OSA Newsline - June 27, 2011

Negotiations are still going forward seeking to avoid the next fiscal year’s layoffs, but there is not much reason for optimism. The City has so badly mishandled the affairs that what might have worked well for all of us may now not happen at all.

The largest union for state civil service workers accepted a contract with three years of “zero” increases this past week. We don’t know why this was considered acceptable by anyone other than the Citizens Budget Commission. The CBC and the Daily News both thought this was a great deal, but we don’t.

Meanwhile, the governor’s attempt to impose Pension Tier VI seems to have failed, so the news is not all bad.

A large number of OSA members did come to the DC37 rally and a word of thanks is due to each of them. It did rain a little, during the first hour, but the assembled members largely stood fast, making their presence and resolution all the more impressive. Photos from the June 14 rally can be found in the OSA Photo Gallery for June, 2011 on this website.

OSA Newsline - June 20, 2011

The big news last week was the negotiations between the Municipal Labor Committee (MLC) and the mayor over layoffs.

It was big news, but was reported, in general, very poorly by the media. This mayor consistently negotiates in the newspapers and, on this occasion, the result could be too many cooks spoiling the broth.

Harry Nespoli, head of the MLC, was talking to Christine Quinn about avoiding the oncoming layoffs. The idea of using some money from the Health Stabilization Fund to assist the City Council and the mayor in avoiding layoffs was raised.

Thereafter, the story took off in the newspapers and on television. You may have read the terms of the deal. You may have read some sources praising the deal and others roundly criticizing it.

Actually, there was no deal. There were proposals debated by the MLC Steering Committee last Monday and by the full MLC on Wednesday, but there was no deal. Instead, Harry Nespoli communicated his discussions with the mayor’s office and got advice from the assembled labor leaders. The steering committee was quite supportive of his efforts, but the larger MLC general meeting saw many labor leaders dissenting, largely due to their hatred of Mayor Bloomberg, which he has earned.

The mayor has attacked civil service, our pensions, our health benefits, and our right to belong to a union at all. It is hard for some to negotiate with him at all thereafter.

The Organization of Staff Analysts spoke for negotiations, simply because we may be able to stop the layoffs for at least a year and New York City’s economic conditions could change for the better twelve months from now.

Meanwhile, newspaper reports in general were very inaccurate and voices opposing the deal that had not been made were widely reported, along with terms that varied from one newspaper’s article to the next.

Since OSA has a seat on both the MLC and its steering committee, our members will learn of the terms of the deal, if and when it is ever concluded and voted upon.

We will change the newsline early next week if a deal is able to be done.

OSA Newsline - June 13, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, is the day of the big rally at City Hall. Go to the Broadway side of City Hall after work and bear witness on your own behalf.

The mayor wants to diminish your pension, take away your health benefits and destroy civil service, all as his last term gift to his fellow billionaires.

There are no negotiations about a raise for you so the mayor is also lowering all of our salaries as he plays out his term.

And, now, he is demanding layoffs in large numbers to balance a budget he deliberately unbalanced by favoring his rich friends.

Come to the rally. You owe it to yourself and your city.

Last week, OSA representatives were at the Local 375 (AFSCME) press conference on the steps of City Hall and also at a St. John’s University Law School conference. The City Hall event attacked the mayor’s policies and at the St. John’s event we discussed an excellent book. “The Hellhound of Wall Street,” by Michael Perino, is the story of Ferdinand Pecora and his investigation of Wall Street in 1933.

It is a superb and enjoyable book and both Arthur Cheliotes and your own chairperson praised it at length to the assembled labor law students.

Here, some video of OSA Chair Bob Croghan at the Local 375 press conference courtesy of the folks at LaborPress.

OSA Newsline - June 6, 2011

Two items from last week. First, the Municipal Labor Committee’s steering committee met with Jim Hanley of the Office of Labor Relations. Committee members asked about the transfer of the Deferred Compensation Plan from the control of the Office of Labor Relations to the Department of Finance. We were told that no such decision had been made.

We responded, at length, with union after union citing our satisfaction with the status quo. At a minimum, we felt strongly that the mayor had better start talking to us about this, since our members’ money was involved. There was mention of adding one or more labor members to the trustees of the DCP, but no conclusion was reached.

Jim Hanley, for his part, offered us more pension givebacks the mayor would like us to accept. There is an assumption, widespread among editorial writers and media moguls, that our pensions are too generous. Since the mayor thinks we read and believe theose editorials, he is asking us to deny a pension of any sort to a person who works for the city for only eleven years and eleven months and twenty nine day.

Under his new “Tier VI,” he would require twelve years of service for vesting. We believe it is five or so years in the private sector.

John Liu, on the other hand, also called a meeting and reported on the pension issue. The Comptroller’s office issued a report noting that, on a long term basis, the existing city pensions are entirely sustainable without any givebacks or further diminution.

You can read the entire report by clicking this link. The analysis is “rock solid,” and we were already aware of the fact that the current crisis comes from the stock market collapse. The mayor keeps blaming us and not Wall Street for the current crisis, but it's just not true.

And, remember the DC37 rally planned for City Hall after work on June 14, 2011. Make note of the date. You can download a flyer to remind yourself, your colleagues, your family members or your neighbors of the time and place of the rally by clicking this link.

Finally, quite a few legislators in states across the country have recently been introducing bills that strain credulity. The national labor federation, the AFL-CIO, has put together a website which features a short quiz on this legislation. Take the quiz and see if you can guess which of the bills are real and which the AFL-CIO's writers have simply made up. You can reach the quiz at this link: "Real Or Not" Quiz