OSA Newsline - February 24, 2003
The Steering Committee of the Municipal Labor Committee met this past Thursday morning with Mayor Bloomberg at Gracie Mansion. It's a nice place.
He was, as expected, a far more gentle and charming person than his predecessor and, as we have been learning in the newspapers, he is also far more open and honest in his dealings as well.
At the same time, he is a skilled negotiator and was seeking to make two major points at the meeting. His first point was that he needed $600 million from us and that any union that did help him out would share the wealth, but those who did not would not. Dr. Barry Liebowitz, President of the Doctors Council, responded to the Mayor's comments by noting that he was not pleased that the Mayor would invite us in only to seek to divide the MLC unions one from another.
The Mayor's second point was that, after, as he expects, we agree to both diminished pension benefits and an increase in our paycheck deductions to pay a greater part of our health benefits, we could then, maybe, find some productivity savings so we could actually get a raise, somehow, somewhere, some day.
No one responded to the Mayor's cheerful assumption that we will not object to huge givebacks but Lillian Roberts, leader of DC 37, noted that many of her members will need a cost-of-living raise and do not appreciate loss of their incomes to wasteful privatization.
In fact, the Mayor's generally pleasant meeting did somewhat strengthen the solidarity of the MLC, which was probably not his goal.
One of his less than kind comments was clearly intended to deeply insult one of the uniformed labor leaders present. The leader in question held his temper and allowed Randi Weingarten to speak for us all. That alone speaks volumes.
OSA meanwhile, having submitted our voluntary furlough suggestion to Labor Relations over a month ago, did not raise the issue with the Mayor. If he is real, our suggestion will be taken seriously. If not, spurious and even dishonest objections to our proposal will be found. He says layoffs are a last resort. He will be judged not by his charming manner nor his well spoken words, he will be judged by his actions alone.
We may have a fiscal crisis brought on by years of increasing tax breaks for business and the rich, but we also have a strong Municipal Labor Committee. We will not let them turn the New York City workforce into a bank from which the Mayor can draw monies to fund ever lower taxes for the well connected.
We agree with Mayor Bloomberg that his weekends should be his own and short of an emergency, New York City does not actually need him on weekends. In return, he should remember that New York City does need its municipal workforce and if that workforce was to ever be absent entirely for even one day, our beloved City would be in great trouble.
Perish the thought. We will work hard to find a solution without layoffs or givebacks.
OSA Newsline - February 17, 2003
Snowfall aside, this looks like a busy week ahead. One additional layoff has been received, this of an Administrative Staff Analyst from Community Services.
Our number of members seeking the right to a voluntary furlough is considerably larger than the numbers yet on the layoff lists.
According to George Morgan, we have eleven ASA's requesting a voluntary furlough right now, plus five Staff Analysts, two Administrative Staff Analysts and four Senior Healthcare Program Planning Analysts. Another fourteen members would like a furlough after July 1st and 84 more have indicated a desire at some time in the future, although not now.
OSA will be meeting, as part of the MLC Steering Committee, with Mayor Bloomberg later this week. Whatever we do learn will be on the newsline next week.
Meanwhile, if you did not get last week's mailing, call Noreen at the union office, so we can check your address and send you another copy.
OSA Newsline - February 10, 2003
The Steering Committee of the Municipal Labor Committee will be meeting with the Mayor, probably this week. Mayor Bloomberg has given us a long list of possible givebacks and we are due to respond. OSA will be pushing the idea of voluntary furloughs but we would be hostile to the same idea on an involuntary basis.
Whoever it was who drew up the list of potential givebacks, shame on them. One suggestion was that active employees start to pay 20% of the cost of their basic health coverage and that retirees pay 50% of this cost. Now, we dislike any givebacks, but we especially despise those that seek to divide the workforce, one from another.
Management is always willing to suggest that one group of workers sacrifice the well being of another group of workers to help out management. Unions, instead, are based on the principle that if you hurt any of us you have hurt us all.
A mailing is going out this week and will shortly be posted as the February 2003 "News From OSA" on this website. Among other items is notice that we are switching vision providers for those members covered by our Welfare Fund. Members will like the improved benefits described in the mailing.
This Saturday, February 15th, starting at noon at 49th Street and 1st Avenue, a number of municipal worker unions, including AFSCME District Council 37, Communication Workers of America Local 1180, Professional Staff Congress/CUNY, Transport Workers Union Local 100 and OSA are supporting a rally against the administration's push toward a war in Iraq. If you can make it we encourage you to attend. The labor contingent is assembling at 11AM at the northwest corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue for a legal feeder march to the rally location at 11:30AM. For more information on the rally click here
OSA Newsline - February 3, 2003
The City news is grim. NYC is the victim of the economy, stock market scandals and terrorism. This week, the Republican Mayor made it plain that the compassionate conservative Republican President resists helping the City with much needed Federal aid. The Republican Governor presented a budget which provided the City with ice during it's coldest week. His Honor tells us that he is reluctant to look for tax money from rich city residents, or from the businesses which have a symbiotic relationship with the City. He has managed a real-estate tax increase, but the Governor does not agree with his plan for reinstating the commuter tax, since those who receive their money in New York City, use its roads, water, air, parks, stores, and governmental services daily should not have to contribute to keep the City running.
On Friday afternoon, Jim Hanley, the commissioner of the Office of Labor Relations, told the Municipal Labor Committee that there was no place else for the City to turn to cover its projected $1.7 billion shortfall in fiscal year 2004, but to the City's employees. He presented suggestions on how we could give back this money.
The Municipal Labor Committee decided to give careful consideration to its response. It is mindful that though the Mayor is hoping to play the civil servants against the citizenry, he is also needful of finding several hundred millions in funds.
Follow this story in future newslines, in the press and on the radio. You may wish to tell your public officials how much you appreciate the attack on those people who keep this City running, even during major catastrophes.
On a happier note, the City has provided us with the initial list of OSA members who are due the lump sum Drug Rider Reimbursements . The City agreed to this in January 2001, but never moved to make the payments. The City has pleaded press of business and maintained that it was very difficult to do. In desperation, OSA offered to send out the checks itself.
We are in the process of checking their list carefully to see if anyone has been left off, and then will have to reconcile errors with the City. OSA is pretty sure it will not take us two years to get this done, but, having gotten the data only in the last few days, OSA is also not ready to set the date for mailing. We do advise members who are not getting OSA mailings to call and make sure we have a correct address on file.
The OSA Welfare Fund concluded agreement with Davis Vision to manage the OSA optical benefit. We have had an unsatisfactory stint with National Vision Administrators, which was unable to live up to the service standards which our members had previously enjoyed with Davis.
The new optical benefit year (and plan) will begin on March 1, and the actual benefit will be considerably enhanced. You will receive a mailing in February which will explain how to use the Davis Vision plan. Please read it carefully.
Davis now has providers over a vast area. To get you started you will get a list of providers in Manhattan and some of the surrounding area. You will be able to get, from Davis, a customized list of providers near your home, your office, or even your mother's house. You can also use the DavisVision website – www.davisvision.com – for a complete list of providers. This plan is the same plan offered by the Management Benefit Fund. Once again it starts on March the 1st.
Calendar Announcements.The OSARC meeting for February has been postponed to February 19th. The Union office is closed February 12th in honor of Abraham Lincoln.
The OSA LaborFilms series will show "The Killing Floor" on February 21st, in the evening in the OSA meeting hall.
OSA's African-American History month celebration is being planned for March 7th.
If you have unused ETO and Annual leave, the Grievance department suggests that now is the time to check your balances, and prepare your requests for the extension or carryover of these credits . Each year there is a flood of problems when the new Fiscal year looms and the unwary and unprepared find that their Agency has turned their "excess" leave into sick leave.