OSA Newsline - July 26, 2010

The idea of a newsline bi-weekly is a good one for July, only it did not work out.

The Transit Authority has surprised us for a second time. Last week, they placed one of our provisional members on administrative leave for two months. This week, they failed to put our contract on their board agenda. As our TA members are well aware, we concluded bargaining and rushed to a final vote earlier this month. The final vote was 131 to 1 to accept and our decision was made in time to meet the TA board’s agenda.

Even so, for reasons not explained to us, our contract is not on the agenda for normal pro-forma approval and, as a result, a delay will likely occur in the payment of the overdue raises for our members at the Transit Authority.

Our negotiations section will be seeking to clarify the problem (if there is one) and to seek to speed up payment of monies due.

The Transit Authority is cancelling bus roues and closing down subway lines, so perhaps this chaos is part of the larger picture.

Even so, it is extremely upsetting and not likely to make for a pleasant summer.

On another front, after many years of effort, it looks like HR 847, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, is finally moving to a floor vote in the House of Representatives later this week. The bill is an important one and would provide federal funding for desperately needed medical programs that treat the 9/11-related illnesses of tens of thousands of 9/11 survivors and first responders, and would ensure ongoing specialized health care for those suffering ill health effects from their exposures to the toxic dust and smoke from this attack on our nation.

It is critical that every U.S. Representative in the country hear from their own constituents -- the people who live in their districts -- urging them to vote yes for HR 847.

Please reach out to any and all of your family and friends who live outside of New York State. Ask them to please make a call tomorrow or Wednesday morning to urge their Representative to do the right thing and vote Yes when HR 847 comes up on the House floor.

Since time is short, you may want to just phone your friends/family/contacts and to ask them to make the calls, but you can also use the “Dear Friends” letter below which you can paste into an email, along with a brief sample message for your contacts to use when they call their Representative.

Here is the “Dear Friends” letter:

Dear (name of your friend or relative in districts beyond NYC),

I am writing to you to ask for your help in ensuring passage of an important bill in Congress that will protect the health of tens of thousands of people affected by the worst act of terror in our nation's history.

As you know, 9/11 was an attack on our nation that killed nearly 3000. What you may not know is that tens of thousands of people are now sick as a result of the World Trade Center attacks from breathing in toxic fumes and dust that resulted from the collapse and burning of the Twin Towers. Some of those people were the brave responders who toiled on the "pile" in the rescue and recovery operation -- they came to the WTC site from every state in the country and risked their lives to help others. Some were the civilians targeted by the terrorists -- people who lived, worked or attended school in the densely populated area around the WTC, and people who were visiting NYC. Many were caught in the toxic cloud when the towers collapsed. Many were encouraged to remain in or return to heavily contaminated neighborhoods, deliberately misled by the federal government's false assurances that the air was safe.

This week, either on Wednesday, July 28 or Thursday July 29, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act will come up for a vote in the House of Representatives. I am appealing to you to please call your representative at his/her Washington DC office and urge him/her to VOTE YES. I have a sample message for you to use, below.

You can do this by calling the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 TTY: (202) 225-1904. Ask to be connected to your representative's office. (If you do not know who your representative is, I have included instructions.)

Thank you for your much-needed help. If you want to call me for further details I can be reached at _____. Best,

And here is a sample message to use in making calls to Representatives:

Hello, I’m (your name) and I'm a constituent of Representative _____________________. I'm a resident of (give city, state and zip code)

I am calling to urge Representative ____ to VOTE YES ON HR 847, the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, when it comes up for a vote on the House floor this week. This bill will provide treatment for 9/11-related illnesses to survivors of the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- downtown Manhattan residents, students, workers and visitors - as well as to the thousands of brave responders who came to their rescue. Many, including children, are sick from having breathed the toxic dust and smoke, and are struggling to regain their health.

Those who who were harmed as a result of this attack on our nation need and deserve the right kind of medical help, help that this bill will provide. Thank you.

To locate the name of your representative if you do not know it:

First, go to the House of Representatives website - http://www.house.gov

Look at the upper left hand corner of the home page, and you will see a "Find your Representative" search box, where you can type in your zip code and click "go" to get the name of your Representative in the House.

Please note, sometimes you may need the extra 4 digits behind your zip, because your zip code includes more than one House district. If so, and you do not know the extra 4 digits, please use the following link, where you can type in your address and get the numbers: http://zip4.usps.com/zip4/welcome.jsp

Thanks for taking action.

OSA Newsline - July 19, 2010

The bad news on layoffs continues and even gets a bit worse. This time, it is the Transit Authority. Four of our members, provisional analysts, were laid off as of Friday. Rules apparently differ with the TA and the persons laid off were asked to leave the premises, but were told they would be paid for another month.

Over 60 persons were laid off from the Technical and Information Services Department and, in lesser numbers, from the Customer Service and the Automated Fare units. Both TA and MabStoa employees were apparently affected.

Finally, deadlines are now approaching for filing two 9/11-related registration forms. If you or anyone you know was a worker or volunteer who aided in the 9/11 rescue, recovery or cleanup efforts, please be aware that there are now only two months left to register to preserve your rights to be eligible for workers' compensation connected to 9/11 in case you develop a 9/11-related illness down the road. The deadline to file a WTC-12 form is September 11, 2010.

The same date is the deadline to file Form #622 with NYCERS if you participated in WTC rescue, recovery, or clean-up operations between September 11, 2001 and September 12, 2002. The World Trade Disability Law permits you to file a notice of participation and a later application for disability retirement benefits with NYCERS if you were affected. By filing this form, disabilities from specified illnesses contracted now or in the future "will be presumed to have resulted from the performance of duty unless rebutted by competent medical evidence."

You can find information and the WTC-12 and 622 forms in the Member Services section of this website. Scroll to "World Trade Center Health Issues" and read the sections about workers' compensation and the WTC Disability Law.

In addition, you can call the New York Committee for Occupational Health and Safety's hotline at 1-866-WTC-2556 to find out about the law and eligibility requirements.

OSA Newsline - July 7, 2010

The vote on the Transit Authority contract was, as we anticipated, overwhelmingly in favor of ratification. There were 104 votes cast and, of those, 103 voted yes and one voted no. Thanks to Lauren Shapiro, John Turley, Christina Wong and Tim Collins for their work in counting the ballots.

The next step is to communicate to the TA the approval and establish when the retroactive raises will be implemented. When we know it, you'll find it on the phone hotline and the Weekly Newsline here.

OSA Newsline - July 6, 2010

The union wishes you a very happy July 4th! The votes on the Transit Authority contract will be counted at the union office after 3pm on Tuesday. All OSA members at the TA are invited to attend the counting, but in this case there is not much of a contest.

Based on phone calls received at the union office from our on-location representatives, our Transit Authority members are reported as voting yes, with relief.

This is the last of our unit contracts and had been held up repeatedly by the Transit Authority to the point that some members were worried that we would not be able to settle at all.

That we were able to settle for the 4 and the 4 and the 0.1 was a relief to the OSA bargaining team as well as to the members themselves. The results will be posted on the website, but ratification is clearly expected.

Since summer has now arrived, the newsline will go from weekly to biweekly, unless, of course, something dramatic occurs.

And finally, some photos from the mid-June Municipal Labor Committee "Save Our City" rally outside City Hall taken by communications director Rob Spencer. That's OSA Chair Bob Croghan on the enormous TV monitor.