OSA Newsline - November 29, 2004

City work activity tends to slow down during the holiday season now upon us. One item that did occur was that the Transit Authority sent us back a corrected draft memorandum. Tim Collins is now seeking to arrange what will probably be the final bargaining session.

The other news of note is that the union office is about to be given its new carpet to replace the one that was ruined by the flood. Our target to return upstairs is still December.

Mail will be going out this week, but keep free the date of December 16th, our holiday party at the 67th Street Park Avenue Armory. You can download the invitation here.
OSA Newsline - November 22, 2004

A snag developed in the Transit Authority bargaining last week. Tim Collins, our lead researcher, discovered that the document sent to the union would, if approved, lead to seven additional days lost in sick leave beyond any agreement we thought we had been discussing. Tim contacted the Transit Authority and, after a number of phone calls, he has received their promise to send him a corrected proposal. There is an old folks saying that the devil is in the details and it is especially true in contract negotiations. Good work, Tim. As soon as the error is corrected, we expect to proceed quickly to a conclusion and a vote on the contract.

Negotiations are also underway between the City and the Municipal Labor Committee on health benefits. The rising drug costs have caused both direct and indirect costs. The direct costs are visible in increased co-pays and increased premiums. The indirect costs are less immediately visible but have an impact as well. Those unions with drug plans are forced to reduce support for their other benefits and the City finds itself directing money into the PICA program that might otherwise have gone to support hospitalization or costs in hospital visits. The intent of the negotiations is to address this problem and hope they can find a solution for a few years to come. No long term solution seems likely until the federal government eventually addresses the ever increasing cost of drugs.

A number of members have been calling to inquire if the Staff Analyst exam procedure has yet been completed. The answer is no. The test validation process continues at present. No word on when it will be completed is available.

Other members are calling to ask if the Administrative Staff Analyst exam is still on schedule for opening filing this Spring. The answer to that question is yes. The second part of the question is if and when the union training course will start to prepare candidates for the exam. The answer is that the union will provide a course for those interested, but that we can't set up the course of study until the City in its Notice of Examination lets us know the areas to be covered in the exam. As soon as it is known, though, we have at least in the past moved with speed to provide a study guide, classroom teachers and other materials as well. Our executive director, Sheila Gorsky, plans to do so this time as well.

Finally, some members have been calling up to find out where the Holiday Party is. The party is set for December 16th at the 67th Street Park Avenue Armory, as described in this downloadable notice. You will also be receiving the notice in a mailing shortly.
OSA Newsline - November 15, 2004

Most members and retirees have received information on the Health Plan Re-opener period from the City. As always, some persons have been missed. If you are in need of the booklet on health plans because you wish to change plans and have not received this information, you can click here to download a copy of the City Health Benefits Program's Summary Program Description which includes a transfer application for retirees. You can click here to download the City's health plan application for active employees.

While this would be the fastest way to obtain the materials, if you'd prefer a printed booklet, contact your office manager if you are an active employee or Rose or Judy of our Welfare Fund at the union office if you are a retiree. They will take your name and try to get you a booklet and change form quickly.

Our Welfare Fund staff perform a number of chores of this sort regularly. On occasion, their intervention is even more crucial. Recently, one of our members' families lost their health coverage due to a form not being returned to HIP a short time after our member had passed away. Diane Collins of our office learned of the problem from the member's widow. Diane reached out to the City which led to HIP reconsidering and restoring the health benefits to the family.

It took a few hours of Diane's efforts to resolve the problem with a good result, but that family will now have their proper health coverage for years to come. Good work, Diane.

A mailing should be going out soon to our Transit Authority members asking for their decision on the proposed TA contract. The bargaining team met least week and matters appear to be reaching a conclusion. Since negotiations could not even start until the TA was ready in late September, that's pretty quick work.

This Wednesday will be the day of the November General Membership meeting at 125 Worth Street, 2nd Floor Auditorium at 6pm sharp.

On the agenda will be nominations for office in OSA and OSART for the two year period to come. There will also be a report on current health benefit negotiations.

See you at the meeting.
OSA Newsline - November 8, 2004

There was a meeting between the City and the Steering Committee of the Municipal Labor Committee last week.

The City arrived to explain that since the PICA program is so expensive, it will have to be discontinued by next Spring. Randi Weingarten countered with a number of reasonable alternatives and the City agreed to meet further to pursue those alternatives.

The City would like us to panic and prepare to accept long term givebacks to save the PICA Program. This was the scenario offered two and a half years ago and the City is playing the same tune again this Fall. The City is, however, in actual surplus, the Mayor has money for new stadiums hither and yon and it is amazing how much money is available for every good cause except us. Negotiations will continue.

Also, negotiations with the Transit Authority resume this week and appear to be going relatively well.

Finally, the union office is showing better progress in its reconstruction. Walls have been painted and rug installation will begin after a final cleaning. The office will not be ready for the Holiday Party. Instead, we will be back at the Armory again this year. December 16th is set for the party, so save the date.
OSA Newsline - November 1, 2004

Our Transit Authority negotiations moved forward last week. A few of our members from Transit have called inquiring as to why the Transit Authority contract was not negotiated at the same time as the City contract. The answer, of course, is that the Transit Authority is a different employer and requires its own contract. In fact, our members at Transit do have somewhat different benefits and salaries than City employed Analysts.

A version of the City pattern will, however, be the pattern for Transit. There will be a different provision on leave modifications affecting analysts hired after July 1st, but the raises are expected to be the same. Negotiations are actually moving quickly and the matter may come to a vote this month.

Members received the general membership mailing last week and, as expected, a number of members called to voice disagreement with our recommendation for the presidential election.

On one point all do agree. On Tuesday of this week, we each have a chance to vote our convictions and we should do so.