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THE

State Employees Association of North Carolina, SEIU Local 2008 1621 Midtown Place, Raleigh, NC 27609 • www.seanc.org 800-222-2758 • 919-833-6436 • Circulation 55,000

April 2015

• Vol. 33, Issue 5

McCrory’s budget does little for workers State Employees Association of North Carolina, Inc. 1621 Midtown Place • Raleigh, NC 27609

Dear Members, On March 5, Gov. Pat McCrory unveiled his spending plan for the next biennium, with $21.5 billion in spending for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The proposal did not contain an across-the-board pay increase for all state employees, instead opting for raises for certain groups. It also failed to include a cost-of-living adjustment for retirees. It is SEANC’s goal to improve these numbers as the budget process continues in the General Assembly. In order to make that goal a reality, members must make their voice heard by contacting their lawmakers. The administration rationalized its piecemeal approach to funding pay raises as money “better spent in hard-to-fill positions. Targeted Leonard [pay raises] is better than across the board to attract, retain and motivate state employees.” Lawmakers need to be reminded that in February while others slept in their warm beds and played in the snow, state employees worked around the clock. State employees were heroes during wintry weather — Department of Transportation workers cleared snow off roads in icy conditions, State Highway Patrol officers helped citizens in thousands of accidents and emergency management personnel manned the state operations center and kept the public informed as dangerous storms moved through the area. While the storm was wreaking havoc across the Old North State, it was business as usual for front-line state employees who make North Carolina work. State employees were helping patients recover from mental illness and substance abuse at health and human services facilities such as Broughton Hospital. Prisons continued to operate and the public was kept safe from dangerous felons at Central, Polk and Alexander prisons to name a few. This snow storm was a reminder that it is important to invest in public services and the people who provide them. You all deserve a pay raise that demonstrates dedication, respect and recognition that the cost of living is increasing not just for a selected few, but for everybody. What happened that our state’s heroes could translate into budget zeros so quickly? Now is the time to contact your lawmakers. This is not the final budget; it is the beginning of the budget process. Make your voice heard on the need for all state employees to receive a pay raise and all retirees to receive a cost-of-living increase. Together, we will work to increase your pay and benefits in the General Assembly, but we need all hands on deck — starting now. It is now the General Assembly’s turn to craft a budget, with work beginning in the House. As usual, lawmakers say they would like to have a spending plan finalized by the start of the new fiscal year on July 1. Sincerely, Mitch Leonard, Executive Director

McCrory’s Budget Proposal Highlights

Pay • State Highway Patrol troopers who are not at the top of their pay range receive a step increase in the next two fiscal years. • Reclassifies 10,000 correctional officers with new pay levels dependent on different job duties and risks associated with higher-security prisons. Proposes $20.79 million in 2016-2017. • Establishes a Salary and MarketBased Pay Adjustment Fund to adjust salaries where employee pay is below market level and where the state is having difficulty recruiting and retaining employees. Proposes $10 million in 2015-2016 and $72 million in 2016-2017. Jobs • Adds 66 positions to fully staff mental health beds at Central Prison Health Care Facility. • State parks, the N.C. Zoo, aquariums, and Natural Science museum employees transfer from DENR to Cultural Resources. Health Care • Fully funds the State Health Plan for active and retired employees to reflect 2016 changes. Proposal funds SHP at $34 million in 2015-2016 and $101.9 million in 2016-2017. Retirement • Fully funds the retirement system. However, the proposal takes away $33.5 million that could have been used for retiree COLAs.


MEMBER ACTION

Board hires Leonard as executive director By Toni Davis

Leonard’s Priorities

It seemed fitting that on March 14, the SEANC Board of Governors hired longtime staffer Mitch Leonard as its Executive Director and awarded him a three-year contract in the SEANC Headquarters’ Mitch Leonard Conference Room. Leonard has served as Interim Executive Director since Feb. 9. “I am honored to continue to serve North Carolina’s state employees and retirees and look forward to advocating with them and for them in the General Assembly and beyond,” Leonard told the board. Leonard briefly retired in December 2014 after 38 years at the association until he was asked to serve as the SEANC Interim Director in early February. The Executive Committee upon announcing Leonard’s interim appointment said, “There is no one we trust more to help us lead SEANC as we move forward.” The association has received numerous emails and phone calls of support for Leonard. Upon hearing that Leonard was now the permanent executive director, District 17 member Rod Hackney, who attended high school in Chatham County with Leonard and has been a SEANC member since Leonard signed him up 28 years ago, said, “Mitch is a great guy and I know he’ll do a great job. We couldn’t ask for a better person. He’s grounded in rural North Carolina and I know he’ll be great for our members.” Leonard has spent nearly four decades working for SEANC and its predecessor organizations. He was the association’s first field representative, and with his appointment as executive director, has now held nearly every position in SEANC.

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The Reporter • April 2015

PHOTO BY JONATHAN OWENS

SEANC Director of Communications

Executive Director Mitch Leonard stands with his wife Lorraine, daughter Leighann and grandson Anderson after receiving the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in February 2012 in front of the conference room that bears his name.

After a stint in the Army, Leonard went to work for the N.C. Department of Transportation office in Asheboro in 1970. It was there that he first joined the North Carolina State Government Employees Association — SEANC’s predecessor. He said he joined at the time, “because I was fed up with the things that were happening in Raleigh and saw that the only opportunity I had as a state employee to change that was to become active in the NCSGEA.” And active he became — so much so that in 1977 he went to work as NCSGEA’s first field representative. He received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — the most prestigious honor bestowed by the governor of the state — in 2012 for his service to SEANC and the state of North Carolina. When Leonard was a full-time lobbyist he focused on preserving members’ retirement security and was and will continue to be a tireless watchdog and advocate for state retirees.

Moving forward, Mitch Leonard cites his priorities as: • Winning raises for all state employees and cost-of-living adjustments for retirees in the General Assembly and halting cost-shifting to employees in the State Health Plan. • Growing SEANC’s membership to strengthen state employees and retirees voices. • Deepening relationships with members, General Assembly leaders and other officials including Gov. Pat McCrory and Treasurer Janet Cowell.

Thus far, he said his most memorable experience as a SEANC staffer came in 2010 when he and the staff teamed up with members who work in prison maintenance to thwart efforts to privatize those jobs. He said the prison maintenance workers who showed up to voice their concerns during that fight represented the best of what SEANC is all about, and they made a lasting impression on legislators. “That was a classic example of how this organization works best,” he said. “You had our staff lobbying, but you also had the members taking an active role. Whenever privatization comes up in the legislature now, someone always brings up those guys that were in the balcony fighting for their jobs.” The future of the organization depends on involvement from members like that, he said. “SEANC is the only voice in Raleigh representing both state employees and retirees,” he said. “SEANC is its members and when we work together with one voice, we win.” Contact Mitch Leonard by phone at (919) 833-6436 or by email at mleonard@seanc.org. tdavis@seanc.org


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MEMBER ACTION

Members receive DPS Badge of Excellence By Matthew Whittle

SEANC Digital Communications Specialist

We are proud of our state employees, especially when they go above and beyond the call of duty. Among those honored by the Department of Public Safety with Badge of Excellence Awards in January were six SEANC members.

Alvin Laws – District 58

Correctional training instructor Alvin Laws, a 23-year state employee, was honored in the category of heroism for saving the life of a Goldsboro man. Laws, who also is a volunteer firefighter for New Hope Fire Department in Wayne County, was over at his daughter’s house on Jan. 21, 2014, when he was alerted to a fire next door. Responding while waiting for help, he said he saw a man trapped in a second-floor bathroom as the fire raged below. Laws told the man that he was going to have to jump or they “were both going to die.” As several first-story windows blew out, the man jumped and Laws broke his fall. “He’s alright now,” Laws said. “All the hype that was built up, it wasn’t all that. There was definitely a guardian angel that day.” THE

Toni Davis, Editor-In-Chief Jonathan Owens, Managing Editor Beth Dew, Associate Editor Alicia Miller, Associate Editor Matthew Whittle, Associate Editor State Employees Association of North Carolina 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.

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The Reporter • April 2015

Darris Williams – District 5

Community service also was the reason correctional officer Darris Williams was honored. Williams, who has worked in McDowell County in the support section of Marion Correctional Institution for the last six years, is the intelligence rep for his housing unit where he monitors inmates’ gang affiliations. Growing up, he said he saw a fair amount of gang activity and stopping it is something of a personal mission for him and why he was named Marion’s Facility Intelligence Officer of the Year. It’s also why he is the president of the Forest City youth football program and vice president of the Mid Atlantic Youth Football/Cheer Conference. “It’s a great deterrent for them, because once they get involved, they don’t have time to get in trouble. It keeps them off the street,” he said.

Shekarra Crutchfield – District 27

Shekarra Crutchfield, a probation/parole officer II in Durham County for the last five years, was honored for her efforts to lead her fellow officers in giving back to their community. Among the projects initiated by Crutchfield were a food drive for a local food bank and a clothing/supply drive for a local domestic violence shelter – both resources she and her fellow officers use to help their clients. “We rely on them to help us, so I felt like we should try to make an effort to replenish them,” she said. “It lets people know that we care, that we’re not here just to lock people up, but that we’re here to help any way we can.”

Other SEANC member recipients

Other SEANC members receiving the Badge of Excellence Awards were members of the DPS U.S. Open Security Team — a group of more than 200 employees. Among the leaders of that team were SEANC members Capt. Shane Manuel of the Highway Patrol (District 38), Janie Sutton of the State Bureau of Investigation (District 22), and Johnny Hawkins, the Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice Security Services chief (District 40). 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., 1621 Midtown Place, Raleigh, N.C. 27609. Periodicals postage paid at Raleigh and additional offices. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: THE REPORTER, 1621 Midtown Place, Raleigh, NC 27609


SCHOLARSHIP

Members roll strikes, raise funds for SEANC scholarships The event also featured a silent auction during which members bid on items ranging from event and park tickets to Carolina Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes memorabilia. Thanks to lane sponsors Doug Sutton Insurance Services, Adsource Media Inc., Aflac, Colonial Life and Augeo Marketing, as well as SEANC Districts 1, 10, 12, 17 and 61.

Members from District 65 received trophies for being the team with the “Most Opportunity to Improve.” Pictured with Scholarship Foundation Chairman Mike Bell are Deborah Austin, Angela Easter, District 65 Chairwoman Alicia Simpson, Cynthia Hart, Jacqueline Caudill and Lina Johnson.

PHOTO BY TONI DAVIS

PHOTO BY MATT WHITTLE

The team from District 38 had the highest single-game score of the event. Pictured are team members C.J. Stephens, District 38 Chairwoman Susan Gentry, Emmett Garner and Donovan Garrett. Not pictured is team member Stephanie Stephens.

District 7 Chairman Henry Belada sizes up the lane before rolling.

District 66 Chairman Mike Kollock and First Vice President Ross Hailey discuss strategy for winning a silent auction item.

PHOTO BY MATT WHITTLE

PHOTO BY MATT WHITTLE

PHOTO BY MATT WHITTLE

The SEANC Scholarship Foundation held its second annual Bowl-a-Thon on March 14 at Buffaloe Lanes North in Raleigh. The event was a success with more than 100 members and friends turning out to bowl and raising more than $4,500 — all to help SEANC members, their spouses and their dependents attend two- and four-year colleges.

District 38 Chairwoman Susan Gentry celebrates a strike.

SEANC scholarship deadline is April 15 The deadline for applying for one of SEANC’s scholarships is fast approaching! Applications must be turned in to your district scholarship chairperson, postmarked no later than April 15. The scholarships awarded by the SEANC Scholarship Foundation and the individual districts are one of the association’s largest benefits for members. In addition to the local scholarships

offered by the districts, the SEANC Scholarship Foundation offers funding assistance in three categories: financial need, merit-based and member-only. For more on the criteria, for an application, or to find your district scholarship chairperson, visit seanc.org/scholarship. The Reporter • April 2015

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MEMBER BENEFITS

Unleash the Fury in Discounts Contest By Matthew Whittle

SEANC Digital Communications Specialist

Are you looking for a fun family getaway? Then here’s your chance! Enter our new Member Discount Contest and you could be headed to a weekend at Carowinds, the Thrill Capital of the Southeast, and the chance to ride the brand-new Fury 325, the world’s tallest and fastest giga coaster. This coaster, which features a 81-degree, 325-foot drop and reaches speeds of 95 miles per hour is one-of-akind and SEANC can help you go for a ride! If coasters aren’t your thing, don’t worry. Carowinds offers plenty of fun for the whole family. From April 1 through May 31, whoever recruits the most new businesses that will provide a discount to SEANC members will win an exciting prize package, which includes a one-night hotel accommodation and four Carowinds tickets.

A rendering of Fury 325, the newest ride at Carowinds. Opening this spring, it is the tallest and fastest Giga Coaster in the world.

Just send in your completed Member Discount Agreements postmarked by May 31 to SEANC Member Benefits, Attn: Carri Derrick, 1621 Midtown Place, Raleigh, NC 27609.

Need a Member Discount Agreement form? Contact Carri Derrick at SEANC Headquarters at 800-222-2758 or cderrick@seanc.org. mwhittle@seanc.org

Gain peace of mind with ID theft coverage By Matthew Whittle

SEANC Digital Communications Specialist

With more and more transactions being conducted online and information traveling digitally, an increasing number of Americans are impacted each year by identity theft. Each year in the United States, identity theft costs nearly $21 billion and impacts more than 13 million people. To help prevent you from becoming just another statistic, SEANC is partnering with a leading company to help monitor and protect your privacy and your identity. InfoArmor, listed under the Insurance Programs tab on our website, is a state-of-the-art company, seeking to proactively protect clients against identity theft. By detecting fraud at its source, when thieves first use your information to apply for accounts, InfoArmor’s Privacy Armor benefit will minimize damages and better protect you from the fastestgrowing crime in America. If you or a loved one has ever been affected by identity theft, then you know it is expensive and a time-consuming

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The Reporter • April 2015

process to salvage your good name. Don’t let yourself go unprotected another day. Enroll now to protect your family from the devastating effects of this crime. Enroll today to receive: proactive identity monitoring including high-risk transaction monitoring; credit monitoring including monthly credit scores and an annual credit report; fully managed Privacy Advocate Identity Restoration; WalletArmor to make replacing a stolen wallet quick and easy; digital identity reports and tips; solicitation reduction and more. And because you are a SEANC member, you can sign up today for security and peace of mind for only $7.95 per member, per month, or $13.95 per family, per month. Just visit us at seanc.org/insurance/identity-theft. mwhittle@seanc.org


PUBLIC POLICY

Grassroots lobbying must be a priority By Tony Smith

I have a goal and a challenge for SEANC this year. I want all members to re-engage in grassroots lobbying. Grassroots lobbying is what SEANC and its predecessor organizations were founded on, and today we are in a day and age where grassroots lobbying is as important as any money we put toward any candidate. So what is grassroots lobbying? Grassroots lobbying is you talking to your legislators about SEANC’s priorities. It is you going to Raleigh to meet your senators and representatives in their offices. If you are Smith unable to come to Raleigh, it is you calling and emailing lawmakers and with them in your hometowns. Most of all, grassroots lobbying is keeping a personal pressure on legislators who are endorsed by and who receive money from EMPAC, making sure they are following through on their promises to us — North Carolina’s state employees and retirees. It is so important that we have members in the halls, meeting with legislators, talking about our priorities. I know not everybody can come to Raleigh and I know it’s hard for some people to come on their own dime, but at some point, SEANC’s members have to be willing to make sacrifices to do this. But true and effective grassroots lobbying requires participation from everyone. It can’t be the same few members over and over.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY LYNN COTE

Statewide EMPAC Chairman

State EMPAC committee members Hiawatha Jones, Tina Sutton, Paul Buday and Len Henderson discuss legislation with Sen. Louis Pate (R-Duplin) as part of a grassroots lobbying effort.

I remember when hundreds and even thousands of people would attend lobby days at the General Assembly, many traveling with the financial and logistical help of their districts. Now only a few attend, and those who do, come only sporadically. But grassroots lobbying works. Just look at SEANC’s success at blocking the effort to privatize prison maintenance a couple of years ago. We had the balconies of the General Assembly full and we block that bill that night. We can really put our lawmakers on notice just by showing up and that’s something we need to get back to. tonysmith646@gmail.com

Quotes to Note

“We have tons of hard to fill positions across state government because we’re really not competitive with the market. You’re just trying to fix one leak in a boat before another one springs. Piecemeal just doesn’t work.” Executive Director Mitch Leonard, in an interview on News14 Carolina’s show “Capital Tonight” on March 10 on Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget proposal.

“A positive surprise was the quality, commitment, experience and dedication of state employees. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I think state employees are unfairly characterized. Almost without exception everyone is very hard working, extremely experienced. They are a valuable resource for the taxpayers of North Carolina. They’ve been very positive and helpful to me. State Budget Director Lee Roberts, in an interview with the News & Observer on creating Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget proposal for the March 17 story “NC budget director on the job’s surprises, Medicaid, state employees”. The Reporter • April 2015

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April 2015 Reporter  
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