OSA Newsline - December 29, 2008

Last week, there was an emergency meeting of those Municipal Labor Committee unions whose members did not benefit from the recent City Council bill on lifting residence restrictions.

The bill passed a fortnight ago left out workers in about thirty different unions. Harry Nespoli, chairperson of the MLC, agreed to represent those unions not yet covered.

Our strategy will be to approach Christine Quinn, leader of the City council, to seek a unified bill that will cover all city workers and not just some.

The original law, back in 1986, was a bad law in the first place. Over the years, it has been enforced unevenly, to say the least. Not only were exemptions freely given for highly placed staff, let alone for hard-to-recruit titles, police and fire, but also for workers in the field of education.

Thus, an analyst, required to maintain residence, must tell his or her spouse that they can’t move to a suburban county of New York even when the spouse’s occupation is exempt from the law.

It was a dumb and hateful law when Ed Koch thought it up. It has proven to be a sick joke, more absurd each passing year. With a little luck, early 2009 will see the end of this law for all city workers and an end for a hypocritical law that never made sense in the first place.

Since this week should be a very slow news week, please check back again in two weeks.

OSA Newsline - December 22, 2008

The holiday party was terrific and wonderful. There was plenty of food and no crowding. The only problem was cost. Costs have risen each year. This year, attendance was limited to members only and, still, over a thousand tickets went out. Had we allowed spouses or friends, which we really wanted to do, attendance would have topped 1,500 or more.

It is likely that the OSA executive board will be forced to set a ticket price for next year, but on the other hand, we will then be able to open it up, once again, to spouses and friends.

We had a bit of bad news from the City Council last week. A bill was passed allowing residence in the five suburban counties as expected. As not expected, the bill covered only DC37 members.

Our response was to ask the MLC to correct the matter and to quickly act to appropriately include all other civil servants. Harry Nespoli, chair of the Municipal Labor Committee, agreed immediately and he is holding a meeting this week to correct the situation.

There will be more on this as it develops, but consider for a moment the current situation. As matters now stand, a Local 1549 member can move to Westchester until he or she is promoted to Principal Administrative Associate. Then, he or she has 90 days to find an affordable city residence. Now that is even more absurd than usual.

OSA Newsline - December 15, 2008

Our union, along with a group of other civil service oriented unions, will be on hand for public hearings this Tuesday.

The Division of Personnel of DCAS is proposing the creation of three new titles to combat the need for change mandated by the City of Long Beach decision.

The judges, in the Long Beach case, ordered that city to come into conformity with the New York State Civil Service Law.

New York City, which currently employs 30,000 provisional workers, asked for time to adjust to the new situation and the legislature gave them five years. You could give a lot of tests in five years, if you wanted to.

Instead, Personnel is seeking to get rid of testing for scores of existing titles and is even creating new “untestable” titles to avoid the law.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Personnel will propose the creation of 1,500 non-competitive positions for “Confidential Strategy Planner,” 240 exempt class “Executive Program Specialists,” and 1,500 also-exempt “Strategic Initiative Specialists.”

The job descriptions for these jobs make them sound a lot like Analyst jobs, except that these jobs will have no civil service protection, probably no union rights, and can be appointed at will by whomever is well-connected in city government.

Consider the “Confidential Strategy Planner.” All Staff and Associate Staff Analysts were confidential/managerial employees from the early 1970's until, in the late 1980's, it finally turned out that 99% of us had never done any confidential or managerial work at all.

Why would every City agency need a team of “Confidential Strategy Planners” in the first place? What is this horde of secrets that the City plans to keep from the public?

Consider the “Executive Program Specialists.” Their job description is that of most current City managerial employees, except that these EPS’s are purely exempt from the Civil Service Law.

The “Strategic Initiative Specialists” are also exempt, bu they also have a shelf-life of four years. If a SIS is hired and does a spectacular job, he or she will be fired after four years, no matter what. Hmm...sounds like a patronage job. Work hard or don’t work at all, you are fired after four years in either case.

The public hearing is set for this Tuesday at 125 Worth Street, second floor auditorium, starting at 10:30am. OSA will be there, as well as the MLC, CWA, DC37, etc. It is astonishing, as the City talks of layoffs, for Personnel to be proposing 3,240 new patronage jobs instead of giving citywide promotional exams and moving to allow provisional employees the chance to become permanent.

You can read the testimony of OSA Chair Bob Croghan by clicking here, OSA General Counsel Len Shrier's testimony by clicking here, and Lou Albano's testimony on behalf of the Civil Service Merit Council by clicking here.

On another front, also involving DCAS, the Staff Analyst list that was first established in January of 2005 is fast approaching the end of its normal life. Given that relatively few candidates remain on the list and many of them are provisional Associate and Administrative Staff Analysts, OSA Executive Director Sheila Gorsky has written to DCAS Commissioner Martha Hirst seeking an extension of the current list to enable appointments to be made and, thereby, giving these individuals the opportunity to take the Associate Staff Analyst promotional exam when it is next given in a few years. You can read her letter by clicking here.

The other news is the OSA holiday party. It looks as if over a thousand members and retirees will be attending, according to the tickets requested.

OSA Newsline - December 5, 2008

Our main City contract was approved by a vote of nearly 99%. Over 3,800 ballots were sent out. The voting period was short, but over 1,700 ballots were returned.

The actual vote was 1,695 yes, 19 no, and 14 invalid ballots. The vote was 98.89% yes.

The City will be notified first thing on Monday morning and we will begin pressing for a quick pay date but, as always, don’t spend it before you actually get it. The contract is retroactive to August 25th, so we are due a few months of retroactivity.

We are also seeking quick negotiations on the remaining contracts at the Transit Authority and for our Uniformed forces in the near future.

OSA Newsline - December 1, 2008

Ed Price, a long time activist with OSA, passed away last week. Ed was our Department of Transportation chapter chairperson and a member of our executive board.

After his retirement, he came to work for OSA as a volunteer organizer. He became seriously ill last Spring.

The wake will be this Monday evening at the Nagel Funeral Home at 352 East 87th Street from 7 to 9pm.

The Funeral Mass will be held on Tuesday at St. Stephen’s Church RCC, at 414 East 82nd Street, east of First Avenue at 10am.

Our sympathy to his family. We will all miss him very much.