April 2016 • Vol. 34, Issue 3
State Employees Association of North Carolina
SEANC members made their voices heard and scored a major victory in early February in the fight to keep health care costs down for state employees and retirees. The State Health Plan Board of Trustees in late January announced it was considering a proposal that included cutting the PPO 80/20 option and spousal coverage in future years. This would have made it the worst state health plan in the country. But just two weeks later, thanks to the enormous outcry primarily from SEANC members, who contacted their legislators in droves to speak against the plan, state Treasurer Janet Cowell backed off the plan. Both board members and legislators credited the many calls, emails and visits from plan members for the change in direction. Several legislators were even in attendance at the Feb. 5 SHP board meeting for the first time in the board’s history. SEANC released a video soon after the proposal was announced highlighting the many changes and the negative consequences of them. The video, featuring SEANC Director of Operations Chuck Stone and Director
In This Issue 2 3 4 5 7 8
Director's Message Public Policy Members in Action Member Contests Scholarship Theme Park Season
SARA COWELL COBURN
SEANC halts plans to increase State Health Plan cost
SEANC's Director of Operations Chuck Stone and Government Relations Director Ardis Watkins discuss proposed changes to the State Health Plan in a video that proved very popular.
of Government Relations Ardis Watkins, went “viral” through SEANC social media outlets with more than 13,000 people watching it on YouTube. It also reached another 62,000 people through Facebook. Media reports also added pressure. SEANC representatives were quoted in several stories, including District 39 member Mark Dearmon and Watkins in stories that also included comments from legislators on the concerns they’ve heard from SEANC members. At the Feb. 5 SHP board meeting, Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake) pleaded with the board to hold off on the changes until the legislature returned to session. Stone spoke on behalf of the association as well. SEANC’s representative on the board, former president Charles Johnson, was a staunch advocate for state employees at the meeting, raising concerns over how cost-shifting
measures like premium increases and benefit reductions would hurt rankand-file state employees and retirees. Johnson’s father passed away the night before the meeting, but he came to the vote anyway because he felt that it was important that state employees have a voice. In the end, he made the motion to delay benefits changes until May 1 and it passed. The General Assembly returns to session on April 25. The delay guarantees that there will be no cost increase for state employees and retirees in the coming year. SEANC will keep members informed on any proposed changes or developments as that date nears. Saving the 80/20 plan and spousal coverage through the State Health Plan is a victory – for now. But the fight isn’t over. SEANC will remain vigilant and speak out over any attempts to shift cost to state employees.
DIRECTOR’S MESSAGE We expect a pay raise and a COLA this year
he General Assembly returns to Raleigh on April 25 for what promises to be an eventful Short Session, and once again, state employee issues will be at the forefront of matters facing legislators. Short sessions occur on evennumbered years and are meant mostly as a “clean-up” session to deal with issues that weren’t voted on in the long session. Since short sessions occur on election years, legislators are usually itching to get their business done and go home to campaign. This can make for some long, action-packed nights at the Legislative Building STATE BUDGET IS CHIEF CONCERN Our first concern, as always, is the state budget, which will determine pay raises, cost-of-living adjustments for retirees, health care premiums and funding for retirement, as well as any possible job cuts that may come up. In other years, we tell legislators we need a pay raise and cost-of-living adjustment. In election years, we tell them we EXPECT pay raises and COLAs. It’s a sad commentary and a harsh reality. Legislators should see the value in the people and services that make North Carolina run every day, not just when their own jobs are in jeopardy. But the truth is, state employees and retirees are often forgotten until they are needed. And with the 2016 election looming, state employees and retirees – or more specifically our votes – will be needed by legislators. Given the projected $900 million or more that could be available for pay and benefits, it is a good time for the General Assembly to deliver on its promises. State employees should receive a meaningful pay increase of at least 5 percent.
THE REPORTER • May 2016
State retirees need to catch up as well with at least a 2-percent COLA coupled with increasing the retirement formula for future retirees to 1.84 percent. It’s time to show state SEANC Executive Director employees Mitch Leonard that their work is appreciated and state retirees that their service to North Carolina is not forgotten. It would be hard to imagine the state cutting jobs in an election year, but you never know. A bigger fear is the threat of privatization, which could pop up if a corporation contributes enough to a legislator’s campaign. We will remain vigilant and try to fight off any attempts to put state employees out of work through either of these. DUES DEDUCTION BILLS Protecting our dues deduction abilities will be a major priority for the association as well this session. As you know from February’s Reporter, we face a serious threat at the legislature in the form of two bills – Senate Bill 3 and House Bill 862 – that would take away state employees’ rights to have dues for any association deducted from their paychecks each month. Without the ability to deduct dues, we would not be nearly as effective in advocating for state employees or retirees. The bills were not considered in the long session, and it is not clear if they meet the criteria to be considered in the short session. But we are going to keep a watchful eye over them. We now have the option to draft dues directly from members’ bank accounts. Hopefully, enough members
will switch to this method that the threat is alleviated. I encourage all members to contact the SEANC office today to sign up for our bank draft system. OTHER ISSUES MAY ARISE The rules of the short session say that any bill that did not make “crossover,” or pass either the House or the Senate in the long session, can’t be considered. But that’s not always true. First, there are certain exceptions – for bills pertaining to finance, for example – to that rule. Second, legislators are free to “gut” a bill that has already passed one house and make it into whatever they want. So just because a matter like worker rights is not currently on the agenda, that doesn’t mean it won’t come up. Members of both Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration and his predecessor, Gov. Bev Perdue, have tried every year to weaken the State Human Resources Act. We fully expect another attempt this session in some form. This is why it’s important for you to stay informed. Pay attention to SEANC’s publications and social media accounts. Talk to your coworkers and tell them to join SEANC. That way, when we fight for pay raises or rights, we have a bigger voice. All members are welcome and encouraged to come to the legislature and talk to lawmakers about the importance of the services state employees provide. If you would like to come to Raleigh, just let us know so we can line up some meetings for you to have a productive visit. And above all, vote in November’s election. Our biggest strength is our numbers, and we can be a force at the ballot box if we are on the same page. Legislators know that.
PUBLIC POLICY Coleman moves on, Elmer comes up short in primary
BOND PASSES WITH FLYING COLORS SEANC’s Board of Governors voted unanimously in late February to endorse passage of the $2 billion ConnectNC bond package that will mean investment in public facilities and resources throughout the state. With bipartisan support, the bond
District 39 Chairman Doug Skinner campaigns at a Wake County precinct.
SUBMITTED BY HIAWATHA JONES
EMPAC STRONG IN LEGISLATIVE RACES All but three of the EMPAC-endorsed candidates for primary nominations for the General Assembly won on March 15. The exceptions were Rep. George Robinson (R-Caldwell), Tony Braswell of Johnston County and Ellis Hankins, who sought the Democratic nomination for the Senate 16 seat in Wake County. Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake), SEANC’s 2015 Legislator of the Year, faced harsh criticism from his opponent and big-time donors in his own party for his steadfast support of state employees. He won his race convincingly as well, proving that support of public services can be a bipartisan stance.
package passed with ease on March 15 as well. A total of 76 counties will see investment from this package, which includes improvements at all 16 UNC System campuses and all 58 community colleges as well as updates to agricultural resources, state parks and attractions, and water and sewer infrastructure.
District 60 chairwoman Hiawatha Jones (pictured right) and member Jo Anne Young supporting EMPAC endorsed candidates at the Mount Olive polling site.
debate of the campaign. He even received the endorsement of the Charlotte Observer, the state’s largest newspaper. Blue will now face Dale Folwell in the general election.
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Overall, an endorsement from SEANC and its political arm, EMPAC, proved to be beneficial for many lawmakers facing primary challenges on March 15. All but four candidates endorsed by EMPAC will move on to races in November after securing their party’s nomination. In statewide races, EMPAC won one and lost one. Linda Coleman, SEANC’s champion for many years at the legislature and in the Office of State Personnel, won a convincing victory over Holly Jones and others to secure the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor. If you’ll recall, Coleman came up short in arguably the state’s closest election in 2012, losing to Lt. Gov. Dan Forest by fewer than 7,000 votes. The political climate in 2016 is far different than in 2012, which could put Coleman over the top if state employees turn out in November for her. In the race for the Democratic nominee for state Treasurer, Ron Elmer came up short against the establishment candidate Dan Blue III, who had the support of the current Treasurer. Elmer spoke out against Wall Street’s pillaging of the state retirement fund, and made management of the system the main
Jonathan Owens, Editor-In-Chief Beth Dew, Managing Editor Amanda Wise, Associate Editor Sara Cowell Coburn, 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.
THE REPORTER • May 2016
SARA COWELL COBURN
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MEMBERS IN ACTION
SUBMITTED BY MARY O'NEILL
SEANC's Past Presidents gathered in Raleigh Feb. 25 to discuss topics facing the membership and the association. In attendance were (front row, from left) Kay Hovious, Linda Rouse Sutton, Chuck Stone, Shirley Bell, (middle row) Tony Smith, Flint Benson, Spillman Grice, Len Henderson, (back row) J.E. Skinner, Bobby Reardon, Charles Johnson, Wayne Fish and current president Ross Hailey. Not pictured but also in attendance was Duane Smith.
SEANC members and staff recruited 106 members at 19 agencies in Wake County as part of a massive membership blitz in late February. Stops included Division of Motor Vehicle offices, State Highway Patrol garages, Department of Public Safety training sites, the Secretary of State’s office, the State Capitol Police and the N.C. Museum of Art, among others. Here, SEANC Member Relations Representatives C.J. Stephens and District 70 Chairman Benny Brigman discuss SEANC with perspective members.
SEANC’s Board of Governors heard a moving speech from Dr. Mary Rice-Crenshaw (center) of the Dunbar community in South Carolina on Feb. 26 about the impact that supplies donated by SEANC had on flood victims there. The flood relief drive was an effort started by District 26 and its chairman, Stanley Gales (pictured at left). SEANC districts all over the state, along with Sam’s Club in Durham and volunteers from N.C. Central University, pitched in to load and deliver two truckloads of goods to Dunbar. Her husband is pictured at right.
On Feb. 13, District 39 members participated in the Polar Plunge on the North Carolina State campus to raise funds for Special Olympics North Carolina athletes. Pictured are Sherry McFeaters, District 39 Chairman Doug Skinner, Paula Thompson, Mrs. Wolf and Mary O'Neill.
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THE REPORTER • May 2016
The Reporter, USPS 009-852 (ISSN 1069 2142), is published six times a year in the months of November, February, April, May, July and September 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.
District 65 members Jacqueline Caudill and Dwayne Mackey worked at the registration table during the East Carolina University State Employees Vendor Fair on Feb. 9 in Greenville.
MEMBER CONTESTS win a trip to Recruit the most new businesses that will offer a discount to SEANC members between Feb. 26 and May 14 and win The Fury 325 is the worldâ€™s tallest and fastest giga coaster.
one night hotel stay and four Carowinds tickets! *
Send completed Member Discount Agreements postmarked by May 14 to SEANC Member Benefits, Attn: Carri Derrick, 1621 Midtown Place, Raleigh, NC 27609
Need Member Discount Agreement forms? Contact Carri Derrick at 800-222-2758 or email@example.com The new Carolina Harbor Waterpark will add many new amenities and exciting rides for families and thrill-seekers.
*Winner responsible for own transportation and meals
win an iPad mini Recruit new members from Feb. 25 - May 13 and be entered into a drawing for an Apple iPad Mini. For every new member you recruit your name will be entered into the drawing. To be eligible, all new member applications must include your name or SEANC member number as the recruiter. Contest ends May 13. New members recruited during this challenge will be entered into a drawing to win a Samsung Galaxy Tab A. Questions? Contact the SEANC Member Relations Department at 800-222-2758
THE REPORTER â€˘ May 2016
An ongoing promise 75 years ago, we made a promise to America’s workers – to help preserve and protect the vitally important things they work so hard to build. Even if unexpected events and challenging times get in their way. Colonial Life is proud of our long relationship and partnership with the State Employees Association of North Carolina. To learn more contact: Colonial Life Toll Free: 888-SEANC-4-U (888-732-6248) Colonial.NCService@gmail.com
STATE PERSONNEL CASES: PROTECTING STATE EMPLOYEE RIGHTS Representing State Employees in State employees are good people. But Grievances, Court of Appeals, and even good people make mistakes NC Office of Administrative Hearings mistakes that violate your rights as a career employee, discriminate against you, or cost you a promotion or job. ■
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My practice is restricted to state personnel disciplinary and licensing matters. I have litigated personnel cases in the Office of Administrative Hearings since the 1990s. If you have a grievance, disciplinary appeal, or any state employment matter, call (919) 865-2572 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn how I put 20 years of experience and consistent success in state personnel cases to work for you - when your rights are on the line.
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SECU Mortgages... pet (& family) approved
Providing quality and affordable insurance to SEANC members for over 30 years. We appreciate doing business with you!
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THE REPORTER • May 2016
For information on SECU mortgages, go to www.ncsecu.org, contact your local branch or call the Contact Center at 1.888.732.8562.
SCHOLARSHIP 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.
Join us for two fun events that will help make many SEANC North Carolina students' dreamsScholarship a reality!
Lois W. Forrester Join the SEANC State Employees Association of North Carolina Scholarship Foundation Foundation as we host a bowl-a-thon Memorial Golf Tournament Scholarship Bowl-a-Thon & Silent Auction to benefit our scholarship program. Thursday, May 12
7:30 a.m. Golfer Registration 8:30 a.m. Shotgun Start Boone Golf Club - Boone, NC Proceeds from the event benefit SEANC District 3 Scholarship and Community Service Activities Fund.
Silent n Auctio
WHEN: HOW MUCH:
REGISTER: Cost (includes cart, lunch & mulligans) Non-member of Boone Golf Course - $70 per player Regular member of Boone Golf Course - $43 per per player Local member of Boone Golf Course - $53 per player
To register, sponsor a hole, donate prizes or for more information contact Mike Waters at 828-262-7800 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Teresa Johnson at 828-268-1070 or email@example.com, or Bob Gibbard at 828-262-3039 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, May 14
Grea Prize t 1-3 p.m. or 3-5 p.m. s Buffaloe Lanes North Buffaloe Lanes North 5900 Oak Forest Drive Raleigh, NCForest 27616 Drive ● Raleigh, NC 5900 Oak February 28 from 1-3 p.m. or 3-5 p.m.
rds Proceeds fromperson the event be per usedteam to award thousands of Awa $20 per or will $100 of six (shoes included) dollars in are educational scholarships to SEANC members, their spouses and their dependent children. Complete a registration form today! Payments can be made
via registration form online at www.seanc.org/bowl-a-thon Tickets: $20card per person $100 per teamand of six with a credit (Visa,orMastercard Discover accepted) Toorregister, sponsor a lane or for more information visit Foundation. checks made payable to SEANC Scholarship Deadline to register is February 6. www.seanc.org/bowl-a-thon
For more information contact Alicia Miller or Beth Dew at 800-222-2758.
THE REPORTER • May 2016
Periodical Postage PAID Raleigh, NC 1621 Midtown Place Raleigh, NC 27609