April 13 meeting overview:
The Statewide Administration Assembly met on April 13 in the Sherman Carter conference room. The next SAA meeting will be Wednesday, May 11, at 10 a.m. 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.
Wendy Redman and Michelle Rizk phoned in from the university’s Juneau office to provide a legislative update. The main news from Juneau was that there isn’t any yet. The House and Senate have vastly differing versions of the operating and capital budgets and need to continue to meet in conference to work out their differences. Fixed costs, such as compensation, utilities and facility operating costs are virtually the same, but there are very different proposed funding levels for UA programs. Many aspects of the university’s budget are thus still on the table. One thing common to both versions of the budget is a greater reliance on university generated income to cover compensation increases than in the past, with both houses favoring a 50/50 split between state and university funding rather than the 60/40 state to university split of the past. It does look like the deferred maintenance request will be fully funded.
There is not a great deal of legislation beyond the budget, but a few bills are relevant to the university including the Alaska Performance Scholarship, funding for engineering facilities in Fairbanks and Anchorage, a process for removing a regent if necessary, and proposed approval of medical and law schools. The Medical and Law Institute bill never made it out of committee. Final decisions on the others are still pending.
Recycling on campus
Michelle Hebert from the UAF Office of Sustainability came to the meeting to discuss recycling opportunities on campus. She shared handouts with guidelines for recycling, and gave an update on the university’s efforts. While recycling does not create its own revenue, it did save over $77,000 in tipping fees (fees for bringing waste to the landfill) last year, and those savings are expected to rise as more people participate in the recycling efforts.
Performance Evaluation Forms & Electronic Timesheets
In HR news, the proposed Performance Evaluation Form is being piloted at UAA and in OIT. The feedback from these trials will be used to modify the form for mass use. Electronic timesheets will be piloted starting in August. In particular it needs to be tested in departments with major variations in time effort reporting such as those with significant grant funding.
Open Enrollment will be under way from April 15 to May 16. The Benefits website has many resources including FAQs and overviews of plan changes. There will be a number of open forums around the state focused on changes to the UA Choice health plans and the effect of those changes on employees.
Due to the big changes in plans there is a positive enrollment process this year, meaning that each employee needs to make an active plan selection. Rather than automatically rolling over into the same plan as in the past, anyone who does not participate during open enrollment will be placed in the middle plan level. If you opted out in the past, you will not be enrolled this year either.
Employees wondering what their personal plan history is can visit the Premera website. The information may be useful in determining the appropriate deductible level for you and any dependents.
Dependent Audit Results
Tentative results from the Dependent Audit indicate that 92 percent of employees included in the audit have completed the process. There are 149 incompletes, 94 in process, and 234 who have not responded at all. As of April 1, 26 have self-declared ineligible dependents.
Parking concerns at the Butrovich were discussed, and Yolanda Esters from Parking Services attended to clarify some concerns. SAA will be asking the building coordinator to officially request that a 20 minute loading zone be marked for the pull-out in front of the Butrovich. The group doesn't want to keep delivery trucks, vans, or buses from using the area appropriately, or restrict someone from running in and out to drop off a paper or something, but do feel that people should not have carte blanche to park in that area, especially when open spots are available in the parking lot. As a result, the shuttle bus has sometimes had to load and unload people in the middle of the parking lot, which can be a safety issue. Currently signage only says No Idling.
SAA will also request that the building coordinator contact the new custodial company to request a higher quality bathroom tissue. While everyone is in favor of using recycled paper, not all brands are created equal, and there has been a noticeable change in the quality of the products provided.
Per Diem Rates
There are some pertinent policy changes that SAA will be monitoring. The Per Diem rate for travel may be raised to $52 a day, which is closer in line with State of Alaska per diem. More information on that will be available when the policiy is finalized.
Tuition benefit changes continue to be discussed at the administrative level. There are some concerns about the proposed changes, such as including a six-month waiting period for new hires after July 1, or requiring repayment of tuition if a class is failed. There is no final word yet on what changes, if any, may be in store for the tuition benefit.
SAA elections are right around the corner. At least 35 employees were nominated, by themselves or by their co-workers, for the assembly. They will be contacted to verify interest, then election information will be disseminated.