May 2006

Staff Advisory Council Minutes 

Thursday, May 11th, 2006

1:00-3:00 p.m., Notre Dame Room, LaFortune                                                                                                                                  
Present: Maureen Marnocha, Lorie Marsh, Penny McIntire, Jennifer Ihns, Christy Miller, Bobbi McMahon, Shannen Mears, Patricia Smith, Frederick Sonneborn, Diana Singleton, Kathy Stopczynski, Peggy VanKirk, Paul Hendershott, Linnie Caye, Kathy Troth, MaryEllen Fetherolf, George Young
Excused:  Joy Schosker, Sharon Konopka, Kevin Jones, Michael Huffer    
Unexcused: John Mackowicz
Visitors: Denise Murphy
HR Liaisons:  John Whelan, Jessica Lambourne
I. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 1:05 p.m. by Kathy Stopczynski.
II. Approval of the April 13th, 2006 Council Minutes 
With noted changes, Diana Singleton made a motion to approve; committee members voted to approve.  Minutes approved. 
III. Benefits Discussion with Denise Murphy
Denise Murphy attended to answer questions about the benefits programs on campus.  A question was raised about having to pay the full amount of the co-pay even if the cost of the generic drug was less than the co-pay.  This happened early in the year, and Merck-Medco was informed.  They should have gone back to find those who were adversely affected and reimbursed them. 
For flexible spending accounts, the company changed names, but everything else should remain unchanged.  All that was automatically reimbursed before, should still be.  
The change in vacation accrual and how vacation carries over was reviewed.  The letter that all eligible employees received a few months ago should have been correct, and included the correction (a rounding error) that was suggested in an earlier SAC meeting.  There was some concern that some employees in Building Services had received the letter with incorrect information.  Denise will check to be sure the correct letter was mailed out.  If not, it will need to be resent to all of campus as all employees were sent a copy of the same letter.  
It has been confirmed that vacation time will continue to be posted on pay stubs.
There was a question about the rounding of time based on punch/swipe times with the upgrade of the UltraTime system.  
How come it takes 2 extra years for staff employees to get 4 weeks of vacation compared to administrative employees?  The current practice is based on market data and the type of role a person fills.  The market supports different levels/accrual rates for different groups/types of employees.  Benefits are distinguished by the type of position; they are not discriminatory in nature.  
Some employees are currently required to work “mandatory overtime.”  An employee submitted a request for time off, which was approved, where “mandatory overtime” was scheduled.  This same employee was required to use vacation time in place of the “mandatory overtime,” even though he/she had worked the regularly scheduled 40 hours.  How can an employee be approved to leave and then forced to use personal leave and/or vacation time?  Employees shouldn’t have to.  How can someone be penalized for not working overtime?  They wouldn’t get paid if they were out sick those days.  John will follow up with the supervisor to get a better understanding of the rationale behind the practice.  It is a practice that is believed to be practiced through Facilities Operations.
An employee requested pre-approval from Advantage insurance for physical therapy treatments.  The doctor recommended 2 treatments for 4 weeks.  The letter from Advantage approved 2 15-minute treatments for 3 weeks.  When the employee called to follow up, she was told that the letter was a standard letter, but that they knew her treatments would be longer and would adjust the coverage.  Advantage is not as flexible as the other plans.  It is the lowest cost plan and they generally approve only the minimum treatment needed.  When sending information, they should be realistic in what they approve compared to what the physician recommended.  
A question was raised about whether or not the certificate courses offered by HR will be available in the future.  HR is looking at all of the courses being offered and evaluating them to see what will continue and what will not.  A final decision has not been made.  Would it be possible for this to be a benefit so that employees don’t have to pay for them?  There has been a great deal of discussion in HR about the idea that employees shouldn’t generally have to pay for training courses on campus.  Some employees not only have to pay for the courses themselves, but they also have to take vacation time to attend.  Other departments pay for the courses and allow employees to take the time to go.  HR is very concerned about this and is looking for better solutions going forward.  One of the purposes of training is to help employees grow into roles.  Unfortunately the main focus has been to focus on the immediate needs rather than on future opportunities.  There are limited resources, in the University as a whole, for training purposes.  HR is trying to figure out the best, most effective way to use those funds.  It would be ideal for departments to cover the cost of training that is job-related or a stepping stone to another position.  It makes sense for the organization to invest in employees when it is job-related.  Training requests should be handled on a case-by-case basis.  If it is training for personal reasons, the employee may be asked to cover any costs associated and may need to use vacation time.  When a supervisor denies a legitimate request for training, where can employees go?  OE Consultants can help with that.  This is a resource-driven problem, and is being considered by the leadership of HR and the University.  It is a benefit for employees to take the courses and better themselves.  The majority of class costs are currently covered by HR.  The University, in general, will need to decide whether training is a priority and how much to fund the programs.  This is all part of a broader discussion taking place about performance development.  Remember there is an option to take classes at various schools and the University will pay up to $750 as a benefit to continue towards earning a degree or to take educational programs.  
With the recent performance reviews, employees received a letter from the director of the department letting them know that they now either “meet expectations” or “need improvement.” How can that be after 20 years of “exceeds” or “excellent”?  How can you tell someone after that long that their work standards have decreased?  There has been a “ratings creep” on campus to where almost all are “exceeds” or “outstanding.”  What about the one who really stands out and is a top performer?  Supervisors on campus have been asked to really look at what “meets expectations” means compared to those who truly go above and really do exceed expectations.  Doing a job the right way and doing it well really is “meets expectations,” but has often been rated above that.  Overall the campus needs a little more balance in the ratings.  Not everyone can get an “A.”  
Some employees are not aware of the retirement plans offered on campus.  Someone from HR would be happy to come to any department to share information, or any employee can stop by the 2nd floor of Grace Hall to get additional information about retirement plans and options.  
The University does offer healthcare plans to retirees.  The costs are dependent on length of service and age, plus eligibility for Medicare.  The plans are not subsidized at the same level as active employees.  There is a lot of information out there about Medicare, Part D.  Current employees should not sign up for Medicare because once they do they are no longer eligible for the University’s healthcare plans.  Also, once retirees quit the Notre Dame plans, they cannot get back on. 
IV. Committee Reports
Benefits Committee
First meeting yesterday.  Nothing to report.
Parking Appeals Committee
No report.  In July, Kathy will ask for a volunteer to serve as the SAC representative on this committee, which will start up again in August.
Promotions Committee
The committee met to discuss how to get the word out about SAC.  They are planning on having a booth at the staff picnic in June.  They are considering a banner, display board, t-shirts, pens, etc.  They hope to have booths at other University functions where SAC fits in.  They have made contacts on campus for donations to use as give aways.  Volunteers are needed to man (actively engage others) the booth at the staff picnic.  Patty Smith and Bobbi McMahon volunteered.
Redistricting Committee
This committee has not met yet.  This project will be tabled for a few months, to be picked back up in the fall and completed before next year’s elections.
Website Committee
The website is up to date.  The picture taken last month is now online.
Women's Committee
No report.  There is some confusion about having a SAC representative on the committee.  Kathy will talk with Jessica Brookshire or Mary Carol Nagle.
V. Additional Business
The expectation was that the group photo taken last month would be included in ND Works.  Instead, a picture of the SAC officers was included.  Kathy will request that Gail Mancini include the group photo in ND Works before the Staff picnic.
As a follow-up to last month’s meeting, SAC members need to decide what to do about CLAP, and how to respond to John Affleck-Graves and Bob McQuade.  Joseph Murphy from CLAP has contacted a number of SAC members through email.  The officers responded to see if someone (from CLAP) would be around during the summer months to come and meet with SAC.  They have not heard back yet.
Linnie Caye met with Joseph individually.
The point was made that care needs to be taken when making decisions and moving forward because many employees are very satisfied with their jobs on campus.
The decision was made to invite a representative from CLAP to attend next month’s meeting, if possible.  John Affleck-Graves came to share his thoughts, so to be fair, it is best to hear from the other side as well.
The committee members need to hear what they (CLAP) have to say before they can respond to either side.
A vote was unanimous in favor of having CLAP come to a future meeting – June, if at all possible.
Some members of SAC felt blindsided at last months meeting, not knowing what the discussion would be about.  They felt they could have been better prepared had they had time to contact their constituents to get feedback, comments, questions beforehand.
There was some concern that the names of SAC members were included on the memo (with typos) that was sent out recently from President Jenkins and John Affleck-Graves.
Both sides have been unfair to SAC.  John Affleck-Graves made it sound like everything was okay with SAC, and CLAP has used SAC’s name in the articles but hasn’t really come to the committee.
By having CLAP attend a meeting, SAC will be better able to give educated suggestions to John Affleck-Graves and the administration.
The letter to President Jenkins is on the CLAP website for anyone who might be interested in reading it.  It’s unfortunate that members of SAC hadn’t seen the letter and the points made to President Jenkins before last month’s meeting.
Christy Miller will forward to all SAC members the response that was sent to CLAP.
Shannen Mears’ last month will be June as she will be moving into an exempt position as of July 1.  Kathy will meet with her to discuss options for finding a replacement.
There was a luncheon held in the North Dining Hall on Administrative Professional’s Day, but many people didn’t know about it.  It is an event where departments can take their office staff to lunch.  This caused a lot of problems with morale because many people didn’t know about it.  It has been going on for a few years now.  It would be better if the invitations were sent to everyone or no one, not just a few people.  It was a very nice event.
There is some confusion about the policy regarding motorcycles on campus.  With the rising gas prices, more people would like to ride motorcycles to work rather than cars.  Years ago, motorcycles could not be brought onto campus.  There is some uncertainty as to what the guidelines are now.  Bobbi McMahon will contact Security Police and let everyone know.
There is a “Do Not Enter” sign at the exit of the ECDC parking lot on Wilson Drive that is very faded.  Many people are entering in the wrong way to cut across the corner and avoid traffic.  This is another issue for the Security Police department.
The question was asked whether Ivy is open now or not.  It is open, but does not go all the way through from Edison to Douglas now.  The new road (Twyckenham) is now open, connecting from Ivy to Douglas.
Monday, May 22 will be the Service Recognition Dinner.  This year it will be held in the Joyce Center and will start at 6pm.  Another change this year is that service awards now include 10-year employees.  Lists have been sent to departments indicating who will be honored.
VI. Adjournment
With no further topics to discuss, George Young made a motion to adjourn.  The motion was seconded by Shannen Mears, and passed.
Respectfully submitted,
Human Resources 
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