OSA Newsline - February 29, 2016

Two bits of bad news last week. First, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board did not put our Transit Authority contract on its February agenda. That stinks because we had no conflict in our negotiations at the TA and we settled without dispute at the very second meeting. Since then, however, the MTA board has not done its job at two successive meetings.

This holds up the raises for no good reason. The union leadership reached out for answers from the MTA on how this could have occurred. We did get an answer. We were told there had been an error, that there was no problem with our agreement, and that the contract approval would be on the March MTA board agenda. Yes, we would hope so.

Second, the Municipal Labor Committee has agreed to a number of changes in co-pays for our GHI and HIP doctor visits and tests, etc. Details will follow in the mail, but here are some notable changes.

HIP HMO will now become a tiered system. Preferred doctors, 65% of the panel, will still cost zero dollars for a visit. Non-preferred doctors, 35% of the panel, will cost $10 per visit. HIP will be sending out lists of preferred and non-preferred doctors in advance of the change.

GHI CBP will keep its $15 current co-pay for general practitioners, but will increase co-pays for specialists to $30. The hospital emergency room visit co-pay rises from $50 per visit to $150 but, if you are admitted to the hospital as a result of the ER visit, the ER co-pay is waived and the normal $300 co-pay for hospital admission is charged. Urgent care co-pays go from $15 per visit to $50 and MRI and CT exams also increase from $15 to $50. Physical therapy and lab test co-pays go from $15 to $20. All of those mentioned co-pays affect the GHI CBP program.

These increases are the first increase since 2004 and are designed to avoid us being charged a biweekly premium for our basic health insurance.

A GHI CBP member seeking to avoid the increases, can still opt to go to an ACP office, of which there are 36, and more set to open. The Advantage Care Physicians or ACP program will now have no co-pay at all for general practitioners or specialists. We will be sending out a list of ACP locations with our upcoming mailing. None of these changes will occur before July 1st of this year.

OSA Newsline - February 22, 2016

The recent death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has been very much a part of the news recently. One reason for this has been Justice Scalia’s well-known support for judicial rulings that would often displease most of his fellow New Yorkers. From voting rights to abortion, Justice Scalia usually supported points of view held more widely in the South of this country than in the city of his youth.

Most recently, he made public comments that made clear his thinking had changed from moderate to extreme in the case of public sector unions. Where he had earlier agreed that unions should collect a fair share of their income from all those they represent, now he was questioning the need for that to occur. It was widely assumed he would vote to render a decision that would, in effect, make all fifty states “right-to-work” states. The phrase “right-to-work” is a nice sounding set of words meant to cover the fact that the intention is to weaken unions until they are irrelevant.

Actually, so long as lots of us are determined to belong to and support unions, they never will be irrelevant. Our union started without agency shop or fair share payments and we could survive without them now. However, the sheer unfairness of only some of us being forced to pay for the gains that come to all of us is clear to us and once was clear to Justice Antonin Scalia.

OSA Newsline - February 15, 2016

A number of members have been calling regarding the 2.5% February raise but that is premature. The raise only affects the final days of February and so no increase is due until the March paychecks. We will be checking with the City to learn if the programming is completed for those raises.

Other members with different contract dates will also be notified as soon as we know that their raises are being paid.

Our efforts to obtain a four day schedule for some of our members advanced a bit recently. We had a productive meeting with the Administration For Childrens’ Services and expect a response in early March. Also, our active members at the Department of Corrections are seeking permission to survey our members at that agency on that topic.

OSA Newsline - February 8, 2016

Our team met with Fidel Del Valle, Commissioner of the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings last week. We had reached out to every OSA member in the angency and learned that most, but not all, would prefer a four day week. We had also learned that two of our members there still had that compressed work week. They had held onto it since it was started by Ed Koch.

It makes a strong argument about the feasability of the compressed work schedule when an agency has had at least some analysts having it for thirty years without a problem.

Commissioner Del Valle received our report and promised to get back to us soon. Please note that this Friday is Lincoln’s Birthday and that our union still celebrates that day as a holiday. Most members, of course, are allowed to use their floating holiday or annual leave to take off as well. Our office will be closed for that day.

OSA Newsline - February 1, 2016

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board did not put the OSA Transit Authority contract on their January calendar and, as a result, no action was taken to approve that contract. It is expected to be on the February calendar and should be approved at that session.

The bad news is that this development delays payment of the TA raises. Good news is that TA Labor Relations has started Payroll on doing all the calculations so, once approved, the money should come quickly thereafter.

The recent Transit Authority negotiation took only two meetings before full agreement on both sides was reached, so that was fast, but this slows payment down a bit.

On the Housing Authority non-monetary negotiations, a delay has arisen. The negotiator for the Housing Authority is being replaced. That may mean we start again.