System Governance

SAA Highlights April 2012

The SAA Highlights provide a brief overview of discussion items from monthly meetings of the Statewide Administration Assembly. SAA often reviews processes and decisions still under development, so discussions at meetings may not reflect the final or official views of the University of Alaska.  Consider these Highlights as informational in nature, not the final word on a subject.

April 11, 2012 meeting overview

The next SAA meeting will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 9

The Statewide Administration Assembly met Apr. 11, 2012. The following is an overview of the meeting. All meetings are open to the public, and statewide workers are encouraged to contact their governance group to address workplace concerns, policies and other matters affecting statewide staff. If you have any questions please contact SAA president Monique Musick at

The next SAA meeting will be 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 9.

Annual Service Awards
The Statewide Annual Service Awards ceremony is slated for Tuesday, April 24. Awards are at the engravers and the booklet is being compiled. The event will be video conferenced between Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Staff Make Students Count Awards 2012
The deadline was March 22. The awards are announced at the June BOR meeting and include an Alaska Airlines voucher and plaque. One recipient is selected from each MAU and Statewide. There was one nomination from statewide. Linda Hall and Dory Straight volunteered to review the nomination before submitting to President Gamble for approval.

Legislative update
Monique Musick shared the Capital Report from April 7. The draft capital budget is being reviewed. It included deferred building maintenance, the UAS dormitories, Juneau campus mining workforce development, Kachemak Bay campus and Kuskokwim campus maintenance and upgrades, Pioneer Avenue addition, UAA and UAF Engineering building construction and renovations, and UAF ocean research. The budget covers 50% of the funding for the two engineering buildings.

Public Comment - Safety Training
Tina Holland reminded everyone that safety training is underway. As of the SAA meeting 18 percent of statewide employees have undertaken the electrical training. It was asked if all of the safety training classes would be web-based like the electrical training. Holland said that most would be, except for the ergonomics and the emergency evacuation plans. Marketing strategies were suggested to get more employees to take the required classes. OSHA requires that all employees be trained in safety and health aspects of their jobs.

SAA is in the process of gathering nominations and bios together for the election ballot. Around 25 names were submitted for nomination. It was announced that Erika Kurowski was stepping down early from SAA. Musick publicly thanked Kurowski for her dedication and hard work as vice president and assembly member. Tami Choquette will be filling in the interim. Discussion on who will be filling in as VP as been tabled until next meeting.

FY13 Calendar
Governance has requested that we move our meeting either one week prior or one week later than presently scheduled. Having two governance groups meeting back-to-back is taxing on staff. The group decided the scheduling decision will be made in May. There is talk of a central calendar for all governance groups so that we can better plan our meetings and activities.

UA’s Strategic Direction
Strategic Listening Sessions with statewide staff and SAA were well received, with plenty of frank discussion on meaningful topics. If anyone missed the opportunity to attend a listening session or feel that they missed a chance to speak, you are encouraged to provide your feedback via an online survey: The listening sessions will be ending in May so let your voice be heard!

Policy Review
The compiled changes related to the policy review still have not been released. The reviews are not on the Board of Regents agenda so there is still time for evaluation.

UA Code of Conduct
There was much discussion on the proposed Code of Conduct regulation.  Most of the discussion centered on why we need the regulation, the short-timeline on getting the feedback to the President, and how to possibly word the regulation so it will be well received. A Google survey is forthcoming to all statewide employees to gather feedback. A staff member proposed a forum on the code of conduct. Musick will work with the President’s office to see if he could be available to discuss the COC with employees.

Employee Tuition Waivers
Despite protests from governance groups regarding the use application of Satisfactory Academic Progress rules for the employee tuition waiver, the language still remains in the draft. The group is agreement on the four changes suggested to better manage the waiver, but adamantly opposes the use of SAP. Since all the governance groups have voicing their opposition and been rejected by administration, it was stated that perhaps there needs to be a cohesiveness between the wording from all the governance groups. Musick will testify before the April Board meeting for Staff Alliance and may have the opportunity to represent employees’ sentiment on the waiver. Employees are encouraged to share their testament with the board in June.  We need to get have employees educated on the proposed policy changes before the June Board of Regents’ meeting if they are to take effect July 1.

Tobacco Policy
Request on feedback on tobacco usage garnered many responses. Lisa Sporleder summarized the responses into categories. Fifteen people responded to the feedback request. Of those fifteen, eight were in favor of having a tobacco free campus; two were in favor of implementing the tobacco surcharge, while two were adamantly opposed to it; two were in favor of the hiring policy of no tobacco users, while two were not; two responses were in favor of offering incentives to quit tobacco use, while four felt health care funds should not be used for incentives; one suggested having tobacco users pay a higher health care premium; two felt that it would be more beneficial to reward good behavior; four felt that the hiring policy on tobacco usage was a slippery slope, that could potentially open the university to lawsuits; and four steadfastly opposed the university infringing on their rights.

Question arose on the implementation of the July 1 tobacco-free hiring policy. Chancellor Rogers made a compelling argument against the hiring policy. He feels that the policy could be detrimental to research funding. Rogers stated that our Asian and European research counterparts have a much higher incidence of tobacco use that brings us millions of dollars each year. If we have a policy that deters researchers from working with us then we could lose out on some wonderful research opportunities.

Juella Sparks, Staff Alliance, received support from President Gamble to form a short-term (now until August) task force to address health care. The task force will be evaluating other health care plans with other companies. It will be their job to think outside of the box and make recommendations to the SHCC and JHCC.

There are many unanswered questions on this matter. Don Smith will be invited to address tobacco use and health care again at a future meeting.

Health Plan Costs and Changes
Concern was shared regarding employees fleeing the health plan over the increase in cost. Last year’s increase contributed to the under-recovery as more employees choose to either opt-out or go with a lower premium plan. This year’s increase may see the same. Administration has taken into account that 25 percent of employees will migrate to a different plan, but do not feel that many will opt-out. Even with this increase there is still going to be an under-recovery; just hoping that it isn’t as large as this year.

There was confusion on the open-enrollment package information. The booklet that accompanies the package states that if you don’t respond during the open-enrollment period you will be automatically entered into the 750 plan. Sporleder states that should not be the case. This is not an active enrollment period. HR will be contacted to clarify the mailing information.

Performance Appraisal
The proposed Code of Conduct is likely tied to the performance appraisal. President Gamble wants more than just an evaluation of how well one does their job, but how they conduct themselves professionally. We have not yet seen a draft of the new evaluation form.

Staff Health Care Committee
SHCC voiced their disappointment over being caught unaware over the increase cost to the health care plan. They received word of the increase at the same time all employees did. There is a sentiment that their work is not appreciated.

The committee is actively working to take a more proactive approach to the tobacco surcharge. They are looking at incentives that might encourage tobacco users to quit, along with what is the actual cost of using tobacco. The committee believes there should be an incentive for better health that is fair to everyone. The UAF Chancellor’s Health Challenge was discussed as an incentive.

Joint Health Care Committee
A request to review requests for proposal (RFP) was presented to HR from JHCC. RFPs selected will be awarded Dec. 1 for effective date of July 1, 2013. Plans to negotiate a deal with a walk-in clinic in Fairbanks are still in the works. Lockton hopes to have a report at the April meeting. Plan design changes are in the discussion stage. Some questions need to be answered for this stage. Do we need another vendor? Can we join the state insurance plan? Can we look at clinic access? Would a patient advocacy service such as Patient Care help?

Other Human Resources Issues
President Gamble said he would meet with the governance leaders during a Governance Summit in June. He would like to spend half a day with the group. Each group will also be reviewing their constitutions and bylaws to make sure they are up-to-date and accuratly reflect  regent's policy.

Budget Brownbag
The brownbag slated for May has been pushed back to Aug. Michelle Rizk and Alesia Kruckenberg have requested more time to prepare a presentation.

Regular Brownbag Sessions
It was proposed that we possibly have regularly scheduled brownbag sessions on the function of each SW department. A suggestion was brought forth that this would be better suited to the SW Voice. The brownbag sessions should be limited to pressing topics.

Butrovich Indoor Signs
Dory Straight stated that there may be some funding available to help with the indoor signage. Musick praised the indoor signage at the Bragaw building, and thinks that we should have a similar signage to demonstrate cohesiveness between the buildings. Kurowski will contact Land Management in Anchorage as to who did the signage and the cost breakdown.

Butrovich Custodian Service
There are still concerns about the custodial service being provided to Butrovich. The letter to Martin Klein did not get written. Letter will be written before the May meeting.

Other Butrovich Building Issue
In 2007 a drive was underway to provide funding for a covered pavilion outside the Butrovich building. The plan at the time was to have President Hamilton match what was raised. When the cost estimates came in over $30,000 for the pavilion the plans were scraped. The money though is still sitting in Foundation. In order to spend these funds we need to find a new purpose for the funds and contact the donors to see if they wish to contribute their past gift to the new purpose. Discussion on new purpose is tabled till May.

Bragaw Building Issues
New building directory signage for the second floor of Bragaw has been installed. The new directory is located just outside the elevator.

Closing Comments
Jenny Grieve closed the meeting with comments on the legal dispute with ASEA. In April 2011, ASEA filed suit against the University of Alaska alleging that the university violated employees’ rights to organize a union. Since the initial filing there have been responses back and forth between the two organizations. In late 2011, an allegation by ASEA was brought forth stating that Staff Alliance is a company union. A company union is a group created by and controlled by an employer. We are awaiting state agency determination if there is any probable cause to the allegation.  If you would like more information on these allegations and responses you can visit Labor Relations website to view all correspondence on this subject,

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