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
• Vol. 31, Issue 7
Senate Scoffs at Public Services in Budget Budget proposal includes no pay raise, cuts 1,600 jobs and closes six prisons by Jonathan Owens
Senate Budget Proposal at a Glance
SEANC Assistant Director of Communications
Would give no pay raise for active employees or cost-of-living adjustment for retirees Would cut more than 1,600 jobs, mostly from the Departments of Health and Human Services and Public Safety Would close Bladen, Duplin, Robeson, Wayne, Buncombe and Orange prisons as well as parts of the Western Youth Institution. Would close Lenoir, Buncombe and Richmond Youth Development Centers
Gov. Pat McCrory and legislators are playing a game of • who loves state employees the least in this year’s budget debate. A month after McCrory announced his first budget • proposal, which included a modest 1-percent pay raise for state employees while closing five prisons, the North Carolina • Senate one-upped him with a $20.6 billion budget proposal of its own that would put our state’s priorities in the wrong place while devaluing vital public services. To stay informed on the budget process, be sure to The Senate’s budget plan in combination with its tax proposal read the SEANC Legislative Update each week in the Legislative Action section of seanc.org. — which includes effective tax increases on poor and the middle class while slashing taxes treatment center at Foothills. for the wealthy and corporations “The Senate’s cuts to public The budget also would close — eliminates hundreds of vital jobs Lenoir, Buncombe and Richmond services and tax increase and jeopardizes public safety and Youth Development Centers, and on the middle class will help infrastructure needs for the state. What’s more, it includes no millionaires get more of our tax eliminate 50 positions from the pay raise at all for state employees dollars. That’s not North Carolina DHHS Oral Health section. “The Senate’s cuts to public or cost-of-living adjustment for values. We are better than that.” services and tax increases on the retirees. middle class will help millionaires SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope Most state employees didn’t get more of our tax dollars,” expect to get the 8-percent salary SEANC Executive Director Dana increase that Gov. McCrory gave his cabinet, which was Cope said. “That’s not North Carolina values. We are better necessary because, he said, “I’m trying to make it at least than that.” where (his cabinet appointees) can afford to live.” As of press time in late May, the Senate had voted to pass But state employees did expect the rising tide to lift all its proposal to the House, which will likely offer its own boats to some extent. The Senate budget would wipe out nearly 1,600 jobs, with proposal and changes. A reconciled budget will then be sent the Departments of Health and Human Services and Public to McCrory to sign. SEANC will continue to work with the General Assembly Safety bearing the brunt of the cuts. It also proposes closing several prisons including Bladen, Duplin, Robeson, Wayne, and the governor to keep vital public services while Buncombe and Orange as well as parts of the Western Youth compensating our state’s public employees for their hard work. Please contact your legislator today to tell them that state Institution. Sen. Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsyth) successfully employees deserve to be treated with respect. Call the General amended the proposal to move 55 of the jobs slated for the Assembly’s main line at 919-733-4111. cutting room floor at Western Youth to Foothills Correctional Institute. The amendment also establishes a substance abuse firstname.lastname@example.org
SEANC Fights to Maintain Integrity of SPA by Toni Davis
SEANC continued its fight to maintain the integrity of the State Personnel Act as Gov. Pat McCrory and his new administration lobbied for a drastic rewrite of the 48-year-old law that governs state service in North Carolina. SEANC strongly opposes McCrory’s plan to gut certain employee protections and the right to grievances and appeals in the SPA, which is meant to prevent political patronage in state service. House State Personnel Committee Chairman Jeff Collins (R-Nash) introduced House Bill 834 in early May at Gov. McCrory’s request that included several of these changes. On May 8, SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope spoke to a packed house of SEANC members, lawmakers and media in opposition to the bill in Collins’ committee meeting. Through negotiation Cope and SEANC’s lobbyists were able to save several key parts of the current SPA that Collins’ original bill sought to change, including: • The ability for employees to retain their Reduction-inForce (RIF) priority even when they decline a job at a lower grade than their current or past job. • Language in the current SPA that pertains to whether an employee may be fired without just cause. • The legal remedies available to whistle blowers who prove they were retaliated against, including job reinstatement and monetary awards. But despite the changes, SEANC remains strongly opposed to the bill that passed through the House because the bad still outweighs the good. The bill still makes grievance hearings political and puts state employees in danger of their job to a political hire.
Grievance Hearings become Political At the hearing, Cope strongly argued to maintain the SPA’s language which places the independent Office of Administrative Hearings in charge of employee grievances. The OAH is currently charged with hearing and ruling on acts of alleged unlawful employment practices in state government giving state employees a fair and impartial body to judge the merits of grievances. Specifically the bill would remove state employees’ right to appeal firings to an independent forum at the OAH. Instead employees would appeal to the State Personnel Commission, made up of political appointees of the governor and legislative leaders. The SPC is under the authority of the governor and concerns itself with personnel administration.
The Reporter • June 2013
Photo BY JONATHAN OWENS
SEANC Director of Communications
SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope stood up against changes to the State Personnel Act at the House State Personnel Committee meeting on May 8.
Thus the SPC is not independent; it is a commission that places political appointees in the position of judging the merit of an employee’s grievance from another political appointee. “It’s like having a fox guarding the henhouse,” said District 24 member Viola Spencer, who was at the hearing on May 8.
Political Patronage Another sticking point in the bill is that during reorganizations in state government employees who were reduced in force “not actually or accurately based on their skills and qualifications” could not appeal to be reinstated to the state workforce. As Cope pointed out in his speech, this provision could lead to wholesale firings and a return to the Wild West of state employment where political patronage, nepotism and cronyism rule state government. “We are working with the Senate to address these concerns,” Cope said. “The SPA is the most important law pertaining to state service in North Carolina, and there’s no way we’re going to let it be rewritten without making our voices known.”
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The Reporter • June 2013
Quotes to Note “Public employees deserve a system that rewards or punishes based on what they know, not who they know.” Executive Director Dana Cope, in a May 8 Associated Press story, “NC workers’ group balks at public worker changes”
“I don’t have any evidence that is the norm.” Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins, responding to Gov. Pat McCrory’s claim that the average appeal of a firing decision takes more than 400 days to process through the current system, in a May 7 story on WRAL-TV “McCrory wants more flexibility to hire, fire”
“That is why we can’t support the good things this bill does. The bad outweighs the good…Without these provisions, get ready for a return to the Wild West and a return to a system rife for political patronage, cronyism and nepotism.” Dana Cope in the May 8 News & Observer story, “Bill to modernize state’s personnel laws criticized by SEANC”
From Social media I have an avenue to fight back, and an army beside me. Come join SEANC and stand with us!!! Member Strength Committee Chairwoman Kim Martin on her profile on the “I am SEANC” Facebook group
Prison officials and mental health experts are working together to create safer prisons and better conditions for our mentally ill inmates A post on May 5 on SEANC’s Facebook page
I am thankful for all the work that our lobbying team is trying to do. They are fighting valiantly against tremendous odds. A comment from District 41 member Michael Gould on a Memorial Day post on SEANC’s official Facebook page
The Reporter • June 2013
Thanks for all you are doing to make NC a better place and for helping your members better prepare for their futures. A tweet from AARP North Carolina (@aarpnc) on May 15 in recognition of SEANC’s stance against Gov. McCrory’s Medicaid privatization scheme
Happy law enforcement officers week to all @SEANC2008 members who help keep our neighborhoods and highways safe! We appreciate you! Communications Director Toni Davis (@ToniCDavis)
Today is Workers Memorial Day, when we remember workers who have lost their lives on the job. #SafeJobsSaveLives SEANC’s official Twitter feed (@seanc2008)
Photo By Scott Heath
Members ask questions of SEANC Lobbyist Mitch Leonard at the April 30 Retirees Workshop at SEANCâ€™s Central Office.
Photo SUBMITTED by Steve Lawson
State Rep. Bobbie Richardson (D-Franklin) renews her SEANC membership with a little help from Member Action Director Lynn Cote recently.
District 3 hosted a membership drive on April 29-30 at Appalachian State University. Pictured from the left are Amy Winebarger, SEANC Member Action Coordinator Grace Phillips, SEANC Lead Member Action Coordinator Steve Lawson, Rhonda Robinson, Anne Castro and Pat Reighard.
Photo by AJ Alberston
Photo Submitted By Lynn Cote
Photo SUBMITTED by Lynn Tuthill
District 65 participated for the 19th year in the Pitt County Relay for Life on April 26-27 at South Central High School in Winterville. The team was made up of SEANC members, their families and friends who raised approximately $2,500 at fundraisers throughout the year to benefit the American Cancer Society. Pictured are team members Bill Dawson, Camilla Dawson, Haley Clayborne, Casper Evans, Lina Johnson, Eastern Region Representative Gloria Highsmith, Paul Blackburn, Alesia Warren, Tanya Cannon, Neichelle Bell, Joanie Tyson, Lynn Tuthill, Deanne Smith, Debbie Austin, Fred Austin, Nicole Rizoz, Dorothy Andrews, Tiasia Andrews, Mary Johnson and Bailey Cannon.
District 22 Chairwoman Deborah Harney and member Patrick Frye sign up new member Seth Coleman at Cumberland County Probation and Parole.
The Reporter â€˘ June 2013
Youth Council, Districts Help SECU Family House By Jonathan Owens
SEANC Assistant Director of Communications
could get the care she needed. We were thankful for the assistance of the house for my family during that time.” SEANC President Sidney M. Sandy also announced at the February Board of Governors’ meeting that SECU Family House would also be the beneficiary of this year’s community service project as part of the 30th Annual SEANC Convention in September. For more information on SEANC’s Youth Council or the upcoming community service project, contact SEANC’s Central Office at 919-833-6436.
Photos Submitted by Felicia Chiambiro
SEANC’s Youth Council rolled up its sleeves and pitched in for a worthy cause last month, donating time and money to the State Employees’ Credit Union Family House in Chapel Hill. With the help of 11 SEANC districts — Districts 2, 5, 12, 17, 19, 22, 24, 27, 40, 44 and 65 — the youth council donated $726 to the house. Members also spent the day volunteering there on April 24, cleaning the house inside and out and cooking dinner for everyone. The SECU Family House is a home
where families can stay while loved ones seek treatment at UNC hospitals. SEANC Youth Council Chairwoman Felicia Chiambiro got the idea for the project after utilizing the facility when her grandmother was hospitalized. “I am so thankful that SEANC Youth Council represented our organization well,” Chiambiro said. “I wanted them to experience the rewards of what my family received during our stays at the SECU Family House. I remember when we first found out that my grandmother had cancer and trying to figure out how we could afford to come to UNC Hospitals on a weekly basis so she
SEANC Youth Council members donated time and money to the SECU Family House in Chapel Hill on April 24. Members who volunteered include Erica Simmons of District 66, Emily Jones of District 41, Tiwanna Davis of District 22, Laranda Boone of District 65, Felicia McKinnie of District 36, Jermaine Puryear and Williams Puryear of District 21, Laquita Harris of District 40, Danielle Colbert-Lewis of District 27, Isaac Rogers, Dexter Ray and Pauline Terry of District 17 and SEANC Staff Liaison Belinda Williams.
The Reporter • June 2013
Member saves big, wins big with SEANC discounts SEANC’s Member Discount Committee held a contest in April to reward the member who saved the most money using SEANC’s more than 3,000 discounts. District 7 Chairman Henry Belada won the contest, saving $84.26 in one month! We caught up with Belada to get some tips on using SEANC discounts to pass along to the membership. How often do you use your SEANC membership card for discounts? As much as possible. Usually, if the business doesn’t give a discount, I’ll find somewhere else to go. I use it mostly for dining, but I also saved $76 on installation of a lawn system. You saved $84.26 by using your discount in March. What do you plan to do with the money you saved? I’m a retiree, so the money I saved pays for my annual SEANC dues and then some. That’s just one small benefit SEANC has to offer. What advice do you have for other SEANC members to encourage them to use discounts? Ask questions before you make a purchase. If they don’t give a discount, ask if they would consider giving you a member discount. Also, give them a SEANC member
STATE PERSONNEL CASES:
PROTECTING STATE EMPLOYEE RIGHTS Litigation in the Office of Administrative Hearings for State Employees:
Promotional Priority Violations
Inaccurate Personnel File
Photo by Kevin LeCount
By SEANC Communications
District 7 Chairman Henry Belada goes over his receipts with Member Strength Chairwoman Janet Bunch.
discount agreement (available at seanc.org) or contact the member discount chair in your district and ask them to visit the business in question. Any member can sign up a business for discounts. Any SEANC member can participate and we all reap the rewards of saving money. If you would like to sign up a business for SEANC’s discount program, download the “Member Discount Business Agreement Form” at seanc.org/membership/recruiter-resources. Have the business owner fill it out and return it to Beth Dew at the SEANC Central Office.
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The Reporter • June 2013
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Hospitals Look for Profits Rather than Putting Patients First By Jonathan Owens
SEANC Assistant Director of Communications
SEANC teamed with doctors, health care consumers and advocates this spring to launch Patients First NC, an initiative to save the State Health Plan money by allowing outpatient surgery centers to operate in certain North Carolina counties. The effort supported House Bill 177, which proposed modest changes to North Carolina’s Certificate of Need law, which mandates that medical service providers seek approval from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services before opening to the public. Currently, North Carolina has the third most restrictive law in the nation and the state suffers from limited competition and ballooning surgical costs as a result. Over 75 percent of surgeries can be performed safely on an outpatient basis, and SEANC hoped to bring N.C. law in line with the technological advancements that have
The Reporter • June 2013
made surgery safer and more cost effective. Passage of the bill would have saved the State Health Plan about $50 million in savings every biennium and would have saved the state money in Medicaid funding, which would put a lot more money in the state’s coffers — a “win-win” for everyone except the N.C. Hospitals Association. Ultimately, though, the powerful hospital lobby was able to change House Bill 177. Rather than stand up to the hospitals, House members decided to call for a legislative study of the issue. It is expected to come before the General Assembly’s short session in 2014. “SEANC is always seeking ways to save the State Health Plan money and $50 million in savings would be significant to the state,” SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope said of the partnership. “It’s disappointing that the hospitals were able to step in and prevent legislators from doing the right thing right now for middle-class citizens.”