The Board of Governors met on Oct. 9-10 to discuss business important to state employees and retirees. President’s Report President Wayne Fish welcomed returning and new district chairpersons into the SEANC family. He informed the board that this year’s focus would focus on big picture priorities important to state employees and retirees — pay, health care, job protections and retirement. Fish welcomed the 2 014-2015 committee chairpersons to the BOG: Awards-Pam Hailey, Bylaws-Jimmy Davis, EMPAC-Tony Smith, Insurance Board of Trustees-Doranna Anderson, Member Discount-Janet Bunch, Membership-Bill Spade, Member Strength-Hiawatha Jones, Planning Committee-Linda Rouse Sutton, Policy Platform-Doris Greer, Youth Council-Erica Simmons and Retiree Council-Spillman Grice. Fish charged the Youth Council to focus on advocacy activities in the General Assembly. Fish announced a new committee, the Growth and Expansion Committee, led by Gloria Upperman. The G&EC will focus on researching and outreach to new SEANC members such as university athletes and local government employees. Executive Director’s Report SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope introduced all the SEANC staff to the board and announced that lobbyists Mitch Leonard and Chuck Stone are retiring at the end of the year. The good news for SEANC is that Leonard and Stone will stay on as consultants for at least the next 12 months. Leonard, who has worked for the association for 38 years, told the board, “It has been the true passion of my life to work here at SEANC.” Cope reported that SEANC is close to finalizing affiliation negotiations with SEIU. The purpose of which is to recommit the necessary plan of action and resources to
grow SEANC to become an even stronger advocate for North Carolina’s public employees. Central Office: Cope outlined a staff reorganization including a name change and new duties for the Legislative Affairs Department which has been renamed Government Relations. The Government Relations Department will take on political activities staff duties. Kevin LeCount will continue his role as political manager in Government Relations and will also become a lobbyist. The remaining Member Strength Department functions and staff have moved to Member Action. Cope also updated the board on the progress of the Central Office renovation. (A previous board set aside a reserve to invest in the building, property and landscaping.) Last year’s Executive Committee approved fixing a number of repairs/renovations to the Central Office, including a new roof, HVAC, carpet and landscaping. General Counsel Report Tom Harris presented a request from members to assist with attorneys’ fees involved in two different lawsuits. These cases are broad and will impact all SEANC members who are subject to the State Personnel Act. Both lawsuits involve SPA employees who were switched to at-will status: 1. A Department of Public Safety employee, Joe Vincoli, is fighting his termination, after his employment status was changed to managerial-exempt, despite the fact that Vincoli did not manage any people. The case is pending before N.C. Superior Court. He is challenging the taking of his property rights (switching his employment status). 2. Three SEANC members who are Deputy Commissioners of the Industrial Commission are fighting their switch in employment status in federal court. These members hear unemployment insurance appeals. Nine of the 22 deputies have filed a lawsuit and three are SEANC members. The BOG voted to assist in the lawsuits: $1,000 for Vincoli and $999 each for the three SEANC members in federal court. Should these employees win, it will help all state employees. Harris clarified that the five days of bonus leave can now be used in the same manner as vacation leave and vacation leave does not have to be exhausted first. Further, he urged all members to use up vacation time first, because at the end of employment members can be paid for bonus leave in addition to 240 hours of unused vacation time. If they use the bonus leave instead of vacation time, they will lose that extra pay at the end of employment. Ethics Training Ethics Liaison Tom Harris provided Ethics Training to the BOG and each member attested that they received the training. 2
Retirement Lobbyist Mitch Leonard gave a presentation on retirement legislation from the 2014 short session. Legislation passed included provisions on anti-spiking and 5-year vesting. The budget included a 1-percent COLA. Leonard also reviewed the results of SEANC’s forensic audit of the state retirement system. The audit showed pension losses of up to $6.8 billion and skyrocketing fees to paid Wall Street and placement agents. It also showed that the system had never been audited. SEANC was successful in getting the General Assembly to require a state audit to be reported by 2016. SEANC was also successful in defeating an attempt by State Treasurer Janet Cowell’s office to enshrine secrecy in investments. Her bill would have kept deals made with pension funds secret for a whole generation. The board was shown this report from WFMY 2 on SEANC’s fight for transparency. Leonard then pointed out the problem with the treasurer’s claims of 16 percent return on investments in the last year and the fact that “best funded” does not mean “best.” The system is well funded primarily because of contributions from state employees and recent contributions from the General Assembly. State Health Plan Update Lobbyist Chuck Stone briefed members on the State Health Plan. For members on the Enhanced 80/20 Plan or the Consumer-Directed Health Plan, October is a critical month for action to avoid punitive wellness surcharges. Open enrollment is going on now, and while you do not have to re-enroll in your plan, you MUST once again complete the so-called wellness activities in order to avoid the punitive surcharges that were put in place last year. Those were not a one-time deal. Just because you completed them last year does not mean the results carry over to this year. They do not. Those wellness activities include: • • •
Completing a health assessment Attesting that you and your spouse (if applicable) do not smoke or are in a smoking cessation program Selecting a primary care provider for yourself and all dependents
The next opportunity to make changes to health plan coverage will be January 2016. Stone urged members who do not wish to change anything to call the SHP to verify their enrollment. The SHP is the only plan in the state that now provides applied behavioral therapy for autism. This may entice some parents to try to work for the state. Changes to optometry laws have some looking for ways to save on glasses. Stone said ways to 4
save include SEANC’s vision insurance and purchases at warehouse stores like COSTCO or BJ’s. Stone also spoke about restrictions by the SHP on certain kinds of drugs, especially diabetic drugs. He noted that in-network hospitals are the responsible for preadmission certification, while out-of-network hospitals are responsibility of member. Members in Medicare Advantage Plans are not affected by in/out-ofnetwork differences – simply pay the copay. Stone told the BOG that if they have or hear about people having problems with claims – i.e. copays were too high or there was a coding problem – to call the State Health Plan at 919-881-2300 and inform them your claim was not processed properly and be sure to call SEANC. “We will let them know their people are not complying with their contract,” Stone said. “Review those bills carefully. Trust but verify.” Automatic enrollment for retirees: “If planning to retire, six month prior you need to start thinking about your SHP options,” Stone said. SHP offers help, but if you don’t pick a plan, you will be enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan that may not be to your advantage. Retirees’ returning to work is another big issue with the SHP this year. “If you as a retiree go back to work for the state of N.C. and work an average of 30 hours or more per week, you’re going to be assigned to a High Deductible Health Plan,” Stone said. He urged the board to, if they know any retiree working on a temporary basis for the state, to make sure their average is under 30 hours per week. “Do not work for any state agency that wants you to work more than 29 hours a week. You cannot afford it,” Stone said. He noted in particularly that this hits the UNC system and the public school systems the hardest, including substitute teachers. Tom Harris clarified for people already working for the state. The state is supposed to see if rehire retirees work an average of 30 hours a week over the last year. “What you want to have is an agreement that you will work less than 30 hours a week,” Harris said. Harris also notes that his understanding is this would apply to Medicare-eligible retirees. Stone spoke on ACA tax penalties: 2015 will be first time under ACA that people must have health insurance coverage – on themselves and family members. Tax penalties will be fairly minimal in 2015 but will increase in 2016-18. Stone notes that in most cases, people eligible for the Medicare Advantage plans are better off in those plans than traditional Medicare and the PPO 70/30.
EMPAC Changes Kevin LeCount explained the new EMPAC Area assignments, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, as voted on by the state committee: EMPAC Area A B C D E F G H J K L M N P Q R S T
SEANC Districts 1,2 3,8 5,6,7 4,9 11,12,13 10,18 16,17 20,24 19,25,27 21,26 36-45 22,23 61,62 58,59,60 56,57 64,65 66,67,70 63,68,69
Convening Chairs Jim Pressley Kathy Howell Tony Smith Barbara Leatherman Jean Martin Linda Moore Ron Fields/Anne Marie Bellamy John Gullo Gloria Upperman Doranna Anderson
Michael Richardson Mike Kollock/Stanley Drewery Tanilla Williams
EMPAC Chairman Tony Smith will work with areas that are currently not assigned a representative. Districts each have four reps on the area committee. Meetings should be held Nov. 5 â€“ Dec. 31 and the above chairpersons will have to be reelected if they wish to continue to serve. EMPAC Area Chairpersons are responsible for reaching out to district chairpersons. Awards Chairwoman Pam Hailey reported that committee will be meeting in February and August. The awards committee members are Pat Reighard, Linda Moore, Cathy Fields, George Currie and Daisy Stancill. EMPAC Gloria Upperman urged SEANC members to vote for EMPAC-endorsed candidates on Nov. 4. Expansion & Growth Gloria Upperman reported that in addition to research and outreach to new SEANC members, the committee will also work with existing district infrastructure to assist and lead the charge of district reorganization as situations arise. The committee will be researching local government agencies and identifying the best counties in N.C. to launch a pilot program. 6
Insurance Board of Trustees Chairwoman Doranna Anderson told districts to ask SEANC’s Director of Member Benefits Brenda Hooker or Insurance Board of Trustees members to come to district meetings and events to promote SEANC’s insurance products. There are two regional representatives for each region who are also available to assist you where you live. Member Strength Chairwoman Hiawatha Jones reported that the committee is excited to be working with the Member Action Team and will be developing a loyalty program to promote growth, develop a two-year member strength guide, prepare a list of retirees across each district to lobby at the legislature and engage members of each district’s EMPAC committee to lobby at the legislature. Jones urged members to have district’s members working the polls for our EMPAC-endorsed candidates. Scholarship Foundation Chairwoman Shirley Ballard thanked Sidney Sandy and the districts for supporting the SEANC convention community service project. Votes PASSED-A motion from the Executive Committee to provide $3,977 in legal assistance to four SEANC members suing the state and federal government for reclassifying their positions as exempt from the State Human Resources Act. PASSED-A motion from the Executive Committee permitting them to negotiate with SEIU regarding SEANC’s $.50 retiree dues payments if certain conditions are not met by the end of the year.