OSA Newsline - February 25, 2013

There are some legislative reports and bills floating around Albany that would be bad for civil service.

Now, we can ignore the self-serving reports. First, the governor sets up a blue ribbon panel of experts. Then, miracle of miracles, the panel discovers that the Civil Service laws and rules are tying the hands of government. The panel then recommends a quick return to the spoils system, with the governor and his appointees deciding who gets all the jobs. They would like to combat inefficiency by replacing it with corruption.

It should be noted that the major newspapers print stories about these reports as if the reports were not self-serving tripe. Even so, no one takes those reports seriously.

Actual legislation is a different matter. This we do take seriously. At issue is the transfer of Transit Authority personnel functions from DCAS to the MTA. We are very aware of how the switch could cause mischief. We will be working with the other civil service unions to ensure that any changes will maintain an honest system for hiring through testing for merit and fitness.

Also, last week, there was a nice victory for our grievance section. One of our members was fired for misbehavior. The penalty was, in context, very excessive. The arbitrator has ruled in the members’ favor and our member will be restored with a year and a half’s back pay. Adam Orgel, OSA attorney, won this case for us.

Also, last week, confusion between Emblem Health (GHI and HIP put together) and Davis Vision resulted in our members being charged a fee by participating opticians. The problem was corrected on the same day it was reported to our office. Thanks to Diana Carroll and Vojna Stanic-Geraghty for their quick work.

Finally, Administrative Staff Analysts being transferred into our union can and will be allowed to keep the optional life insurance policies that they purchased through the Management Benefits Fund. They are covered by state law and Prudential will be sending the affected analysts’ letters informing them of this and establishing a new method for paying premiums.

OSA Newsline - February 18, 2013

Happy Presidents Day. Last week was spent answering questions about the new status of the Admin Analysts Levels II and III. The value of union status was not questioned by most new members. Paid overtime, due process rights and the value of OSA looking out for all of our interests are clear gains.

Some, however, are distressed by different aspects of the change. The loss, in many cases of managerial flex time is a valid problem to individuals who had scheduled their lives around that practice. Our union would prefer that the city continues the practice of flex time, as before, for the workers newly converted to union status. It would make sense, since both the Admin Analysts and their agencies seemed to think it was working well before.

Others object to paying dues, even if our dues rate is unusually low. Now, we sympathize, but only a little. We, too, pay union dues.

Those new members who call in to complain that they have lost something are the most puzzling. No one’s job duties changed due to the union’s success in court. You are today who you were yesterday, only with a few more rights and protections. It is a psychological phenomenon, and real enough for those who feel distressed, but it is not based in reality.

Again, most feel otherwise and it has been very pleasant to be congratulated and thanked by so many of our newest members.

Finally, last year, OSA screened the remarkable documentary film on "fracking" called "Gasland." As we noted at the time, "fracking” is being pushed by powerful corporations and there is a lot of money in “fracking,” but the ecological results are so frightening they are almost funny. The fact that homeowners living on the land above sites that have been “fracked” are able to set their tap water on fire is a neat trick. Not so neat is that animals and fish and people drinking that water get sick and die. If you hear positive things about “fracking” on television – you know, more jobs, clean energy, makes America strong – don’t believe them.

Now, OSA retiree Kathryn Nocerino informs us that she has established a petition to the members of the New York State Assembly, New York State Senate and Governor Andrew Cuomo encouraging the legislature and the governor to ban hydraulic fracturing of shale deposits for natural gas throughout New York State.

As Kathryn points out, gas and oil production are up nationally by 25 percent this year, yet Americans are still freezing to death each winter because they have had to make the choice between buying food and buying fuel. Energy is our number one export, with gas and oil companies sellling our precious resources to foreign buyers. "Fracking," an environmentally perilous technology, is motivated not by necessity but by greed.

Kathryn asks OSA members to consider signing her petition, which can be reached at the following link:

Petition to Ban "Fracking" in New York State.

We think it is worth signing.

OSA Newsline - February 11, 2013

The Municipal Labor Committee met last week. One topic was a law proposed by Governor Cuomo. The law would mandate that labor arbitrators take into account a local government’s ability to pay when settling disputes. That sounds reasonable, but it is not since a local government can, as New York City is doing now, put no money into their budget for raises and then claim there is no money to pay.

Letters from all of the municipal unions are going to Albany now to object to this bill as written.

The union is sending out mail for our new members in the Admin series. Also, we get calls daily.

The union office will be closed tomorrow except for emergencies. OSA celebrated Lincoln’s birthday for years before the City cancelled it and we do so now as well.

If you haven’t seen the movie “Lincoln” yet, it is a good one.

OSA Newsline - February 4, 2013

The good news last week was in our report to the membership meeting. After a nine year fight, OSA has won the right for over seven hundred Administrative Staff Analysts Levels II and III to belong to a union.

We owe thanks to those Admin Analysts who encouraged and assisted us, to our legal team, to our organizers, and to our research team under Tim Collins. We especially thank Sheila Gorsky for pulling together an effort that won a nine year long campaign.

Now our new members are protected by due process rights, a citywide contract and a union that has won some battles on their behalf already.

Some of our new members were not yet able to be union members when OSA helped them prepare for an earlier exam. Later, some of those who passed were appointed to serve in the Associate Staff Analyst title but put on leave back to their higher Admin jobs.

That’s normal procedure, but at least one agency refused to certify the workers as permanent after the probation period ended. It took two years and lawyers directed by Sheila Gorsky to get the agency to agree to certify those candidates as permanent. As a result, some of our newest members are permanent in title, due to work done by the union.

A letter will be going out to our new brothers and sisters.

Also at the membership meeting. the officers for the next two years for both OSA (the union) and OSART (the professional association) were sworn in by union lawyer Adam Orgel.

Pictured above, left to right, are OSART Grievance Officer Sandra O. Thompson-Reid, OSA Delegate-at-Large Dolores Parson, OSA Recording Secretary Stephen Parker, OSART Delegate-at-Large Alice Moise, OSA and OSART Chair Bob Croghan, OSA Grievance Officer Kim Vann, OSA Delegate-at-Large Tim Collins, OSART Corresponding Secretary Tony Lee, OSA Delegate-at-Large Ron Lehman, OSA Corresonding Secretary Jeanne O'Sullivan and OSART Recording Secretary Jay W. Warshofsky. Camera shy: OSA Vice Chair Tom Anderson, OSA Treasurer Wilfrid St. Surin, OSART Vice-Chair Alfred Milton, OSART Treasurer Michael Falzarano and OSART Delegates-at-Large Cirino Lotta and Mike Daflos.