OSA Newsline - March 30, 2015

We had sad news last week. Henry (Hank) Mandel has passed away. Hank Mandel had a long and full life.

In our union office hangs a framed union dues book from his service in the wartorn Atlantic as a merchant seaman. Having survived Nazi submarines, Hank then proceeded to Israel where he was arrested for his work on behalf of that state in formation. A medal dedicated to him from that nation also hangs in our office.

Post-war, Hank worked for the Navy as a federal employee and did so until he retired after a full career. His next step was to take and pass a Methods Analyst exam for New York City. That title was a predecessor to our own title series being created. Hank was on board with the city when our new organization was formed and joined as soon as he heard of it. He became OSA’s chapter chairperson for the Department of Health and was very active from the start.

Hank retired from his city job just as OSA was winning the right to represent 650 analysts. He volunteered to use his free time as a retiree to help OSA and he began doing grievances from home. A member would call in a grievance; Hank would go the member's worksite and fill out the grievance forms there. He would drop the forms off at that agency's labor relations office and would wait for the Step I hearing to be called.

He would return on the date of the hearing and get together with the member to prep before the actual hearing.

Hank would follow this procedure through the grievance process, for Step I, Step II and Step III. He would also represent the member at arbitration if the matter went so far.

He did this, week after week, without pay.

Eventually, our union grew large enough to afford an office and Hank now began coming into that office. There, he founded our grievance section and trained other volunteer retirees as the section expanded, year after year.

Hank had attended City College on 23rd street when that street was serviced by the Second Avenue elevated train. He worked for us, on 23rd street, until the city was, for the third time, attempting to build a subway on Second Avenue.

Only after he celebrated his 90th birthday did Hank decide he could no longer keep up with the work as our chief grievance officer.

Many thousands of city employees in the analyst titles have been protected by the fairness built into the system called due process. Hank did his part in making that happen and he did so with all his heart for all his years.

We have lost one of our founders.

Members who knew and loved Hank can call Katie Guarino at the union office for information on attending the Shiva.

OSA Newsline - March 26, 2015

For the second week in a row, OSA was featured in an article in the civil service newspaper, The Chief. This week, the article explores the union's concerns about the recent Experience and Education filings for the upcoming Staff, Associate and Administrative Staff Analyst exams. You can read the article by clicking this link.

OSA Newsline - March 23, 2015

We have good news for those of our members whose titles were covered by the managerial pay plan in 2011 and 2012. The one percent raises of the city pattern may be paid out as soon as this Friday, March 27th.

That works out to a bit more than a 2% raise, with retroactive monies due as well.

There appeared to be some confusion with the city as to details and we are awaiting more information from the Office of Labor Relations, but the raises are certainly welcome.

For the period of 2013 onwards, those titles were covered by the union and the later raises will be a part of our union's contract settlement.

Speaking of that settlement, we are awaiting the city scheduling of our next bargaining date with some impatience.

Even so, we have not been sitting still. In meetings last week, we received favorable responses on a number of items of importance to us. New York City Housing Authority Chairperson Shola Olatoye met with us and outlined a very positive picture of fiscal improvements won by that agency. To cite one major change, the Authority no longer has to pay New York City $70 million a year for police services. That they ever had to do so is an historical oddity going back to when they had their own police force. This change, along with others outlined by Chairperson Olatoye is important to us since the Authority's impoverishment by Mayor Bloomberg was endangering the survival of low cost housing in our city.

It was also affecting our members’ employment and contract negotiations. Good news on that front is very welcome.

We also met with Doctor Raju, President of the Health and Hospitals Corporation. It was a very positive meeting and Doctor Raju has promised to look into our contract demand that noncompetitive employees be allowed to test on a promotional basis for competitive civil service jobs. HHC is very important to us in this matter, since all of our HHC members are serving in noncompetitive titles.

Finally, we met with Commissioner Stacy Cumberbatch of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and discussed the recent computerized E & E exams and other items. One issue brought up was the compressed work schedule, the four day week. Commissioner Cumberbatch responded very favorably to this issue, recounting her own experiences in working a 4 day week many years ago. She does find value in the idea.

We made a suggestion that those not qualifying on the computerized E & E test be given a second chance, without prejudice, since many were unfamiliar with this format and she did make a note of the suggestion for further consideration.

All of this and more will be discussed at our general membership meeting this Thursday, March 26th, at 125 Worth Street, second floor auditorium at 6:15 p.m.

Please note the change of venue, due to ongoing classes at the union office.

OSA Newsline - March 16, 2015

The city had asked our availability for collective bargaining this week and our entire team was available but, apparently, the city was not.

The delay does not exactly mean we are at loose ends either. We are scheduled to meet, this week, separately, with the chief officers of the Health and Hospitals Corporation, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the New York City Housing Authority. And, on Tuesday, our morning starts at Gracie Mansion with a St. Patrick’s Day breakfast with Mayor De Blasio.

This is the second time the leadership of OSA has been invited to a St. Patrick’s Day gathering at Gracie Mansion. The last time, the invitation came from Mayor Dinkins; so it has been a while between friendly visits.

We did get invited to Gracie Mansion twelve years ago and, on that occasion, the tea and cookies were fine, but it was not St. Patricks’ Day. Instead, we were there so Mayor Bloomberg could tell us he needed city employees to give up $600 million in recurring wages so that he could balance his budget without raising taxes on his friends. On that occasion, Tony Garvey, president of the Lieutenants Benevolent Association, sat down too quickly and tragically destroyed one of the mayor's invaluable pieces of antique furniture.

In spite of the excellent tea and cookies, the Municipal Labor Committee did not give the mayor what he wanted that day nor, come to think of it, any day thereafter.

The St. Patrick’s Day event this week looks to be a far happier event and reflects a happier labor policy.

Finally, Tuesday this week you might want to pick up a copy of the civil service newspaper, The Chief. In it, there is an article opposite the editorial, discussing our contract demand for a restored alternate work schedule. You can read the article by clicking this link.

One of our hopes is that our pushing for a 4 day week will find favor with many agencies. Anyway, anytime OSA gets favorable notice in The Chief is very pleasant and members should read The Chief regularly.The cost of the publication is only one dollar.

OSA Newsline - March 9, 2015

This past week and next, our union has been and will be absorbed in the training classes held daily at the union office. Next week, on the other hand, we have meetings with DCAS, HHC and the Housing Authority.

Not on the schedule yet is the main contract negotiating session. We have provided our dates of availability and are still awaiting confirmation from the city.

Last week, we did take part in a teleconference with the Health Department and a number of other unions. The topic was unusual. The Federal Centers for Disease Control has asked our NY City Health Department for volunteers to go to West Africa to fight Ebola.The Dept. of Health agreed and sought volunteers. A number of members from different unions volunteered and were accepted. It was our job last week to closely question the agency to assure that the doing of a good, even heroic, deed by our members would be supported by their employer. Details of pay, leave status, workers compensation and even the upcoming promotional exams were discussed.

We were pleased to learn that one of our analysts was selected to be one of those sent on behalf our city. There will be more about this on future newslines.

OSA Newsline - March 2, 2015

We had our third informal negotiating session in a row, last week. At the first, three weeks ago, we fleshed out our proposals and the city listened, asked questions and even clarified our goals somewhat. At the second session, the city responded with objections to our proposals, and this was expected by us. We were heartened, however, by the pertinence of some of the objections, because it showed that our proposals were being seriously considered.

Last week's third session also went well. The city raised a major objection to the concept of voluntary furloughs by citing the potential cost of unemployment coverage. The union's response was to note that no such cost would occur under our proposal and none had been incurred by the city on the prior occasions when voluntary furloughs had been granted. The only real cost would be for the continuation of health coverage and that was covered through the use of COBRA, with the cost paid by the person on leave.

The city has not said that they are agreeing to the use of voluntary furloughs, but as fast as they have raised potential objections, we have been able to answer them.

On the topic of alternative work schedules, the city representative went further and suggested that the city would be willing to see if some, larger, agencies might be agreeable to try out AWS on a pilot project basis. We were heartened by their response, although members must be cautioned against too much optimism. Negotiations are ongoing and, even if we believe the current administration to be showing more respect for the city work force than we saw in the prior 20 years, the process may still have disappointments ahead.

Some issues, such as eligibility for our noncompetitive members to take competitive exams and payments of longevity to Administrative Staff Analysts Levels II and III, and still others, were touched on only lightly, since it is unclear yet what can be agreed upon.

The city did make it clear that the DC37/UFT pattern for raises is on offer and they noted and reconfirmed that we were not in dispute over those raises. We are not. We are seeking to advance the cause of our members in ways that we believe will serve both the city and our own members’ interests.

For example, each employee granted the right to an alternative work schedule reduces the crowding of the rush hour by at least one person. All of us who travel during the rush hour would applaud that change.

We believe that Mayor De Blasio, who took the subway to his own inauguration, can understand the value of that contract demand.

And now the city is taking a break and working on our proposals. Our next meeting will be in three weeks. We do hope for further progress at that time, but we also understand that we brought a number of unique, but important, proposals to the table.