The Board of Governors met on Feb. 26-27, 2016, at SEANC Headquarters in Raleigh to discuss business important to state employees and retirees. Treasurer’s Report Treasurer Darius McLaurin reported that SEANC’s finances were on target for 201516. Total receipts are at 31 percent for the year, while disbursements are at 27 percent. SEANC prepaid its property tax for the building to save money.
McLaurin also recommended simplifying the treasurer’s report given to the board to give an easier-to-understand form that will also allow for a more accurate report. The board passed his motion unanimously. McLaurin said he would try the new report for the next BOG meeting, and if it were not acceptable, he would go back to the current system. President’s Report President Ross Hailey reported to the board on what he called an “active year, both good and bad” so far for the association. He said he was proud to say SEANC is making a strong comeback from the recent turmoil.
He told the board that just before Christmas and without warning, Gov. Pat McCrory rescinded Executive Order 45, which gave delegates to the annual SEANC Convention three days of administrative leave. In its place, McCrory issued Executive Order 84, which may limit access at some facilities. Hailey, Executive Director Mitch Leonard and Director of Operations Chuck Stone will meet with members of the governor’s staff on March 3 for more clarity on this issue.
Hailey attended his first State Health Plan Board of Trustees meeting in January. He called it a “real learning experience” and commended SEANC’s representative on the board, Charles Johnson, for standing up bravely for state employees, even though his father had passed away the night before. 1
He also attended the Feb. 6 EMPAC meeting, where the committee decided to endorse Ron Elmer for Treasurer and other legislative candidates. He urged members in the Wake County area to work hard for Nelson Dollar, who he considers a strong advocate for state employees. Hailey also announced that he would have leg surgery later this month. Because of his health-related issues, he has decided not to run for re-election. He plans to serve out his term, though. Legal Update SEANC’s General Counsel Hardy Lewis of Blanchard, Miller, Lewis and Isley of Raleigh, reported on legal matters involving SEANC. District 42 member Betty B.J. Jones filed a defamation suit against SEANC and Charles Johnson in September, but after meeting with a judge last month the plaintiff withdrew the case last week. In its place, Jones filed a new suit against SEANC, former Executive Director Dana Cope, former SEANC General Counsel Tom Harris, former Director of Communications Toni Davis, former President Charles Johnson, President Ross Hailey and Immediate Past President Wayne Fish. The suit alleges that Jones was defamed in several instances last year in the press. Lewis also reported on Amicus briefs filings in both the teacher tenure case and Joseph Vincoli case.
District 70 may merge with District 66 District 70 Chairman Benny Brigman reported that due to low turnout at meetings, District 70 would discuss and vote at annual meeting on whether or not to merge with District 66. Pres. Hailey asked Bylaws Chairman Jimmy Davis to chair a committee to study the possible merger.
Connect NC Bonds Tom Campbell of Carolina Broadcasting spoke to the board to urge them to support the Connect N.C. Bond Referendum on the March primary ballot. If passed, the bond package would mean $2 billion in investment at all 16 universities and 58 colleges in the state, as well as agricultural resources, water and sewer improvements and more. Projects would occur in 76 of the 100 counties in the state.
Campbell said he’s never seen a political climate like the current one, characterizing it as “polarization and nastiness.” Campbell said he addressed the group not as a paid operative but as a concerned citizen. The bond referendum is in danger of failing because of voters on the far right who oppose all government spending and voters on the far left who oppose anything that Gov. McCrory supports.
He urged the board to support the bond referendum publicly, saying, “The case is compelling and the need is real.” District 3 Chairman Pat Reighard motioned for the board to support the bonds, and it passed unanimously.
Executive Director’s Report Executive Director Mitch Leonard started his report by announcing that SEANC had met its goal of launching bank draft options by Jan. 1. Leonard was the first member to move to bank draft, and we already have more than 200 members moved to bank draft for both dues and insurance payments. Members interested in moving to bank draft should complete and return this form. Leonard expanded on the planned March 3 meeting with the governor’s staff on access issues and convention leave. He said he doesn’t “expect a great deal from the first meeting.” This is an attempt to lay some groundwork, he said, and a chance to find out some answers, specifically why it happened. He reviewed a staff realignment implemented since Jan. 1 to create a “accounts receivable” section in the Member Services department to handle the bank draft process, among other duties. Donna Hickman, the second-longest serving staff member behind Leonard, was named the Operations Manager for the section.
SEANC received more than 100 applications for its vacant Chief Financial Officer position, 65 of which either had a Master’s of Business Administration degree or was a Certified Public Accountant. From those, Leonard and Stone are in the process of picking the most qualified to call in for interviews, and hope to have the position filled by April 1. Additionally, the newly created IT assistant position has been advertised internally, and will be posted to the public soon in hopes of filling it by July.
SEANC has also hired a videographer, Sara Cowell Coburn, to help reach more members through video communications online. In her first month, we have already had our first viral video. Stone and Director of Government Relations Ardis Watkins starred in a video laying out the problems with a proposal to make significant changes to the State Health Plan. More than 13,000 people viewed the video, which was featured on several newscasts around the state and on WRAL’s website. Coburn is also working with N.C. Spin on production of two commercials for the association, which will begin airing on March 18.
SEANC also convinced WRAL to livestream a State Health Plan Board of Trustees meeting for the first time ever in late January, allowing members all over the state to watch it. Chuck Stone also made a presentation to the board asking them to delay the vote. Stone also handed out this State Health Plan update to BOG members. The General Assembly will return on April 25. Being that it is an election year, we will be expecting raises. Last week projections showed that there may be more than a $900 million surplus in tax revenues this year, and we will be asking legislators to do the right thing with it by making up for years and years of little to no increases or cost-of-living adjustments for retirees.
He also encouraged members to go to the polls on March 15 and vote for EMPAC’s endorsed candidates, saying, “Our time is now. If we don’t stand up for ourselves no one will.”
He also applauded the Member Relations Department for their hard work in recruiting even with the uncertainty over access caused by the governor’s executive order. But he also asked the districts to get involved and recruit as well. Website update Communications Director Jonathan Owens gave an update on the progress of SEANC’s new website. It will feature an updated look and design that is more intuitive as well as a new member profile that will make for a more user-friendly experience for members. It will also allow members to answer many of their questions themselves and hopefully alleviate some of the large call volume we now see in Member Services. The site should launch by mid-March.
Elmer visit State Treasurer candidate Ron Elmer stopped by the meeting to thank the board for EMPAC’s endorsement. He went over the details of his campaign, with state employees’ interests at the heart. He said the single biggest issue of the campaign is management of the $90 billion Teachers and State Employees Retirement System. Elmer has managed parts of the fund since 1999. He said he plans to cut fees paid by the plan by firing Wall Street. He also talked about the need to return the best interests of state employees to the center of all changes made to the State Health Plan. Statewide EMPAC Chairman Tony Smith urged all members to get out and work for Elmer, saying he’s “as genuine as it gets, and can change all of our lives.” Ethics Director of Government Relations Ardis Watkins, SEANC’s ethics liaison, asked the board to consider adopting SEIU’s Code of Ethics. The board heard a lengthy presentation at its October meeting on the code. The board voted to adopt the wording of the code. Convention Update Meetings and Convention Planner Alicia Miller told the board that the 33rd Annual SEANC Convention will be held Sept. 7-10 in Greensboro. Pres. Hailey has selected “Turn the Page” as the convention theme.
Miller also asked district chairpersons to turn in information on their annual meetings as soon as possible. The information must be submitted by April 1 to be included in the May Reporter.
SEANC Helps Victims of Historic South Carolina Flooding District 26 Chairman Stanley Gales reported on SEANC’s efforts to help our neighbors in South Carolina recover from a historic flood. Through the help of all the districts as well as Sam’s Club and students from N.C. Central University, SEANC was able to fill two trucks full of supplies that were delivered to the residents of Dunbar, S.C., one of the hardest-hit areas in the flood. He welcomed Dr. Mary Rice-Crenshaw from the Dunbar community to speak to the board. Rice-Crenshaw said almost the entire town of Dunbar was wiped out in the flood, and many residents lost everything. The supplies from SEANC were a blessing for the town. “The need was great. Thank you for helping out,” said Rice-Crenshaw. “A lot of people like to think that we don’t help each other the way we used to. This organization showed us a lot of love and for that we are so appreciative.”
Faculty Forward Zach Robinson, a math professor at East Carolina University, discussed the Faculty Forward project that SEIU is now implementing at universities in North Carolina to call attention to the needs of the faculty, particularly adjunct professors who are often paid at or below minimum wage. They are now on all 16 campuses in the UNC System and will hold a vote to form a union at Duke University soon, since it is a private institution. Robinson said since the interests of the two organizations are similar, he is looking forward to working with SEANC in the future. Audit Eastern Region Representative Keith Renner reviewed the activity of the newly formed Audit Committee. Pres. Hailey filled the board for this year since it was formed at the 2015 convention. Next year, members will be elected by convention. The committee selected Wayne Holliday as chairman and Chevella Thomas as Vice Chairwoman.
The committee also selected a new audit firm, Rives & Associates, LLP, to audit both SEANC finances and the Scholarship Foundation. The committee made strong recommendations to the board that SEANC should address its staffing needs in both IT and finance, and replace the current accounting software for the association.
Awards Chairwoman Pam Hailey reviewed the award committee members for each region. The committee has reviewed and made changes to the nomination applications for all awards, and revised requirements for the District of the Year award. Deadline for nominations is July 23. Electronic submissions are acceptable for all categories except District of the Year. 5
Bylaws Chairman Jimmy Davis reported that he was glad to be back with “my family” after a recent health scare. He announced the members of the Bylaws Committee. EMPAC Statewide EMPAC Chairman Tony Smith called on Mark Dearmon for a brief presentation on EMPAC training. Dearmon reviewed 2015, which was not a good year for SEANC or state employees. Then he told the board “we can complain or we can fight.”
2016 is an election year, and we expect to work hard for our candidates and issues. Ways to fight include growing SEANC membership, increasing EMPAC donations, listening to the membership and educating members. Dearmon said SEANC’s recent success at fending off harmful changes to the State Health Plan was a “huge win” and “Shows you the power of SEANC. We are off to a great start this year.” Smith challenged all board members to attend EMPAC meetings. EMPAC endorsed 41 legislators at its Feb. 6 meeting, along with Ron Elmer for State Treasurer, who was endorsed after a forum featuring all three candidates for the position. EMPAC has endorsed Linda Coleman for Lt. Governor once again as well. He urged chairpersons in the Raleigh area to get out and work for Rep. Nelson Dollar, SEANC’s 2015 Legislator of the Year who is in a heated primary battle. Expansion/Growth Chairwoman Gloria Upperman reviewed a new flier that will be given out to local government employees interested in joining SEANC.
Insurance Board of Trustees IBT Chairwoman Janice Smith reviewed the list of representatives on the board. At its last meeting, the board voted on renewal of the Boston Mutual plan, which will not change for 2016-17. A Request for Proposal has been issued for a new dental insurance provider. Presentations on this are scheduled for March 17. The IBT will meet again on April 28. Membership Chairman Bill Spade went over the policy changes presented to the State Awards Committee for changes to the requirements for the District of the Year award. Districts are now held to standards for recruiting in order to be considered for the award.
Spade also reviewed the procedure for deleting members who are delinquent in dues payments. He also announced that the Membership Committee is currently hosting a contest for a mini iPad for recruiting. For every new member you recruit through May 13, you get an entry into the drawing. He also reported that 96 new members were recruited in the Wake County blitz last week.
Member Discount Chairwoman Martha Fowler reported that her committee has renewed incentives for recruiting new businesses – members can get $5 per business with minimum of five recruited. The committee also updated guidelines for discounts and agreed to accept businesses who are not able to give a 10 percent discount. The committee is now hosting a contest for a free trip to Carowinds for members who recruit businesses, and is working on a 30-percent discount for NASCAR.
Policy Platform Chairman Jim Pressley reviewed the 2015-16 Top 10 Policy Platform Objectives. He also recommended changing the policy platform process at convention to a more automated system that will include voting on objectives on Thursday. The board approved a motion to allow the committee to change the process. Pressley implored the chairpersons to get submissions for objectives this year. The advisory committee will meet in March to discuss ways to increase involvement.
Retiree Council Chairman Spillman Grice reported that the Retiree Council has met twice since the last BOG meeting. The council met with Richard Rogers of Retired Government Employees Association on the ongoing Lake lawsuit dealing with retirees and the State Health Plan. It could affect more than 170,000 retirees who were promised an 80/20 plan in retirement. The council also met with SEIU representatives over the decision to pay SEIU dues for just one retiree in each district. The council’s next meeting is scheduled for May 12 starting at 10 a.m.
Scholarship Chairman Mike Bell announced that scholarship season has begun, and applications are now posted online. Deadline for submissions is April 15. Districts must meet between April 16-30 to select their best candidates, and submissions to the statewide committee must postmarked by May 1. The Foundation will give out $38,500 this year once again. Raffle tickets were distributed at this BOG meeting as well. Bell stressed the important to maintaining accurate records on raffle ticket sales. The annual bowl-a-thon will be held on May 14 at Buffaloe Lanes North. The Foundation is also studying the creation of a SEANC personalized license plate with proceeds benefiting scholarships. SEIU Affiliation Commission Committee Chairman Pat Reighard announced the committee sent out an online survey to 1900 members chosen at random on their opinions on SEANC’s affiliation with SEIU. Reighard said he was surprised that SEIU also conducted a survey. He reviewed the results of that survey and learned a lot. The committee plans to visit SEIU headquarters in Washington soon to discuss the affiliation as well. The committee will make a report to the Executive Committee at its April meeting.
Operations Manual Committee Jean Martin reported that the committee had met several times over past three months to make changes to the manual, and hoped to report those changes to the board soon. The manual has not been updated since 2008, and some parts haven’t been reviewed since 1994.
New Business Treasurer Darius McLaurin made a motion that oversight of the Chief Financial Officer position move from just the Executive Director to the board as well as the Executive Director. Executive Director Mitch Leonard said he agreed with the move. The board approved the motion. District 39 Chairman Doug Skinner made a motion that any expenses incurred by members attending a mandatory meeting be paid by the committee calling the meeting. The motion failed. Votes PASSED: A motion to allow the treasurer to simplify his report to the board. PASSED: A motion to move oversight of the CFO position to the board contingent on the passage of a bylaws amendment. PASSED: A motion to adopt the wording of SEIU’s Ethics policy. PASSED: A motion to support the Connect NC Bond referendum. FAILED: A motion to require committees that call a mandatory meeting to pay for all expenses incurred by the attendees. Announcements • President Ross Hailey announced he will not seek re-election. • First Vice President Stanley Drewery announced he will run for president. • Second Vice President Gloria Evans announced she will run for first vice president. • General Treasurer Darius McLaurin announced he will run for second vice president. • Piedmont Regional Representative Marilyn Jean Martin announced she will run for General Treasurer.