OSA Newsline - February 26, 2011

More than 10,000 New Yorkers, including OSA members, are gathered at City Hall park as of noon today for a "Rally to Save the American Dream" and in support of public sector workers in Wisconsin who are fighting for their collective bargaining rights. Among the speakers, Congressmembers Anthony Weiner and Jerry Nadler and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Below, a photo of Representative Nadler addressing the crowd with the OSA banner behind him and a couple of other photos from the rally. Thanks to the unknown photographers who took the photos and posted them to rally coordinator MoveOn's live stream.

Jerry Nadler at Saturday's Rally.

Scene From Saturday's Rally

Sign At Saturday's Rally

And thanks to Rory Schnurr for the following two pictures of OSA Chairperson Bob Croghan and Executive Director Sheila Gorsky with Rep. Jerry Nadler (top) and Borough President Stringer (bottom).

You can watch streaming video from around the country on this page:

Streaming Video From Rallies Around the Country February 26

OSA Newsline - February 25, 2011

There was a rally last Tuesday evening at 48th Street and Sixth Avenue, another last Wednesday before noon at City Hall. OSA had members at both rallies and also at a later one at City Hall on Thursday.Tomorrow, Saturday, there will be a rally, again at City Hall at 11AM. More information about the prior rallies and tomorrow's rally, below.

Recently, the rallies have been fast and furious and frequent, all due to the right wing power grab being attempted in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, on the first day of the dispute, before single person had arrived to protest, the Governor told the press that he had put the National Guard on alert because he expected trouble.Late this week, he told a caller, who the Governor believed was conservative billionaire David Koch, that he, the Governor had considered hiring troublemakers to provoke the protestors but that he had decided not to do so.

So, this miserable excuse for a human being had considered starting riots so his own citizens would be killed, all to advance the Koch brothers’ anti-union agenda. He did not do it, yet, but he himself said that he considered doing it and, of course, he may still do it. We now know that in virtually every state in the union, the Koch brothers have in place a hired network of agents and paid thugs called Americans for Prosperity.

We are endorsing the demonstration tomorrow and will attend. The sponsor of this rally is the group called MoveOn.org.

The Municipal Labor Committee will be meeting on Monday morning to discuss the Mayor’s plan for our future health coverage. This newsline will be updated early in the coming week, once we know how much he plans to hurt us on health care.

So, With union members in Wisconsin taking the lead, the fight back against the right's attack on public sector unions there -- and across the country -- has generated a call from MoveOn.org for rallies in all state capitols and major cities this Saturday, February 26th.

In New York,the "Rally to Save the American Dream" will be held at City Hall Park opposite 250 Broadway, starting at 11AM on Saturday. If you can make it they are asking people to sign up at this link.

They are also seeking folks who are willing to speak. Sign up on the web form if you are willing.

Meantime, you can see a video clip of the Wednesday press conference and rally called by the New York City Central Labor Council on the City Hall steps. Look closely and you can see the OSA banner.

Unfortunately, WABC chose to frame the event as "nasty" and about unions being unwilling to pay for pensions and health benefits.

Of course, what it is really about is the nationwide conservative attack on the public sector and our unions, and therefore an attack on the very institutions that built the American middle class. The attack is orchestrated and consistent. If New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg have not gone the route of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in seeking to overtly abolish collective bargaining, they certainly have announced they seek to diminish public sector benefits, shift the blame for economic ills onto our shoulders, undermine the civil service and ask nothing of wealthy New Yorkers and Wall Street.

OSA Newsline - February 22, 2011

Public sector workers in Wisconsin are under attack in an attempt to undermine their right to collective bargaining. But they are fighting back. More than 70,000 workers and their supporters turned out for rallies in Madison over the weekend. Similar efforts by governors in other states, including Ohio and Indiana, are underway as well, backed by a network of conservative groups funded by those who would like to destroy public sector unions, like the Koch family.

Rallies and press conferences are scheduled in New York today, tomorrow and Thursday. Please take part in one or more if you can. We will try to keep you informed of any other opportunities to become active.

  • Today, Tuesday the 22nd at 5pm, a "cheesehead" rally will be held outside the studios of FOX News, 1211 6th Ave at 48th Street, which, according to the organizers is "exactly when Tea Party leader Glenn Beck goes on the air. Beck insists the American people support him, but we'll show him the American people really support our teachers, firefighters, police - and our unions. Make your own signs. Wear Packers gear (or just green/yellow) and cheesehead hats."

  • Tomorrow, Wednesday, at 11AM on the steps of City Hall, the leaders of the New York City Central Labor Council will hold a press conference in solidarity with Wisconsin public employees. OSA will be there with a banner. Speakers will include Jack Ahern, President of the CLC, Denis Hughes, President of the NYS AFL-CIO, John Samuelson, President of TWU Local 100, Harry Nespoli, head of of the Municipal Labor Committee and IBT Local 831, Michael Mulgrew, head of the UFT and others. If you can join us, please do.

  • On Thursday, from 12-2pm, several DC37 locals led by Local 375, the Architects and Engineers, have scheduled a rally to protest Mayor Koch's budget cuts and planned layoffs. OSA will join them. The ties to Wisconsin will also be emphasized. If you work downtown, the rally will be on the plaza of City Hall Park near the #6 train entrance opposite the Municipal Building. A flyer for that rally appears below.
  • OSA Newsline - February 21, 2011

    The union office is closed Monday for Presidents' Day. A mailing is due out this week giving you the bad news on the Mayor’s plan for our pensions. The same information is on this website as the February 2011 OSA Newsletter

    The Mayor seems to believe it is a good idea to break contracts, since he is seeking to change the rules after we have already worked for ten or twenty or thirty years.

    To date, Mayor Bloomberg has called for an end to the Civil Service and also a shrinkage of our pensions and an increase in the price of those pensions and also for an end for us as a union.

    But, since he is on a roll, he has now asked to meet with us on health benefits on February 28th. We will not be surprised if he tells us he is going to pick our pockets to pay for health care.

    Also, whatever he demands we pay on Monday, the 28th will be followed by increased demands that we pay more each time he cuts taxes for his rich friends.

    Eventually, he will price our health care out of our reach and then some of us will die young and he can save still more money on our pensions.

    He and his friends and family will get richer and richer and richer, while we get poorer and poorer and poorer.

    Have you noticed that much of the media is now demonizing us?

    In Wisconsin, the Governor cut corporate taxes one month and declared a fiscal emergency the next. Now, he has a bill set to destroy all the Wisconsin civil service unions, except the two groups who supported him.

    On both Fox News and CNBC (“Morning Joe”), the workers were demonized as selfish and unwilling to share sacrifice.

    Joe Scarborough made it clear – for the sake of America, unions have to go. So, you are the problem in the eyes of the rich.

    We can and will fight back.

    On March 9th, at the union office, first we will have a light dinner from 5pm to 6:30pm. At 6:30pm, we will learn and practice songs of protest, useful for the picket lines. The law says we can not strike, but we are allowed to demonstrate and demonstrate we shall.

    OSA Newsline - February 14, 2011

    Happy Valentine's Day. The union office was closed last Friday for Lincoln’s Birthday. Lincoln’s Birthday used to be a City holiday, but it became a floating holiday for City employees after one of the contracts and now it is only a rumor from the past for recently hired employees.

    OSA, however, never stopped celebrating the birthday, so we were closed on Friday.

    Members are still calling regarding the January 27th snow day. Many, but not all, agencies are asking members to fill out a form, so do so – please. Tell the truth. The Mayor told you to stay home or your office was closed on arrival at 9am or whatever.

    We don’t know who is going to be assigned to read these tens of thousands of statements, but good luck to them anyway.

    Some agencies designated all their employees as essential, such as the Health and Hospitals Corporation and the Housing Authority and other agencies went the other way and closed down entirely.

    Mayor Bloomberg’s snide comments about those who did not come into work after he changed his mind were not helpful.

    In the mailing due out late this week (which will shortly be posted on this website as the February OSA Newsletter), you will be invited to an evening of picket line songs. We are not going on strike, but in view of the Mayor’s policy of no raises, worse pensions, an end to job security and the wholesale destruction of the New York City civil service, we may be going to some demonstrations and rallies.

    If so, knowing some good songs to sing will make the protests both more effective and pleasant as well.

    The date of the songfest is March 9, so the weather should be better by then.

    OSA Newsline - February 11, 2011

    In honor of Lincoln's Birthday, the union office is closed on Friday, February 11. We will also be closed on President's Day, Monday February 21, 2011.

    OSA Newsline - February 7, 2011

    Busy week last week. The Mayor’s representatives met with us to courteously present their proposals for pension reform, before the proposals hit the newspapers that afternoon. We appreciate the notice. To summarize his proposals, Mayor Bloomberg wants you to pay more money, for more years, for a lesser pension and he also wants you to work eight years longer before you can collect the money.

    He would like all of this to take place right away for current workers. Thus, if you have spent nineteen years covered by a Tier 4 pension, you could normally expect to have your retirement percentage go from 1.67% per year to 2.0% per year retroactively, once you completed 20 years of service.

    The Mayor’s new proposal is to keep you at 1.67% per year, even if you do work past 20 years. This sounds like a double cross and it is.

    The Mayor keeps on warning everyone that unless we give him everything he wants, he will have to lay off civil servants and it will be our fault. Now, that is strange, since we have already been having layoffs month after month after month. So, how is he threatening anything that he isn’t already doing?

    We have frequently reported layoffs on this newsline over the past year and this week is no exception. We had a meeting with DOITT regarding one layoff last week and will be meeting, again, with Health and Mental Hygiene this week on more layoffs.

    Incidentally, these meetings over layoffs sometimes do help. Last week, Executive Director Sheila Gorsky brought an unusual situation to the attention of DOITT. The issue was one of anniversary dates and a major loss would affect one of our members if DOITT could not be flexible on the exact date of the scheduled layoff.

    Management at DOITT was able to assist us on this matter and we are grateful that a bad situation was not made far worse.

    We are also grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for trying to cheer us up after Workforce Deform proposals and Pension Deform proposals were made. He knew we were unhappy with his many campaigns to hurt us, so he chose to tell us to stay home on January 27th. Then, he told us to come in to work after all.

    Some of us arrived at work only to be sent home from closed offices. Others received emails telling us to stay home. Still others were robo-called and first told not to come and then, by 3:30 in the afternoon, to come in after all.

    Then, in the days that followed, some agencies said, don’t worry, you are excused. Other agencies said you had to use annual leave. Still others admitted they were unclear as to how to proceed.

    Finally, by late in the week, DCAS got the City act together, sort of, asking us to write long and heartfelt stories about how hard we tried to get in on January 27th while ignoring the fact that the Mayor told us not to come in in the first place.

    Even experienced union representatives were defeated by this last development. If you see the Mayor on television ordering you not to come in, and then you write that you tried to come in anyway, are you not admitting to open insubordination?

    Of course, if you had stayed glued to the television on January 27th, you would have eventually heard the Mayor change his original orders. Now, since many of us obediently went back to bed once we were told to do so, and the rest, who had missed his orders were on our way to arrival at our closed offices, very few of us knew he had changed his mind.

    So, while there are those who might fault the Mayor on this matter, we do not agree. We choose to believe that Mayor Bloomberg did all of this to entertain us and to distract us from the dismal future he plans for us. If so, he is not all bad after all.