OSA Newsline - October 28, 2002

[Reminder: Scroll down to the message for October 14, 2002 if you need Health Benefits reopener information]

Last week, Councilmember Allan Jennings approved our union's draft of a law to amend the Administrative Code. The goal of the amendment is to ensure that agencies are not allowed to use the one-in-three rule to permanently disqualify candidates who pass their civil service promotional exams.

As soon as Councilmember Jennings is able to schedule hearings on this matter, OSA Executive Director Sheila Gorsky will begin to recruit and prepare witnesses to chronicle the current pattern of agency misbehavior. It is true that only some agencies are deliberately violating the spirit of the Civil Service Law, and it is exactly those agencies that we are going to be targeting.

Sheila is also the person who resolved another, but far more minor problem, for us recently. The AFLAC people who are offering the short-term disability insurance to our members were using a New Jersey phone number and the calls qualified as long-distance telephone calls. Sheila insisted, and AFLAC complied, on the obtaining of a New York City phone number. The new number is (212) 983-8567 Ext. 812.

Congratulations to Tom Gorse, one of our grievance reps, who won a $3,600 annual raise for one of our HHC members last week. The grievance section has won many out-of-title grievances, but we don't usually get around to mentioning them on the newsline. This time we did and an overdue thank you goes to all of our hardworking grievance staff. They are always there for all of us.

Finally, this Friday (November 1st) at the union office, 220 East 23rd Street, Suite 709, at 7pm, LaborFilms will present At The River I Stand, about the Memphis sanitation workers strike of 1968, which revealed the connections between economic and civil rights in a deeply racist community. When 1200 municipal workers, paid so little they qualified for welfare, struck for higher wages and a union contract, Dr. Martin Luther King joined the campaign in his final struggle for justice. As usual, the screening is free and light refreshments will be available.

Also, new on our "Labor Links" page are two links to labor sources of information on the West Coast dockworkers lockout and the Bush administration's intervention on the side of the employers by invoking the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act. Click on the Labor Links icon and then the Strikes and Lockouts link or click here for the longshore union's site
OSA Newsline - October 21, 2002

[Reminder: Scroll down to the message for October 14, 2002 if you need Health Benefits reopener information]

The Mayor has been openly discussing the City fiscal crisis recently and, as soon as the November election is completed, we will start to hear even more about the State fiscal crisis. That, it turns out, is even larger than the City's. Now, here is the funny thing about each fiscal crisis New York City enters. We will be blamed for it. For a few years now, OSA as a union has been complaining about our government's paying no heed, in times of surplus, to the inevitable lean years that follow.

There was no word of advice from any newspaper or television station urging the reduction of the City or State debt, only the constant drumbeat of lower taxes, lower taxes. There will now, however, be lots of free advice to City and State workers, telling us to sacrifice, reduce our health benefits, reduce our salaries, and to work harder and harder for less and less.

Our response, of course, will be to reject such advice as unwanted and essentially dishonest. We already know, from editorials written when New York City was flush with surplus revenues, what editorial writers believe is a fair wage. The Federal minimum wage was far, far too much for a Work Experience Program worker to expect to be paid for cleaning Central Park in good weather or bad. In the eyes of the newspapers, government work should be done for free.

The Municipal Labor Committee is gearing up for what looks like our toughest round of bargaining since the mid-1970s.

On a different topic, Councilmember Allan Jennings, Jr. has asked OSA to draft a proposed law that would prevent agencies from abusing the existing one-in-three rule on civil service exams. He will have our draft on his desk this week and we thank him for asking.

OSA Newsline - October 14, 2002

The Health Plan reopener is upon us for the Fall 2002 transfer period. There is an expectation that a significant number of members may transfer out of the more expensive plans this year, due to rising costs. The Aetna point-of-service plan now costs $145.19 biweekly for a family, and that cost may weel be too much for many families.

The two main plans, GHI/CBP (60% of enrollees)and HIP HMO (30% of enrollees) continue to be reasonably affordable, as do some of the other plans, so if you need to switch, obtain the comparison price chart by clicking here for active employees and by clicking here for Medicare and non-Medicare retirees.

Transfer forms and information will be available at agency personnel offices or at the Health Benefits Program, 40 Rector Street, 3rd Floor. The union office will also have forms available. Or you can download the transfer form for active employees here. and download the transfer form for retirees here. Retirees: please take careful note of the box labeled "Medicare HMOs" and the asterisked information at the bottom of the form concerning adding or dropping dependents.

If you would like more information about the various plans available, you can go to the City Health Benefits Program's website for descriptions of health maintenance organizations available to active employees and non-Medicare-eligible retirees, PPO, EPO or Point of Service Plans available to active employees and non-Medicare-eligible retirees, or plans available to Medicare-eligible retirees.

Negotiations were held last week for our uniformed members from the Police Department, but progress is still slow. In this case, the City has actually asked us to be patient, since ongoing events in other unions may or may not impact this unit. If the School Security Officers in lower ranks get the UFT settlement, our argument for more money becomes stronger by far.

Our longevity monies continue to be under study by the City's Office of Management and Budget. It would be a nice note if civil servants were ever paid their raises on time.

OSA has offered to do the administrative work required to pay the $125 drug subsidy payment due to many of our members. The City is studying our offer now.

Finally, OSA's free film series continues this Friday night (10/18) at 7pm at the union office with The Uprising of 34, an in-depth examination of the largest single-industry strike in American history to its time, the General Textile Strike of 1934, which saw more than 400,000 workers on the picket line. The film weaves a tale all the more remarkable because the bulk of the strike involved Southern workers, long thought to be "immune" to unionization.

As usual, light refreshments will be available and an informal discussion will follow the screening. Bring a co-worker along. It's fun and informative.
OSA Newsline - October 7, 2002

The big news over the past month is the large number of our coworkers who are retiring. Between two and three hundred of our brothers and sisters are taking advantage of the incentive package, and office retirement parties are now so frequent that they begin to conflict with each other.

One notable party was held at Captains Ketch on Pine Street. What made it notable was that it celebrated the retirement of no less than 35 members of the Office of Staff Resources of the Human Resources Administration.

OSA is not an old union, and many of those who were the pioneers have now reached the point when they can collect pensions.

To mention only one, John Rhode was the member who, over a quarter century ago, used his skills as a draftsman to design the OSA logo. Our symbol is as cool as any designed by or for a great, giant corporation and, yet, we had that symbol on our letterhead when we were only a few dozen members scattered in a few agencies.

The Organization of Staff Analysts' Retirees Club (OSARC) does not actually have its own distinct logo yet. It now has a new member well qualified to design that logo. From John, and the many other members now joining our built-in support group, OSARC, good things can be expected.