OSA Newsline - December 28, 1998

Today, the Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) sends out ballots to Staff and Associate Staff Analysts working in the Transit Authority and MaBSTOA.

Many of our Transit brothers and sisters called us last Thursday to report that anti-union literature accompanied their paychecks. Our union had been given advance warnings about this last minute sneak attack, so members were not surprised, but were often angry. As expected, the literature was very deliberately misleading.

We were pleased that most callers were not fooled by Transit's insistence that the TA raises equalled OSA's raises. Analysts working in Transit are aware that the TA has not given them the longevity differentials enjoyed by City analysts.

We were, however, seriously hurt by the chart sent out comparing TA benefits with OSA benefits.

The TA is under the state rules for non-represented employees and OSA follows the city plan for managerial employees. There are differences in every single benefit and, of course, the TA wrote their chart seeking to make the OSA benefits look dreadful.

The TA chose not to mention that OSA's benefit package is virtually the same benefits as are provided for the Mayor and all other high City officials. They also presented the facts very deceptively. For example, they ascribe a $50 deductible to our dental plan, whereas our participating provider plan has no out-of-pocket cost at all. They also do not mention that their plan has a lifetime maximum, while OSA's has none. Our dental plan is better, but you would never know it from their chart.

If the Organization of Staff Analysts was selling the OSA Welfare Fund to our brothers and sisters in Transit, OSA would have mentioned it long ago. Our research department had access to the Transit benefits booklet over three years ago. We were aware of the difference in benefits, but following OSA's normal practice, those differences would be no problem.

OSA normally keeps whatever benefits analysts have when we negotiate on their behalf. Thus, when unionizing City analysts we used the City plan; at TA we would use the TA plan.

The problem arises when the Transit Authority Office of Labor Relations chooses to imply, on the very eve of the election, that voters will lose a good plan in exchange for a worse plan. It is not true. It never was true. But, it is a very effective last minute dirty campaign trick.

If you would like to review and/or print out any of our prior mailings on the Transit campaign, you can click on Current Campaigns, then Transit Organizing Campaign and select what you need. We will stand by our words and we will stand by our brothers and sisters in Transit.

OSA Newsline - December 21, 1998

Our Transit election has become more dramatic. The Transit office of Labor Relations has issued a gag order to silence their own managerial staff on the topic of the elections. No manager is allowed to express even a personal opinion on the election, but all are being provided with printed lists of questions and answers prepared by, you guessed it, the Office of Labor Relations.

The Q & A sheets are, of course, a most unsubtle attempt to sway the election. The attempt is to deceive our brothers and sisters in Transit and are a comically obvious unfair labor practice.

The questions claim to be "most commonly asked questions," although who has been asking these questions is not made clear. The answers, however, are clear and fall into at least three categories. There are a few answers that are true, a few more that are sort of true, but very misleading, and many that are not true at all.

For example, Transit maintains that they have given their non-represented Analysts the same raises as OSA since 1990. They even provide a neat chart to make their point twice over. The problem is it's not true. Transit did not give the 1.15% raise in 1990 that became OSA's $700 longevity. Transit did not give the four tenths of one percent in 1992 that became our $379 longevity. Transit is trying to avoid giving the 1.52% due now that will raise our combined 10, 15 and 20 year longevities to a total a bit over $3000.

Another whopper was a straightforward claim by the Transit Office of Labor Relations assuring Analysts in Transit that the Labor Relations office is neutral in this matter. A big Ho! Ho! Ho! -- just in time for the season.

Transit spent five years delaying this election. Those were years of threatening our organizers with arrest for trespass, of threatening to bring charges against any of our future members unless those Analysts reported our organizers on sight, after years of forbidding our use of bulletin boards or interoffice mail or even the public sidewalks if we stood too close to their buildings. They are neutral?

Even after the Office of Labor Relations went off to the State to deny us access to our future members' home addresses until all voting was done, still they are neutral? If they are neutral OSA has no enemies at all.

All Transit Staff and Associate Staff Analysts are invited to 220 East 23rd Street Suite 707 this Monday evening for a pre-election rally. We will provide food and drink and honest answers to each and every question raised by Labor Relations. We have it easy. We can win by telling the truth.

Happy Holidays to one and all.

OSA Newsline - December 14, 1998

The Municipal Labor committee met last Thursday. Randi Weingarten presided over her first formal meeting. Her election was confirmed as well as three others, including Lee Saunders, Trustee over DC 37. It is clear that the PBA believes it will be able to reopen its contract, but Chairperson Weingarten seemed more cautious. Arthur Cheliotes of CWA 1180 has been asked to head a contract negotiations group that will start work next Monday, December 21st.

Our campaign at the Transit Authority is in full swing. A number of members were kind enough to send letters endorsing OSA as a union. Six of the first to arrive were mailed out last week to our brothers and sisters working in Transit.

If you feel the urge to write as well, please do so. Send them care of Rose Collins at the union office.

Our holiday party is this Wednesday and the officers and staff are looking forward to seeing you on that day.

OSA Newsline - December 7, 1998

Our December mailing went out last week. The high point of the mailing was your invitation to our Holiday party on December 16th. The low point, of course, was a lengthy discussion of the wrongdoing at DC37. It turns out that a fraudulent vote by a single Local, 1549, cheated us all out of the possibility of a better contract than the one we now have.

DC37 head Stanley Hill has taken a leave of absence, but until last week, continued to hold the position of chairperson of the Municipal Labor Committee. Stanley's continuation in that post was, in light of the scandal, not at all likely.

Moving quickly, Norman Seabrook of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association sent out letters to all the city unions inviting us to a meeting at the Millennium Hotel this past Thursday. Norm, along with Doc Savage of the Police Benevolent Association, wished to discuss how to handle the current crisis and did not wish to await a change in MLC leadership.

As it happened, Norm's actions sparked a flurry of activity and at 7:30 A.M. on Thursday last, the steering committee of the MLC met in emergency session.

Randi Weingarten of the United Federation of Teachers became the acting chairperson of the MLC and a variety of reforms were discussed at length.

The MLC meeting did not really adjourn but rather delegates left that meeting to join the rest of the unions at the hotel at 10 A.M. Some of the reforms proposed included the ending of the Municipal Labor Committee's dependence on DC37 for office space and secretarial help etc. Also mentioned was the need to seriously reform our relationship with the Office of Collective Bargaining. Initially OCB's costs were shared by the City and the MLC, fifty-fifty, way back in 1967.

We now learn that over the past thirty years there was a slow shift so that the officially neutral body is now supported 85% by the City and only 15% by Labor. This is clearly wrong. One result of that disproportionate relationship has been the location of the OCB physically. OCB works three stories above the office of Labor Relations at 40 Rector Street. Every union in the city must travel by cab, train, bus or foot to reach the Office of Collective Bargaining, whereas our adversaries simply take the elevator.

Tom Scotto of the Detectives also raised the question of large numbers of arbitrations lost on grounds that were hard to believe. Tom suggested reforms would hopefully even the odds a bit at Impasse or other arbitrations.

Tom also suggested that the only bright side to DC37's current tragedy might be that we could now all act decisively together to correct errors that had accumulated over the years, and to correct them all at once. Amen, Brother Scotto, Amen.