for a welcome to our idea of a four day work week for any workers where it is practical.

One other bit of news does not directly concern us, but it is happy news indeed. In an action not covered by the city wage increase pattern, a number of lower paid DC 37 members are due an extra increase in pay. About 4,500 lower paid employees in a variety of titles will be raised to a minimum of $11.50 per hour. Our congratulations to DC37, its leader Henry Garrido and our admiration to Mayor Bill de Blasio for doing the right thing.

OSA Newsline - April 6, 2015

The issue of our health care savings came up last week. Members will recall that the citywide agreement agreed upon an effort by management and labor to hold down health care costs.

The prior administration had loudly proclaimed the need for us to pay for our own basic health benefits. Many, many hours were spent offering us platinum plans, gold plans, silver plans and even bronze plans.

The tabloids, TV and the Citizens Budget Commission spent many hours seeking to divide us from non-civil servants. They did not ask why the private sector was not providing health coverage as an automatic reward for workers' efforts. Nor did they favor the Canadian nor the European systems paid for by all the taxpayers…and costing less per capita as a result.

What they did do, over and over, was to suggest that civil servants had it too good and we must pay. Now, at the same time, the leading advocate of our paying for our health benefits was a poor fellow named Bloomberg. He was financially rich, but he was apparently poor at his job.

His job was to hold down unnecessary health costs and he positively avoided doing so. During the time of Michael Bloomberg, New York City paid our privatized health insurers extra money so those companies could pay New York State taxes on premiums. The MLC Health Technical Subcommittee, year after year, urged Bloomberg to switch payment systems and avoid the extra millions being sent to Albany.

Michael could care less about those millions of wasted dollars. Those unnecessary taxes increased the cost of health care and helped make his case seeking to force us to pay for healthcare. If he had ever won his argument, we assume he would then have agreed to the changes in payment that would relieve the city of state tax payments for our health care, but he never did.

And then, there was the audit.

For a generation, no one had bothered checking if the city was improperly paying for coverage for ineligible dependents. Finally, as his time ran out, Mike finally got around to an audit, but he then included such cruel and insane provisions that it was halted by the state courts, repeatedly. Apparently, he preferred losing in court to listening to the representatives of his workforce.

Upon the arrival of Bill de Blasio, the MLC Health Technical Subcommittee showed how easy it would be to save the millions wasted by Michael Bloomberg. He took their advice, began to save the money, and credited the unions for their help.

Now, Mayor de Blasio is being attacked by all the old familiar faces-- The Post, The News and our all-time favorite, The (Rich) Citizens Budget Commission. Since Bill saved the money so easily, no credit should be given to the unions for helping him do so.

Some would suspect that this is just a back door attack on us. The fact is that since Fiorello La Guardia, the city has paid for the basic health care of its workers.

But no, analyst Maria Doulis of The Rich Citizens Budget Commission is concerned that credit to the unions is interfering with the funding of the libraries. Really? Since when does the (Rich) Citizens Budget Commission care about neighborhood libraries?

Our union is proud of the Municipal Labor Committee's Health Technical Subcommittee and we are delighted that they are helping the mayor save our city millions.

This newsline is all about collective bargaining. Our next meeting of the negotiating team is set for April 13 and the next meeting of the Health Technical Subcommittee will be on the 21st. In each case, OSA will be there.