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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

February 2015

• Vol. 33, Issue 3

SEANC’s Top Priority: A Meaningful Raise

T

he action in North Carolina is heating up and not just on the basketball court. I am talking about the action in the halls of the General Assembly. Recently, I sat down with a reporter who asked me to spell out SEANC’s top priorities in the 2015 session. For me this is a slam dunk question since SEANC members determine our legislative priorities at our annual convention each September. Our members voted overwhelmingly to make a pay increase their top priority in this General Assembly session, which started in early January. SEANC lobbyists, staff and members have been at the legislature daily to welcome and remind lawmakers of the need to value North Carolina’s public services and the people who provide them. It is important for you to talk directly to your representatives to let them know that you are watching their job performance and will be holding them accountable.

Pay Raises SEANC will be advocating for a meaningful 5-percent pay increase for active state employees. It makes good business sense for legislators to provide a well-deserved raise to their workforce because non-competitive salaries cost the state nearly $300 million in turnover costs in 2012-13. A raise in this range would almost pay for itself by reducing voluntary turnover. We will also ask legislators to fully fund the annual required contribution for the retirement system at 9.16 percent, increase the retirement formula to 1.83 percent and give retirees a muchneeded cost-of-living adjustment of 2 percent. Privatization/Corporate Handouts As an organization we remain committed to opposing privatization efforts. We continue to hear rumblings about privatizing prison maintenance despite a report from the Department of Public Safety last May showing “no significant savings to be realized through the privatization of prison maintenance operations.” Moves to privatize state services to private companies often benefit only politicians and their political donors. The taxpayers always lose because the bottom line is that corporations are motivated by profit while state employees are motivated to help the state and its citizens.

Director’s Message By Dana Cope

SEANC Executive Director

We also oppose the transfer of public dollars to private businesses through corporate welfare. Giving away taxpayer dollars simply doesn’t create long-term jobs. Look at the recent $22 million giveaway to the Chiquita Corporation in Charlotte. Only three years after the state set aside money for them, the company may leave Charlotte. What is needed instead of corporate welfare is state infrastructure such as ports, the lack of which cost the state jobs when officials were attempting to woo Mercedes-Benz, and more workforce training provided by community colleges. Pension Transparency Also high on the priority list is the association’s effort to continue advocating for reforms and transparency in the state’s $90 billion pension system. The goal is to ensure that the fund is secure for current and future retirees. From unreported pension fees to a lack of available financial information, it’s simply a bad idea to have one person control the pension system, a pot of money four times the state budget. If 170 people in the legislature review $20 billion, surely a retirement system four times as large needs a system of checks and balances. The way things currently work, it’s SEANC who serves as the only true watchdog for the retirement system. Your Role So what’s your role in all of this? We need you to join your lobbyists in advocating for the vital public services you provide. Come with us to the General Assembly. We will help you schedule a meeting with your legislators. We will provide you with background information on our priorities. We will give you the most up-to-date news so you can have an informed and productive conversation. We will empower you to advocate for yourself. Hope to see you there! dcope@seanc.org, Twitter @danadcope


PUBLIC POLICY

We need you at the General Assembly By Jonathan Owens

On the General Assembly’s opening day Jan. 14, District 2 Chairwoman Dodie Collins and District 1 Chairman Tony Rickman led a group of members from western North Carolina to meet with their lawmakers in Raleigh. The group made the five-hour trek from Asheville to the state capital to remind the legislators that state employees and state retirees are real people who matter. “We want them to take notice of all state employees and what they do,” said Collins, a retired judicial assistant. “It’s so easy to pass by and see people working and not think about them being a state employee.” The group spent the day meeting with lawmakers who represent counties in their districts, explaining SEANC’s Top 10 Policy Platform Objectives and state employees’ and retirees’ priorities. They explained SEANC’s ongoing struggle to open the retirement system up to transparency, and why it matters that a premium-free option continues to be offered by the State Health Plan. 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 • February 2015

PHOTO BY JONATHAN OWENS

SEANC Asst. Director of Communications

District 1 Chairman Tony Rickman (left), District 2 members Gerald Stamm, Cindy Crawford, District 2 Chairwoman Dodie Collins, Doug Ledford, June Watkins and Cliff Johnson met with legislators like Rep. Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood) (second from left) on opening day at the General Assembly on Jan. 14.

They explained why, contrary to what private corporations may tell them, public workers are always a better and more cost-effective option for manning and maintaining our prisons, maintaining roads and providing all other services. And they explained why state employees and retirees deserve a raise and that it is in the state’s best interest to provide for one. It was Rickman’s first time at the General Assembly. He said it was important to better familiarize himself with what happens in Raleigh. “I just wanted to get a sense of what goes on and see some of the legislators we supported,” he said. “I think it will help me better relate and talk to legislators when we advocate for SEANC and state employees.” SEANC needs more members like Dodie and the group. SEANC’s team of lobbyists are the best in Raleigh, but they can only do so much to tell your story. What’s more impactful is for you to tell your story in person. SEANC encourages members to accompany its lobbyists at the Legislative Building. All you need to do is just let us know you’re coming. Email SEANC’s Government Relations Specialist Tony Booe at tbooe@seanc.org or call 919-8336436 or 800-222-2758. jowens@seanc.org; Twitter @jonbowens 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


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PHOTO SUBMITTED BY HENRY BELADA

MEMBER ACTION

SEANC District 2 members led by Chairwoman Dodie Collins (right) and member Cliff Johnson (left), collected 24 bicycles and tricycles on Saturday, Dec. 6, during a membership drive breakfast at Ryan’s Steakhouse in Asheville. The bikes and trikes were then delivered to Marion Correctional Institute where they were refurbished and distributed to children across McDowell County for Christmas. President Wayne Fish (center, in hat) helped with the effort as well.

PHOTO BY BLAISE KAZADI

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY JOHNNY DAVISON

At the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center Christmas Parade on Dec. 4, members of District 5 and 6 rode on their floats while District 7 members walked in the parade behind them.

On Nov. 25, District 13 Chairwoman Linda Colbert met with Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) at her office on Central Piedmont Community College’s Central Campus. Colbert discussed the retirement system, State Health Plan and pay raises during Sen. Jackson’s visit.

Tax Deduction Notification

Federal law requires SEANC to provide all members with a written estimate of what portion of membership dues goes to lobbying and political expenses. The majority of dues paid by SEANC members who are current state employees is allowable as an “employee business expense” under federal income tax. However, the part of the dues that SEANC uses for political and lobbying purposes is not tax deductible. For the tax year 2014, the nondeductible political action/lobbying amount is $1.46 per month. The same federal law requires SEANC to give its members an estimate of 2015’s political action lobbying expenses that are paid from dues. The anticipated figure for the 2015 tax year is $1.28 per month. Members are encouraged to consult a tax professional about individual tax returns and liability.

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The Reporter • February 2015


PHOTO SUBMITTED BY LYNN TUTHILL

MEMBER ACTION

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY LYNN TUTHILL

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY LYNN TUTHILL

District 65 members, friends and family transformed wire coat hangers, garland, and strings of lights into 15 miniature Christmas trees and 10 wreaths on Dec. 3. The trees and wreaths were donated to Family Care Home residents through the Pitt County Department of Social Services. Pictured from left are Lynn Tuthill, Cynthia Hart, Angela Easter, Laranda Boone, Cathy Collins, Linda Johnson, Karen Simmons, Debbie Austin, Linda Nelson, Rhetta O’Quinn, April Johnson with daughter Kaylee, Doris Wrighten and District 65 Chairwoman Alicia Simpson.

District 26 Chairman Robert Garrett and members Pauletta Williams and Gloria Upperman presented Central Children’s Home Administrator Doris Daye with donations of household goods and money as part of the district’s community service project.

District 65 adopted two brothers this Christmas through the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program. The boys asked for bikes, clothes, coats and shoes. The district donated $150 in gifts per child.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY JAMES BRIDGES

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY ROBERT GARRETT

District 65 members and guests met at the City Hotel and Bistro for their Holiday Social on Dec. 19. Five new members joined SEANC at this event. Pictured are (back) Debbie Austin, Tammy Heller, Cynthia Hart, District 65 Chairwoman Alicia Simpson, SEANC General Treasurer Gloria Evans, Lina Johnson, Doris Whitaker, Jessica Mitchell, (front) Laranda Boone, Karen Simmons and Lynn Tuthill.

District 37 held its December meeting and Christmas social on Dec. 11 in Raleigh. The district made a $200 donation to the Salvation Army and held a Christmas toy drive. Pictured are Albert Anderson, James Bridges, Michele James, Reuben Crummy, Phil Henry, Zahid Baloch, Greg Blackney, Thelma Manley, District 37 Chairman Joseph Qubain, Jordon Bond, Ferman Beckwith, Darryl Hennessee and Undrea Major.

The Reporter • February 2015

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SCHOLARSHIPS

Second bowl-a-thon around the corner By Matthew Whittle

SEANC Digital Communications Specialist

It’s time to put on your bowling shoes and square off against your fellow SEANC members at the bowling alley — all for a worthy cause! The second annual SEANC Scholarship Foundation Bowl-a-Thon will be held on Saturday, Feb. 28, in Raleigh. Teams will face off in one of two flights from 1-3 p.m. and 3-5 p.m. The event will be held at Buffaloe Lanes North located at 5900 Oak Forest Drive. Members can sign up a team for $100, which includes two hours of bowling and shoe rental for up to six bowlers, or as an individual for $20. Trophies will be awarded to the highest-scoring and the lowest-scoring teams within each time block. There also will be a silent auction with items from the Carolina Panthers, the Carolina Hurricanes, North Carolina Aquariums, Battleship North Carolina,

SEANC Scholarship Bowl-a-Thon Saturday, Feb. 28 1-3 p.m. or 3-5 p.m. Buffaloe Lanes North - Raleigh, NC Proceeds from the event will be used to award thousands of dollars in educational scholarships to SEANC members, their spouses and their dependent children. Tickets: $20 per person or $100 per team of six. To register, sponsor a lane or for more information visit www.seanc.org/bowl-a-thon the North Carolina Symphony, The Carolina Opry and Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach and much more! Proceeds will be used to award educational scholarships to SEANC members, their spouses and their dependent children. Last year, the SEANC Scholarship Foundation gave

out $38,000 in scholarships to 46 welldeserving students to help them attend two-year and four-year institutions. Across the state, the foundation and SEANC’s 52 districts gave out a total of $120,000 in scholarships last year. mwhittle@seanc.org; Twitter @mwwhittle

SEANC members eligible for SEIU scholarships By Matthew Whittle

SEANC Digital Communications Specialist

Did you know as a SEANC member, you and your children are eligible for national scholarships from the Service Employees International Union? The 2015-2016 SEIU Scholarship Program is accepting applications until March 2. The scholarships are designed to support students studying in fields including the arts, social justice and health care. Last year, six children of SEANC members won a combined $10,000 in scholarships from SEIU. Scholarships will be awarded and winners notified in the late spring of 2015. This year there are four scholarship

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The Reporter • February 2015

categories: n Renewable lottery scholarships — Fifteen $1,000 scholarships renewable for up to four years to a two-year or four-year accredited college, university or community college. n Non-renewable lottery scholarships — Thirty-three $1,500 non-renewable scholarships good for one year to a two-year or four-year accredited college, university or community college. n JJ Johnson Scholarship — One $5,000 scholarship renewable for up to four years to a two-year or fouryear accredited college, university or community college. This scholarship is awarded to a student whose work and aspirations for economic and social justice reflect the values and

accomplishments of J.J. Johnson, the former president of SEIU Local 617 in New Jersey and a founding member of SEIU’s African American Caucus. n SEIU Moe Foner Scholarship — One non-renewable $5,000 scholarship to a two-year or four-year accredited college, university or community college or technical/trade school in an artsrelated field. This scholarship, named for the late Moe Foner, the founder of the SEIU 1199 Bread and Roses Cultural Project, is awarded to a student pursuing a degree or training in the visual or performing arts who believes the arts can help advance social change. Apply online at seiu.org. mwhittle@seanc.org; Twitter @mwwhittle


PUBLIC POLICY

Quotes to Note “We find it very hard to believe, when you’re dealing with those kinds of significant amounts of money, that we don’t have common sense, transparent reporting on fee structures with the investors that we hire — placement agents, who are deeply embedded in that system.” SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope, in a profile on SEANC’s legislative agenda ahead of the start of the 2014 session, in The Insider, a publication of The News & Observer, on Dec. 12.

“That’s not something we really train to deal with. It’s more spur of the moment. But we knew something was wrong and we knew we needed to fix it before something catastrophic happened.” District 16 member David Plagemann, in a Dec. 19 story on SEANC’s website detailing the heroic efforts of a Department of Transportation crew in Davie County that averted a tragedy by convincing a driver heading the wrong way on an exit ramp to Interstate 40 to stop.

“State employees are essential personnel. They are working at the prisons and caring for the mentally ill. These are not people you want to be late to work.” SEANC Communications Director Toni Davis in a Nov. 27 News & Observer story, “State workers get bus passes to help avoid Beltline crush”

“It’s gotten bigger and it adversely impacts the state of North Carolina much worse than many other states... (State employees) are saying ‘What do I do? I need health insurance. My spouse or my children have these chronic medical conditions.’ That is bad news and the leading cause of bankruptcy in this country is still medical care.” SEANC Lobbyist Chuck Stone, in the Dec. 2 WTVD ABC 11 report “The ‘family glitch’ causes headaches for some with the Affordable Healthcare Act”

FROM SOCIAL MEDIA

@SEANC2008 Thank you to all SEANC staff for your hard work this year. Looking forward to a productive 2015!!! A tweet from District 24 member Erica Dail @ephillidail on Dec. 31

On behalf of District 69, thank you all for all you do for our state employees...I, for one, appreciate your efforts.

District 69 member Joyce Shaw in a Dec. 25 post on SEANC’s Facebook page The Reporter • February 2015

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Apply today for a SEANC scholarship! By Matthew Whittle

SEANC Digital Communications Specialist

Are you a SEANC member going to college? Do you have a son, daughter, legally adopted grandchild or a spouse going to college? Do you want help paying high tuition, room and board and even book bills? Then apply today for a scholarship from the SEANC Scholarship Foundation! With the spring semester just starting, now is a great time to work on your application for next year. Apply online at seanc.org/scholarship. Last year, the SEANC Scholarship Foundation and SEANC’s 52 districts gave out more than $120,000 to help members, their spouses and their dependents attend either two- or four-year institutions. This year, you or somebody in your family could be one of those deserving winners! Applications must be turned in to your district scholarship chairperson, postmarked no later than April 15. To find your district’s scholarship chairperson, visit seanc.org/scholarship. The scholarships awarded by the SEANC Scholarship Foundation and the individual districts are one of the association’s largest benefits for members. mwhittle@seanc.org; Twitter @mwwhittle

Three categories to choose from In addition to the local scholarships offered by the districts, the SEANC Scholarship Foundation offers funding assistance in three categories: Category 1 — Financial Need. Winners are selected based on academic performance (40%), financial need (30%), community involvement (10%), personal statement (10%) and recommendations (10%) Category 2 — Merit-Based. Winners are selected based on academic performance (70%), community involvement (10%), personal statement (10%) and recommendations (10%) Category 3 — Member-Only. Winners are selected based on recommendations (30%), SEANC service (20%), career objectives (20%), personal statement (20%) and community involvement (10%) For more on the criteria or for an application, visit seanc.org/scholarship.


February 2015 Reporter