OSA Newsline - March 31, 2008

Our union met last week with the Office of Labor Relations and the Off Track Betting Corporation. OTB is in danger of closing, due to a dispute between the City and the State.

OTB was created to replace “bookies,” the men and women who used to take bets or “make book” on behalf of organized crime. By legalizing betting on the horses, not only at the track, but also at your local OTB office, a noticeable reduction was made in the number of persons working for the mob.

Now, even though OTB is a major revenue producing agency, the state and local governments have so snarled up their business that our members are being warned of imminent agency closure.

The real argument is over revenue sharing.

In any case, as the Mayor plays a game of chicken with the State, a couple of thousand local jobs are at stake. If that wasn’t bad enough, OTB warns us that their retirees’ health benefits are in danger if the agency goes under.

The unions’ position, as voiced by Dennis Sullivan of DC37, is that we believe the City is liable to pay for those health benefits, even if OTB disappears entirely and that we believe the courts will agree with us.

Meanwhile, to add insult to injury, OTB also failed to pay the recent raises and retroactive monies to our members, although they will do so soon.

There are a few other agencies still behind in paying the retroactive raises but most have now completed the process and the remaining agencies seem to be serious about completing the payments by the end of April or earlier.

The Transit Authority negotiations were discussed at last week’s membership meeting. Our demands are completed and the TA has set a date for the first meeting. A question was asked as to when negotiations would be completed but, of course, that depends on the TA. For our part, quick would be good.

OSA Newsline - March 24, 2008

The union phone lines were busy all last week. Most of the phone calls related to the recent contract increases, especially explaining the longevity monies.

Most, but not all, City agencies paid the raise and the retroactive monies on the March 7th paycheck. We did check a number of the members' pay stubs and figured out that the City had properly included the 10 and 15 year longevities with the rest of the base pay before adding the 7.1% raise that affected both base pay and longevity pay. As per the rules, that did increase the raise of members earning longevity, but the longevity number itself did not increase on the paycheck.

We also noted that the 20 year longevity had not been increased as it should have been. This pay period, on the 21st,many agencies did increase the service longevity differential by $4.25 biweekly and gave an appropriate bit of retroactive pay to cover the period up to now.

The 20 year longevity had been set at $1,049. With the 3.25% of the prior contract and the 7.1% of the current contract, the total increase on the 20 year longevity was over 10% or, in dollars, $111 annually. The old rate was $1,049, the new 20 year differential is $1,160.

Also, of course, a further increase is set for August 24, 2008, when all three longevity awards are increased for most of us or, for members in titles newly represented by OSA, initiated for the first time.

Incidentally, let it be noted that not everyone is celebrating yet. A few agencies have distinct problems, holding up the monies due. Also, we are only now able to commence bargaining on behalf of our members at the Transit Authority.

And finally, an update on two problems generated by the recent raises. As we mentioned in the March 17 newsline, a group of 200 members who work in the Early Intervention Program were functionally transferred from the Health and Hospitals Corporation to the Department of Health as of September 30, 2007. These folks received the retroactive raises from HHC up until the date they were transferred out of the Corporation. However, they are still owed their retroactive monies from 9/30/07 to now from DOH and the increased rate in their DOH paychecks. It looks like the DOH will be paying them the monies owed and making the correction in pay rate sometime in April.

While the City appears, as we noted above, to have now increased the 20 year longevity in most paychecks, in some agencies they have yet to pay the retroactive amount due on the 20 year longevity for those affected. That, too, looks like it will be paid in April.

Our general membership meeting is this week at 6pm on Thursday. One point that will be on the agenda is computer usage. Members must be aware that personal use of the agency computers is now dangerous. Most of us jaywalk from time to time. Many of us have done so with cops watching us. It's against the law to jaywalk, but the law is hardly ever enforced.

Similarly, with the agency computers. Personal usage was always prohibited, but the rule was seldom enforced. It is now being enforced.

OSA Newsline - March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

The union office was swamped last week with phone calls. Over 4,000 of our members were supposed to receive their raises on March 7 (mayoral agencies) and March 13 (NYCHA) – and most did. Those who did not – a lot of them called to ask why. Of those who did get the raise, some got the wrong amount and they also called. All of this is normal.

In addition, however, some agencies also did manage to pay the retroactive monies on the same check, but some did not, which led to more phone calls.

And, in all cases, the City failed to take into account the increase in the 20 year longevity which led to still more phone calls.

The largest single problem was a group of over 200 of our members who had been transferred last year from the Health and Hospitals Corporation to the Health Department. In this case, as our grievance staff learned, the problem was not with the HHC, which had done their job, but with the Health Department, which had not done theirs.

All of these problems were addressed and, wherever they occurred, steps are being taken to correct those errors.

Meanwhile, our general membership mailing went out and should be in your hands by now, or very soon. Details on the longevities and how to do the math are given in the letter. The same content is posted as the March edition of News From OSA on this website.

With a little effort, the remaining errors will be corrected soon. Overall, we are glad the City moved faster than usual, even if not perfectly.

OSA Newsline - March 7, 2008

For once, the City of New York has surprised us by paying early. Over four thousand of our members were supposed to receive raises as of March 7, 2008 and retroactive monies as of March 21st.

To our surprise, many agencies were able to get the retroactive payment out early and it’s is arriving today. That is good.

Unfortunately, the union newsletter is due out for next week, under the assumption that the pay would arrive first and the retroactive money second. The newsletter will have two pages devoted to financials, explaining the raise and how to compute the retroactive monies due. Naturally, we now wish the letter had gone out already, but it didn’t. However, the content will be up sooner as the March edition of News From OSA on this website.

We congratulate those agencies that paid the retroactive monies early. We urge our members to hold on to their pay stub so they can check the amount received for accuracy, when the newsletter arrives.

One error is already apparent. Some members have called in to notify us that their retroactive raise was correct except for the 20 year longevity. In such a case, we would expect an adjustment quickly and we will be in touch with the City about the matter.

There was good news this past week for over one thousand candidates who were sent cards announcing their passing grade on the Staff Analyst Trainee exam. The cards, from the Personnel branch of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, were also sent to those graded as failing. A candidate so graded can ask to have the exam re-scored, especially if their score was very close to passing. Also, if a candidate was disqualified based upon the experience paper, an appeal is permitted and the candidate should contact OSA for assistance. The final answer key and additional information will be posted shortly on the Current Campaigns and Updates section of this website.

OSA Newsline - March 3, 2008

We had seriously bad news last week. As many as seven of our members are being affected by the latest scheduled layoffs at the New York City Housing Authority. A number of those affected have other civil service titles to fall back upon, but a few are actually in danger of discharge.

Sheila Gorsky was at work on this issue on Friday afternoon.

NYCHA seems to have followed all the rules correctly. The four members targeted who are currently serving their probationary year as Staff Analysts will be immediately restored to the Staff Analyst list based upon their original list number.

In addition, of course, any permanent laid off, even if laid off while on probation, is placed on a preferential rehiring list. Thereafter, the Housing Authority will not be allowed to hire any new Staff Analysts until those laid off are restored to their jobs.

The layoff target date is Friday April 18th, unless further aid comes from State or City sources.