OSA Newsline - Special Update - September 30, 2015

This morning, the leadership of OSA signed a tentative contract agreement with the City. Tomorrow evening, at an emergency meeting, that agreement will be voted upon by the entire bargaining team.

The proposed agreement can be downloaded by by clicking this link. It looks pretty good.

We had sought the basic pattern of 1%, 1%, 1%, 1.5%, 2.5% and 3%, but we had also sought a bit more. We did expect that asking for extra would cause the negotiations to take longer, and exactly that did occur.

We sought four extras.

In the proposed agreement, the City moved in our direction on each item.

On furloughs, a pilot project was established to, in some cases, assist a member seeking unpaid leave. We did not get all of our wishes met completely, but it is a start.

On the four day week, we did a bit better. The City has agreed to implement a pilot program testing how well the compressed work schedule will work. Use of the program is voluntary by agency, but the City accepted the union's argument that many agencies will wish to be involved. We will start with a few agencies and go on from there.

On the issue of helping our noncompetitive members, we won all we could expect to win in the contract. The City has agreed to set up a committee to study and explore career advancement for our noncompetitive employees. The committee, appropriately, will involve the HHC, the Office of Labor Relations and the union.

We are aware that if this is to work, we will also need to add DCAS and the Health Department as well, but the City's agreement is the necessary first step.

On the final issue, the City has agreed to provide a longevity payment for our Administrative Staff Analysts, Levels II and III. The amount, annually, is $417.50 after ten years of service; another $417.50 after fifteen years of service; and another $859.50 after twenty years of service. The total of $1694.50 annually is exactly one half of our union's original demand. We would have preferred to win the entire amount, but there was always a possibility that we could lose the entire amount after we spent another year going through impasse.

The latter option would have held up the rest of the contract as well, but if we had been 100% sure of victory, we would have considered it. Instead, we will settle for "half a loaf." With that comes the knowledge that no other New York City union has done as well as this. Gaining longevity in cases of newly unionized titles, without yielding to the City's demand that the other members pay for it, is unprecedented.

And so, we fought long and hard to try to do better, and we did do better. Assuming approval by the members, we can reasonably look forward to our raises before Christmas, or, if we are very lucky, before Thanksgiving.

We take a moment to thank those members who came to the membership meetings from September of 2014 right through to last week's meeting. The majority of our union members never wavered from their commitment to take the long view and to obtain just a bit more from this contract than was initially offered.

Other members did call in or write to tell us that if DC 37 had not won these demands, we had no right to hope to do any better. Prior history suggested that we could succeed when others had not even tried, and our current proposed contract now confirms that we not only could succeed, but we did.

At the same time, any delay in payment of overdue raises is always most upsetting to us all. This was especially true in this case since Mayor Bloomberg had insured that we were many years between contract raises.

Still, the drought is now over, and for the third time in fifteen years, we were able to win a victory by standing firm. We also anticipate that, since we have set these precedents, we can expect our brothers and sisters in the other unions to seek to follow in our footsteps. Actually, quite often that is exactly how we all make progress. Sometimes we take the lead; sometimes it is others. This time it was us.

OSA Newsline - September 28, 2015

Last week was busy. We had a preliminary contract mediation session on Tuesday, followed on Thursday by a full formal session. Then, on Thursday evening, a report was presented to a very well attended general membership meeting. The size of the attendance was all the more gratifying since transportation difficulties were extreme due to the Papal visit last week.

The mediation, it was explained, was a part of the process started a year ago with negotiations. It is a part of the end process consisting of mediation and impasse. If, however, the City proceeds in good faith during the mediation process, we can hope for a foreshortening of that process.

Many members spoke, some to urge settlement as soon as reasonable, others praising the union for holding fast on crucial issues. Aside from the contract negotiations, reports were given on recent union victories in grievances and also in the adding 3 new titles and 35 new members at HHC to our union.

This week, mediation resumes on Tuesday, but first, on Monday, there is a meeting of the steering committee of the Municipal Labor Committee. We will be there.

Our union is holding a class this Thursday evening at 6 p.m. The seminar will explain the rules and regulations of the civil service as it applies to all of us. This class, on the "tricks of the trade," will be taught by Sheila Gorsky. This will cover the 1 in 3 rule, the use of the DP72 to secure appointment, how to handle hiring pools, and a variety of useful bits of knowledge. If you are interested, call George at the union office to register.

The Effective Business Writing course which was scheduled to start with the first of two sessions this Wednesday evening September 30th has been postponed. If you registered for the class, please call George to find out if and when the course will go forward.

OSA Newsline - September 21, 2015

Contract mediation for the main unit contract starts this Tuesday. A second session is already set for this Thursday, as well.

Since our general membership meeting is set for 6:15pm this Thursday, that part is good timing. The bad timing part is that we did not take note of the fact that Thursday is also a Muslim holiday nor did we anticipate the arrival of Pope Francis.

We will try to avoid scheduling meetings on religious holidays in the future, but we probably can’t predict the visiting of Popes.

There was an Administration for Children’s Services meeting at 150 William Street last Friday. Our union does set up such lunchtime meetings regularly, but this one was remarkable since, during the two sessions, 170 members attended. Now that is not a record, but it is a large number.

Mention should be made of the New York City Fleet newsletter. This publication of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, on September 10th, singled out Associate Staff Analyst Joseph Figurelli of the Fire Department for his good work on the purchase of fire trucks and ambulances. After consulting the line officers and staff, Analyst Figurelli writes up the contract specifications. In some cases, these specification packages can run up to 230 pages.

So, the next time you see a fire truck or ambulance roaring past, you can feel a bit of pride since one of our analysts helped put that vehicle on the road. Good work, Joe.

OSA Newsline - September 14, 2015

The Labor Day Parade went very well – nice weather and wonderful company. We were joined by Gladstone Nicholson, an OSA retiree who came all the way from Georgia to march in his union’s Labor Day parade contingent. Gladstone joined OSA in the 1970’s and retired in the late 1980’s, just as we finally achieved our goal and became a union.

Sallie Stroman, another of our retirees, turned down a birthday party scheduled in her honor to attend her union’s parade. That worked out fine since, at the restaurant where we had our after parade luncheon, out came a lovely birthday cake and scores of her brothers and sisters sang Happy Birthday to her.

At the Labor Day celebration, we were also given the good news that our union has added 35 new members in the Training Development title series from the Health and Hospitals Corporation. We are, of course, seeking also to represent the Senior Consultants (Management Information Services) at the HHC after our October representation vote, but an early small victory feels very good.

We will be entering mediation on our contract right after next week’s Jewish holiday. The mediator will be Philip Maier, former Regional Director of the New York State Public Employment Relations Board’s New York City office from 1993 until 2012. We have dealt with him in the past and he has our confidence.

Finally, there will be a union meeting at the Administration for Children’s Services at 150 Williams Street this coming Friday from 12 to 2.

OSA Newsline - September 7, 2015

We hope you are enjoying a good Labor Day weekend. The actual Labor Day Parade for New York City will be held this coming Saturday, September 12th. You are invited and please do bring your family and friends.

Our union will gather at 10:30am on 45th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues. We will provide the union t-shirts and hats and, if it rains, umbrellas. We will march proudly up Fifth Avenue, taking our place in the ranks of New York City’s organized labor.

Once the brief march is concluded, we will all gather for a post-Labor Day Parade lunch. As members are aware, the City is not making it easy for us to conclude a contract. Your presence at the Parade is thus even more valuable than usual. I hope to see you there.

Speaking of the contract, we have not had much success this past summer in our attempts to get help from the Mayor’s Office. We did have meetings scheduled with Emma Wolfe, but each meeting ended up being cancelled due to, first, Albany, then Uber, then the cooling towers.

When we finally did get a meeting, we did not get any clear answers – and then the newspapers caused a further distraction.

Frustrated, we sought the help of Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios Paoli and, dealing with her was a relief. Lilliam is sharp, understood the issues and was inclined to help us. Lilliam was a member of OSA in the days before we became a union and has always been sympathetic to the needs of civil service employees.

Then, as most members are aware, Lilliam resigned her position as Deputy Mayor and assumed a new role as the Chairperson of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation.

Against this backdrop, it is good that our union lawyers filed for impasse proceedings this summer as well.

One last piece of news concerns the upcoming collective bargaining election of the Senior Consultants (Management Information Services). Election notices will be sent out on September 11th. Voting instructions and access codes will be mailed out on September 30th. The eligible voters will be allowed to cast their ballots from that date onwards until October 16th, 2pm. At 3pm, we will know the results.

We hope you can join us at the Labor Day Parade.