OSA Newsline - February 25, 2010

St. Vincent's Hospital, the only hospital with an emergency department on the lower west side of Manhattan, faces an uncertain future. This coming Monday, March 1st, the New York State Nurses Association will hold a rally from 11:30am to 12:45pm in front of the hospital on West 12 Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, seeking to keep the hospital open and providing inpatient and emergency services to New Yorkers. Afterward, there will be a prayer service in the chapel.

If you can attend the rally - please do. (A recent article about the problems at St. Vincent's can be reached at this link and an editorial at this link.

OSA Newsline - February 22, 2010

The early reports on the recent Analyst exams were all positive. The weather was cold, but not as bad as feared. In many cases, the candidates were allowed into the building to stay warm until the exams started.

There were either 80 or 100 questions, depending on the number of exams being taken and the process went smoothly at some schools.

We donít know everything that occurred because there were eleven schools used, and the reports are not yet all received.

We did find out that there was special accommodation testing at Washington Street on both Friday and Sunday, and the union missed the Sunday test. We can give out the extra green packages left over at our next membership meeting, but we would have preferred to give them out before the exam. Also, there have been complaints about the Sunday testing process.

Members are reminded to send us a copy of their answers, so the union can do an item analysis to seek to learn which answers had a consensus. If you plan to appeal or protest, send your request in immediately as per the instructions issued at the exam on the back of your copy of your answers.

Members are also encouraged to send us stories of their experiences on the exam, positive or negative. We use the feedback to prepare us to comment to DCAS on behalf of the test takers.

Below, some photos of OSA Chair Bob Croghan and board members and staff, distributing OSA's "green care packages" to test takers, taken last Saturday by Director of Media Services Rob Spencer:

OSA Newsline - February 18, 2010

We have been getting a number of calls from members asking about the residency law change that passed the City Council last August. The actual law has been on this website since then, but we repost it at this link.

For those in mayoral agencies, within 90 days of the start of your city service you must be a city resident. However, starting two years after the beginning of your city service, you can reside in Nassau, Westchester, Suffolk, Orange, Rockland or Putnam counties, as well as the five counties of New York City.

If you are thinking of moving out of the city, be sure your read the bill and have the required years of service. And remember, you may not move to New Jersey or Connecticut or any other New York County besides the ones named.

There are exceptions in non-mayoral agencies. For example, those employed by the NYC Housing Authority have never been subject to the residency requirements and may continue to live wherever they like and can afford.

OSA Newsline - February 16, 2010

We hope you had a good holiday on Presidents' Day. Today is Mardi Gras.

The meeting on layoffs at the Department of Health and Mental Health last week was premature, although we are on notice that there will be problems in that agency by this summer.

Also, our test preparation course make-up session for last Wednesday was canceled due to the snow storm and has been rescheduled for this Tuesday evening, assuming we don't get another snow storm.

Finally, many members have called regarding this Saturday's analyst exam. Candidates are puzzled over the fact that one test can lead to scores for up to six different exams.

In point of fact, 32 years ago, the last combined Staff and Associate open competitive and promotional exams used separate tests for the Staff and Associate levels, but there were some questions that showed up on both exams.

This year's version of the same situation is probably a sophisticated response to the situation. How can one test be used for six exams? Well, one obvious possibility is to give different weights to some questions on the test, depending upon the needs of the job. So, for example, a question on supervision might be worth more towards qualifying for Associate than it would be for Staff Analyst.

Actually, we don't know the details on the marking system yet, but we are tentatively pleased that our brothers and sisters in Personnel at DCAS were able to come up with a way to spare the candidates the ordeal of multiple tests on the same day.

On the other hand, admission cards seem to indicate that those taking one exam will have 80 questions and a four hour 45 minute exam period and those taking more than one will have 100 questions and a five hour 45 minute exam period. We assume all will become clear on Saturday.

So, in many cases, we will see you at the exams.

OSA Newsline - February 10, 2010

Two bits of information. First, a reminder that the union office will be closed on Friday, February 12th in honor of Lincoln's Birthday and also on Monday, February 15th in honor of President's Day. OSA will reopen on Tuesday, February 16th. That evening will be the last of all of the training sessions for the upcoming Analyst series exams, a makeup session on Budget and Contracts. As with all the other sessions, it will take place at 335 Adams Street in downtown Brooklyn.

Second, quite a few retirees have called asking why the federal withholding tax has gone up on their pension checks starting in January of 2010. Last year, the president signed into law stimulus legislation that created the "Making Work Pay Tax Credit" which amounted to up to $400 for an individual and $800 for a couple, depending on earned income and eligibility.

Pension payments are not earned income and don't qualify for the tax credit. Nevertheless, the IRS last year issued withholding tables that employers across the board used to calculate the federal tax withheld on all sorts of income including pensions and these rates reflected the credit. Therefore the withholding in your pension check went down in 2009.

For 2010, the rates have been corrected and your withholding increased. NYCERS describes it in a box on the top of their home page at www.nycers.org.

If you feel too much is being withheld from your pension check, you may always review the issue with your tax advisor and submit an IRS Form W-4P which allows you to change and/or specify the exact amount of the withholding you desire from your pension. You can download a W-4P form at the NYCERS site by clicking on this link. Complete the form and return it to NYCERS.

You can find additional information about the Making Work Pay Tax Credit on the IRS website at this link. If you have further questions, please call NYCERS.

OSA Newsline - February 9, 2010

We have been informed by the UFT that Mayor Bloomberg is closing schools for this Wednesday, due to the expected snowstorm.

Since he is, that means all UFT facilities will be closed and our test preparation class for Wednesday evening also has to be cancelled.

Please reach out to your fellow analysts on location and tell them that the class is cancelled.

The Wednesday class will be rescheduled for next Tuesday evening, February 16, 2010 at 335 Adams Street from 6 to 9pm.

Also, our Retirees Club meeting set for noon this Wednesday is also cancelled. The planned guest speaker, Linora Hoffman of the AARP Tax Aide program will now make her presentation on tax considerations for older New Yorkers at OSARC's March 10th meeting. Retirees should mark their calendars.

There was some good news of a sort, this week. First, the layoff meeting with the Department of Health and Mental Health was premature. We were warned that layoffs may occur at the start of the next fiscal year, but not immediately.

Also, negotiations with the Transit Authority resumed and are proceeding at last.

OSA Newsline - February 8, 2010

The first meeting this year on layoffs will be held today. The Department of Health and Mental Health is holding a meeting to discuss layoffs in that agency.

While the news is not unexpected, we are sad that the moment has arrived. OSA will seek to work with management and avert these layoffs but members should not get their hopes up. Mayor Bloomberg has done layoffs before this only rarely have we been able to avert them.

The union will notify the affected members as fast as we know details.

Training for the Analyst exams ended last week and this week we have make up sessions for those who missed some lessons due to holidays.

OSA Newsline - February 1, 2010

There are all kinds of storm clouds gathering over City Hall these days. The mayor is talking about givebacks and productivity or no raises at all and he has announced layoffs, although with no specifics as of yet.

While we await the bad news, the good news for our students is that this is the last week of classes for most candidates for the upcoming exams. It has been a long period of exam preparation and our thanks go out to all those who made it happen.