February 2016 • Vol. 34, Issue 2
State Employees Association of North Carolina
SEANC now offers bank draft options By popular demand, SEANC is now offering members two new ways to pay monthly dues, insurance premiums and more. The new options are a result of partnerships with both the State Employees’ Credit Union and First Citizens’ Bank. Members of the State Employees’ Credit Union have the easiest option for paying dues – simply use the credit union’s bill pay tool to set up an option for funds to be directed from your bank account to SEANC each month. For those members without a SECU account, the process is simple as well. Just provide SEANC with your bank routing number and the account number from which funds will be taken each month by filling out the form on page 7 and returning it by mail or fax. These options can be used to pay membership dues, insurance and Hyatt Legal premiums, donations to EMPAC and even Purchasing Power payments.
With these options, members will feel little, if any, difference in their bank accounts from the current payroll deduction system. But the move is critical to the future of the organization. With members moved away from payroll deduction, SEANC will no longer be at the mercy of the whims of politicians who currently use the threat of payroll deduction stoppage to hold the association hostage. Senate Bill 3, filed by Sen. Ralph Hise at the beginning of the 2015 General Assembly session, would take away the right of state employees and teachers to have dues or any other payments deducted automatically from paychecks. The bill is likely to move to a vote in the coming short session. Although legislators often try to argue it would save money, there is very little, if any, cost associated with payroll deduction. By moving to a bank drafting system, SEANC will be free to speak out against harmful legislation,
the lack of meaningful pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments or changes to retirement and health care benefits that are detrimental to members’ families. It will also allow us to recruit temporary and local government employees for whom payroll deductions are not currently available. “We have no choice. We have to do this if we are going to survive and serve our members,” SEANC Executive Director Mitch Leonard said. “As it currently stands, we are at the mercy of politicians who don’t understand or don’t care about state employee issues. We must be able to stand up for ourselves.”
WAYS TO SIGN UP FOR BANK DRAFT Fill out the form found on page 7 and mail or fax to SEANC Central Office ● Visit www.seanc.org ● Call the SEANC office at 1-800-222-2758 ●
Former director pleads guilty to embezzling from SEANC The former executive director of SEANC pleaded guilty on Nov. 17 to embezzling more than $500,000 from the organization.
In This Issue 2 3 4-5 7 8
President's Message Public Policy Member Action Bank Draft Form Scholarship
After pleading guilty to two felonies, Dana Cope was sentenced to a minimum of 58 months and up to 82 months in state prison. Cope paid $165,000 in restitution to SEANC, but still owes $345,000 according to media reports. SEANC plans to use any and every measure available to pursue the rest of the funds until every dime is paid back. Current SEANC Executive Director Mitch Leonard released the following statement upon the announcement of the plea:
“Undoubtedly, the announcement of a guilty plea from Mr. Cope is a newsworthy event in his legal case. SEANC’s focus, however, is on the important work of fulfilling our mission to advance and protect the interests of past, present and future state employees. All the while, we continue to take all of the necessary steps – resulting from two independent investigations of our operations – to secure our organization from ever experiencing a breach of leadership trust again.”
PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE This is a MAKE or BREAK year for SEANC
’ve always been an optimistic person. We’re going to need a whole lot of that optimism in the coming year. The obstacles we face promise to put SEANC to the test in every way. There is a group of politicians who think that state employees should not have a voice, and with this being an election year, they are coming after us. The next year will determine whether or not our organization will remain a force for advocacy for our members and their families for years to come.
McCRORY CHANGES LEAVE POLICY The hits have already begun. Just before Christmas, Gov. Pat McCrory rescinded the executive order that allowed SEANC delegates to use administrative leave to attend the annual SEANC convention in Greensboro each September. Even though the order does not affect more than half of our convention – 40 percent of delegates are retired and another 10 percent work in jobs not covered by executive orders (community colleges, universities, etc.) – this decision 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 2015, the nondeductible political action/ lobbying amount is $1.12 per month. The same federal law requires SEANC to give its members an estimate of 2016’s political action lobbying expenses that are paid from dues. The anticipated figure for the 2016 tax year is $1.34 per month. Members are encouraged to consult a tax professional about individual tax returns and liability.
THE REPORTER • February 2016
WAYS YOU CAN HELP SEANC THIS YEAR ● Switch to bank draft ● Tell fellow members why it is important for them to switch to bank draft ● Discuss the benefits of SEANC membership to coworkers ● Lobby the General Assembly when it returns for the short session in April
is going to make it hard for a lot of our folks to be involved in future conventions. It may also make recruiting and retaining members even more difficult than it already has been. But this is not the time to give up. On the bright side, now we can do whatever we want at our convention. We can make it as “political” as we want without fear of retaliation. Delegates and members are free to speak their minds even more in their workplaces and at convention because McCrory rescinded this executive order. Members are going to have to start recruiting coworkers. You can do this during the working hours. McCrory can do a lot of things, but he can’t control what you talk to your coworkers about. Hopefully, along with discussing the basketball game on Monday morning, you will also talk about SEANC every once in a while. DUES DEDUCTION, INSURANCE THREATENED The front page of this issue lays out our response to an even bigger threat. Sen. Ralph Hise and others want to take away state employees’ right to have SEANC dues deducted from paychecks. Hise and his friends in the governor’s administration also want to take away our ability to sell insurance products and deduct premiums from paychecks. They want you to have just one choice for each insurance product – approved by the administration (and may or may not be owned by one of Gov. McCrory’s supporters.)
SEANC President Ross Hailey
We expect legislation on both issues to move in the upcoming short session. If not, rest assured they’ll be top issues when the General Assembly kicks off the 2017 session. Both are blatant attacks on SEANC and on all state employees that have no real benefit to the taxpayers they should represent. It is going to be a difficult task, to say the least, to move 38,000 members from the ease of payroll deduction to a bank draft system, but it’s something we have to do. Thankfully, we have already started the process. When I was elected president, I made developing a bank draft system a top priority. Not only is this critical to our survival and the continuance of our insurance programs, but it also allows us to have an even bigger voice to speak our minds and support the candidates we want without the threat of retaliation. MOST IMPORTANT YEAR IN SEANC'S HISTORY I have been a member of SEANC and predecessor organizations for more than 40 years, and I have never seen the fear among employees that there is today. This is why SEANC is still important. State employees need an organization that, for just $9 a month (or $5 if you’re retired), will stand up for us. This year is going to be the most important in SEANC’s history. Don't sit on the sidelines! If you want this organization to survive, you must do your part. Please take a few minutes to fill out and return the form on page 7 to switch over to bank draft. Tell your fellow members why it’s important for them to do the same. When the General Assembly session starts in April, show up! Even in the face of these obstacles, I remain optimistic that SEANC can weather the upcoming storm.
PUBLIC POLICY SEANC members rally to fight privatization at UNC stores SEANC members joined with students, faculty, parents and community members on Nov. 30 at a rally on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill to take a stand against an effort to privatize UNC Student Stores. UNC Student Stores is in its 100th year of operation on the campus and houses a bookstore as well as a merchandise section that sells more UNC-themed apparel than any other venue. It is a self-sustaining operation that pays salaries for 49 full-time employees and more than 200 student workers without using taxpayer dollars.
The current setup also allows the stores to contribute its proceeds to scholarships at the school. Last year alone, the store contributed more than $400,000 in funds to the university’s scholarship programs. Speakers at the rally pointed out that Follett, the company that is likely to take over operations if the privatization plan is approved, has a proven track record of selling books at a higher price than the current store. This added cost would take needed money from students and parents.
SEANC Government Relations Director Ardis Watkins spoke out against the dangers of privatizing the store or any other part of state government. “It puts money back into scholarships. It gives money back to the university. It is a winner,” she said, then added, “What’s next? Are we going to build a Starbucks around the Old Well? Where does it end?” No decision has been made on the privatization effort. SEANC will continue to call attention to this or any other attempt to sell off state government to corporations at taxpayer expense.
McCrory cites inaccuracies in surprise attack on SEANC Convention the executive order because they work at universities, community colleges and other agencies outside of its scope. McCrory also took a shot at SEANC’s recent troubles concerning its former executive director in the release, further proving the order to be politically motivated and meant to harm the organization more than help taxpayers. In a statement sent to members, SEANC President Ross Hailey said the elected officers and staff of SEANC were blindsided by the news of this executive order. “McCrory and his administration had previously assured that we would be consulted before any action was taken on the order,” Hailey stated. “Neither our officers nor staff ever got the courtesy of that notice from the Governor or his staff.”
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. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: THE REPORTER 1621 Midtown Place Raleigh, NC 27609
SEANC Executive Director Mitch Leonard has requested a meeting with Gov. McCrory and his staff to discuss the matter as soon as possible.
Gov. Pat McCrory snuck out an executive order just before Christmas break that stops delegates from using administrative leave to attend the annual SEANC Convention. Executive Order 84, signed by McCrory on the afternoon of Dec. 18, basically rescinds Executive Order 45, signed by Gov. Bev Perdue. In his release on the order, McCrory incorrectly noted that the move would save the state $425,000 in wages and more than $2 million in lost worker productivity. He obviously based that assumption on all 800 delegates using administrative leave, which is far from the case. More than 40 percent of SEANC delegates are retired and don’t need leave to attend. Another 10 percent or so work in jobs that see no benefit from
Jonathan Owens, Editor-In-Chief Beth Dew, Managing Editor Amanda Wise, Associate Editor
State Employees Association of North Carolina 1621 Midtown Place • Raleigh, NC 27609 Telephone 919-833-6436, 800-222-2758 www.seanc.org
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 • February 2016
District 66 members helped feed less fortunate members of the community at Mary’s Kitchen in Kinston on Dec. 19, and donated money to help purchase turkeys.
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY HENRY BELADA
District 24 participated in the Robeson County Fair in Lumberton on Oct. 2. Pictured are member Billy Ray "Dollar Bill" Oxendine and District 24 Chairwoman Charlotte Williams discussing SEANC membership with an interested state employee.
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY LISA BURWELL
District 65 donated children's gifts to the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program. Pictured from left are members Cynthia Hart, District 65 Chairwoman Alicia Simpson, Second Vice President Gloria Evans, Doris Whitaker, Debbie Austin, Lina Johnson and Lynn Tuthill.
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY HENRY BELADA
District 7 members and others donated and delivered 11 cooked turkeys, stuffing mix, broth and gravy to the Burke Unity Christian Ministries Nov. 23-24 in Morganton. Pictured are District 7 Chairman Henry Belada and member Ronnie Fox.
District 59 held its annual Christmas Party on Dec. 7 in Goldsboro.
THE REPORTER • February 2016
District 7 members particpated in the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center parade on Dec. 3 in Morganton. Pictured are District 7 Chairman Henry Belada, members Connie Barnette, Diane Fruend and Scott McMahan.
To help celebrate the Christmas season, District 66 members sang Christmas carols at the N.C. State Veterans Home in Kinston on Dec. 21.
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY LISA BURWELL
District 3 members Anne Castro, Teresa Johnson and District 3 Chairman Pat Reighard signed up members on Nov. 19 at Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine.
SHOW OFF YOUR DISTRICT
Submit a picture from a district activity (fundraisers, membership drives, advocacy efforts, etc.) by email to email@example.com or by mail to: SEANC c/o The Reporter, 1621 Midtown Place, Raleigh, NC 27609
On Dec. 8, District 65 members, friends and family made miniature Christmas trees and wreaths that were donated to some Greenville nursing homes. Pictured from left are District 65 Chairwoman Alicia Simpson, Cynthia Hart, Laranda Boone, Cathy Collins, Celeste Little, Karen Simmons, Debbie Austin, Angela Easter, Marguerite Latham and Lynn Tuthill.
Five Things To Know About Your Vision Plan 1) You have access to a national network of providers. 2) Choose from 3 vision plans. Each plan includes coverage for an eye exam, eye glasses or contact lenses. (Coverage frequency and lens options vary by plan.) 3) You are not limited to a small selection of frames. Your plan includes an allowance that can be applied to any frame at your participating provider’s office. 4) Discounts are available for non-covered cosmetic options and laser correction. In addition, discounts for hearing aids too. 5) There’s a website just for you at myspectera.com.
To enroll, contact SEANC at 800-222-2758 or visit www.seanc.org
District 65 members and other volunteers wrapped presents to raise funds for the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina on Dec. 16. Pictured from left are Cynthia Hart, District 65 Chairwoman Alicia Simpson, volunteers Katie and Julie Murphy and members Debbie Austin and Lynn Tuthill. Not pictured are Jacqueline Caudill and Martina Christie.
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THE REPORTER • February 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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THE REPORTER • February 2016
ELECTRONIC FUNDS TRANSFER FORM "
Cut out and return to SEANC at address below
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Last Name
SEANC Member ID (optional)
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Full First Name, Middle Initial ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Phone Number (required) Email Address (required) ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Street/P.O. Box/Apt. Number ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ City/Town State Zip Code
EFT BANK DRAFT
Please deduct funds from my bank account for the following items: □ Membership Dues □ EMPAC Donation (Amount $______) □ Purchasing Power □ Hyatt Legal Plan Insurance Programs □ Term Life (Boston Mutual)
___________________________________________________________________ Name of Bank ___________________________________________________________________ 9-digit Routing Number Checking Account Number I, the undersigned, hereby authorize SEANC to deduct membership dues and payments for previously agreed upon insurance programs and other items as noted on this page from my checking account on a monthly basis, in such amounts as are currently established pursuant to the SEANC Bylaws, or in such adjusted amounts as may be approved by the membership subsequent to the date of this authorization. I further hereby authorize SEANC to deduct voluntary EMPAC contributions in the amount designated from my checking account on a monthly basis for transmittal to SEANC in a lump sum with my SEANC dues. These authorizations shall continue until canceled by me by written notice to the SEANC Central Office. The payments so deducted are non-refundable. SEANC membership dues and contributions to EMPAC are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal or North Carolina income tax purposes. I understand that: 1) I am not required to make contributions to EMPAC as a condition of my employment by my employer or membership in SEANC; 2) I may refuse to contribute without any reprisal; 3) only members and executive/administrative staff who are U. S. citizens or lawful permanent residents are eligible to contribute; 4) I may contribute more or less by this or some other means without fear of favor or disadvantage from SEANC or my employer; 5) SEANC and SEIU use the money they receive for political purposes, including, but not limited to, addressing issues of political or public importance and contributing to and spending money in connection with federal, state and local elections.
___________________________________________________________________ Signature Date
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Please fax to (919) 792-3321 or mail to:
State Employees Association of North Carolina ● 1621 Midtown Place ● Raleigh, N.C. 27609
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Scholarship Season is Here!
Deadline is April 15 to apply for annual SEANC awards 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. Now is the time to work on your application for the 2016-17 academic year. 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! An application must be turned in to your district scholarship chairperson postmarked no later than April 15. To find an application and 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. For more information, visit seanc.org/scholarship or contact Celia Wilson at (919) 833-6436.
Choose from Three Categories 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. 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%).
Apply Today! Applications for SEANC's scholarships are available online at seanc.org/scholarship.