Staff Senate Minutes - September 19, 2000
Employee of the Month: Beverly Williams, Business Administration/Education.
Directors -- Huryta, Livingston
Managerial/Professional -- Bargen, Danube, Mumm
Office/Service -- Choplin, Ellingson, Hines, Jones
Ex Officio -- Lakey
Director -- Roth
Managerial/Professional -- McMullen
- Call to Order
- Adoption of Agenda
- Agenda - Health Insurance was added to the agenda under Unfinished Business.
- Amended Agenda Adopted. Hines (Bargen).
- Minutes and Correspondence
- Minutes of the August 15, 2000 meeting were approved as printed.
- The secretary read a thank you note from Mary Ann Lawson for her SAFE Award. Sympathy cards were signed by members and will be sent to Jim Tiedeman on the loss of his father and to Jan Mitchell on the death of her aunt in a recent auto accident. Earlier Mumm sent a get well card to Bev Shoemaker, a retired custodian, who recently had surgery.
- Unfinished Business
- SAFE Award Pictures
Mumm showed members the recent pictures taken of the two SAFE Award winners, Mary Ann Lawson and Mitch O'Neill. Mumm stated she would get them framed and hung in Founders Hall.
- Health Insurance
Lakey stated that in late spring employees received a letter from President Smith announcing there would be something happening with our medical cost premiums beginning January 2001. Lakey stated that our medical and pharmaceutical claims have been increasing rapidly in the last few years. He stated premiums could have gone up two years ago when they noticed that outgoing money was more than what was coming into the trust fund from premiums. Up until that time, the trust fund had been very healthy; in fact, there was a surplus. They made an administrative decision not to raise premiums at that time, but to draw down the trust fund. However the draw on the trust fund was even greater than anticipated and it became a crisis situation. So if something isn't done soon, the trust fund will be exhausted within two or three years. There will be premium increases this coming year, anywhere from $16 to $39 a month. The $16 would be a single, low option, while the $39 would be for family coverage. This may vary a few dollars, but is close to what we are going to see. There will be significant increases, but if we don't do this we will be in trouble with our insurance trust fund. All medical plans are seeing this. Costs seem to be skyrocketing, especially in the pharmaceutical expenses. Medical claims at the University have increased 17% and pharmaceutical claims, 21% in the last year. If we are going to maintain our medical plan, we have to increase premiums. The University's contribution has gone up even more and that started July 1. Lakey stated as part of our budget request to the Legislature, we will ask for increased funding from the state. But you need to be aware that one of the problems is the Legislature looks at what state employees pay toward their total cost of the medical plan compared to what university employees pay. University employees pay 15% of the total cost of the medical, while state employees have been paying 21%. So the Legislature would like the University to get employee's contribution up to where state employees are. Until we do, they are not willing to give us a lot of money; although they have been giving us some. The increases we will see in January will get us close to that percentage, about 19%. We should be up to the 21% in a few years and they will not be able to use that reasoning when we ask for deficit funding. In addition to the increased premiums, there will also be some adjustments to the medical plan. Two of the changes will be: the deductible is going to be raised and the annual stop loss will go up. On the basic family plan, the first person deductible had been $225 and will now go to $300. For the entire family the deductible had been $450 and will now go to $600. The co-insurance percentages will not change. For an individual, the annual stop loss will go from $1100 to $1250. For a family, it will go up from $2200 to $2500. Also on the prescription plan, you currently pay $5 for generic; that will go to $10. Preferred (formulary) is going from $13 to $20 and the brand name from $20 to $30. This is all an attempt to keep sufficient funding in the trust fund. Lakey stated even if we had increased premiums two years ago, we would still be in the position that we are in today. This did save employees dollars by not increasing the premiums and using the surplus in the trust fund. Lakey noted Staff Senate members may be asked about this, and he hoped this information would help members respond to those questions. If employees have additional questions, Lakey asked that employees come to him or Cheryl Bressington. At the NuFlex meetings in November, all these changes will be explained.
Lakey noted the thing employees need to understand is that if the university doesn't do this, our insurance program will be in trouble. Lakey said that Lincoln and Omaha did have HMO plans and here we were about ready to have an HMO plan, but the plan no longer exists. One of the university's HMO plans will no longer exist in a year and another is about to stop. For some reason with the changes in the medical community, the HMO plans are becoming more expensive than a regular plan.
Mumm asked about the expenses listed on the chart that will accompany the letter. Lakey stated these will be the costs, prior to our NU credits being applied. So the actual expenses will be less. They listed it that way because when you look at your pay stub, you see the dollar amount before NU credits. Your NU Credit is $63.00 a month.
One thing they are considering is currently there is a three-year lockin/lockout on dental insurance. With this health premium increase, they may allow employees to opt out of their dental insurance this year. He also reminded members that with the premium increases, it does reduce your taxation amount for federal, state, and social security.
Mumm noted it is important for members to know why this is happening and try to be positive and supportive of the changes. Lakey commented that if you compare our medical plan to the state's, we are still quite a bit under their costs. Ours is efficient and low cost compared to a lot of medical plans out there. We also seem to be healthier than the state employees are as a whole. So the total cost of our plan has remained less than the cost for the state. Overall the Legislature is probably contributing less to the university's plan, than to the state's overall plan, but they don't make that comparison. They just continue to look at the percentage of contribution of the employees.
Livingston asked when he stated claims were up over 17% in the medical, did he mean the number of claims or the dollar value. Lakey stated it was the cost of claims. However he noted usage is also up. Lakey noted in the nine plus years we have been in the University system, we have had only two rate increases. Lakey recommended that in October or November we have a representative from the U-Wide Benefits Committee give a report to Staff Senate.
- Committee and Search Reports
Livingston noted we are in the middle of the election process. By noon today, employees had to respond as to whether they would be willing to accept their nomination and be on the ballot. She noted returns are a little low. At the moment we have three people who will be on the director ballot, six people on the managerial/professional ballot, five on the office ballot, and only one on the service ballot. We need to elect two on the service ballot. So we need to think about what we do if we don't have two individuals on that ballot. She noted the earlier changes in our election process have had a drastic effect on the number nominated. She also noted this is the first year the office and service have been split. She stated that when the nomination forms were returned, there was almost nothing from the service division. There were only 15 forms returned out of 111. That is less than 14% return. Office personnel returned over 52%. That may have been occurring in other years, but we don't know. There was more than one nominated in the service category, but so far she has not heard back from people willing to have their name on the ballot. The actual ballots will go out Wednesday or Thursday of this week and they must be returned by September 28th. The election committee will meet on the 29th to count the ballots. Lakey asked if there were plans to follow-up on those who were nominated, but have not responded. Livingston noted that was not part of the direction in the bylaws. She stated they were trying to get away from calling everyone, so if you start doing that again, where do you stop. She felt we have to let the process go through, but the problem may be where do you find another candidate from the service level. Bargen asked if the problem with the process is that many service employees do not have e-mail. Livingston noted the directors, managerial/professional, and office were all done by e-mail. The service employees were contacted through campus mail. Some have a computer; some do not. But this way, all service employees were notified in the same manner. Livingston noted we will just have to wait and see what happens by noon today and then if we are short, we will have to decide what to do. Livingston stated she would have a full report of the statistics on the election at the next meeting.
- Employee Recognition
Bargen noted that besides the normal activities of selection of the employee and department of the month, they discussed the Foundation account. The account has about $300 in it and originally we were trying to get enough funds for an endowed account for an award similar to the SAFE Award. If we could do that, we could award $1000 with no restriction. Right now the Chancellor is giving the money for the award and it must be used by the employee on the department level for a computer or professional development, etc. Although that is very helpful, they would like it to be similar to the Pratt Heins Award, which is given for personal use. Bargen stated they would like to try one more time to promote that fund during the annual Foundation drive and see if more individuals contribute to that fund. If not, we may have to look at doing something different with these funds since it is such a small amount. Mumm noted she talked to the Foundation Office and the list that goes out during the fund drive is not even close to all the established funds. They just randomly put accounts on the list. Mumm asked that both the Office/Service Dependent Scholarship and the Staff Recognition Award accounts be among those listed. Mumm stated after the drive, we would have to decide what to do.
Lakey noted there are advantages to awards being for business use as compared to personal use. He stated after the Pratt Heins is awarded, he has to call the individuals and advise them of the tax consequences of the financial award. In most cases, they are left with only about half the money. With the SAFE Award, which is restricted to business use, you get to utilize all the money.
- Professional Development
- Making a Difference
Ellingson noted that the "Making a Difference" committee has been meeting and things are progressing quickly. However we do need more volunteers to work, especially as session hosts. So if anyone is willing to help out, there is a signup sheet which will be passed around. Lakey noted if the slots do not get filled, he will be calling people. He noted we need as much support from Staff Senate as possible. Ellingson stated we need to remember that although Brenda Jochum has been doing most of the work this year along with the committee, next year this is ours to do. We need to get our feet wet this year and get out there and work. Next year you will not have a choice. The program is now finalized. Registration starts at 8 a.m. followed by two break out sessions and then the featured speaker. The first break out session starts at 8:50 a.m. and there are four different sessions. At 9:30 a.m., there will be a refreshment break and then back into sessions again at 9:50 a.m. with another four choices. The keynote speaker is at 11:05 a.m. and by 12:15 p.m. it will be over. She encouraged everyone to attend, but also to take part. Mumm explained what a session host would be required to do - introduce the speaker (a script is provided), encourage the completion of the evaluation forms, collect the evaluations, and do a head count. Mumm informed members of the different sessions: Break Out Session I: Building Blocks for a Successful Team by Marti Wibbels, Handling Emergencies in the Workplace (a panel discussion), Identifying Personalities & Communication Styles by Kathryn Westphal, and Shaping Up Your Personal Power Skills by Michelle Roggasch; Break Out Session II: Building Blocks for a Successful Team (repeat), Investment Basics by Steve Homan, Keeping a Positive Attitude! Even on a Bad Hair Day by Shirley Lueth, and Workplace Emotions by Kathryn Westphal. The keynote presentation is Love & Laughter, Happily Ever After by Shirley Lueth. Mumm noted that individuals from the Public Sector would be participating that day and they are also providing financial support. Mumm informed everyone that Mary Radliff, who is organizing the door prizes, would be contacting members. She will be assigning everyone places to contact. The event is October 17th during fall break.
Ellingson reported they are in the final stages. They are still refining the Resource Guide and trying to get the mentor list established. She encouraged members to be among those willing to be a mentor since this is a Staff Senate activity and we need you to participate. Ellingson noted she had the questionnaire with her if anyone wanted to sign up. She indicated if they could get a large enough pool, then each individual would not be called on very often. Plans are to have the workshop for mentors on November 17th at 2 p.m. in Copeland Hall Room 133. There will be a run through on November 10th so we know how long the workshop will last. It has been slimed down and should be completed in an hour. The next meeting is October 25th. Ellingson asked if there were any additions/corrections to the material distributed at the last meeting. Bargen noted that Student Support Services is not listed in the Resource Guide. Ellingson noted they would get that added. She stated that the Resource Guide would be color coded so it will be easier to find information. There will also be a table of contents that lists what is in each colored section. Lakey noted we have had some department name changes so we need to check those before printing. Plans are to update the Resource Guide at least once a year. Lakey stated that Jochum attended the Vice Chancellor of Business and Finance division staff meeting yesterday and presented the mentor program to them. So we are starting to get the word out. He noted we need to get supervisors and department heads aware of the program. Ellingson stated that is another reason we are slowing things down a bit; we need to do some public relations work before we get the program implemented. We have to be sure that the administration, supervisors, etc. are supporting our efforts. Once we have the training workshop in November, we will be ready to start the program at the beginning of the spring semester.
- Strategic Planning
Livingston stated that most of the discussion at the last meeting centered around the prioritization process. There are nine criteria that have to be met. At UNK, the Strategic Planning Committee has been charged with designing the process on this campus. That will be the main thrust of the group this year. They talked a little about program definition - what is a program? They did indicate there would be a fast track study of some departments (programs) this year if they want to participate. Kind of a pilot study to see how it works. President Smith would like to see about 20% of the programs on the fast track. Mumm stated by the end of this academic year, we are supposed to have identified those fast track programs.
- Information Technology
Bargen reported the discussion focused on what they plan to do as a committee for the next year. Bargen is on a sub-committee charged with looking at a replacement schedule of computers for faculty and staff across campus. They are looking at two possible plans; then the full committee would look at those plans. One would have departments across campus voluntarily join a lease program as opposed to purchasing machines. This would hopefully save money and keep computers upgraded consistently. The other would involve a percent of each department's budget going into a pool to be used to lease computers. Bargen noted there are good arguments for either plan. A mandatory system would ensure that computers across campus are consistently up-to-date enough that Information Technology Services would not be spending 80% of their time fixing 20% of the computers. Right now there is a wide range in quality of machines across campus, making it inefficient for Technology Services to keep older machines running. On the other hand, with a voluntary system, departments might have the option to join a lease arrangement. The volunteer plan was tried by Information Technology Services which offered a leasing program this year. Not many departments took part. So there are concerns that a volunteer program may not be as effective. The full committee is also looking at hiring one individual for each college or division as a technical assistant who can be called upon by faculty and staff to help with projects. They are also looking at upgrading or writing a new strategic plan for technology. A lot of the things they had in the plan for this year and previous years have been completed. So they need to rewrite the plan to give them some direction.
- New Business
Mumm announced there are some Kudos recipients for September. They are Brenda Jochum, Dee Ellingson, and Wilma Heinowski. They will get their awards on the 29th at the Board of Regents meeting.
Homecoming is November 11th. The theme is Celebrating Our Heritage. Danube said it could have to do with veterans, with the heritage of UNK, the heritage of an organization, etc. It is intended to tie in with some of the war heritage. Mumm posed the question- do we want to participate this year? Last year we used a flat bed and passed out candy. Riding along with Senate members were some Employees of the Month. The year before we did the Burma Shave thing. Mumm stated it would take some planning and some effort so she needed to know if members wanted to participate. If so, is there someone who would be willing to take it on? Most members noted they would like to participate. Mumm noted in the past we have done it to get some exposure/recognition. She asked members if they felt that was successful and is it worth the time we put into it. Also if we did, would there be people available to participate? Livingston noted also it does give us campus exposure when other employees recognize us in the parade. But if we can't find anyone to take on the leadership, she felt we shouldn't bother. Members were asked how many could participate in the parade; five members indicated they could. A suggestion was made to ride in the back of a pickup; the question was raised about borrowing a yellow pickup (since Mumm's husband has one). Mumm stated she could ask. A brief discussion was held as to how the pickup could be decorated, what the theme would be, and if there would be children available to ride. Mumm noted she would report back at the next meeting about the pickup and everyone else is to be thinking of ideas.
- Committee Chair Reports -are Due October 10th (End of the Year)
- COE Ground Breaking - today 2:30 p.m.
- Making a Difference - October 17th
- Next meeting October 24, 2000 - Change in regular date
The meeting was adjourned at 11:38 a.m. Bargen (Hines)