OSA Newsline - May 26, 2008

Good news this week. The negotiating team signed off on the Transit Authority contract last Friday. An explanation and ballot is due out this week. Members in transit should vote quickly, since we need to get MTA Board approval after our approval, before the monies are paid.

This will be the first time longevity increases have been obtained for our Transit Authority members. The numbers are the same as the City numbers, $516 after 10 years, $516 after 15 years, and $520 after 20 years of service, in each case these are annual increases and they are cumulative.

In this case, both prior City service and/or prior service in the Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority will count toward longevity.

The negotiating team did a good job and deserves credit for their efforts. OSA and TA bargaining teams are shown in the photos above taken by Rob Spencer at the contract signing: (seated l to r) John Panico and Bob Croghan (standing l to r) Naomi Drake, Ron Gooding, Joyce Moran, Dennis Ferrara, Tim Collins and Wilfred St. Surin.

OSA Newsline - May 19, 2008

Mail will be going out regarding the membership meeting set for this Thursday, May 22nd. For us, that is late. We usually seek to get the mail out about a week earlier, but not this time. The contents of that mailing are already up on this website as the May 2008 edition of News From OSA.As you may know, if you check this page each week, we felt we were very close to a conclusion on the Transit Authority bargaining. We held the mailing back so we could announce completion of that negotiation, but as often occurs, the devil was in the details. We do still think we are very close to concluding that negotiation, but it isn’t quite over yet.

OSA’s general membership meetings are very predictable. For over twenty years now, the meetings have been held on the fourth Thursday of every other month, specifically September, November, January, March and May.We skip July unless something unusual is going on.

Last week was kind of fun. There was a meeting at DC37 of all of the unions affected by the DCAS plan. That plan is designed to change the civil service rules in response to the Long Beach decision. Everybody, from all of the unions, voiced complete agreement that the DCAS plan was awful, dreadful, inadequate, harmful and probably illegal.

Naturally, DCAS has already submitted that plan to the State Civil Service Commission for approval, long before they ever met with us.

Arthur Cheliotes started off for CWA Local 1180 by asking why DCAS did not include a promise to issue citywide promotional lists. That one action would reduce the number of provisional city workers, slowly but very dramatically over the next few years

The DCAS commissioner said that DCAS opposes citywide promotional lists because it limits agency flexibility. Yeah, they can’t cheat as much with a citywide list.

OSA chimed in with the history of the City’s civil service abuse due to the lack of citywide promotion lists and we also went on to add up the number of high paid patronage jobs being requested. In one stretch of just three pages the report asks to legalize, as exempt or noncompetitive, over 2,700 high paid jobs.

As described in the plan document, these new employees will be so knowledgeable, so skilled, and so talented that no test could ever be designed to do them justice. The OSA representative then asked where we would find so many valuable people...would they come from the old discontinued Mayor’s talent bank in the basement of City Hall or would we have go back to the old system of the Democratic and Republican clubs as we did in the old days.

Other unions chose different aspects of the plan to criticize but no one was favorable to it. Next comes a fight at the State level.

OSA Newsline - May 12, 2008

There will be a meeting this week on DCAS's suggestions in response to the Long Beach decision. Long Beach, in effect, banned any long service by provisional employees. The proper response is exams and more exams over the five year transition period that was obtained by the City.

Instead, DCAS is looking to broadband many titles, toss others into the exempt-from-civil-service category or, failing that, rule that the employees should be non-competitive rather than competitive.

The 1901 Civil Service Law sought to outlaw cronyism, nepotism, and corruption. The DCAS plan suggests that we should enshrine those awful practices and call them a reform. We are looking forward to meeting with DCAS on that plan.

In other news, our Transit Authority negotiating team feels we may be close to settlement on that contract. We’ll see.

OSA Newsline - May 5, 2008

A number of members have called in expressing their concern over a possible recession. Such concerns are legitimate and any dramatic fiscal crisis will likely impact on us as City workers.

That said, the immediate future does not look entirely dismal. New York City did put away monies during the good times and we do have a cushion.

The Policy Research Group is an analytical firm retained by the Municipal Labor Committee. Their job, which they do well, is to tell us what really is the financial state of the City, month by month.

We quote their most recent report to the MLC Steering Committee:

“Mayor Bloomberg released today his Executive Budget for FY2009 and the modified Financial Plan for the five years ending in June, 2012. Highlights of the Budget and Plan follow below:

  • The surplus for FY2008 is projected to grow by $400 million. The total current forecast for the FY2008 surplus is now $4.519 billion. If realized, this would be the second highest surplus in New York City’s history. The Mayor is also proposing that the City retire $1.986 billion more in debt this year. The adjusted surplus is therefore $6.505 billion, the highest in New York City’s history.

  • The Financial Plan contains a projected $969 million surplus for FY2009, which is then transferred to FY2010.

  • The deficit for FY2010 is reduced in the current Plan from earlier projections to $1.341 billion. At this point in time in the budgetary cycle (14 months before the actual beginning of a fiscal year) the magnitude of this projected deficit is actually less than the average for the last 20 years.

  • The 7% property tax cut implemented this fiscal year will be continued in FY2009 at a cost to the City of $1.2 billion. The Plan eliminates the cut in taxes and restores the tax to its prior level in FY2010.

  • The program providing homeowner tax rebates of $400 per homeowner is continued in FY2009.

  • The Mayor is proposing agency reductions of $1.2 billion, but more than 37% of the reductions will come from the Department of Education.

  • The May Financial Plan, talking about collective bargaining and employee benefits, continues funding wage increases of 4% and 4% for those unions that have not yet settled the latest round of bargaining.January’s Financial Plan included unspecified employee health insurance concessions of $200 million for FY2009 but the Plan released today has moved these savings into FY2010."

    The bottom line is that New York City is well-prepared if and when there is a major fiscal downturn. This is very reassuring and we’ll ask these folks to keep on paying attention so that we know what’s likely to happen next.