A bulletin distributed after each Board of Governors’ meeting for use in district newsletters, websites and meetings. For more information, contact the SEANC Communications/PR Department at 800-222-2758 or 919-833-6436. The Spotlight can be found on the SEANC website, www.seanc.org, under “News/Publications.”
The Board of Governors (BOG) met on Feb. 15-16, 2013, to discuss business important to state employees and retirees.
Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Betty “BJ” Jones reported that SEANC is on solid financial footing in the first quarter of the fiscal year, with receipts at 32 percent and disbursements at 26 percent. Membership receipts are on target with budget expectations. SEANC’s theme park receipts will not start to roll in until March, when sales begin. SEANC’s partnership with Purchasing Power is performing above expectations this year as well. Insurance is ahead of its target, with 35 percent of the expected revenue already collected. Jones also reported that SEANC has paid off the mortgage debt on its central office property in Raleigh. The board cheered the news, but Jones reminded everyone that SEANC still has a severe deficit in its required reserve funds, and needs to continue to be frugal because of threats to payroll dues deduction and other factors.
President’s Report President Sidney M. Sandy started by urging board members to start scheduling their annual meetings as soon as possible so SEANC’s staff and officers can attend. He also reminded board members to let Benevolence Committee Chairwoman Doranna Anderson know when there is a death in their district.
Sandy announced that the beneficiary of this year’s community service project at the upcoming convention would be the SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, a project of the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation that serves as a “home away from home” for patients and families in medical crisis.
Executive Director’s Report Executive Director Dana Cope started by laying out the political realities in Raleigh. There is an entirely new state government in place and it is a work in progress. For the first time in more than 140 years, the Republicans control both the legislature and the governor’s mansion. At the same time, there are as many as 75 legislators with two years or less experience. There are lots of changes and new things occurring. This change has been difficult for some to accept, particularly the Democrats and their allies like NCAE. Cope said SEANC would stick with its motto of no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent issues. Cope reported that he has had productive meetings with Gov. Pat McCrory as well as Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis. He has also met with the OSP Director and several agency heads, and plans to meet with the rest in the near future.
Cope told McCrory that SEANC believes in many of the same things his administration does, that state government has been broken for long time because of cronyism and favoritism. State workers don’t believe in waste either. He told McCrory, “If you and your party fights to correct those things, we can stand with you on the issues.” He also reminded McCrory that SEANC stayed out of the 2012 governor’s race and works hard to fight for issues in a nonpartisan way.
He reported on the ongoing national threat to take away public unions’ ability to deduct dues from members’ paychecks. The House had been expected to push for this after NCAE successfully blocked a law from last session to take payroll deductions away in public schools. This would have dire consequences for SEANC and other unions. It happened in Wisconsin, and the public union there reported a 70 percent loss in membership within a year. It recently happened in Michigan, and already 30 percent of their membership has left. SEANC will continue to work with legislative leadership to protect SEANC’s rights.
But Cope doesn’t want that threat hanging over SEANC’s head, and said SEANC is at a critical moment in time. He suggested the board consider different options like bank draft, etc., as well as possibly expanding its membership to include city and county employees.
Currently there are constitutional amendments before the House that would enshrine “right to work” laws and permanently ban collective bargaining. Cope pointed out that these amendments “would not affect a single worker in the state, public or private” because those laws are already on the books. He said the board would have to decide whether to fight that battle – that we can’t win – or choose to fight for more attainable goals that actually will help members.
Cope also met with State Budget Director Art Pope, who signaled that he didn’t expect wholesale privatization of state services as some have suggested. Cope suggested the state allow state workers to bid on any efforts to privatize.
Cope then laid out SEANC’s recent troubles with State Treasurer Janet Cowell with the assistance of Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins and Political Director Kevin LeCount. Cope began by explaining that SEANC’s staff and Cowell’s staff had met regularly to improve relationships since the election, when EMPAC did not endorse her. Then, SEANC and other retirement groups requested that the Retirement Board of Trustees request full funding of the Annual Required 2
Contribution from the General Assembly as well as a Cost-of-Living Adjustment. At the meeting, though, Cowell asked for and the board approved the ARC request, but never brought up the COLA, which was surprising and troubling.
Ardis Watkins went through a timeline of events surrounding the State Health Plan Board of Trustees’ approval of proposed changes that includes surcharges of up to $40 per month for the 80/20 plan ($20/month for smoking, $10/month for failing to complete a health assessment and $10/month for failing to select a primary care physician). The changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. Cowell rushed the plan to a vote on Feb. 4 (the original vote had been called for Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, at 3:30 p.m.) without any time for review from SEANC or trustees. Cowell clearly does not want to ask the General Assembly for more money to pay for wellness incentives, so she has deferred the cost to the plan’s members – state workers and retirees – with the surcharges scheme. SEANC estimates that as many as 50 percent of state workers will be charged at least one of the surcharges because of a lack of access to computers or because they smoke. Cowell’s office also won’t answer questions about overpayments of up to 200 percent by the plan to hospitals because she needs support from hospital lobbyists in her pursuit for higher office – possibly a run for governor in 2016.
Cope added that Beacon, which is known to have issues, would administer the forms and payments associated with the surcharges. And in 2016, two more surcharges that have yet to be announced – likely dealing with weight – would be added to the plan. All of this is leading to the death of the 80/20 option in favor of the 70/30 plan which is less costly to the state but much worse for active employees and retirees.
Kevin LeCount then laid out Cowell’s “pay to play” relationships with law firms on Wall Street and interests in New York, Pennsylvania and California. Lawyers in New York donated $80,000 to her campaign since 2008, and more of her contributors live in New York City than Charlotte. In total, 54 percent of Cowell’s money comes from out of state. Why? Because they all want access to the state’s retirement funds – 27.3 percent of the money state workers contribute to retirement goes to law firms on Wall Street to manage your money ($494 per year for workers making $30,000).
SEANC and Social Media Jonathan Owens of SEANC’s Communications Department spoke on the “Dos and Don’ts” of social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter. He pointed out that members should remember they represent SEANC when using social media for their district, and refrain from straying from the association’s overall message and strategy. He also reminded the board that media members are on social media as well, especially Twitter, and anything they write can be published without their consent. 30th Annual Convention Update President Sandy called on SEANC Convention and Meetings Planner Alicia Miller, CMP for a presentation on proposals for 2016-2018 contracts for hosting SEANC’s convention. Miller said she had received preliminary proposals from Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh. The Charlotte 3
proposal involves two hotels, with the primary venue being The Westin Hotel. The Raleigh proposal involves three hotels, one of which has yet to be built, with the convention being held in the Raleigh Convention Center. The Raleigh proposal also includes several monetary concessions that the others do not. The Greensboro proposal is the same as in years’ past, with the convention in the Koury Convention Center and delegates in the adjoining Sheraton Hotel. The board voted to allow Miller to negotiate with all three cities on its behalf to vote on at the May BOG meeting.
Committee Reports Awards – Chairwoman Gene Mills reminded the board of the various awards available at this year’s convention. Bylaws – President Sandy reported that he had charged Bylaws Committee Chairman Jimmy Davis to define duties for district officers.
Discounts – Chairwoman Janet Bunch reported that 29 new businesses had offered discounts since October for a total of 34 new in this fiscal year. She explained the new sign-on system on the SEANC website that automatically signs members into Perks’ page as well, making the whole process easier to navigate. She announced a member discount contest for March to determine which member can save the most money with our discount partners. The member saved the most money by the end of the month will receive a $50 gift card, and the others will be placed in a drawing for $25 cards. Ticket sales for theme parks begin March 25 at State Employees’ Credit Union branches. Last year SEANC made almost $200,000 from this partnership. Staff Liaison Kevin LeCount said flyers for theme parks would be available soon. He also said Disney does not consign tickets, so we’re working with travel agencies on packages. Dollywood and Tweetsie Railroad are not interested in participating. EMPAC – Statewide Chairman Wayne Fish reported that nearly 90 percent of the candidates EMPAC endorsed (in 72 races) won in 2012. He said he was sad Linda Coleman did not win her race for lieutenant governor, but he was proud of the work EMPAC did in that race. He set a goal this year to have the entire board contribute to SEIU’s PAC. EMPAC’s next meeting will be held March 2. Redistricting may be necessary within EMPAC because of congressional/state redistricting.
Ethics – Chairman Duane Smith reported that the committee had met twice and is trying to look at all things that can fall within the scope of the organization, including the regulation of social media.
Insurance Board of Trustees – Chairwoman Pam Hailey reported that the board would meet at 10 a.m. on Feb. 26.
Membership – Chairman Spillman Grice reminded board members to get their local membership chairpersons involved. He reported that District 20 Chairwoman Jacque Chatman won a $200 Visa gift card in the last membership contest that only 11 districts participated in. He then recognized districts with positive recruitment numbers and announced a new contest. The district with the highest percentage growth through May 1 will receive a gift card for $200. The 4
committee is also continuing the incentive program that gives $15 for every five new members a person signs up. The region challenge will be held again this year, but regions must be in the plus to win. The only region in the plus at this time is the East. District 17 Chairman Ron Woodson was recognized for his district’s recruiting incentive: Any individual who recruits 10 people gets $100, 20 gets $200, and so on. Member Strength – Chairwoman Kim Martin reported that the committee decided to forego large training exercises like last year’s event at Great Wolf Lodge because of cost. Instead, it is hoping to launch an “I am SEANC” website to capture testimonials from state employees of what SEANC means to them soon to instill pride in the membership. She also encouraged the board to bring members to the BOG meetings and get less active members more engaged.
Planning – Staff Liaison Rex Foster reported that the committee has not met yet.
Policy Platform – The Policy Platform Advisory Committee will meet on March 21 to go over policies up for deletion.
Retiree Council – Chairman Bob Hopper reported that the council, in conjunction with the Membership Committee, is working to establish two-hour workshops for retirees across state. The workshops will be conducted by SEANC lobbyists Chuck Stone and Mitch Leonard on Mondays and Fridays beginning in March all over the state. Districts will set the date and location. They are meant to inform retirees what is going on in the state, particularly with the State Health Plan. He also reported that the Retirement System Board of Trustees voted to ask the General Assembly to fully fund the ARC, but not a COLA as SEANC and other groups requested. Hopper also requested a bylaws change to make the Retiree Council Chairperson an automatic delegate to the convention. He concluded by stating that on April 4, retirees from SEANC will meet with key legislators.
Scholarship Foundation Board – Chairman George Thiessen reported that the board met in October to begin the scholarship process for another year. The application process has been simplified on the SEANC website this year, with a separate application for each category to avoid confusion. Scholarship judging is scheduled for May 21-23. Applications should be postmarked by May 1. The foundation’s annual golf tournament is scheduled for Aug. 9 at Keith Hills Country Club in Buies Creek. Entry fee is $55 per person or $220 for a team of four, and sponsorship opportunities are available starting at $100. District 3 Chairman Bob Gibbard stood to invite the board and the staff to the Lois Forrester Golf Tournament in Boone. Thiessen reminded the board that SEIU also has scholarships available to members.
Youth Council – Chairwoman Felicia Chiambiro reported that the council worked with District 5 and SEANC’s Member Action Department on a membership blitz that recruited 50 new members in January. The council has selected SECU Family House as its first community service project for the year, and is asking each district to contribute. The council will present donations during their volunteer day at SECU Family House on April 24. The council is also holding a “World’s Finest Chocolate” fundraiser ($1 per candy bar) and encouraged board members to take some back to sell. District 5 Chairman Tony Smith lauded the council’s efforts at the blitz and presented Chiambiro with a check for $100 for SECU House, challenging all the districts to donate. District 5
38 Chairwoman Betty Creech gave testimony on staying at the house when her husband was in the hospital, saying it was a great organization for SEANC to support.
New Business Second Vice President Stanley Gales stood to tell the board that new N.C. House District 7 Rep. Bobbie Richardson is a strong SEANC member and former District 26 Chairwoman. She took Angela Bryant’s seat when Bryant moved to the Senate. Bryant is also an active SEANC member.
Votes PASSED – A motion to direct SEANC staff to continue as suggested by the Executive Director, with focusing on protecting dues deduction, a pay raise and COLA for retirees and health plan protection and improvement through adequate funding. PASSED – A motion to abolish the R.I.S.E. Committee (formerly the Redistricting Committee) because of conflicts with other committees. PASSED – A motion to empower SEANC’s Communications Department to negotiate with venues on BOG’s behalf for 2016-18 convention contracts. The next BOG will be held May 17-18, 2013, in the SEANC Central Office in Raleigh.