April 2006

Staff Advisory Council Minutes 

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

1:00-3:00 p.m., Notre Dame Room, LaFortune                                                                                                                                    
Present: Maureen Marnocha, Lorie Marsh, Penny McIntire, Christy Miller, Bobbi McMahon, John Mackowicz, Shannen Mears, Patricia Smith, Sharon Konopka, Frederick Sonneborn, Diana Singleton, Kathy Stopczynski, Kevin Jones, Peggy VanKirk, Linnie Caye, Kathy Troth, MaryEllen Fetherolf
Excused:  Jennifer Ihns, Michael Huffer, John Whelan    
Unexcused: Joy Schosker, Paul Hendershott, George Young
Visitors: John Affleck-Graves, Bob McQuade, Denise Murphy
HR Liaisons:  Jessica Lambourne
I. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 1:00 p.m. by Kathy Stopczynski.
II. Group Picture 
Gail Mancini took a group picture to be included in a future ND Works article and on the SAC website.  
III. Discussion with John Affleck-Graves and Bob McQuade
John Affleck-Graves and Bob McQuade attended the meeting to have a discussion and get some feedback on the activities surrounding the Just Wage (Living Wage) being addressed by CLAP.  The students from CLAP have met with Frances Shavers, Bob McQuade, President Jenkins, and John Affleck-Graves.  It is good that the students are concerned with a social issue.  As Catholics, there is a long tradition of just and fair wages and the University is concerned about that and does consider it.  The issue is much broader than the representatives of CLAP indicate.  It should include safety, a good work environment, general lifestyle, health insurance, disability insurance, etc.  CLAP is right in asserting that the market cannot determine what that wage is, and that there is a higher standard that a Catholic university should meet.  CLAP has asked for a response, but it was important to meet with and get feedback from SAC before giving a response.  
A statement in a recent article about this issue, CLAP claims that “workers have no voice.”  The hope is that all employees feel free to consult who they need and want to.  CLAP also maintains that “conditions are such that employees can’t openly express concerns without fear of reprisal.”  Nobody should feel that they can’t say something.  People should feel free to raise any issue.  Everyone will need to help create an atmosphere where anyone can say anything.  It will take work to find ways to deal with current concerns and create that atmosphere.  CLAP also asserts that criteria for wages should be based on family size.  It has been the tradition of Notre Dame not to pay based on this criterion.  That idea will be explored if necessary.  CLAP also suggests that SAC may not be a strong and sufficient conduit to campus.  Bob will email the CLAP website to Kathy Stopczynski.
There are so many ways, and a lot of controversy around how to adjust wages.  It is about much more than a minimum wage.  Harvard and Georgetown have both determined a Fair and Living Wage; in 2002, Harvard’s was $11.35, and Georgetown has Just Employment in the amount of $14 per hour, including benefits.  Both of these are aimed at contract workers, not direct employees, and they are in areas with very high costs of living.  
A couple of items to discuss:  pay based on family size, benefits (CLAP is more comfortable with trading benefits for cash).  CLAP made five direct requests of Fr. Jenkins:
Affirmation of Catholic Social Teaching – more than meeting the requirements of the Catholic church 
New task force other than SAC – they feel that there is not a strong enough voice 
Adopt a Just and Living Wage 
Affirm the rights of workers to organize and unionize 
Establish a channel for grievances/concerns – employees should feel they can speak honestly 
Every member of the Notre Dame community has a responsibility for every other member of the Notre Dame community.  It is deeply concerning that Notre Dame employees do not feel that they can speak honestly.  The administration is concerned about any concern.        
Employees have to feel free to come forward and talk about anything.  Channels must be established to make that happen and to build that trust.  An anonymous employee hotline is being considered.  It would be confidential, but at the end of the day, if actions need to be taken, someone will have to do an investigation.  This could be very useful as a first-line option.  
A committee member raised a concern about the total compensation statements that were sent out.  It was a lengthy document and many of the benefits had no value put to them.  Many of the benefits are of no value to this person, so would not be considered compensation.  
Wages at Notre Dame are above average when compared to the market.  Unfortunately, health care is not a basic right.  If employees would rather have more pay than benefits, they need to speak up.  This could not be on an individual basis, but would have to be as a group.  
Parking at many other universities is between $400 and $1200 per year.  For now, there will not be a fee charged to employees for parking on campus.  
There is some concern that many who are currently employed by the University could not come here now.  In some departments, individuals have to start as a temporary employee, and then move to on-call, and then hope to get a job a year later.  
Unfortunately there is not a lot of turnover because people want to work at Notre Dame, making it harder to progress and move up in the organization.  
The issue was raised about how long temporary and on-call employees are working – that in many cases they are working longer than policy would allow.  
Some employees are afraid that benefits will be taken away and they will be given more money – that the administration will listen to CLAP.
The students are out there being heard, but SAC and the employees need make sure that their voices are heard, too.  Cash would never be swapped for benefits unless SAC was consulted, as long as John Affleck-Graves is the Executive Vice President.
Employees are concerned about the way that raises are calculated – it should be based on merit, but it’s not.  It’s just a straight distribution.  Human Resources is looking more and more at this issue.  They need the help of SAC members and employees because many prefer a flat increase.  For employees there is some fear that raises will be based on favoritism rather than merit.  A merit system is not perfect, but it’s better.  Those who work and perform at the highest levels should get the raises.  A better performance assessment system is needed – one that employees can trust, and that has an appeal process.  Employees should be able to expect a reasonable and fair assessment of performance.  
Members of the committee are working on getting the word out about SAC. 
When comparing the pay and benefits at Notre Dame, the benefits far outweigh the pay.  Your benefits aren’t taken away, even if you don’t use them.  There is no other place to get benefits like you can here. 
We need to find the balance between benefits and pay, where people feel comfortable.  
The idea of paying based on family size has been reviewed with General Counsel.  We are not comfortable with the idea – is it criteria beyond which we should consider.  Is it legal?  Are there biases?  CLAP has raised many issues that we should think about, and we are.       
Most of the cost of the medical insurance premium is for catastrophic care.  We mutually insure each other.  Workers get a benefit out of the ability to negotiate insurance premiums as a group.  We have the best medical plan for what we are paying.  There is concern that some employees elect to take their spouse’s insurance because it costs less.  Notre Dame has a significantly older workforce, which results in more claims and higher premiums.  
Is the University looking at having employees pay more of the premium versus the 13% paid currently?  There has been talk of moving toward what many other universities are doing – employees pay 16 – 25% of the premium.  The trick is finding a balance - how important the benefits are to employees, which benefits can be reduced/eliminated to keep others or keep the premiums low.    
It should be mandatory for supervisors to do performance reviews.  Maybe send an email to staff reminding them that it’s time for reviews, so that they can ask their supervisors about it.  If the review is less than what the employee expects, they should have a chance to disagree with the supervisor.  It is an injustice for supervisors not to give performance reviews.  The Officers Group has been pressed to insure that it is a goal for 100% of employees to receive a performance review.  Some areas complete the performance reviews but then give a flat raise across the board, not based on merit.  Why would employees want to perform better if their raise won’t change?
In one area, all but 5-7 people receive reviews.  If they don’t get reviews and raises are based on merit, how do they get raises?  
Problems with supervisors come up often in SAC:  treatment issues, opening someone’s mail, information is not handed out.  SAC members should write a report to the Officers regarding the supervisory issues and concerns.  
Mandatory training should be considered for supervisors, not optional.  
Most employees are happy to be here and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.  Those who have been here longer have a more negative spin on things.  The University still has a luster for being here.  
There is a concern that if employees with lower pay are all brought to $12.10 (Living Wage), what happens to everyone else?  Organizations that go to a living wage see salary compression – not everyone moves up.  There should be a difference in pay based on job, schooling, training, etc.  
The idea that “benefits don’t put food on the table” is a little worrisome.  How can you not count health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance?  
What about the cost of living?  It used to be reflected in the raise process.  Health insurance went up more than my raise.  This is a national problem.  Many companies are trying to get rid of health care benefits.  
Has “employee plus one” been considered for health insurance purposes?  Yes, but it goes back to the distribution and how to shape the pie.  When changes are made, it all still has to balance.  
As far as vacation goes, why not credit the loyal person who’s been here for a long time?  Give less vacation for those who are new, and more to those who have been here longer.  Wouldn’t that save the University money?  Local organizations have been surveyed, and comparisons have been made to the national market.  Notre Dame compares well.  We compare entire benefits packages.  If there is a feeling of newcomers being rewarded versus the loyal, help us determine if there is widespread support for a change.  
John Affleck-Graves and Bob McQuade will be invited back in a few months.  The University will respond to CLAP after this meeting with SAC.   
There is a need to better communicate the availability of OE Consultants.  Employees need to have multiple approaches to contact HR so that they can feel comfortable based on the nature of the concern/complaint. 
IV. Approval of the March 9th, 2006 Council Minutes 
Linnie Caye needs to be moved from “Unexcused” to “Present.”  With that change, Bobbi McMahon made a motion to approve; Maureen Marnocha seconded the motion.  Minutes approved.
V. Committee Reports
Benefits Committee
No report – not in attendance.
Parking Appeals Committee
No report.
Promotions Committee
The committee has not met yet.  A suggestion was made to do something with the staff picnic.
Redistricting Committee
No report – not in attendance.
Website Committee
The website is up to date.  It is now being maintained in Dreamweaver instead of Contribute.  Switch from AFS to Webfile.
Women's Committee
No report.
VI. Additional Business
Next month’s agenda will include Denise Murphy, who will be attending to answer any Benefits questions.
VII. Adjournment
With no further topics to discuss, Diana Singleton made a motion to adjourn.  The motion was seconded by Linnie Caye, and passed.
Respectfully submitted,
Human Resources 
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