OSA Newsline - December 23, 2002

Our holiday party was well attended, we are awaiting a response from the City on our proposal to avert layoffs, Councilmember Jennings is pushing for the amendment of the "1 in 3 rule" and otherwise matters slow down for the holidays.

This is the last newsline for the year 2002. Happy holidays and visit the page again in 2003.
OSA Newsline - December 16, 2002

The Municipal Labor Committee sent a letter of support for the Transport Workers to Mayor Bloomberg last week. The MTA is acting badly, rushing off to court against the workers instead of negotiating as seriously as the situation warrants. We are on the side of the workers no matter what happens. If anyone doubts that, they are wrong.

On Monday, the Transport Workers are having a rally at 5pm at City Hall Park. OSA will be there. All the City unions will be there and if you can possibly make it, you too should be there.

One bit of good news came in last week. Our New York City Housing Authority chapter leadership brought to the union a problem a few months ago. Tony Lee, chapter chairperson, and Sherman Gould, member of the executive board, became convinced that the Authority had slightly miscalculated raises in prior years. Our grievance section investigated and it turned out the Authority had made an honest error, but an error nonetheless. Richie Guarino was happy to report that our senior members at the NYC Housing Authority who are receiving longevity will see an increase in their paychecks as early as December 26th and a retroactive back payment on January 9th for up to nine years of errors on the compounding of longevity increases. Obviously, never spend the money until it actually shows up in the paycheck. The error, due to the former payroll system of the Housing Authority, does not amount to a huge difference for anyone, but a few dollars more is a few dollars more. Congratulations to our grievance reps, chapter officers and even to the Housing Authority Office of Labor Relations on an error corrected.

The newsline will be updated as matters develop this week. Normally, this week each year, the newsline would close with "and see you at the holiday party." This year, OSA members will see each other for sure at the Transport Workers Union rally at City Hall Park on Monday at 5pm. There may not be a party this Thursday, unless the MTA bargains in good faith with its workers. If all goes well with our brothers and sisters in transit, we will have a lot to celebrate at our holiday party. If not, at least we will all be together at Monday's rally.

Please call the phone hotline repeatedly this week at (212) 330-8833 or check back with this page, since there will be updates as soon as we know what is going down.
OSA Newsline - December 9, 2002

There was a meeting of the Easy Rider Coalition last week. The coalition of a dozen unions whose members use health plan drug riders was formed to prevent the kind of problems created when GHI first went to required mail order. At that time, Merck Medco screwed up and many members were inconvenienced and had trouble getting their prescriptions filled.

This time it looks better. GHI is changing from Merck to Express Scripts to handle the mail order. Letters to our affected members will go out this week and the changeover will occur in the new year.

There was one problem about which the unions did complain. Merck owns Zocor, an anti-cholesterol drug, but Express Scripts provides Lipitor for the same problem instead. Prescriptions for Zocor will still be filled, but now at greater cost to the members. Most members will switch to Lipitor but, of course, that requires a new prescription.

Coalition members criticized GHI for leaving notice of the change until now, but were otherwise satisfied that most of the problems from the last changeover were not repeated.

A meeting of the steering committee of the Municipal Labor Committee will be held this week regarding our response to the announced layoffs and the unfortunate, but real, possibility of a transit strike.

One part of that response is a demonstration against the budget cuts and layoffs to be held next Monday, December 16th, at City Hall Park starting at 5pm. The rally is endorsed by OSA, as well as the NYC Central Labor Council, Transport Workers Union Local 100, AFSCME District Councils 37 and 1707, the United Federation of Teachers, Communications Workers of America District 1, the Professional Staff Congress of CUNY, and other unions.

It would be a really good idea for all OSA members to attend the rally. Not only will you directly benefit, but all City workers will benefit from your participation. Look for the OSA banner and, if physically possible, rally round. But, even if you can't reach the banner, join the rally wherever you can. Let's send the message that the City's budget should not be balanced on the backs of its workers. Download a PDF format rally flyer and give a copy to your co-workers.

Meantime, OSA is proposing a system of voluntary furloughs in lieu of layoffs, since only one of our members is, at present, targeted for layoff and it would be easy for our union to find another member willing to take a year off instead. Of course the City has to agree.
OSA Newsline - December 4, 2002

This is a special newsline update for Wednesday, December 4th.

OSA has just received notice from HRA Labor Relations that, due to a processing error by the Financial Information Systems Agency or FISA, which produces all City paychecks, approximately 2,500 HRA employees will receive paper checks this Friday, December 6th, rather than having their paychecks directly deposited into their bank accounts.

The message apologizes for any inconvenience this error may cause HRA employees.

Also, this Friday, December 6th at 7pm in the union office, Suite 709 at 220 East 23rd Street, OSA's ongoing labor film screening series concludes its fall schedule with Northern Lights, which received the prize for best first feature film at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival. A visually spare drama examining farmer-labor politics in the northern Plains in the early years of the 20th century, the film tells the story of an engaged Norwegian-American couple, Ray and Inger, and Ray's radicalization. The personal story is the vehicle for the true story of the struggle of small farmers during WWI against larger natural and economic forces and their fight back through the Nonpartisan League. The film, directed by John Hanson and Rob Nilsson, runs 96 minutes. As usual there will be a discussion after the screening and light refreshments will be available. Bring a friend or fellow worker.
OSA Newsline - December 2, 2002

Last week, our union received the first layoff notice for 2002. Thus far, it is only one member being affected but, of course, one member is far too many. OSA will now seek to get the City to agree to the solution arrived at in 1991.

We want the City to offer those of us not due to be laid off the right to take a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence for up to one year. A volunteer in such a case would be guaranteed a return to their permanent title thereafter. On those terms, in 1991, 5% of our membership indicated a willingness to volunteer.

The City actually accepted our idea back in 1991, but as that fiscal crisis resolved, the idea was shelved.

If the City shows any interest at all, members can expect to be surveyed again this December.