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THE

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

March 2014

• Vol. 32, Issue 4

SEANC Presses Lawmakers on Raises for All By Jonathan Owens

SEANC Asst. Communications Director

Much has been said in the media about pay raises for teachers in North Carolina, but SEANC is working hard to ensure that all state employees and retirees receive a boost in pay. Though the General Assembly reconvenes in May, SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope and the Legislative Affairs team have already laid the groundwork for a pay increase and continue to have talks with state leaders. Cope, Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins and General Counsel Tom Harris met in late January with Gov. Pat McCrory and his budget team at the Governor’s Mansion to discuss state employee and retiree pay raises and cost-of-living adjustments, as well as SEANC’s retirement system investigation and workplace safety. SEANC’s team has also met with leadership in both the N.C. House and Senate to discuss funding the raises. Delegates at the 2013 SEANC Convention voted to instruct staff to make compensation the top priority in the upcoming legislative session. “In working with the state’s leaders, we are optimistic there will be raises this year,” Cope said. Though Gov. McCrory touted giving

Get Social with SEANC!

What is the Salary Adjustment Fund?

Gov. Pat McCrory announced in January that more than 3,000 state employees would receive pay increases from the salary adjustment fund this year in an effort to reduce turnover in state government. Funds for these raises were included in last year’s budget and in no way affect SEANC’s 3-percent pay raise request for all state employees and retirees in this year’s session of the General Assembly, which convenes in May. The salary adjustment fund is used to address market conditions and bring pay for certain state jobs closer to the salaries being paid in the private sector. Salary adjustment funds will be used for employees who assumed greater job responsibilities but have not been compensated accordingly. Funds are also used to lessen the wage disparity between similarly qualified employees who are performing comparable duties. The announcement marked the first time in six years the state has been able to give raises from this fund due to economic instability. The salary adjustment fund was last used in 2007 under Gov. Bev Perdue. In all, 3,221 state employees will get an average 4.2 percent salary increase. Approximately 1,200 nurses and 600 law enforcement employees will receive increases up to 4 percent, while the remainder of employees will receive varying increases of up to 10 percent. — By Jonathan Owens more than 3,000 state employees raises with money from the salary adjustment fund, there are more than 90,000 state employees who could all use a raise after five years of increasing prices and little change in their paychecks. State employees have seen only a modest 1.2-percent increase in pay in the last five years. Cope told The News & Observer recently that while SEANC supports

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raising employee salaries closer to market rates through the salary adjustment fund, it continues to push legislators to give all state employees and retirees a 3-percent boost in their paychecks. SEANC will continue to advocate for fair pay for all state employees and retirees. jowens@seanc.org, Twitter @jonbowens

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President’s Message By Sidney M. Sandy SEANC President

We Are Still a Work in Progress

O

ne of my favorite duties as president of SEANC is presiding over the annual convention. Though the next convention is six months away, I have already decided on a theme. Actually, it’s a take on last year’s theme, because I believe there’s still so much to be done. This year’s theme will be “Building a Better Tomorrow – Work in Progress” because our work is not done. Though we continue to make strides, we still have members who are hurting and need our help. All of us could use a little more money in our pockets. We haven’t had a decent pay increase in six years. While prices keep on going up, both active employees and retirees like me are finding out that our checks aren’t going as far as they once did. You can rest assured that SEANC has been there Sandy working for all state employees, fighting to protect our benefits, while educating non-members and growing our membership base. Meanwhile, the state sees fit to give away millions of dollars to films like “Iron Man 3” that do little for our economy. In fact, North Carolina considered giving away $2 billion to the Boeing

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 2013, the nondeductible political action/lobbying amount is $1.55 per month. The same federal law requires SEANC to give its members an estimate of 2014’s political action lobbying expenses that are paid from dues. The anticipated figure for the 2014 tax year is $1.36 per month. Members are encouraged to consult a tax professional about individual tax returns and liability.

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The Reporter • March 2014

“It’s now a myth that you can get ahead in life if you get a middle-class job with the state. Members are finding that you can’t support a family, buy a house and send your kids to college on a state salary like you could just a generation ago.”

Corporation to build a plant here. If that isn’t government welfare at its finest, then I don’t know what is. While big companies are making the huge profits, we also have record poverty and income inequality in this country. The rich keep on getting richer and, well, we keep on getting poorer. It’s now a myth that you can get ahead in life if you get a college education, then a middle-class job with the state. Members are finding that you can’t support a family, buy a house and send your kids to college on a state salary like you could just a generation ago. It’s not right, and it’s what we need to focus our efforts on in the coming election cycle. In the 2014 midterm elections, we need to support like-minded candidates who see our plight – who recognize that we are hurting and we are important. We have to hold our legislators accountable. The best tool we have for accomplishing this is EMPAC – our political action committee. We must grow our donations. Every member should be giving something to the PAC every year. It’s there for you. It is you. Like it or not, money is power in America. We need everyone to have some skin in the game in order to affect change. With those funds, we must also pick our battles wisely. We don’t have the time or the resources to support candidates we know can’t win or can’t be beat. We must look at the election strategically, and make our plays where we can get the most bang for our buck. There’s a growing demand for economic change in America. People want and need fair taxes and a living wage. It’s time for us to make the hard and the smart choices when we go to the ballot box. We have to be willing to take action. We have to point at the light or we will remain in the darkness forever. Like I said earlier, we are a work in progress, and there’s still so much to be done. sandman4seanc@aol.com


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Coverage provided and underwritten by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and its affiliates,175 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA. Discounts and savings are available where state laws and regulations allow, and may vary by state. To the extent permitted by law, applicants are individually underwritten; not all applicants may qualify. The program cannot guarantee coverage. A consumer report from a consumer reporting agency and/or motor vehicle report, on all drivers on your policy, may be obtained where state laws and regulations allow. In TX: Auto coverage provided by Liberty County Mutual Insurance Company and home insurance provided by Liberty Insurance Corporation. CA Department of Insurance license number: 0F52897. Liberty Mutual is an Equal Housing Insurer. © 2014 Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. All rights reserved.

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District 13 members in collaboration with Central Piedmont Community College Libraries, donated 13 boxes of items to a local shelter for battered women in December. Pictured from left are members Anne Egger, Elaine Kushmaul, Linda Colbert, Monica Alston-Carr and District 13 Chairwoman Yolyndra Green.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY A.J. ALBERTSON

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY YOLYNDRA GREEN

MEMBER ACTION

District 20 member and recruiting powerhouse Ron Fields signed up his 100th new member of the year, Martha Wilkie, on Feb. 3 at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY STEVE LAWSON

Want to submit a photo from your district for inclusion in an upcoming edition of The Reporter? Email it to reporter@seanc.org and be sure to include the names of all participants pictured.

THE

Toni Davis, Editor-In-Chief Jonathan Owens, Managing Editor Alicia Miller, Associate Editor Beth Dew, 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 • March 2014

SEANC General Counsel Tom Harris, an expert on North Carolina labor law, led a series of forums on the State Human Resources Act in January and February, informing members on their rights at stops in Morganton, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Charlotte and Raleigh. 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


MEMBER ACTION

Welcome New Members!

SEANC’s Member Action Department and recruiting members signed up 234 new members in the first six weeks of 2014. The new members come from a wide range of departments in state government, including: • Dept. of Administration

• N.C. Central University

• Dept. of Agriculture

• N.C. State University

• Dept. of Commerce

• UNC-Pembroke

• Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources

• UNC-Greensboro

• Dept. of Health & Human Services

• UNC-Charlotte

• Dept. of Public Safety • Dept. of Revenue • Dept. of Transportation • Administrative Office of the Courts • The State Auditor’s Office • General Assembly • East Carolina University

• UNC-Chapel Hill • Winston Salem State University • Blue Ridge Community College • Carteret Community College

• Craven Community College

• Wake Technical Community College

• Durham Technical Community College

• Wayne Community College

• Fayetteville Technical Community College

• Wilson Community College

• Gaston College

• Schools in Alexander, Bertie, Cabarrus, Caldwell, Cumberland, Duplin, Forsyth, Guilford, Harnett, Iredell, Johnston, Lenoir, Martin, Montgomery, Moore, Nash, Pitt, Rowan, Sampson, Union, Vance, Wake, Watauga and Wilson counties.

• McDowell Technical Community College • Pamlico Community College • Pitt Community College

• Central Carolina Community College

• Robeson Community College

• Central Piedmont Community College

• South Piedmont Community College

• UNC Hospitals

RETIREE COUNCIL State Employees Association of North Carolina Scholarship Foundation

Scholarship Strike Out! Saturday, April 12

PHOTO BY JONATHAN OWENS

1-3 p.m. or 3-5 p.m. AMF East Carolina Lanes Greenville

Proceeds from the event will be used to award thousands of dollars in educational scholarships to SEANC members, their spouses and their dependents.

Tickets: $20 per person or $100 per team of six To register, sponsor a lane or for more information visit www.seanc.org/strikeout

SEANC’s Retiree Council convened in Raleigh on Feb. 5 to discuss matters important to retired state workers and actives who will retire. The council heard an in-depth presentation from N.C. State University Professor Richard Warr, who explained the dangers associated with alternative investments by the state Treasurer’s office with the state retirement system. Warr, a finance professor, commended the council for unanimously voting to hire Edward Siedle to investigate investments with the retirement fund.

The Reporter • March 2014

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MEMBER BENEFITS

Receive Prizes Just for Saving Money! Let us know how much money you save during the month of March using your SEANC discounts. Get out your SEANC membership card and start saving today! We are asking SEANC members to support businesses that provide SEANC members a discount, and a chance to get rewarded for saving money! The member who saves the most will receive a $50 Visa gift card and will be featured in SEANC’s publications! All other entries will be entered in a drawing to receive a $25 Visa gift card.

To enter: Include your name, member ID number and copies of your receipts and send them to: SEANC—Member Benefits Department Attn: Carri Derrick 1621 Midtown Place Raleigh, NC 27609

The receipts should include the discount amount, the name and address of the business and the date the discount was received. Entries must be postmarked by April 5, 2014 to been entered in the contest. Do you have questions? Contact Carri Derrick at the SEANC Central Office at 800-222-2758 or cderrick@seanc.org.

Featured Discounts Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers (March 11 in Raleigh)

SEANC has teamed up with the Carolina Hurricanes to bring members an exclusive opportunity to save up to 56 percent off the standard price for the team’s March 11 game against the New York Rangers.

Charlotte Bobcats

(March 5, 7 and 15 in Charlotte) Special presale offer to select Bobcats home games for SEANC members. Save up to 35 percent off the face value for tickets to games versus the Indiana Pacers, the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Minnesota Timberwolves in March!

Women’s Empowerment 2014 (March 15 in Raleigh)

Save $2 off the price of admission to this expo-styled event offering seminars, workshops, demonstrations, sampling and shopping. Tyler Perry is the keynote speaker.

Harlem Globetrotters

(March 21 in Winston-Salem; March 23 in Greensboro) Save up to $11 per ticket to see the world famous Harlem Globetrotters on March 21 in WinstonSalem and March 23 at Greensboro Coliseum. The show is part of the 2014 Fans Rule World Tour.

WWE Live

Time To Save! All members of SEANC will receive deep discounts on 1,100 frequently-used products: Paper—Ink—Toner—Furniture—Janitorial supplies Copy & Print Discounts  0.02¢ Black & White copies  0.19¢ Color copies  40% off finishing services (binding, laminating and more)

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The Reporter • March 2014

Get your Store Discount Card at the SEANC Member Discounts Page and start saving today! http://seanc.org Contact Michael Higgins at Michael.Higgins@officedepot.com

(March 28 in Raleigh) SEANC members can get an exclusive discount of up to $15 off a ticket to WWE Live: Road to Wrestlemania at the PNC Arena in Raleigh on March 28.

Visit SEANC.org/discounts to take advantage of these deals and many more!


PUBLIC POLICY

Quotes to Note

“Hedge fund managers don’t drive 10 year-old Toyotas. They drive Lamborghinis. And you know who is paying for those Lamborghinis? State employees like you.” N.C. State University finance professor Richard Warr in a speech to SEANC’s Retiree Council on Feb. 5

“There are no checks and balances. We don’t have enough structure in place. It’s a system that invites bad actors ... to do business with (the state).” Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins in a Jan. 20 Pensions and Investments article titled, “North Carolina considers end to sole trustee role”

“The state was well-prepared, our responders performed admirably ... We owe our thanks to all who have worked so hard this week to keep our state safe and to help their neighbors.” Gov. Pat McCrory in a Feb. 14 press release on the state’s response to the snowstorm that affected the entire state

“They’re both important. It’s just how do you put it into the mix with the available funds.” N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) on the possibility of pay raises for state employees and teachers in the Jan. 28 WRAL story “Tillis: Teacher, state employee raises in budget mix”

FROM SOCIAL MEDIA

In 1980 CEOs made 42 times as much as workers, in 1990 they made 85 times as much, in 2000 they made 531 times as much.

SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope (@DanaDCope) in a tweet from Feb. 3

District 9 member Thomas McCall showed the dedication of state employees by driving his lawnmower to work at Foothills Correctional Institution in Morganton during the Feb. 13 snowstorm. The photo posted by WRAL-TV reporter Leyla Santiago (@leylasantiago) went viral all over social media.

SEANC is supporting certificate of need reform. It’s a no brainer to support equal or higher quality healthcare that costs less. #ncga Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins (@ArdisWatkins) in a Feb. 18 tweet. The Reporter • March 2014

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Periodical Postage PAID Raleigh, NC 1621 Midtown Place Raleigh, NC 27609

Retirement board sides with Wall Street By Jonathan Owens

The Retirement Systems Board of Trustees, led by State Treasurer Janet Cowell, sided with Wall Street and turned its back on retirees on Jan. 16 by failing to take action on a much-needed cost-of-living adjustment and other benefit enhancements. During its meeting SEANC Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins proposed the board support the following benefit enhancements at the request of SEANC’s Retiree Council: • A 2-percent cost-of-living adjustment for retirees • An increase in the retirement formula to 1.83 percent • $7 million to fully fund the state’s Annual Retirement Contribution. Combined, these proposals would equal nearly a 3-percent increase in retirees’ checks. Watkins also proposed a way for the retirement system to pay for SEANC’s proposals without asking the General Assembly for a dime. Watkins told the trustees that the system could pay for all three proposals if Cowell would pick up the phone and renegotiate its fees to Wall Street money managers. The system paid more than $365 million in fees and costs in

PHOTO BY JONATHAN OWENS

SEANC Asst. Communications Director

SEANC Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins addresses the Retirement Systems Board of Trustees in January.

the last fiscal year – enough to pay for a 10-percent COLA. Instead, Cowell and the board recommended that the legislature fully fund the system with a $7 million request but no benefit enhancements. “It’s disappointing that the board chose not to recommend a COLA for retirees when the money is there if they just cut back on investment fees,” said SEANC Retiree Council Chairman Spillman Grice. “It’s another reason for retirees to join SEANC, after all we are folks that want to honor those who served.” SEANC’s lobbyists will continue to advocate for the COLA when legislators return in May even without the board’s support. jowens@seanc.org; Twitter @jonbowens


March 2014 Reporter