OSA Newsline - October 28, 2013

We have news from the New York City housing Authority. NYCHA, we had been told, faced layoffs this fall. The unions representing employees at NYCHA were furious and, in view of extra monies provided by the City Council, demanded cancellation of any proposed layoffs.

OSA, as usual, supported the other unions, but we also took the opportunity to ask about the availability of voluntary leaves of absence for any of our members who were interested in a leave of absence without pay.

The Housing Authority showed interest and, based on that show of interest, our union surveyed our membership at the Authority. We shared the results with NYCHA and asked to sit down and work out the details.

Just now, the Housing Authority has gotten back to us and the news is, to an extent, very good. NYCHA has apparently determined that it can get through this period without layoffs or leaves of absence, but the Authority is most concerned about the budget in 2014.

Actually, although we are very glad the fiscal issue is resolved for 2013, we intend to nudge NYCHA towards a policy of offering voluntary leaves of absence for at least a small portion of our membership in both times good or bad.

The idea is one that has been used in the past during fiscal crises and it has saved more than one analyst’s job. However, working out such arrangements only in times of extreme crisis is nerve wracking and inefficient. It is far better to work out arrangements in advance and that will be our argument.

Meanwhile, for now, the news for our members at NYCHA is good and we are pleased.

OSA Newsline - October 21, 2013

AON, the corporation, has now sent out its sixth letter to members who have health coverage for their dependents. That corporation is now warning of cancellation of health benefits for the dependents of any employee or retiree who fails to respond.

This letter is #6 in the series sent out, but from the phone calls we have received, there are still some members or retirees who have not received any mail.

Well, there could be bad addresses for one thing. If you do cover others for health benefits, or are yourself covered by a city employee or retiree, this audit is winding down and you do not want to be caught up in the appeals process through no fault of your own.

So, if you have never gotten any letters from AON, but do provide coverage for your dependents, contact AON directly and let them know. You can call AON at 1-855-596-7454. Also, on line at this link. If you have already gotten the mail and responded, okay, no worries.

Also, save the date. The OSA holiday party will be held on Thursday, December 19th and its always a nice evening.

OSA Newsline - October 14, 2013

We hope your day off was pleasant.

Last week, your unions won in court again. Mayor Bloomberg had been trying to carry out another one of his last minute dirty tricks. He has been seeking to negotiate a new set of health care provisions that would affect you and your family.

He even said that the unions had been involved in negotiations. No, we had not.

He had sent his Deputy Mayor to tell us what he planned to do to us, but that is not negotiating.

The mayor lost in court. Again. Now, he is appealing, legally. He does not think we should have any rights at all, not to negotiate, not to disagree, just no rights at all.

We are represented by the unions of the Municipal Labor Committee. We can negotiate and we do have rights.

He should just go away. The sooner the better.

OSA Newsline - October 7, 2013

We had a bit of good news last week. Our candidate, Letitia James, won the job of Public Advocate in the primary run-off. At least one news source commented that the victory of Tish James could be ascribed to her support from the New York City labor unions.

Now we can’t say for sure if the commentator is correct, since election results hinge on many factor. Still, we are pleased that Tish won and, if our votes helped her to win, that’s even better.

Our general membership meeting was very well-attended last week, which may or may not have been due to the fact that the union provided food before the meeting started. Just in case the food did make the difference, we will continue the practice at future meetings.

Also, Bill De Blasio asked if he could use our office for a meeting with some of his campaign workers this past weekend. We were happy to accommodate them.

Finally, the New York Labor History Association is showing a movie at our union office this Thursday, October 10, 2013. The film “Farewell to Factory Towns” tells the story of North Adams, Massachusetts. After losing factory jobs in the fifties and sixties, the town turned over one of the vacant plants to a museum – the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s an interesting story, the filmakers will be there themselves, and it’s free to OSA members and guests. This Thursday at 6pm at 220 East 23rd Street, 7th Floor. You can download a flyer about the screening by clicking this link. Circulate it to your colleagues, friends and family.