The Board of Governors met on May 13-14, 2016, at SEANC Headquarters in Raleigh to discuss business important to state employees and retirees. Here are the highlights from the meeting. Highlights Board unanimously passes motion calling for Cowell to resign The Board of Governors unanimously approved a resolution calling on state Treasurer Janet Cowell to either resign from the two corporate boards she recently joined or step down from her position as Treasurer to allow someone else to serve North Carolina’s interests free from conflicts.
Cowell’s recent appointments to the corporate boards of both ChannelAdvisor and the James River Group investment firm have come under fire from both state and national media outlets.
Her position as the sole fiduciary of the $90 billion Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System and as chairwoman of the State Banking Commission are in direct conflict with her position on these boards. Her influence on these state regulatory boards should not be afforded to a corporate board member.
The board’s decision came on recommendation from the SEANC Retiree Council and was approved by the Executive Committee. SEANC to change carriers for dental insurance Insurance Board of Trustees Chairwoman Janice Smith brought a recommendation from the board for a new dental plan with a new carrier. The Board of Governors approved UnitedHealthCare as SEANC’s new dental carrier beginning January 2017.
SEIU Affiliation Study Commission issues findings SEIU Affiliation Study Commission Chairman Pat Reighard and District 22 Chairwoman Deborah Harney presented results of the commission’s comprehensive evaluation of SEANC’s affiliation with SEIU. 1
After extensive interviews with SEANC and SEIU members and officials, surveys by both parties and more, the commission concluded: • Since affiliation, the organizational cultures of SEANC and SEIU have become more disparate. • Communication between the two became strained, filtered, and almost completely broken under Dana Cope’s tenure, all to the detriment of SEANC. • Retirees have felt the brunt of the above, demonstrated by SEIU’s broken promises, lack of support, and indifference to them. • The average SEANC member is unaware of any problems with affiliation. The commission also listed three options moving forward but made no formal recommendation on any of them.
After the report, Retiree Council Chairman Spillman Grice offered a motion to continue paying for just one retiree per district for one year, and to re-evaluate the relationship after a year. South Central region Representative Lewis Sasser offered an amendment to remove time restriction; that motion failed. Grice’s original motion passed. Sasser then motioned that a vote be taken at convention on affiliation. The board went into closed session to discuss and vote on the motion.
Board approves motion from Audit Committee on district financial records The board approved a motion from Executive Committee, recommended by the Audit Committee, for a new policy that gives the audit committee access to district financial records. The policy, which is now part of the SEANC Operations Manual, reads: “Access to district financial records: The SEANC President, Treasurer, and Audit Committee Chair will have the authority to obtain district financial records at any time. If the requested information is not made available within ten (10) working days the district’s accounts will be frozen and monthly rebates held in escrow.” Legislative Update SEANC Government Relations Director Ardis Watkins and Director of Operations Chuck Stone gave updates on happenings at the legislature and the State Health Plan board. Watkins told the board things are heating up at the General Assembly. SEANC lobbyists are able to “play less defense and more offense” this session, perhaps because the legislature is less likely to take up controversial issues like the dues deduction bills because of the fight over HB2.
Note: Since the board meeting, the House has announced its budget, which includes a 2-percent pay raise and $500 bonus for state employees and a 1.6-percent cost-ofliving adjustment for retirees. Our biggest concern lies in the Senate. Senators are not hearing from our members, but they are hearing from teachers. So it is likely they will side with the governor and give teachers a larger increase than state employees. The Senate has also shown it is more inclined to give pockets of money to certain workers than across-theboard raises. Members need to contact their senators! Another troubling matter comes out of the Department of Transportation. Last year’s budget called for a 10-percent in DOT cuts, but the department has recommended more than 20-percent in some areas. This will likely result in major job cuts in the Raleigh area offices. Privatization is also a major concern. SEANC is currently looking for members who work in DOT to come forward with examples of why privatization is bad for taxpayers.
The State Health Plan Board of Trustees met on Friday at the same time as the BOG meeting. Stone recognized SEANC Past President Charles Johnson, who serves on the board for speaking out on members’ behalf, but said the changes that were being made would move the plan further toward a “sickness” plan. The biggest change voted on by the SHP board on Friday was an increase in the deductible of the 80/20 plan from $700 to $1,250. Stone is still evaluating the rest of the changes. Reports
Treasurer’s Report General Treasurer Darius McLaurin reported that SEANC’s finances were on target to meet projections for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. So far we have received 54 percent of the revenue projected. With a few exceptions, disbursements are on target as well. SEANC has spent more funds than were budgeted for consulting fees because of two pending lawsuits and other legal matters. The activities of the committee to study SEANC’s affiliation with SEIU and a committee to rewrite the SEANC Operations Manual also required more funds than projected for ad hoc committees.
President’s Report President Ross Hailey reported that his recent surgery went well, and thanked the board for well wishes during his recovery.
Using the theme of one of his favorite songs, Hailey said “Shame” on a whole list of people who have not been looking out for state employees recently. 3
He called out Gov. Pat McCrory for issuing an executive order to hurt SEANC members who want to attend our annual convention. He also called out McCrory’s unwillingness to give state employees a real raise in his most recent budget, pointing out that Duke Energy, McCrory’s old employer, gives raises every year. “It seems like he brought everything else from Duke. Why not bring that, too?” he asked. He also called out State Highway Patrol members who have not joined SEANC and educators who refuse to speak up for their fellow state employees on the raises issue. He called out Treasurer Cowell as well for “making more money now on side jobs than her job as treasurer”
Lastly, he called out SEANC itself, saying we all need to do better in recruiting. Membership numbers continue to drop every year, though our retiree numbers are rising. We need to hold on to those members retiring while simultaneously recruiting new employees to be members in order to grow. Executive Director’s Report Executive Director Mitch Leonard started his report by discussing SEANC’s role in the Certificate of Need reform debate. SEANC is in favor of reform to allow surgical centers to open across the state and save members money.
He said he is expecting the House budget to contain raises and COLAs. The problem for SEANC will be in the Senate, where we are “already hearing Senators say they can’t do COLA and there’s not enough recurring money to do raises.” He announced that the training workgroup has recommended three district officer trainings to be set up in August – one each in Raleigh, Greenville and Hickory.
The interviews for a Chief Financial Officer are complete and a prospective hire has been identified. He thanked President Hailey, First Vice President Stanley Drewery and SEANC Treasurer Darius McLaurin for sitting in on interviews. He also hopes to fill the new IT position by July 15. The Member Relations Department recently hired Amanda Finelli as a representative for the Raleigh area.
There’s still work to be done on the bank draft process recently implemented. The good news is the General Assembly likely won’t take up the dues deduction bills this session, although it may pop up in the Senate budget. Management staff is hard at work building a budget for the coming year, and funds are very tight. He requested that the board consider bringing a dues increase to a vote at the convention.
He gave out flash drives with information on it for the upcoming SEIU Convention, the recently announced SEIU/AFSCME partnership, and more. He announced that SEIU developed a new program for retirees, and that he would be attending the SEIU Convention this week as a guest delegate. He closed by showing the two SEANC television ads currently airing on N.C. Spin.
Legal Update SEANC’s contracted attorney, Hardy Lewis of Blanchard, Miller, Lewis and Isley of Raleigh, reported on several legal matters. The board went into closed session to discuss the matters.
Convention Update Meetings and Convention Planner Alicia Miller gave a quick overview of planning for the 33rd annual SEANC Convention, which will be held Sept. 7-10 in Greensboro. The biggest change this year is due to a loss of sponsorship dollars, tickets to this year’s Thursday night buffet will be $40. She also reviewed deadlines for registration. Awards Chairwoman Pam Hailey encouraged members to discuss possible nominations during annual meetings. All awards submissions must be completed electronically with the exception of District of the Year. Deadline for nominations is July 23. Audit Chairman Wayne Holliday reported that the audit committee developed a mission statement: “To protect the fiscal and operational integrity and viability of SEANC.”
The committee has established attendance guidelines and created a confidential email address for members to report any possible problems arising from the state level or their districts: firstname.lastname@example.org. The committee is currently in the process of conducting two audits: District 17 and District 28.
The committee is still looking for more members. Currently there are only eight, though the bylaws state the committee must have 12. All members will be voted on at convention this year. Bylaws Chairman Jimmy Davis reviewed the timeline and procedures for developing a bylaws amendment and stated that the committee would meet on July 20 to decide this year’s amendments to be considered at convention. EMPAC Statewide EMPAC Chairman Tony Smith announced that 86 percent of EMPAC’s primary endorsements won in March, though we “lost a heartbreaker” when Ron
Elmer was defeated. EMPAC revisited the treasurer’s race and endorsed Dale Folwell for treasurer in the general election.
EMPAC’s next meeting is Saturday, May 21, at the Holiday Inn North in Raleigh, and will focus on Council of State races. EMPAC committee member Mark Dearmon reviewed information for each of the Council of State races, including the race for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, Secretary of Labor and more, as well as a few key House races. He also reviewed recent voting trends and issues to consider.
Expansion/Growth Chairwoman Gloria Upperman reported that the committee met May 3 to review its goals. A flier to promote SEANC to local government employees has been developed, and the committee is currently working on a letter to send to HR directors in local government offices. Membership Chairman Bill Spade announced that the committee would host its next blitz in Morganton (Districts 5, 6 and 7) in the next two weeks.
He announced the winners of a recent recruiting drawing. Those who recruited new members from Feb. 16-May 14 were entered into a drawing for an iPad Mini, and the new members they recruited were entered into a drawing for a Samsung tablet. Tenisha Kelly of District 17 won the iPad Mini and Derek Mowry of District 10 won the Samsung Tab A. Spade also gave out two $25 gift certificates to district chairwomen for their recent recruiting efforts. District 22 Chairwoman Deborah Harney and District 20 Chairwoman Tammy Blake received the cards. Spade also announced a new challenge. Each person who sets up an event for recruiting will be entered into a drawing for $250, and the first 20 people to schedule an event will receive $20. The challenge ends July 22.
Member Discount Chairwoman Martha Fowler announced that Charlotte Motor Speedway was added to the list of discounts offered to SEANC members, as well as 34 new businesses. Theme Park tickets are now on sale at the State Employees’ Credit Union. Two tickets were given for each district for recruiting prizes. Henry Belada won the recent member discount contest by signing up six new businesses.
Policy Platform Chairman Jim Pressley reported that the committee is working on a plan to vote electronically on policy platform changes at the convention. He plans to hold an additional teleconference meeting in June.
Planning First Vice President Stanley Drewery, who chairs the Planning Committee, announced that the committee will meet on June 7 at 10 a.m. to consider next year’s budget.
Operations Manual Committee Piedmont Region Representative Jean Martin announced that the committee had met several times over the past three months and asked each board member to read the changes recommended thoroughly before the July BOG meeting and submit changes to email@example.com Youth Council Chairwoman Ali Baucom asked board members to support a bylaws amendment to change the name of the council to “Emerging Leaders” and remove the current age restrictions in order to increase participation.
Member Strength Chairwoman Hiawatha Jones reviewed the committee’s motto and announced that it would be partnering with EMPAC for “boots on the ground” at the legislature this session. • •
Announcements Statewide EMPAC Chairman Tony Smith announced he will seek re-election. Chevella Thomas of District 27 announced she will seek the office of General Treasurer.
Votes PASSED – A motion from executive committee to allow the audit committee access to district financial records. PASSED – A motion from the Insurance Board of Trustees to select UnitedHealthcare as the dental carrier for SEANC starting January 2017
PASSED – A motion to continue paying SEIU dues for just one retiree per district for one year, and to re-evaluate the relationship after a year. South Central region Representative Lewis Sasser offered an amendment to remove time restriction. That motion failed.
PASSED UNANIMOUSLY – Motion to call on State Treasurer Janet Cowell to resign from the two corporate boards she recently joined or resign from her position as treasurer. PASSED – A motion to extend attorney Hardy Lewis’ contract for six months.