OSA Newsline - September 30, 2013

Remember, the primary run-off is this Tuesday. If you are a registered Democrat, we urge you to vote for Letitia James, but however you vote, please do vote. You can read more about Tish and why we support her by clicking this link.

There have been some positive results from the dependent audit being done by the AON Corporation for the city. All of the city unions supported the idea of a dependent audit from the start. Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg chose to use it as a chance to play “gotcha” in order to trap innocent civil servants in wrongdoing. Our unions went to court and we won.

The process now is a normal no-fault audit and the early results are good. Over 1,300 family contracts have been changed to single coverage, saving the city over six million dollars so far, with more expected. Over 5,500 dependents have also been removed from coverage and, this too, will save money. It’s good news for our city and for us as well.

The OSA general membership meeting is set for this Thursday at 6pm, but please come early since we are experimenting by offering food for those attending.

See you at the meeting.

OSA Newsline - September 23, 2013

The OSA executive board discussed the mayoral election last week. On the one hand, we have Joe Lhota. Candidate Lhota has chosen to insist there will be no retroactive raises for New York City civil servants. He is mimicking the irresponsible behavior of third term Mike Bloomberg and, in doing so, seeking to ride into office as an anti-labor candidate.

On the other hand, his opponent Bill De Blasio has not made us any promises either.

Even so, common sense suggests that establishing a no retroactive raises precedent will destabilize collective bargaining for all the years to come.

One of the main reasons why civil service contracts have included retroactive raises is that, often, the mayor does not know, in advance, how much money will be coming in due to taxes or going out due to unexpected emergencies. For that reason, negotiating beyond the end date of one contract provides a safety margin for the city and the city has done so since the time of Mayor Wagner, a half century ago.

We understand why Mayor Bloomberg has refused to consider retroactivity in his final term. He is a bitter man who would like to create chaos for his successor. His actions are spiteful and irresponsible, but when you have 31 billion dollars, it apparently affects your brain.

Candidate Bill De Blasio has not promised us anything, but neither has he shut the door on a fair contract with retroactive raises. His position is a prudent one and, on that basis, he is the candidate acting responsibly.

The OSA executive board has recommended Bill De Blasio for our next mayor and we will be urging our members to vote for him.

OSA Newsline - September 19, 2013

OSA's leadership continues to support Tish James for Public Advocate in the October 1 Democratic primary run-off. Tish came in first place in the September 10th Democratic primary, but did not receive the 40% of the vote needed to avoid a runoff with State Senator Dan Squadron.

Please mark your calendars for Tuesday October 1st and turn out and vote for Tish. She also has the support of the NYC Central Labor Council and much of the city labor movement. She will be an effective advocate for working New Yorkers in her new job, as she has been in the City Council.

You can read more about why we encourage your vote for Tish in the letter from OSA Chair Bob Croghan which you can download at this link.

During the week from September 23 - September 26, the NYC Central Labor Council is organizing mobilizations in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens to help elect Tish. If you can take part, we encourage you to join the effort.

You can download a flyer with the details of the four mobilizations at major transit hubs by clicking this link.

OSA Newsline - September 16, 2013

The summer mailing has been arriving late due to the political mail of last week and the week before. Still, you should have it by the end of this week – we would hope. When you do get it, please respond quickly to any offers that interest you.

Last week was mostly quiet due to the holidays, but there is a meeting of the Municipal Labor Committee this week so it may get interesting again.

We sent out a mailing to our members who work for the New York City Housing Authority. The mailing is a survey to determine if any of our members are interested in a voluntary furlough (or unpaid leave of absence) for anywhere from a few weeks to a full year. The Housing Authority seems open to granting such requests at this time, but please respond promptly.

There have also been a few developments with the Dependent Eligibility Verification Audit. The Municipal Labor Committee has informed member unions that members and retirees over 80 years old do not need to file the proofs of dependent status with AON. If you are over 80 and received a request from AON for proofs, you do not have to respond. The MLC's notice can be viewed and printed by clicking this link.

If you have questions about the audit, you can phone AON at 855-596-7454. You will be asked for a code number provided in the letter mailed to your home in late spring. If you did not receive that letter or have lost it since, when you dial the 855 number press "0" to talk with a live human being.

Also, a reminder that the city and not the union is conducting this audit and the benefits being audited are your basic health plan, not the union's vision, dental or other supplementary benefits.

Also, we recently mailed information about the audit inadvertently to our members in the Transit Authority. Since TA members receive their health benefits via the Authority and not the City, they are not included in the audit. TA members can ignore the letter about the audit they received from us.

Finally, the week between Labor Day and the primary was targeted by the New York City Central Labor Council as a period to urge voters to turn out and support candidates who would best address issues affecting working New Yorkers. Labor Get Out The Vote events took place in all five boroughs. OSA was represented by Stan Williams, Courtney Burke and Cecily McMillan who are on the left hand side in the photo above. Stan was also part of a video produced by the Central Labor Council to encourage voter registration and turnout, which you can view below.

OSA Newsline - September 9, 2013

Primary day is tomorrow and our mailing appears to be delayed by the large amount of political mail filling our mailboxes.

Some members have received the mail, but many have not. So, then, we will repeat our union’s endorsements for citywide office.

For mayor, the OSA leadership endorses John Liu. He stood up for us on pensions and CityTime and a dozen other occasions. The establishment has come down hard against him, but we support him based on his record of courageous honesty and compassion for the ordinary folks who live and work in New York.

We support Scott Stringer for Comptroller for similar reasons. Scott’s service in a long line of public jobs has always been that of hard work and admirable public service. He has never had a history of scandal and deserves our support for this reason as well.

Tish James is a fighter and she has chosen to fight our fights and to be on our side. She deserves our support and we deserve her to become our Public Advocate.

Tomorrow is primary day. However you vote, do vote!

If you haven't received the mailing, you can read all of the contents on this website by clicking this link.

OSA Newsline - September 2, 2013

We hope you have a pleasant Labor Day weekend. This is being posted a little before the weekend.

OSA has endorsed John Liu for mayor, Letitia James for public advocate and Scott Stringer for comptroller in the three citywide primary races on September 10th.

On Tuesday, September 3, 2013 from 5pm to 7pm unions endorsing John for mayor are holding a rally on the City Hall Park Broadway sidewalk. If you, like the OSA leadership, support John for mayor, come out after work and join us as we voice our support for John's mayoral candidacy. Bring your colleagues and friends and invite your family. You can download a flyer for the rally by clicking this link.

Volunteering in election campaigns is a venerable tradition. If you can be of assistance to Letitia James's campaign for public advocate now through primary day, you can contact the campaign's volunteer coordinator Gina Bull directly at gina@letitiajames2013.com or by phone at 212-235-6225 or by cell at 845-596-6512. If you have an hour, a day or a week, your help is needed.

And don't forget the five get out the vote events being sponsored by the New York City Central Labor Council, one in each of the five boroughs. You can find flyers for each in the mailing that should reach you shortly or from the links on the OSA Newsletter page for August 2013 on this website.

We are pleased to report that the Municipal Labor Committee (the coalition of municipal unions) achieved a significant victory in late August in forcing the city to address labor's concerns with the city’s Health Insurance Dependent Verification Audit.

If you cover dependents on your city health insurance plan, it is now time to move forward with providing the proofs needed to verify the eligibility of your dependents to the city's contractor.

Launched in late spring without consulting the municipal unions, the audit was challenged by the Municipal Labor Committee in court. In mid-July, the MLC secured a temporary restraining order stopping the city’s implementation of the audit. The MLC then entered into negotiations with the city on the audit's terms and timeframe.

Those negotiations have now borne fruit in an agreement which we outline below:

  • The deadline to provide proof of eligibility of dependents is now October 4, 2013, extended from September 20th.

  • If an employee or retiree self reports any dependents who must be removed from their health coverage by October 4th, the employee or retiree will not be subject to recoupment of monies from premiums or claims incorrectly paid and the employee or retiree will not be subject to disciplinary charges.

  • If an employee or retiree submits proof of dependent eligibility by the October 4th deadline and the dependent’s eligibility is then denied, there will be a three step appeals process that will end with an expedited arbitration. During the appeals process, affected dependents will not lose coverage. If, following the appeals, a dependent is denied eligibility, the city has indicated it would not seek recoupment when there was reasonable disagreement or a misunderstanding on eligibility.

  • The confidentiality and privacy of the proof submitted is protected in that once accepted the proof will be destroyed and the city’s consultant will verify destruction of the submitted proof. If there is any breach of confidentiality or privacy, the MLC, the individual or the individual’s employee representative will have the right to file a lawsuit against the city’s consultant or its subcontractors receiving the submitted proof.

  • The city will support legislation that will ensure that no criminal charges will be brought against any employee or retiree if the individual self-reports by October 4, 2013 dependents who must be removed from health coverage.

    So, gather the required proofs and submit them by October 4.