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
• Vol. 33, Issue 9
Pay raises, COLAs are sticking points in negotiations By Jonathan Owens SEANC Director of Communications
As state budget debate entered its final stages in late August, pay raises for state employees and cost-of-living adjustments for retirees were a couple of the last points of contention. House and Senate leaders decided on a bottom-line spending amount for the budget — $21.735 billion — during a breakfast meeting with Gov. Pat McCrory at his mansion on Aug. 18. The amount represents a 3.1-percent increase in spending and is $265 million more than the Senate’s sparse proposal, but still roughly $420 million less than the House’s plan. If you will recall, the Senate budget gave no pay increases to state employees and retirees, while the House gave 2 percent increases to actives and retirees and 40 hours of bankable leave to active employees. The Senate seemed adamant it would hold the line on increases, but employees and retirees had strong advocates in the House, including chief negotiator Rep. Nelson Dollar and House Speaker Tim Moore. With a surplus of over $400 million in revenue this year, it’s hard to imagine that legislators would consider not giving raises and COLAs. The way it works at the legislature is the squeakiest wheel at the end of session gets the grease. For SEANC, that means no pay raise and no retiree COLA if the House and Senate don’t hear from members. Members stepped up to the plate and flooded legislators’ phone lines and email inboxes on Aug. 18 reminding them of the hard work state employees put in each day. “It’s time SEANC gets back to the basics on some things and that starts with members lobbying for their pay, health care and retirement,” SEANC Executive Director Mitch Leonard said in a statement asking members to contact their lawmakers. “This is an organization of members led by active members like you looking out for your fellow state employees.”
As of press time, legislators had not yet agreed on a state budget compromise. Please go to seanc.org/legislativeupdate to read the latest news from SEANC’s Government Relations Department on the budget negotiations.
This year’s debate marks the longest in at least 13 years. The legislature’s goal is to have a budget in place by July 1, each year, but lawmakers have had to pass two continuing resolutions to keep government operations going already this year. Moore said he expected a deal to be hashed out completely before the second continuing resolution expires on Aug. 31. The delay has already cost the state at least $1 million in operating costs at the legislature. The delay also costs the state’s schools. The Senate budget slashes thousands of teacher assistant positions over two years and puts that money into hiring more teachers to reduce class size. Without a deal in place, schools started class on Aug. 24 without knowing if funding would be in place for the assistants, who also didn’t know if they’d have a job at all in a month. The fate of administrative jobs in the Department of Transportation is still on the line as well. Please read the SEANC Scoop and Legislative Update each Friday and follow SEANC on social media. When a budget decision has been reached, SEANC will alert members. firstname.lastname@example.org
State Health Plan to hold Medicare forums The State Health Plan will hold forums across the state in September and October to inform members of changes to Medicare Advantage plans for 2016. All members enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Enhanced Plan will be moved to the Medicare Advantage Base Plan administered by Humana or UnitedHealthcare because of premium increases. If you wish to remain in your current Medicare Advantage Enhanced Plan, you must enroll in that plan during annual enrollment. If you are currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Base Plan or the traditional 70/30 plan and you wish to remain in that plan, no action during annual enrollment is required. Visit http://bit.ly/1NqvhXa for a complete list of the dates, times and locations. 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
SUPER SAVINGS ON TICKETS AT YOUR SECU BRANCH OR SEANC OFFICE THE
Jonathan Owens, Editor-In-Chief Beth Dew, Managing Editor Alicia Miller, Associate 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
Fri., Sat. & Sun. Sept. 25 – Nov. 1 Member savings not available at front gate. Purchase through SECU Branch or SEANC Office. Event dates and times are subject to change and/or cancellation. Restrictions apply. ©2015 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc. All rights reserved.
2015 BGW SEANC AD Size: 3.72”W x 4.81”H • September Artwork2015 @ 100%
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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919-836-9993 or Toll Free: 1-800-788-7771 email@example.com The Reporter • September 2015
DOT members rally to save jobs at GA By Jonathan Owens
The prolonged budget debate gave SEANC members who work in the Department of Transportation a chance to speak out against a provision in the Senate’s budget that would cut 56 administrative positions in the department. DOT members from all over the state came to the legislature in late July to fight against the ongoing effort to downsize and privatize most of the department’s operations. SEANC lobbyists facilitated productive conversations between the members and Reps. John Torbett, William Brawley, Nelson Dollar and more. The members’ efforts made an immediate impact. ThenTransportation Secretary Tony Tata sent out an email to all DOT workers stating, among other parts, “It has come to our attention that a group of NCDOT employees, organized under SEANC, is currently working to express their concern to members of the General Assembly and to lobby legislators to protect positions. While we certainly support your rights as employees and citizens to express your opinions to elected officials, I would like to remind everyone that this should only be done outside of working hours and that no state email or other resources should ever be used for such efforts.” In response, SEANC Executive Director Mitch Leonard sent out a message to all members from the department
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY SUZANNE BEASLEY
SEANC Director of Communications
Workers from the Department of Transportation lobbied against privatization at the legislature.
reminding them that SEANC only asked members to talk to lawmakers on their own time. The next day, Tata resigned. The fate of the jobs will be decided with the outcome of the budget debate. We need more members like those DOT workers who turned out to save their jobs. Even if you feel your job is safe, we all know this is just the tip of the iceberg. Private contractors are dead set on getting their hands on the entire transportation budget and other state operations. It’s just a matter of time before they come for your job. firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate pushes harmful TABOR amendment to House By Jonathan Owens
SEANC Director of Communications
The Senate wasted little time pushing through a bill in early August to call for a constitutional amendment to cap spending and tax rates in the future. The “Taxpayer Bill of Rights” bill, or TABOR as it’s usually known, would put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in next year’s presidential election. The bill passed the Senate with a 30-15 vote, enough for a two-thirds majority needed to put it on the ballot. The amendment would cap income tax at 5 percent, tie spending to inflation and population growth and require an emergency fund of 12.5 percent of the annual budget that could only be spent with overwhelming support (twothirds) from the legislature. This would be very harmful to the state and for state
The Reporter • September 2015
employees. Essentially, it ties the hands of future legislatures by limiting the amount they could spend on government regardless of needs or revenue figures. That means the likelihood of state employees ever getting a decent raise would decrease dramatically and state workers would have little in the way of job security, with these constraints putting every job on the chopping block every year. TABOR was tried in Colorado in 1992 and by 2005 it was such a failure it was loosened dramatically by referendum. The Senate’s attempt has been roundly criticized already, with State Treasurer Janet Cowell warning the legislature that its passage would endanger the state’s bond rating. Luckily, it looks as though the House plans to put the TABOR bill on the back burner for now. But it will surely come up again. email@example.com
SPECIAL PULL-OUT SECTION
What’s Happening @ Convention 2015! • Elect statewide SEANC officers. • Decide the fate of 10 bylaws amendments that will shape the future of the organization. • Determine SEANC’s Top 10 Policy Platform Objectives. • Attend the “Carolina On My Mind” banquet on Thursday evening and enjoy food, music and bingo!*
THE FUTURE IS
• Enjoy the Saturday evening “A Night With The SEANC Stars” banquet, when officers will be inducted and SEANC awards will be presented.* • Donate to the community service project to benefit the SEANC Scholarship Foundation.* *Participation in all banquets and the community service project is optional for attendees.
CASH RAFFLE! Convention Delegate Checklist
GRAND PRIZE $6,000
Get a jump start on convention activities. Visit seanc.org/convention for more information.
FIRST PRIZE $3,000
o Study the proposed policy platform objectives and bylaws amendments up for consideration. o Bring funds to donate to the SEANC Scholarship Foundation through the community service project. o Find out more about special events. o Study the list of statewide candidates.
SECOND PRIZE $1,000
Do you have questions about convention? Contact Alicia Miller, CMP, at firstname.lastname@example.org 919-833-6436 or 800-222-2758.
The Reporter • September 2015
Tickets $1 State Employees Association of North Carolina Thanks to your generosity, this year SEANC awarded 47 scholarships totaling $38,500!
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CANDIDATES FOR SEANC STATEWIDE OFFICE ANNOUNCED SEANC leadership for 2015-2016 will be determined by approximately 850 delegates at the 32nd Annual SEANC Convention on Sept. 11. SEANC Bylaws require members to announce their candidacy in writing or in person to the Board of Governors no later than 45 days prior to the annual convention or nominations can be submitted from the convention floor. Statewide officer terms are for one year and begin Oct. 1, 2015, and run through Sept. 30, 2016. Officers may hold the same office for two consecutive years.
Art Anthony of District 39 is a 21-year state employee and SEANC member. He previously served as SEANC First Vice President. Anthony received his bachelor’s degree from Shaw University and works at North Carolina State University as a research specialist. He is a Raleigh resident. Ross Hailey of District 58 is retired from the Department of Transportation with 27 years service as an engineer and has been a member of SEANC and its predecessor organizations for 41 years. He currently serves as First Vice President. He graduated from Wake Technical Community College. He is a Washington, N.C., resident.
SECOND VICE PRESIDENT
GENERAL TREASURER Darius McLaurin is chairman of District 40. He has been a SEANC member for 9 years and has worked for the state for 22 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Johnson C. Smith University. He is a McLaurin Raleigh resident.
FIRST VICE PRESIDENT
Stanley Drewery of District 67 retired with 30 years of state service with both the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety and has been a member of SEANC for 32 years. He currently serves as Second Vice President. He is a veteran and served six years in the Army National Guard. He is a Grifton resident.
President Wayne Fish of District 2 is not seeking re-election this year. Statewide EMPAC Chairman Tony Smith of District 5 was elected to a two-year term in 2014 and is not up for re-election this year.
Gloria Evans of District 65 is the current SEANC Treasurer. She has been a SEANC member and state employee for 13 years. She works at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. She holds a degree from Martin Community College. She is a Greenville resident.
Karen Rose is a District 38 member and 35-year member of SEANC and its predecessor organizations. She retired as a contracts officer in the Department of Transportation and is a graduate of Wake Technical Community College. She is a Raleigh resident. Chevella Thomas of District 27 is a 31-year member of SEANC and state employee at N.C. Central University. She holds bachelor’s degrees in accounting and management and a master’s degree in information sciences from N.C. Central as well. She resides in Durham.
Take 10 minutes to save a life! If you are under 55, please consider stopping by the Delete Blood Cancer booth in the back of the convention hall to add your name to the bone marrow registry. The Reporter • September 2015
Bylaws amendments to be decided at convention
SEANC’s Bylaws Committee met on July 22 to discuss proposed amendments passed at district meetings. Ten were passed by the committee and will be voted on at the convention. Delegates will decide on: •
Amendments necessary to create a standing audit committee of members that will report each year to the Board of Governors on the finances of the association. This committee will consist of members elected by delegates at the annual convention as well as the SEANC First Vice President, Second Vice President and Treasurer. It will select an independent accounting firm to prepare an annual audit. It will meet no less than six times a year to review all disbursements including credit card charges and wire transfers. This was recommended by SEANC’s most recent audit by national firm Bond Beebe. An amendment to require retired members to pay active dues in order to participate in SEIU-related activities.
a night with the seanc stars Saturday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. Sheraton Greensboro Hotel at Four Seasons Koury Convention Center Dress Code - Black Tie Optional hosted by our own steve Lawson Tickets can be purchased on Wednesday, Sept. 9 at convention. Ticket price $45. For more information, please contact Alicia Miller, CMP at email@example.com.
The Reporter • September 2015
An amendment to allow temporary state employees to join SEANC.
An amendment to change the length of statewide officer terms to two years and stagger them, so the organization doesn’t have full board turnover every year. This was a recommendation from the recent audit of SEANC operations and finance records by national accounting firm Bond Beebe.
An amendment to change the way regional representatives are elected, from the current system where district chairpersons elect them to a system where they are elected by the entire delegations from their region.
An amendment to place the First Vice President in charge of the planning committee and make the Second Vice President a voting member of the planning committee.
An amendment to change how many delegates to the annual convention each district receives.
Got Talent? EMPAC donors — can you sing, dance, play an instrument, perform magic or make people laugh? Come show off your talent!
11th Annual EMPAC Event It’s Showtime @ SEANC Friday, Sept. 11 7:30 p.m. - Legislative Reception 8:30 p.m. - Talent Competition followed by karaoke
Sign up to compete by signing up at the EMPAC table at convention by 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10. Free to delegates and registered convention guests who sign up for or are currently giving through EMPAC payroll deduction or for members who make a minimum $25 annual donation to EMPAC.
Quotes to Note “While our members, staff and stakeholders are saddened by this latest development in an unfortunate turn of events for Mr. Cope, rest assured that we are taking all of the necessary steps — resulting from three independent investigations of our operations — to secure SEANC from ever experiencing a breach of leadership again. As such, I am confident that our organization will continue — uninterrupted — the important work of protecting and defending the interests of retired, current and future state employees.” Statement released to the media by SEANC Executive Director Mitch Leonard on Aug. 3 after the former director was charged with two counts of fraud in relation to his dealings with SEANC funds.
“It’s important to me that my cancer can serve a greater purpose. My prayer is that there is already a registered donor for me out there because of all the other drives across this world. Today’s drive is about helping others out there who need matches as well.” SEANC Lobbyist Kevin LeCount in an Aug. 5 News & Observer article, “A bipartisan effort to end blood cancer,” on the bone marrow registry drive at the N.C. General Assembly hosted by SEANC and state leaders.
“Every taxpayer in this state should be asking themselves the question, ‘Do we want the government up for bid?’ Not only are they looking to privatize more and more jobs, but they don’t even want to fund the state positions to oversee what the contractors are doing. ” SEANC Director of Operations Chuck Stone, responding to a question on Department of Transportation privatization in an interview on “News & Views,” a syndicated program from N.C. Policy Watch, on Aug. 10.
“I started asking questions, and when they weren’t being answered, I started getting angry. I don’t know who to blame.” District 47 Member Ron Still, in an Aug. 12 report on WRAL-TV, “Glitch leaves thousands of state workers, retirees scrambling for insurance,” on computer problems with the State Health Plan.
“A $30,000 bonus for a person that is working for the public, no matter how you couch the terms of the employment, is offensive to a [state-employed] housekeeper or correctional officer. A bonus that is more than they make in a year is offensive.” SEANC Government Relations Director Ardis Watkins in a July 30 story by N.C. Policy Watch that detailed how the former head of the public-private economic development partnership was paid a $30,000 “stay” bonus even though he left after just three months on the job.
The Reporter • September 2015
Bone marrow registry drive a huge success State leaders, lobbyists and state employees put aside politics on Aug. 5 to make the Delete Blood Cancer drive at the General Assembly a huge success! The drive, a joint effort between SEANC, leadership from the Senate and House, the governor’s office and Council of State, resulted in 201 new names added to the bone marrow registry, including swabs from House Speaker Tim Moore and State Treasurer Janet Cowell, along with many other legislators and state employees. The drive was held to raise awareness in honor of SEANC Lobbyist Kevin LeCount, who is awaiting a bone marrow transplant while fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and Judge Carl Fox, who is fighting a type of blood cancer as well. If you would like to add your name to the registry, you have another chance! SEANC will hold a drive at the annual convention in Greensboro on Sept. 10.
House Speaker Tim Moore swabs his cheek to add his name to the registry.
— Photos by Tony Booe and Amanda Wise
Rep. Robert Reives II swabs his cheek to add his name to the registry.
State Treasurer Janet Cowell fills out paperwork to join the registry.
Sen. Ralph Hise and Rep. Jonathan Jordan fill out forms to add their names to the registry.
The Reporter • September 2015
Rep. Brian Turner swabs his cheek to add his name to the registry.
District 65’s board members prepared a meal for families of Vidant Medical Center patients at the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville on July 15. The house has 21 rooms. Pictured from left are District 65 members Lynn Tuthill, Linda Nelson, Debbie Austin, LaRanda Boone, District 65 Chairwoman Alicia Simpson and Lina Johnson. Not pictured is Joanie Tyson.
PHOTO BY JOHNNY DAVISON
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY HIAWATHA JONES
SEANC Executive Director Mitch Leonard, District 2 Chairwoman Dodie Collins, SEANC President Wayne Fish, and District 2 members Linda Pless and Cliff Johnson at District 2’s State Employee Appreciation Day event on Aug. 1 at Gorges State Park.
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY LYNN TUTHILL
PHOTO BY JOHNNY DAVISON
State Employee Appreciation Day at Gorges State Park
District 60 recently gave away two sets of theme park tickets to new members. Pictured is Russell Anderson, July winner Tabitha Best and Hiawatha Jones. Not pictured is Laytoya Clark, who also won a pair of tickets.
District 18 donated school supplies to the Rockingham District AME Zion Christian’s back-to-school giveaway at Dobbins Heights Park on Aug. 15. Pictured with District 18 Chairwoman Sharron Patterson (center), are event organizers Trey Miller, Maggi Chambers, Kyra Asbury and Ezekial Miller.
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY HENRY BELADA
PHOTO SUBMITTED BY SHARRON PATTERSON
President Wayne Fish addresses the crowd of more than 100 members in his home district.
District 7 held a Retiree Appreciation Breakfast on Aug. 3 at Hardee’s Restaurant in Morganton. Members enjoyed a free drink and sausage biscuit. Pictured are District 7 members Gary Harbison (left) and Veredah McCall and District 7 Chairman Henry Belada.
The Reporter • September 2015
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EMPAC audit finds no misappropriated funds By Jonathan Owens SEANC Director of Communications
A recently completed audit of financial records of EMPAC, SEANC’s political action committee, found no funds were mishandled by the former executive director or anyone else. The auditing firm of Williams Overman Pierce, a reputable Raleigh-based firm steeped in North Carolina political action committee accounting practices and State Board of Elections reporting, reviewed all receipts and financial records for the years of 2011-2013. “We are pleased to report that all funds donated by members were used in an appropriate manner,” said Statewide EMPAC Chairman Tony Smith. “We expected that no funds were mishandled, given the strict filing requirements of election law and political action committees. We’re glad to have proof.” The Statewide EMPAC Committee called for the audit in January, a month before news that SEANC’s former executive
director used SEANC funds for his own personal gain. “As the situation with Mr. Cope developed, what began as a routine audit of a state PAC became all the more important given the accusations of Mr. Cope’s mishandling of SEANC funds,” Smith said. Although the audit showed that no EMPAC funds had been misappropriated, it did find some small reporting discrepancies to the State Board of Elections that EMPAC is correcting with amended reports. It also revealed the need for EMPAC to file current returns with the Internal Revenue Service, a requirement for tax-exempt entities and one that EMPAC is addressing now. The Statewide EMPAC Committee has already taken steps to remedy these issues so it can return to the important work of supporting candidates who respect public services and the people who provide them. firstname.lastname@example.org