OSA Newsline - December 22, 2003

Negotiations on our health benefit package concluded with an eight hour bargaining session last Thursday.

As members are aware, at stake was the 140 million dollar PICA Card program, the cost of our hospital and medical insurance and the Welfare Fund as well.

For eighteen months, the Mayor has been threatening dire cutbacks and for eighteen months, the unions have resisted. At last, a deal both sides can live with has been negotiated.

There will be increased costs to the PICA Card, GHI office visits, and in-hospital stays, but all have been kept moderate. HIP remains at no cost, PICA is left intact, and the Welfare Funds were shored up.

The one major change is that we will now be paying the City for the cost of their administration of our health insurance. The annual cost will work out to $1.35 per pay period for active employees, and nearly $3 per month for retirees. Annoying, but a far cry from the Mayor's original intentions.

Details will follow in the mail and on the News From OSA page of this website, but -- in essence -- our health coverage remains intact and still the best around. That's all the news for this year. Happy Holidays. Check the newsline page again in 2004.
OSA Newsline - December 15, 2003

There was some good news on the one percent equity settlement due to some of our members. The City has finally provided written language to complete the old contract, including the one percent equity award.

The term Caveat Auditor would loosely translate Listeners Beware, since the terms about to be cited may not be final, depending upon a careful reading of the contract offered. We have had three sets of numbers offered before this and, in each prior case, something was wrong and the offer was retracted.

At present, the offer is as follows:

All of our non-uniformed members outside of the Transit Authority are divided into two categories, "new" and "old" titles. The members categorized as "new" are the recently unionized titles of Administrative Staff Analyst (Non-managerial), Administrative Supervisor of Traffic Device Maintenance and Supervising Systems Analyst. All others are in older titles covered by the prior contract.

"New" members are due $281 in annual longevity upon completion of their tenth year of service. "Old" members add $281 to their existing $1,013 longevity. After 15 years of service, "new" members add a second $281 for a total of $562 and "old" members add that total of $562 to their existing $2,026.

The twentieth year award has revised rules and will now be a service increment that will not be lost upon promotion, and will be compoundable. Both "old" and "new" members will receive the same amount, $998.

All of the added longevity monies are due since June 30, 2002 and will be paid retroactively, assuming we agree, probably sometime in February of 2004. Please do not spend the money until you actually get it.

See you at the Holiday Party this Thursday.
OSA Newsline - December 8, 2003

We were greatly saddened to learn, late last week, of the loss of Mary Pinkett, friend of OSA, the unions, and the civil service in general.

Mary was an active union member representing Hospital Care Investigators in the 1960s, a vice-president of the Social Service Employees Union thereafter, later president of that same union, leaving only because she was asked to serve as the City Council representative from her district.

Mary served as chairperson of the civil service committee in the City Council for about 30 years. In that role, she attacked Personnel Director Juan Ortiz on his excuses for failure to move the 1978 Analyst exam list, she advocated on behalf of the civil servants in general, and was instrumental in helping our union finally defeat the practice of narrowbanding.

If OSA was relatively lightly touched by the recent layoffs, we owe a great deal of long term credit to Mary for helping most of us to become permanent civil service in title.

Mary will be waked at Medgar Evers College, 1600 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, this evening and Tuesday as well from 12 noon to 6pm. There will be a memorial service Tuesday evening from 7pm to 9pm. We have all lost a true friend.

Other Business. If you have not already returned the coupon on your invitation to the annual OSA Holiday Party, please fax it to the union office at (212) 686-1231 or call George Morgan at (212) 686-1229.

This Friday, December 12th, at 6:30 at the union office, OSA's film series, LaborFilms, concludes its fall schedule with Brassed Off a 1996 British film starring Ewan McGregor, Tara Fitzgerald and Pete Postlethwaite, about a working class community of miners and their national competition-winning band. Mixing comedy and drama, the film at all times reminds us of the soul of a community being rent by government policies that devalue the residents as workers and human beings.
OSA Newsline - December 1, 2003

The only labor news last week showed up in an article in the New York Times by Steven Greenhouse on November 27th.

Reporter Greenhouse wrote an article setting out the fact that Mayor Bloomberg would like to fund our future raise out of savings on our health care programs.

In effect, if we would give him ten cents in savings, we would be given in return two or three cents in a cost-of-living raise (or instead of a cost-of-living raise).

The union response by spokesperson Randi Weingarten was to reject the Mayor's point of view. In effect, she stated, we would be willing to consider co-pays and other savings in order to save the PICA card, but not to self-fund a labor contract.

Instead, it is labor's opinion that if the Health Insurance Program (HIP) were to go "for profit" as did Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield a few years ago, monies generated by this process could be used to fund raises.

Thus far, as OSA members are well aware, the City has not put a penny on the table for the past 17 months and Mayor Bloomberg seems content to continue his constant cries of poverty in spite of all evidence to the contrary.

Now, of course, he would like to use a diminution of our health benefits as a club over us. The answer to that is no.

The other news is in the mailing. If you don't receive it by Tuesday, please call Noreen at the union office for another copy. The same information is posted on this website as the November 2003 News From OSA.