System News

Outgoing Regents Cynthia Henry and Erik Drygas were honored at a reception at President Gamble's home following the December BOR meeting. Click on photo to go to the December Regents' Recap. Photo by Monique Musick

Governor names two new members to Board of Regents

Congratulations to Mike Powers and Jo Heckman, both of Fairbanks. The two were recently appointed by Gov. Sean Parnell to the University of Alaska Board of Regents. The two new regents officially start their eight-year terms on Feb. 7, when outgoing regents Erik Drygas and Cynthia Henry step down from the board.

The 11-member Board of Regents is the governing body for the entire UA System. The board approves policy, hires the president, sets tuition, must approve degree programs and large new construction projects at all 16 campuses.

The governor’s choice to replace Drygas and Henry must still be confirmed by the Alaska State Legislature.

Heckman is president of Denali State Bank and an alumna of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Powers is the chief executive officer of Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and Denali Center.  The next regular board meeting is set for Feb. 17-18 at the University of Alaska Anchorage. The agenda is still being reviewed, but one highlight will be a presentation celebrating the 50th anniversary of UAA’s Institute of Social and Economic Research.

The governor’s press release has more. You can also read a news story in the Anchorage Daily News by reporter and UAF alum Casey Grove.

Fisher Report released

President Gamble commissioned national higher education expert, Dr. James L. Fisher, to conduct an external review of the UA System last fall. In a Jan. 20 memorandum, President Gamble explains how he intends to use the report in the upcoming strategic planning process. Please read the president's message prior to reviewing the report.

Message from Chief HR Officer

Update on ASEA organizing

UA provided a roster of all non-represented UA employees to ASEA/ASCFME, Local 52 (AFL-CIO) on Jan. 19, complying with a request from the union. The university is required to provide this information in response to a request for information submitted by ASEA/AFSCME. This is the first formal contact ASEA/AFSCME has had with the university since the union withdrew its petition to represent UA staff in September 2010.

During ASEA/AFSCME's last union organizing campaign, many UA employees expressed concern and frustration at the university for disclosing their home addresses, as the employees felt this information should have been considered private. The university provided explanations during that organizing campaign that it is required by law to provide employees' addresses of record to a union that is attempting to organize UA employees. Sometimes, employees list a post office box, but for those employees who list a residence address, that is the address that the university must give the union.

UA staff members also raised concerns about ASEA/AFSCME organizers visiting their homes to try to convince them to sign representation cards or discuss union issues. The university cannot control the union's actions, but believes the union should honor requests to be left alone. You may want to consider the following options if ASEA/AFSCME begins another union organizing campaign and you do not wish to be contacted:

A. Either log on to your UAOnline account or contact your campus human resources office to obtain a change form and change your physical address to a post office box;

B. Proactively contact ASEA/AFSCME by email from your university account indicating that you do not want a home visit, and/or;

C. You may send an email to the university's Labor and Employee Relations office, syhhrrelations@email.alaska.edu, from your University account, indicating that you do not want a home visit. We will share that list with the union, but ultimately, it's up to the union to honor your request.

You may have heard that ASEA/AFCSME Local 52 Business Manager Jim Duncan recently stated in an interview that ASEA/AFCSME hopes to hold an election to unionize UA staff sometime this year. It is important to know that ASEA/AFCSME's action to withdraw its last representation petition was not merely a request to postpone the scheduled election. The petition, once withdrawn, cannot be reactivated. This means interest cards signed for the last organizing campaign have expired. ASEA/AFCSME will have to start from scratch, meaning it will have to gather signatures of at least 30 percent of employees in a proposed unit indicating interest before the Alaska Labor Relations Agency, which oversees union elections, would honor a representation petition and proceed to an election. If you signed a representation card during the last campaign, ASEA/AFSCME can be expected to be persistent in asking you to sign one again. However, you have no obligation to do so. The decision is up to you.

During ASEA/AFSCME's 2010 organizing campaign, the university created a webpage for staff to use as a resource for information about union organizing. The webpage included answers to frequently asked questions, an overview of the union organizing process, updates, historical election results, new articles, and various other types of information.  This webpage has been modified to ensure easy access to documents from ASEA/AFSCME's first organizing campaign and what is expected to be ASEA/AFSCME's second organizing campaign. The following link will take you to that webpage: http://www.alaska.edu/labor/union-organizing/index.xml. Additional information will be posted as this second organizing attempt moves forward.

If you have questions or concerns about any of the information included above please send me an email or contact my office at (907) 450-8230.

Beth E. Behner
Chief Human Resources Officer

UA College Savings scholarship drawing

Think inside the box! Check “yes” on the college savings box on Line 6 of your PFD application to contribute to an account in the UA College Savings Plan AND you’ll be automatically entered to win a $25,000 scholarship account or one of four $2,500 scholarship accounts. The 2011 PFD application period runs from Jan. 1 – March 31. This is a convenient way to help contribute to your child’s educational future – with no additional paperwork for you.

The UA College Savings Plan can be an effective vehicle for saving for a child’s future. Any earnings grow tax deferred and are tax free if used for qualified education expenses at any eligible school in the country. For more information and official rules for the scholarship account giveaway please call (907) 474-5671 or visit www.uacollegesavings.com.

Dependent audit a first step to reduce health plan costs

UA’s health care plan costs are projected to double over the next seven years, from the current $65 million to an estimated $131 million. UA management and two employee groups (the Staff Health Care Committee and the Joint Health Care Committee) have been actively engaged in discussing alternatives for months. The committees’ combined input has been extremely helpful to UA leadership, as most employees recognize the current plan is not sustainable and must change. A broad communications effort to all benefits-eligible employees will start soon, announcing the specific changes and how they’ll affect employees.

Part of the efforts to control the health plan costs is to ensure that only eligible dependents are enrolled. UA's health consultants hired ConSova, a benefits audit firm, to assist with verifying dependent eligibility. ConSova will contact every employee who has one or more dependents enrolled on the plan, to ask for verification of their eligibility. ConSova will explain in great detail the verification process and what is required from you to ensure there’s no interruption in your coverage.

It’s important that you review dependents listed on your plan and confirm their eligibility by the deadline of Feb. 28, 2011. It is critical you respond to the verification audit by the Feb. 28 deadline, even if you don’t have all the required documentation. If you fail to respond, your dependent’s health coverage will be terminated. You also will be required to provide payment for claims that were incurred by any ineligible dependent(s).

When you receive the detailed information from ConSova, please take time to review it and respond in a timely manner so your dependent’s coverage will not be affected. The general information documents also will be posted online at www.consova.com/universityofalaska.

Over the upcoming weeks, employees will receive information on all UA health plan costs and changes. Most will go into effect in FY12, or after July 1, but there are some, such as this dependent audit, that will occur sooner. You’ll receive information from Statewide Benefits at home and through your UA email. A great effort to ensure you have the information you need is under way before the open enrollment period is held mid-April to mid-May. Open enrollment is the once-per-year opportunity to make changes to your UA health plan (unless you have a qualifying change in status, such as marriage or divorce).

The Statewide Benefits website, at www.alaska.edu/benefits/ also will have pertinent information posted.

Legislators go back to work

Session runs Jan 18–April 17

The first session of the 27th Alaska State Legislature got under way at the state capital in Juneau on Jan. 18 and will run through April 17. Once again, the UA System will use its state relations webpage as the “go-to” spot for information, briefing sheets about UA issues and links to the Board of Regents’ budget request. Links to the state’s bill tracking system, legislator contact information and other resources are also available at www.alaska.edu/state/.

The SupportUA Listserve also will help keep you informed. If you haven’t already, you may sign up to receive occasional messages from UA Executive Vice President Wendy Redman at the listserve link on  www.alaska.edu/state/. If you don’t want to receive such updates, follow the simple directions to unsubscribe.

University Relations strives to ensure messages sent on the SupportUA-L listserve do not differentially benefit or harm candidates, political parties or groups, and comply with the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. In any communication you may have directly with legislators, please refrain from using university resources if your communication is partisan or would benefit one candidate or political party over another. You may use your personal email and computer for such purposes.

If you have any questions about the state relations efforts, webpage or listserve, please contact Kate Ripley in Public Affairs at 450-8102 or klripley@alaska.edu.

Emergency Management gears up for July exercise

The University of Alaska System Emergency Management Office is kicking off a series of meetings to plan and conduct a community full-scale exercise in July that will involve first responders from UAF, Fort Wainwright, Bassett Army Community Hospital, Eielson Air Force Base, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Fairbanks Fire Department, Alaska State Troopers, Fairbanks International Airport and the local American Red Cross. Additionally, Kathy Cavyell, lead exercise planner from the Alaska Division of Homeland Security/Emergency Management, will attend.  

The first planning session will take place this Friday, Jan. 28, in the Board of Regents’ conference room in the Butrovich Building. A series of similar meetings to plan the exercise will continue throughout this winter and spring, leading up to the exercise itself, set for July 26-28.

This event follows a multi-agency “active shooter” scenario that occurred in Butrovich last year. Events such as the recent ice storm point out the need for continued improvement with our incident pre-planning and training, and most importantly alert communication and information management throughout the lifecycle of an incident.

“We must continue to prepare to respond to a wide variety of potential hazards,” said Emergency Management Director Rick Forkel. “This preparation requires solid planning, training and exercising; but more importantly, a solid process that involves community partners. We all know a real-world crisis is not the time to exchange business cards.”

Friday’s meeting will provide a significant opportunity to strengthen or establish a solid and trustful relationship with a variety of stakeholders, Forkel said. President Gamble intends to address the group  as well.

If you have any questions about the upcoming scenario in July or the training sessions leading to it, please contact Rick Forkel at 450-8149.

Back to Top