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THE

State Employees Association of North Carolina, SEIU Local 2008 P.O. Drawer 27727, Raleigh, NC • www.seanc.org 800-222-2758 • 919-833-6436 • Circulation 55,000

April 2012

• Vol. 30, Issue 5

SEANC Hero Coleman for Lt. Governor by

Kevin LeCount

SEANC Member Strength Director

On March 3, the Employees Political Action Committee, SEANC’s political arm, endorsed state personnel director Linda Coleman, a SEANC member, for the office of Lieutenant Governor in the May 8 Democratic Primary. The first time most North Carolinians noticed Linda Coleman was in 2005 when she was a freshman legislator, serving in the N.C. House after years of dedicated service as a state human resources manager. As the state budget negotiations came to a close, Coleman realized that the Democratic leadership had proposed raises far below what had been promised to state employees. Convinced this was a financial error that traded short-term gains for increased turnover and dissatisfaction, Coleman told her fellow Democrats they were making a huge mistake and she refused to go along. Those of us who witnessed it will never forget her courage and her strength as this brave woman dealt with the hot glare of TV cameras and political pressure from every angle. She insisted that they were balancing the budget on the backs of dedicated state employees while letting

Coleman big corporations off scot-free. She said that was wrong. Because of Coleman’s actions, the leadership was forced to renegotiate. Surprise, surprise! The leadership found a way to balance the state budget while still giving state employees the raise they had been promised. Thus began the storied tenure of Linda Coleman’s service in the N.C. House. She fought for state employees and retirees at great risk to her political career, and she did it again and again during her service as a legislator. The rest of North Carolina was surprised by Coleman’s bold moves, but not those of us who have known Linda Coleman as a SEANC member for years. She is a rock.

“It’s safe to say that there is no better champion for public workers and retirees in North Carolina than Linda Coleman. That’s why I hope you’ll back her to the hilt.” — Wayne Fish, State EMPAC Chairman —

As someone who has been in the human resources field for years, Coleman knows how much people in public and private sector jobs get paid. She understands benefit plans and pensions inside and out. When other lawmakers and the media claim that state employees are overpaid, or that state employee pensions are breaking the budget, she bluntly corrects them with facts. “It’s safe to say that there is no better champion for public workers and retirees in North Carolina than Linda Coleman. That’s why I hope you’ll back her to the hilt,” said State EMPAC Chairman Wayne Fish. Whenever hard decisions have to be made, she’ll stand up for fairness for state workers, and she will be someone who fights for working people, not big corporations. EMPAC invited all seven candidates who filed for the office of Lieutenant Governor to the March 3 forum. Only Coleman and state Rep. Dale Folwell attended. “EMPAC greatly appreciated Rep. Folwell’s attendance at the forum and his willingness to share his thoughtful ideas with SEANC members,” said Fish. “But Coleman’s record of support for quality public services is too strong to overlook.” EMPAC is made up of democratically elected SEANC members representing all SEANC districts statewide.

klecount@seanc.org


PUBLIC POLICY

SEANC, UNC System Leaders Meet on Personnel Rights

Guiding Set of Principles Goes to Board of Governors in May By Toni Davis

SEANC Communications Director

Last month, SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope and University of North Carolina System President Tom Ross met for a second time to discuss State Personnel Act rights for university employees. The meeting came prior to the short session of the General Assembly in May where a bill, Senate Bill 575, includes a provision to transfer 22,000 University of North Carolina system employees from governance under the SPA to the management of the UNC Board of Governors. For years, the university system has sought to exchange the existing SPA for university employees with rules adopted by the UNC BOG to govern employees much like the current system established for UNC Hospital employees. UNC cites management flexibility and efficiency as the rationale for the change and has released a set of “guiding principles” as to what would replace the SPA (at right). At the meeting, Ross urged SEANC to support the governance transfer of UNC’s SPA employees to the UNC BOG. SEANC’s BOG is scheduled to meet on May 18-19 in Raleigh, where a draft of guiding principles will be discussed. Association representatives continue to speak to university SEANC members and answer questions regarding this proposal. Some of the concerns voiced so far by SEANC members can be found on Page 3.

tdavis@seanc.org

SEANC’s No. 3 Policy Objective Oppose legislation that would remove state employees from the protections of the State Personnel Act.

(As voted on by 2011 SEANC convention delegates)

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The Reporter • April 2012

UNC System’s Draft Guiding Principles for Replacing SPA n The university system will develop the new unified system in accordance with best practices in public higher education. n University employees will have substantive input in the development of the new unified system through their peer-elected representatives in the UNC staff and faculty assemblies. n The system will adopt policies and procedures that maintain and strengthen the existing practice for the fair evaluation and treatment of employees in all areas of employment, including employee development and performance. n The unified system will not eliminate any existing property rights that employees have, including ensuring “just cause” protections for career status employees. n Adverse employment actions will be subject to due process and reviewable through structured procedures that provide for fair notice and the opportunity for the employee to be heard. n UNC will use compensation policies and procedures that recognize the contribution, experience and service of UNC employees. n UNC employees will continue to have access to state benefits (retirement, health insurance, and the like) as authorized by the General Assembly. n UNC will continue to refine policies, procedures, and practices in ways that will enhance its ability to be an employer of choice.


PUBLIC POLICY SEANC Members’ Concerns About SB 575

Deliberate vagueness

n Allows for broad interpretation and an “anything goes” mentality

Political patronage

n Creates a system ripe for political hires and fires n Allows for potential favoritism in deciding pay and benefits n Allows employees to be potentially demoted or discharged for any reason that is not specifically prohibited by law n Removes employee protections from hiring decisions based on political affiliation

Worker protections

n Lacks a system of checks and balances provided for SPA employees. Currently, when the state adopts a new human resources policy, it must comply with the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), which provides for a process by which employees can object to a proposed policy and have the General Assembly review it before it becomes effective. The UNC system is exempt from the APA. n Leaves employees open to retaliation for communicating with a legislator at his or her request

Stay informed on the 2012 Legislative Session with SEANC Social Media!

facebook.com/ SEANC.Local2008

@SEANC2008

www.seanc.org

Search for the group “State Employees Association of N.C. (SEANC)”

seiu2008.com

Quotes to Note “Linda Coleman has a record of supporting working families... really representing the 99 percent in North Carolina. Mansfield has stood firmly for the 1 percent.” SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope in the Feb. 22 News & Observer story “SEANC could spend more than $1.8 million to boost Coleman, defeat Mansfield.”

“Our members would say, ‘What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.’ It’s unfair for the legislature to receive a full-time pension for part-time work.” SEANC Communications Director Toni Davis, in a story on legislators’ pensions in the Feb. 26 News & Observer story, “Amid retirements, state lawmakers benefit from pension perks.”

“As lieutenant governor I will work to expand tax credits for small businesses, facilitate increased support for our world-class education system, and create tax incentives to attract and grow small businesses that provide jobs right here.” Office of State Personnel Director Linda Coleman in a statement following her filing for the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor on Feb. 15.

The Reporter - April 2012

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Doug Sutton

Insurance Services Toni Davis, Editor-In-Chief Jonathan Owens, Managing Editor Alicia Clapp, Associate Editor Johnny Davison, Associate Editor

Providing quality and affordable insurance to SEANC members for over 30 years. We appreciate doing business with you!

State Employees Association of North Carolina P.O. Drawer 27727 • Raleigh, NC 27611 1621 Midtown Place • Raleigh, NC 27609 Telephone 919-833-6436, 800-222-2758 www.seanc.org

Advertising Policy SEANC accepts advertising material from companies and persons seeking to communicate with SEANC members. Acceptance of this advertising does not indicate SEANC approval or endorsement of any representation that the message, product or service is as represented by the advertiser. SEANC accepts no responsibility and shall not be liable for any use of or reliance on any such information, product or service. SEANC is a private entity and is under no obligation to carry advertisements of any nature, political or otherwise, that may be viewed as contrary to the interests of the association and its membership.

Please call us if we can be of service.

919-836-9993 or Toll Free: 1-800-788-7771 dougsutton@dougsuttonins.com

SEE-nik. Hard to say. Easy to join.

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Here’s What to Do: = Visit the Colonial Life

website or obtain a SEANC Handbook for specific product information you’ll need prior to calling the Call Center. = Dial the Benefit Enrollment Call Center toll free at 1.866.265.3599. Policies have exclusions and limitations that may affect benefits payable.

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©2011 Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company Colonial Life is the marketing brand of Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company. Products may vary by state and may not be available in all states.

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The Reporter • April 2012

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www.ncsecu.org


STAFF CORNER

SEANC’s Leonard Receives State’s Top Honor by Jonathan

Owens

SEANC President Charles Johnson presented lobbyist Mitch Leonard with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor given by the governor of North Carolina, prior to the start of the February Board of Governors meeting. “It’s really humbling when you think about the people who have been honored with this award,” Leonard said. “I never thought I’d be in this group.” Leonard was raised in Chatham County in central North Carolina and learned the value of public service on the front lines during his service in the U.S. Army, which included a tour in Vietnam. He returned home in 1970 and went to work at the N.C. Department of Transportation as a temporary truck driver. He enrolled in the North Carolina State Governmental Employees Association, SEANC’s predecessor, as a member during employee orientation, beginning his 42year involvement in the organization. After seven years with the state, Leonard was hired by the NCSGEA in 1977 as its first field representative, with the primary duty of meeting DOT and Department of Correction employees in all 100 counties in the state. He has held virtually every position with the NCSGEA and later SEANC after the two groups merged in 1984. He currently is SEANC’s retirement lobbyist, and his dedication to retirement issues has produced many positive The Reporter, USPS 009-852 (ISSN 1069 2142), is published nine times a year in the months of February, March, April, May, June, July, September, November and December for $2.50 per year, per member, by the State Employees Association of North Carolina, Inc., P.O. Drawer 27727, Raleigh, NC 27611-7727. Periodicals postage paid at Raleigh, NC, and additional offices. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: THE REPORTER P.O. Drawer 27727 Raleigh, NC 27611-7727

PHOTO BY JONATHAN OWENS

SEANC Communications Specialist

SEANC Lobbyist Mitch Leonard, pictured here with his daughter Leighann Long, grandson Anderson Long, SEANC President Charles Johnson and wife Lorraine, received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine on Feb. 17.

results for our members. Leonard’s wife Lorraine, daughter Leighann Long and grandson Anderson Long showed up at the meeting to surprise him. He said when he saw them, “I knew something was up.” Leonard said the real reward of his career has been the gratitude of the people for whom he works.“It’s the members,” he said. “They’re the best people in the state.”

jowens@seanc.org

From “just-right” rides to rollicking shows, find thrilling adventures all over

the park for everyone in the family. Later this spring, brave the Black Forest on the all-new coaster, Verbolten.

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SINGLE-DAY ADMISSION (SAVE OVER $15)

Ticket savings are available at your local SECU branch. *Member savings not available at park’s front gate. Savings based on $66.99 single-day admission. Offer expires Sept. 3, 2012. Restrictions apply. Prices and products subject to change without notice. © 2012 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Reporter • April 2012

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T.E.A.M! TRAINING TO GO

Talking to the Public

By Toni Davis

SEAN C Communications Director

At T.E.A.M! training in Concord in early February, I met a member from Raleigh named Charles who works in the Department of Health and Human Services. I asked him what type of work he did for the state. Charles told me, “I’m a health care policy analyst.” Well, lucky for Charles, he was talking to one of five people in the room who knew exactly what that meant, being a former legislative staffer myself. But the average member of the public, who is paying Charles’ salary, would not have known what Charles does or how vitally important his work is to keeping our seniors safe. How we talk to the public is just as important as what we say to the public. It’s important because our livelihoods depend Davis on it. Talking to the public is different from talking to your co-workers. After all, your co-workers already know what you do. The public doesn’t know what you do, and even worse, the public may think they know what you do and have negative stereotypes about state employees. Talking to the public is our chance to put our best foot forward. If all we talk about is “me, me, me,” then the message isn’t going to connect with the public. How we speak to the public — friends, neighbors, politicians and the media — matters. In this economy, where everyone knows someone who has lost his or her job or even home, no one wants to hear that state employees need a raise, even if they do. The public wants to know how your work affects them. So when you speak to your extended families or a lawmaker, talk about your work from the public’s perspective. For example, if you work for the Department of Transportation, you would say, “I keep our roads safe and our state moving.” If you work in public safety you would say, “I keep our neighborhoods safe.” If your job involves health care, then you “provide quality care and help to those in need.” You get the idea. Earlier this year, I was reading an article about a correctional officer in Florida who was testifying

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The Reporter • April 2012

before a legislative committee about a potential move to privatize prisons. When the officer had her moment to speak she said, “How many people are you willing to put on unemployment?” This “me, me, me” quote was picked up by the Associated Press and distributed to the world. It certainly won’t sit well with the public. It simply doesn’t address their concerns about keeping the public safe (which is what folks want to hear). It doesn’t explain the job that a correctional officer performs. It doesn’t explain why keeping correctional officers as state employees benefits the public. Contrast that with SEANC District 61 member Jackie Tripp providing testimony before a local school board pondering privatization of Sampson County custodial staff. “Custodians do more than just clean,” she said. “We are the eyes and ears of parents during school hours. In many cases custodians are the first responders when students are sick, hurt or when there may be trouble.” Is this a job that is worthy of public support? When explained like this, you bet. One day after communications training, I asked Charles what he did for the state. Charles said, “My job is to ensure that our parents and our grandparents have quality long-term care.” Nice job, Charles.

tdavis@seanc.org

Early Voting for primaries begins April 19!


Counselor’s Comments By Tom Harris

SEANC Chief of Staff/General Counsel

T

SEANC Sees Through Costly X-rays

ired of rising health care costs? This may be your chance to help! Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is attempting to lower the payments that the State Health Plan and its members make to hospitals and other providers when a patient requires multiple radiological procedures, such as X-rays, in one session. Currently, these providers bill the SHP and its members the full charge for each image that is made in a single session, even though approximately half of the work performed to take the first image is not repeated for any of the following images. For that reason BCBSNC notified the providers that it would continue to pay full charges for the first Harris image or procedure, but only pay 50 percent of the charges for subsequent images taken or procedures performed. BCBSNC estimates that this new reimbursement plan will save the SHP $4 million per year in medical payments and SHP members $1 million per year in deductible and coinsurance. Providers represented by the N.C. Hospital Association, N.C. Radiological Society and the N.C. Medical Society

have opposed BCBSNC’s attempt. Recently, they obtained an initial ruling from the N.C. Department of Insurance that BCBSNC may not implement its new reimbursement policy. BCBSNC has filed a petition for a final decision from the state upholding its legal right to change its reimbursement policy. SEANC is asking the Commissioner of Insurance to permit it to intervene in that appeal in support of BCBSNC. SEANC sees through this costly X-ray policy and wants to help lower health care costs for all members. SEANC believes that it is legal and essential for BCBSNC to take this and other similar measures to lower medical costs to the SHP and members. This is where you, as a member, can help out. If SEANC is permitted to intervene, we will want to present evidence on how the current method of reimbursing radiology providers is improperly and unfairly costly to the SHP and its members. If you have had an X-ray or other radiological exam where more than one image was made or procedure performed during a single session and the SHP was charged, we would like to hear from you. Please mention whether you had to pay a portion of the charges because of a deductible or coinsurance and, if so, how much. Please send your information to xray@seanc.org. tharris@seanc.org

SEANC members Ryan Hancock and David Serxner braved the icy waters of Lake Raleigh on Feb. 25 for the 2012 Polar Plunge as part of District 39’s team (SEANC Sub-Zeros) in support of the Special Olympics. District 39 also sponsored five members in the 5K Torch Run. Almost $30,000 was raised through sponsorships and donations by District 39 in the event.

PHOTO BY STEVE LAWSON

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY MARY O’NEILL

MEMBER ACTION

Cardon Ruchti, Joe Loder and Tom Guenther all recently joined SEANC at UNC Charlotte’s Benefits Festival on March 1. They are pictured here with District 13 Chairwoman Kathy Whaley. The Reporter • April 2012

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Periodical Postage PAID Raleigh, NC P.O. Drawer 27727 Raleigh, NC 27611

SEANC Scores Victory Over Prison Privatization By Ardis Watkins

SEANC Legislative Affairs Director

Following months of SEANC’s action to maintain quality public services in prison health care facilities, on Feb. 24 the Department of Public Safety canceled its Request for Proposals to privatize these health care and safety positions. DPS likely figured out what state employees already know — privatization doesn’t save money. It can jeopardize public safety and North Carolina already has a failed history of privatization. Leading up to the DPS decision, SEANC held forums for months across the state talking to correctional personnel about the proposal to privatize inmate health care and outsource jobs to an out-of-state contractor. These forums were very successful. SEANC increased awareness about the perils of privatization, empowered employees to be vocal about their opposition and gained valuable information about how inmate health care is currently provided in a cost-efficient manner. It is no secret that privatization has been tried in North Carolina prisons over the years and has been a disaster. In fact, in 2000 at Pamlico and Mountain View prisons,

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The Reporter • April 2012

privatization efforts failed so miserably that state employees were called in to clean up the private contractors’ mess in less than two years. Inadequate staffing, serving spoiled food and missing money became the norm from the private company, and the state was forced to take the services back. The privatization contract for inmate health care involved big money — almost $300 million over 10 years. Because the contract was to be so lucrative, out-of-state contractors with checkered track records and allegations of negligence in other states were poised to cash in on North Carolina. Bids were to have been submitted by March 6. SEANC’s No. 1 Policy Platform initiative, as voted on by delegates at the 2011 convention, is to oppose privatization and downsizing of state government services. It is possible that DPS will try to privatize these jobs again in the months ahead, and we will stay vigilant protecting these workers and the taxpayers. So the next time a co-worker asks “What has SEANC done for me lately?” as you are trying to recruit them into the association, be sure to share this article and how SEANC works to fight privatization. awatkins@seanc.org

April 2012 Reporter  
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