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Monday, April 9, 2012

Staff Council - March 27 Highlights

Michelle Bartlett – Summer Sessionsa. In-state tuition for everyone
b. Students who take at least 6 credits can receive assistance in finding a job
c. 14 credits for the cost of 10 credits – grades must be a C or better
d. 28% discount on dorms
e. Tuition awards of 3 credits – grades must be a C or better

Mae Marsh – New EEO Director
a. Advocate for the process
b. Ensure UAF is in state and federal compliance
c. Goal is early resolution
d. Staff Council mentioned that UAF has no defined grievance process, only as mentioned in the Board of Regents regulations and policies.

Health Care
a. The cost was an administration decision and not the Joint Health Care Committee (JHCC). Melanie Arthur (JHCC representative) explained that the proposals by JHCC were pushed aside for the administration choice. In December 2011 the JHCC passed an action item to explore clinic access for UAF. Donald Smith, Executive Director – Labor & Employee Relations, UA Statewide, was contacted in March for an update. At the time of contact there had been no action taken.
b. Vendor contracts (Blue Cross, Premera, Caremark, VSP, etc.) are up for review and renewal. Once signed they are 5 year contracts.
c. Council requested the Staff Alliance (staff governance for all of the University of Alaska) form a task force to investigate a wide range of issues from how benefits and premiums are projected and calculated, if the various health care services are being effectively used [WIN for Alaska, disease management, Best Doctors, etc.]), making the policy makers aware that the current health care model and direction is broken, options for systemic changes that can bring health care coverage back in line.
d. President Gamble sent a letter to the legislature regarding a “cost avoidance of 7 million dollars” for the university. This “cost avoidance” moved 7 million dollars from the university shoulders to staff.
e. In July staff can expect a pay deduction due to the rising cost of health care.
f. There is talk about the 500 and 750 plan going away and being replaced with the High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a possible Health Savings Account (HAS). To date there are 197 staff on the 500 plan, 2517 staff on the 750 plan and 1377 staff on the HDHP. The maximum allowed in the flexible spending account has decreased to $2500, federal guidelines.
g. It was recognized that nothing can be done to change the implementation of health care premiums this year. It was widely expressed that we are on a continuing unsustainable path.

Tobacco Policy
a. The proposed “tobacco-free hiring policy” has evolved from the previous “tobacco surcharge.” After speaking with UA Statewide Human Resources, the tobacco-free hiring has not been instituted, however if President Gamble approves of this policy it will go into effect in UAKJobs beginning July 2012. Staff governance has not been provided with any information regarding this policy.
b. It does not seem like President Gamble is giving up on this even as we doubt the large amount of touted health care savings ($21 million over 5 – 10 years).

General Notes
a. Staff Council, at the prompting of Chancellor Rogers, is looking at reorganizing to a smaller group to be elected at large (instead of by unit) with the hope that they can achieve greater attendance (move from 37 unit to 17 at-large). There is the sense that some unit representatives don’t communicate well or at all with their constituents, so this proposal is intended to broaden the communication.
b. Tuition Waiver – Staff council rejected the changes to the tuition waiver based on insufficient time for review. The changes were received on March 23rd by the Staff Alliance. Staff Council did not receive these changes until March 27th. One of the changes states: “Employees and dependents receiving education benefits must maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to qualify for educations benefits.

Thank you to other representatives for your notes and comments from the staff council meeting.  Providing those items allows this blog to be as inclusive of topics and conversations as possible.

1 comment:

Jeri Maxwell said...

Please post the actual (real!) cost to the University for the WIN program. We have a right to know. Also, I am tired of hearing that the WIN program is working - if it is working so well why is it that our health care continues to rise and that when I have either attended or seen any WIN meeting or program, very few people attend and those that do are the same people over and over, year after year!