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THE

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

March 2013

• Vol. 31, Issue 4

Cowell adds surcharges to State Health Plan Proposal hurried through SHP board could cost members up to $40 more per month by

Chuck Stone

SEANC Legislative Affairs

State Treasurer Janet Cowell rushed the State Health Plan’s Board of Trustees to approve a proposal on Feb. 4 that will add surcharges of up to $40 per month to the premiums that state employees and retirees pay for health coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Under the new structure of the State Health Plan’s 80/20 option, state employees and non-Medicare eligible retirees (younger than 65 years old) will be charged a $20 per month smoking surcharge, a $10 per month surcharge for not completing a health assessment and a $10 per month surcharge for not identifying a primary care doctor. State employees and non-Medicare eligible retirees will also be charged the current monthly premium. The total monthly cost could be as much as $40 more than members of the plan would have paid in 2014 under the current structure. Cowell gave SEANC and state workers little time for input on the proposal, rushing trustees to vote just days after announcing it. At the meeting, SEANC Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins spoke out against the timing of the vote, which was held just one business day after the State Health Plan made the proposal public. SEANC District 22 member Michele Shaw, a trustee, cast the lone vote against the proposal that passed 7-1,

Changes to the 80/20 Plan • In addition to the current premium, state employees and nonMedicare eligible retirees will be charged $40 per month in surcharges, including a $20 per month smoking charge, a $10 per month health assessment surcharge and a $10 per month identify a primary care doctor surcharge. • Members will gain credits for meeting certain wellness objectives, including a $20 monthly credit for not smoking or for starting a cessation program, a $15 monthly credit for completing a health assessment and a $15 monthly credit for designating a primary care physician. • Depending on completion of the objectives, members could have a monthly premium $10 less than the current level.

arguing that state employees deserved more time to study the plan before it could be approved. SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope pointed out that SEANC fought to move control of the plan from the General Assembly to the current board system to allow for a more transparent process. “State employees shouldn’t have to jump through hoops for affordable health care,” he said. “The way that the state treasurer went about this process is also troubling. It seems a lot like the same old system of secrecy we were trying to stop by moving the plan away from the General Assembly.” Members will gain credits for meeting certain wellness objectives, including a $20 monthly credit for not smoking or for starting a cessation program, a $15

monthly credit for completing a heath assessment and a $15 monthly credit for designating a primary care physician. If an employee or non-Medicare eligible retiree meets all of the above requirements, his or her premium will end up being $10 less than the current level. This is because the credits available under the plan amount to $50 but the surcharges only amount to $40. But SEANC estimates that up to 50 percent of those covered by the 80/20 plan will be hit with at least one of the surcharges. Active employees and retirees will have the option to remain on the current premium-free 70/30 plan or select an 85/15 consumer driven option that includes the surcharges as well.

cstone@seanc.org


President’s Message By Sidney M. Sandy SEANC President

We Must Continue to Grow SEANC, EMPAC In this time of political change in North Carolina, SEANC is more important than ever. Our forefathers created what eventually became SEANC because they knew the old adage of “strength in numbers” is true. By banding together, they could achieve great things, and they did. But the job is not done, and we must continue to grow in order to survive as an association. We must all chip in on this effort. For starters, we must commit ourselves to growing our membership. Right now we have 55,000 members, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have many more. Whether you are a state park ranger, a nurse, a member of the State Highway Patrol or a Department of Transportation worker like I was, you need SEANC Sandy and SEANC needs you. Districts should be hosting membership drives and fundraisers to reach out to nonmembers. Members should be pointing out to coworkers that SEANC is the only voice a state employee or retiree has in Raleigh. We are the only ones standing up for fair pay and benefits for hardworking public service workers in this state. Equally as important as growing our membership is growing our political action committee, EMPAC. Some would look 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., P.O. Drawer 27727, Raleigh, NC 27611-7727. Periodicals postage paid at Raleigh and additional offices. POSTMASTER Send address changes to: THE REPORTER P.O. Drawer 27727 Raleigh, NC 27611-7727

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The Reporter • March 2013

at the new makeup of state government, with a Republican governor and legislature, and expect it to be a tough row to hoe for a public service group like SEANC. But did you know that half of the N.C. Senate and a third of the N.C. House was endorsed by EMPAC during this past election? Because we have been an association that cares more about issues than partisan politics, we have worked with both sides of the aisle. But we need to be able to do more. We need to be better positioned to gain a stronger voice in Raleigh. While groups like the health care industry and the real estate agents have large corporate donors paying for their lobbying efforts and political endorsements, our strength relies on member involvement. We need more members donating to EMPAC if we are going to continue to have a voice. As we continue to move SEANC forward by working together for a brighter future, we must continue to grow our membership and support EMPAC. These two avenues will make SEANC more successful in accomplishing the goals of our policy platform and make SEANC more visible to the legislature. In order to achieve these goals, we must keep the lines of communication open so we can all work together to ensure every district has what they need to continue to do SEANC business.

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 2012, the nondeductible political action lobbying amount is $1.33 per month. The same federal law requires SEANC to give its members an estimate of 2013’s political action lobbying expenses that are paid from dues. The anticipated figure for the 2013 tax year is $1.06 per month. Members are encouraged to consult a tax professional about individual tax returns and liability.


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Protecting Your Paycheck Toni Davis, Editor-In-Chief Jonathan Owens, Managing Editor Alicia Miller, Associate Editor Johnny Davison, Associate Editor

If you get sick or hurt and can’t work, which of these bills could you continue to pay? l Medical Bills l House Payment l Car Payment l Groceries l Utilities

State Employees Association of North Carolina P.O. Drawer 27727 • Raleigh, NC 27611 1621 Midtown Place • Raleigh, NC 27609 Telephone 919-833-6436, 800-222-2758

Disability Insurance helps protect your income, so you can still pay your bills.

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.

Contact your Benefits Counselor to learn more about disability insurance and how it and other Colonial Life voluntary benefits can help protect what really counts.

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The Reporter • March 2013

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MEMBER ACTION

Youth Council, Districts Blitz Western N.C.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY ALI BAUCOM

Youth Council Chairwoman Felicia Chiambiro helps a new member fill out her application at a membership drive at Broughton Hospital in Morganton. The Youth Council joined several western districts and SEANC’s Member Action Coordinators for a membership drive on Jan. 14-17 that gained SEANC 50 new members.

Member Action Coordinator Grace Phillips explains the 2012 SEANC legislative victories to a new member at Broughton Hospital.

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY ALI BAUCOM

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PHOTO SUBMITTED BY ALI BAUCOM

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY ALI BAUCOM

Youth Council member Wendell Powell speaks with SEANC Lead Member Action Coordinator Steve Lawson while at the membership blitz.

District 6 Chairman Wayne Freeman signs up a new member at Broughton Hospital.

The Reporter • March 2013


PHOTOS SUBMITTED BY WALTON JONES

MEMBER ACTION

SEANC District 17 presented Donald Bellemore, director of the Arthur Cassell Memorial Transitional House, with a $200 check to help with operations.

SEANC District 17 collected items for the Morehead Nursing Center in Eden and the Arthur Cassell Memorial Transitional House, a facility housing fourteen homeless men who strive to live independently in the High Point community.

THE FOURTH BRANCH

PHOTO BY JOHNNY DAVISON

Members of the Fourth Branch Board recognized Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) for his work in the legislature on behalf of the group, which is comprised of SEANC members as well as public employees on the federal, state and local levels including military. Pictured from left are Lobbyist Ken Melton, Legislative Committee Chair Chuck Stone, State CoChair Mitch Leonard, Rep. Cleveland, Federal Co-Chair Tom Hobgood of the National Association of Active and Retired Federal Employees and Finance Committee Chair Paul Sams of the Federal Task Force.

HOLD YOUR NEXT MEETING AT SEANC! Contact Alicia Miller today at (919) 833-6436 or amiller@seanc.org to reserve a SEANC conference room.

Lower your prescription drug costs by making better decisions about your medication. Visit mydrugcosts.com to learn more about how you can save money today. The Reporter • March 2013

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PUBLIC POLICY

Legislators Hit the Ground Running in 2013 Session SEANC Legislative Affairs

Executive Director Dana Cope and SEANC’s legislative affairs team were busy at the General Assembly in February as lawmakers returned for the 2013 session. The General Assembly, in their first action packed weeks of this legislative session, passed bills for Medicaid and unemployment insurance reform and began work on tax reform and the budget. A rewrite of the state tax structure could propose eliminating the state income tax while expanding sales taxes. The reforms had not been announced as of mid-February. The unemployment bill, which lowers the maximum available benefit amount for unemployed workers, passed through the General Assembly with ease and was the second bill signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory. Bills were also filed in the first two weeks to appoint rather than elect the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, permit a drastic overhaul of state boards and commission appointments, require tobacco-free community colleges, reform oversight of state-owned vehicles, repeal second primaries, increase the retirement age for judges and limit

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EQUAL HOUSING

OPPORTUNITY

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The Reporter • March 2013

www.ncsecu.org

Stay Informed

Read SEANC’s weekly Legislative Update throughout the session at http://www.seanc.org/legislative-action/ legislative-update/2013-legislative-updates

legislative leadership terms. Constitutional amendments enshrining Right to Work statutes and prohibitions on collective bargaining had been referred to but not heard in the House Rules Committee as of press time, and the budgeting process for the coming year was in its earliest stages. SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope has continued a series of meetings with legislative leaders as well as Gov. Pat McCrory and State Budget Director Art Pope to discuss the role of state employees in keeping North Carolina running smoothly for the taxpayers. He is also meeting with all the new agency secretaries in McCrory’s cabinet. “I am pleased with the frank and productive meetings I have had with Gov. McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Speaker Thom Tillis,” said Cope. “I look forward to continuing to work with them on issues important to our members.”


PUBLIC POLICY

Quotes to Note

“We had a real problem with that. Our main problem is transparency and openness in the process. When you’re deciding something as significant as a benefit of employment, like the health plan, it’s not something that needs to be rushed.” SEANC Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins in a Feb. 3 News & Observer article, “SEANC not happy with triple increase in health premiums”

“I wish we had the luxury to focus on a simple compensation study about longevity pay.”

“That’s another expense for me when I’m not getting any more income. I kind of depended on it.”

SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope in a Jan. 9 Independent Weekly story, “State workers expect lawmakers to reduce wages, benefits”

SEANC District 46 member Pamela Williams in a Jan. 3 News & Observer story, “Raleigh state workers lose Go Pass benefit”

“(The extra monthly cost) is a huge stick you’re trying to disguise as a carrot. We’re already not doing right by our employees and this will be doing worse. You can call it a premium, you can call it a surcharge. It’s money out of folks’ pockets that they have to jump through hoops to get back. That’s flat out wrong.”

FROM SOCIAL MEDIA

SEANC Legislative Affairs Director Ardis Watkins in a Feb. 5 Associated Press article, “N.C. health plan proposal penalizes smoking”

“They say not to live above your means. But I can’t live above my means if you’re not paying me my means.” SEANC District 27 member Johnny Askins in a Jan. 9 Independent Weekly story, “State workers expect lawmakers to reduce wages, benefits”

“SEANC core values are to provide quality public services in the most efficient way at the best price point without corruption. #ncga #ncpol” SEANC Executive Director Dana Cope (@danadcope) to new legislators on Twitter on the opening day of the 2013 General Assembly.

“Be sure to thank a state worker for helping to keep North Carolina moving during this weekend’s rough weather!” SEANC’s official Facebook page status on Jan. 25 as Department of Transportation crews hit the roads all over the state to prepare for inclement weather. Follow SEANC on Twitter at @seanc2008 or “like” us at facebook.com/seanc.2008 to stay informed and engaged! The Reporter • March 2013

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Periodical Postage PAID Raleigh, NC P.O. Drawer 27727 Raleigh, NC 27611

Scholarship Season is Here Again Deadline is April 15 to apply for annual SEANC awards By Johnny Davison Communications Specialist

The time to apply for one of SEANC’s scholarships has arrived! All active and associate members, their spouses and dependent children are eligible to apply based on financial need and merit. There are also special member-only awards available to any member who is working full-time and enrolled in at least six hours of undergraduate work or three hours of graduate work. Last year, 42 scholarships were awarded to students for use at two- and four-year institutions. District 17 member and Alamance Community College employee Jessica Turner received one of ten $500 memberonly scholarships which she used to pay for classes at East Carolina University. She said she was very thankful

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The Reporter • March 2013

Apply Today!

Applications for SEANC’s scholarships are available online at www.seanc.org/scholarship

SEANC offers scholarships to members and not just their dependents. “I’m an adult student with two children. That $500 was able to cover the two classes I was taking that semester,” Turner said. “It’s been a ripple effect that has made the rest of the year less stressful.” The deadline to apply for one of SEANC’s scholarships is April 15. The SEANC Scholarship Foundation Board reviews applications and announces winners in early June. For more information, contact Beth Dew at (919) 833-6436 or bdew@seanc.org.

jdavison@seanc.org


March 2013 Reporter hi res