Author Archives for Utah Public Employees

President’s Message from New UPEA President Deb McBride

First, I would like to thank everyone for allowing me the privilege of serving as your president for the next year.  I anticipate it will be a busy and wonderful year for the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA.)

We are already establishing two task forces and I will talk more about them at a later time.  The committees will be setting up their first meetings and establishing schedules for the coming year.  I hope everyone will sign up for one of the committees.  They are very important and very informative.  They are usually fun, too!

I hope everyone is enjoying the crazy Utah spring!  I’ll talk to you all again soon.

UPEA Celebrates Recipients of the Public Employee Salute

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is proud to participate in the Public Employee Salute Program.  The idea for the program began in 1999, when a past UPEA executive director noticed that KSL Radio had a special segment to recognize Utah teachers.  The segment is commonly known as the “Teacher Feature.”  However, there was no feature recognizing Utah’s public employees.  The following year, the UPEA and Mountain America Credit Union Public Employee Salute program began.

The following individuals have been nominated and recognized with the Public Employee Salute for their hard work for the state of Utah.

Krystal Jones

Krystal Jones is an extraordinary employee, wife and mother. She is an adoption and post adoption specialist at the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) in St. George. She is amazing in everything she does, and has grown and developed the DCFS TAL (Transition to Adult) Program from nothing to what it is today as its coordinator. She is doing the same in her new position as DCFS adoption/post-adoption specialist. Jones has been very involved with youth in custody for many years and has an excellent relationship with public and community partners. She has played a very intricate role in opening a home for St. George’s homeless youth called Youth Futures.Cora Gant

Cora Grant is a probate clerk, judicial assistant, for the 4th District Court. She has been a public servant for the courts for 25 years, holding knowledge that few know. Her spectacular work as a clerk is aided by her pleasant and enjoyable personality. She lights up a room, and treats everyone with respect. Despite piles of paperwork, she will drop everything to help a pro-se litigant or attorney. Everyone knows her by name, and it is not unusual for boxes of treats to be delivered to the courthouse with a “Thanks Cora!” note attached.

Patricia Doherty

Patricia Doherty, a public employee for 16 years, is a rehabilitation counselor II working for the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation under the Department of Workforce Services. She helps people with disabilities obtain employment and independence.

Doherty helps her clients overcome challenges, decrease functional limitations created by their disabilities, and battle the stigma and discrimination that all too frequently create another barrier for her clients.

Persons with disabilities are victimized at twice the rate of the general population, and are often the least able to recognize danger, least able to protect themselves, and the least able to obtain assistance within the criminal justice system.

Doherty was an original member of the Elderly and Vulnerable Adult Coalition Provo created with a grant received in 2012. She has worked hard to bring awareness that adults with disabilities fall into this population of vulnerable adults. The work of the coalition has been so highly valued that when the grant ended, the city made the decision to keep the coalition and Doherty continues to be a part of it today.

Jill Boettger

Jill Boettger is a speech-language pathologist and audiologist. Her accomplishments are many, and she is distinguished for her service as the Utah Department of Health cytomegalovirus coordinator. She is responsible for educating community stakeholders about the importance of testing for the virus, what the testing protocol is, and the steps that should be taken when an infant is diagnosed. Boettger’s dedication has resulted in 96 percent of eligible babies being tested for congenial CMV—an incredible achievement for such a new public health mandate. Members of her EHDI (Eddie) team consider themselves lucky to have her as a colleague and friend.

Amy Lowe

Amy does a wonderful job as a workforce development specialist. She has a great rapport with the employers with whom she works. Her excellent customer service skills are acknowledged, and she has been called on by the Governor’s Office to help with special projects. She is frequently on the go to meet new employers and set up job fairs. She helps attendees of the work success class find job openings, assists with writing resumes, and helps them prepare for interviews. Lowe is respected and admired by many, and is an invaluable asset to the department.

Shannon Percival

Shannon Percival is a construction technician IV at the Utah Department of Transportation Region 2. She has worked for the state for 21 years, and is a shining example of an extraordinary team member. Her big heart and shining smile, along with her commitment to serving the public, have led to her reputation as a hard worker. She is always willing to drop anything to help with a problem. Her deep commitment to serving the public has made her a mentor to many, and her kind heart makes her coworkers feel cared for, and that they always have a friend. She is appreciated  for being a lifelong friend and teammate.

Mike Rymer

Mike Rymer is an engineering technician IV, and has been a Utah Department of Transportation employee for 16 years. He is a dedicated employee, and when he isn’t busy in the office, he can be found running samples for his lab, plowing snow for a shed, or helping others. Rymer is always willing to share his knowledge and to train fellow employees, taking time and being patient to make sure they understand the task fully.  Rymer goes beyond what he is asked on a daily basis.

Graig Ogden

Graig Ogden is an electronics tech II for the Utah Department of Transportation. He uses his expertise in the electrical field to extend the life of the roadway lightning system in Region 4 decades beyond its intended life. Ogden has helped to implement efficient and cost-saving methods to Region 4, and has used his knowledge to improve safety, usability, and durability of the lighting and signal systems. He recently was tasked with the addition of ATMS devices, and has embraced his new responsibilities with optimism and enthusiasm.  He takes pride in his work, and is always willing to take phone calls to answer any questions.

Angie Thompson

Angie Thomspon is a liability specialist for the Utah State Development Center (USDC). She has worked for the state of Utah for more than nine years, and is known by her coworkers to be an incredibly honest and fair boss. She gives her heart and soul to her staff, helping them to better serve the USDC campus.

Ashely Gibson

Ahsley Gibson has worked for the state of Utah for nine years, and is a caregiver at the Utah State Developmental Center. Gibson consistently goes above and beyond her job responsibilities as a caregiver to Utah’s most vulnerable adults and children. She makes their lives better by personalizing her care,l helping them visit family and rearranging her work schedule to ensure coverage in the building. She exemplifies dedication to her job.

Teri Anderson

Teri Anderson is a case manager with the 4th District Utah Court. She is noted for being a supervisor who treats her team, coworkers, and the public with respect. She treats all court patrons with dignity and patience, and doesn’t let external factors influence how she interacts with others. She provides fair and impartial access to justice. She is appreciated for her commitment to training her team so members feel prepared to interact with the public in an efficient, respective, and proper way. She is an asset to the court system.

Danna Allen

Danna Allen is an agent associate with the Utah Department of Corrections. She is an amazing officer and is recognized for her work with offenders. She goes above and beyond in helping female offenders in their sobriety and programming while they are residents at the Atherton Community Treatment Center. She is caring, respectful, and knowledgeable about her position. Allen not only serves and protects the female offender community, but maintains respectful relationships with those in the community who assist the female offender population. She is a team player and takes care of the officers that she works with.

UPEA wants to congratulate all of our Public Employee Salute honorees and thank them for their extraordinary work for the state of Utah. The Public Employee Salute is an ongoing program UPEA is proud to be a part of. Please nominate any coworkers who you believe deserve recognition for their hard work.

 

Join UPEA to Kick Off Summer Public Employee Appreciation Days

Each summer, the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) hosts Public Employee Appreciation Days to thank employees for their hard work and dedication.

To celebrate the start of these events, UPEA will host a kick-off lunch at the UPEA office on May 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Members and nonmembers are welcome to stop by for food, prizes, and to learn more about UPEA and our vendors. We will serve hotdogs, hamburgers, chips, and more classic summertime food.

Bring your coworkers and remember that all new members and their recruiters will receive a $20 incentive. We hope to see you all there!

Take Advantage of Membership Benefits and Discounts

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) values public employees and UPEA members. We have partnered with other organizations that want to show their appreciation as well. Here are a few discounts that benefit UPEA members:

Colonial Life: Colonial Life is supplemental insurance that can cover accidents, cancer, critical illness, dental care, disability, hospital confinement indemnity, life insurance, and more. Coverage is available to spouses and dependent children, and the company periodically signs up new members with a “no-health -questions-asked” policy.

Jiffy Lube: UPEA members are eligible for a Jiffy Lube VIP card that offers $12 off an oil change and a 16 percent discount on additional services.

Lagoon: The regular price for a day pass is $69.40, but a pass is only $50 when purchased through UPEA. The ticket prices are for all ages and are good any day for the Lagoon 2019 Season.

Click here to see all of the discount opportunities.

 

New Law Prohibits Firing of Volunteer Emergency Responders

Rural Utah depends on volunteers to respond to emergency situations—fires, injuries in the wilderness, car accidents, etc.

Rep.  Casey Snider, R-Logan, sponsored House Bill 173, Emergency Services Volunteer Employment Protection Act, which prevents an employer from terminating an employee due to missed work while volunteering to respond to an emergency situation as part of search and rescue, emergency medical services, fire department, or a sheriff’s mounted posse.

While the bill says volunteers can’t be terminated while serving the community, the employer can reduce pay.

Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, amended the bill on the House floor to clarify that if a volunteer is currently working for a public safety agency, they must first have permission to volunteer for the emergency situation so the agency isn’t missing the help it needs.

HB 173 passed the House and the Senate and has been signed by the Gov. Gary Herbert. Click here to learn more about the bill.

 

 

 

Delegates Attend Informative Breakout Sessions During General Council

Be Ready Utah

Wade Matthews

“Family Disaster Plans”

Wade Matthews from Be Ready Utah spoke about disaster preparedness, advising Utah Public Employees’ Assocation (UPEA) members on best practices to ensure safety during disasters. He said Utahns should always have safe drinking water and keep food storage up to date. He recommended preparing emergency packs for each member of the family, and establishing a meet-up point for friends and family, such as a light pole outside, or a church down the road.  He suggested even getting a hand-crank generator to charge a cell phone or other necessities during prolonged power outages. Utah is a seismically active region with the majority of Utah’s population living in the areas of greatest risk. UPEA representatives were grateful to learn how to prepare.

Attorney General’s Office

Alessandra Amato & Scott Eggerman

“Human Trafficking in Utah: How to Recognize it”

It may seem unlikely, but Utah is a hub for human trafficking due to its unique geographic location and the fact that two major interstates cross the state, Scott Eggerman of the Utah Attorney General’s Office said.

He and colleague Alessandra Amato said many factors lead to human trafficking. Perpetrators are professional groomers who prey on a victim’s vulnerabilities, such as loneliness, homelessness, and the desire to be accepted and loved.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, refugees, runaways, and those who have spent time in foster care are at a higher risk of being trafficked. Amato explained that the guilt, shame, and emotional and physical trauma these victims experience makes it exceptionally difficult to gain their trust.

She made the important distinction that children cannot legally consent to commercial sex, so there is no such thing as a child prostitutes. Children are always considered victims.

Eggerman said traffickers find victims through chat rooms, on social media, and in libraries. Specific tattoos/brandings, dramatic changes in behavior, and possession of large amounts of cash could be signs of a victim of human trafficking. He encouraged anyone who suspects human trafficking to report it to the Attorney General’s Office.

PEHP

Derek Applegate

“How to Get the Most from Your Health Insurance”

Derek Applegate of PEHP offered many tips to members on how to get the most from health insurance.

He emphasized that site of service matters. If a patient were to get magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) from a hospital instead of an imaging center, the cost would be significantly higher.

Applegate emphasized that more care does not equal a healthier consumer. Approximately one third of all medical care in the United States is considered unnecessary. He implored UPEA members to focus on preventative care, not defensive care. Preventative care will always be less costly to the consumer

He added it’s also a myth that you will save money if you are double-covered. PEHP wants its members to understand that it is more important to have a health insurance plan that fits the needs of you and your family. More does not equal better.

MACU General Council presentation

Kimberly Boettcher

“Wise Use of Credit”

Kimberly Boettcher of Mountain America Credit Union presented useful consumer information about credit scores.

She explained that the only people who can view your score are those you give permission to. The need for permission is usually written in fine print in documents required by employers, insurance companies, lenders, utility services, phone companies, and landlords.

Boettcher clarified a common misconception: It doesn’t hurt your credit score when you look at it; what dings your score is when others look at it.

She said it is important to view your credit score to make sure it is accurate. To view your credit score visit www.annualcreditreport.com. Consumers are entitled by law to a free annual credit report from three different reporting entities. Reviewing your report enables you to dispute any inaccuracies.

Your credit score includes identifying information, such as your employers. You will credit card accounts and loans along with your payment history. Late payments on debt remain on reports for two years.

Your credit score is made up of payment history (35 percent), debts owed (30 percent), revolving credit (25 percent), along with history, new credit, and types of credit. Payments to utilities are not currently reported on credit scores unless they are paid late, but will be tracked soon.

Boettcher said actions that can negatively affect your credit score include cosigning on loans that the other cosigner doesn’t keep current, unpaid bills, maxing out available credit, and taking cash advances on credit. She said borrowers should at least make minimum payments and avoid reaching limits on your cards.

To maintain a good credit score, review credit report annually and correct errors, she said.

Greg Sagers

Financial Education Systems

“Investment Risk: Lessons from a Bee, a Ladder, and the Titanic”

Greg Sagers, a certified public accountant with Financial Education Systems, used stories of a bee, a rickety ladder, and the famous sinking of the Titanic, to encourage investors to have a plan and stick to the plan when times get tough. He also covered the primary risks investors face. If you have 30 or more people interested in his presentation, including community groups, contact Sagers directly at (801) 652-9323. He also provides one-on-one investment and retirement consultations for all UPEA members; Call him if you’d like to set something up.

Utah Disaster Kleenup

Tony Wilde

Utah Disaster Kleenup (UDK) works to help Utah families when disasters such as flood, fire, or mold damage their homes.

Tony Wilde works in commercial business development for UDK and spoke about the importance of being prepared and knowing how to handle disaster when it strikes. He highlighted the importance of disaster prevention, such as sealing any small water leaks, cleaning and repairing roof gutters, and maintaining proper humidity in your home.

There are also several ways to protect your home from fire, for example, such as having functional smoke detectors on every level of your home, not overloading circuits or extension cords, and unplugging appliances when they are not in use. If you are unable to avoid a disaster, UDK is available around the clock to help you think through your options and offer some help. To learn more about UDK, visit its website.

 

 

 

Legislators Debate Funding Issues for Government Services

During the final week of the 2019 Legislature, House and Senate Republican leaders were at a stalemate regarding the budget.  The House proposed a scaled-back version, while the Senate wanted to pass a more robust budget, and neither side was willing to negotiate.

Because the tax reform bill broke down, the House pulled back all new funding requests and considered funding only current essential services.  Lawmakers tried to make the point that the current practice of replenishing the General Fund with retail sales tax was not sustainable. They wanted a tax on services added to enable the state to perform the functions of government.

By the end of the session, House and Senate Republican leaders agreed to fully fund the state budget and address the state’s revenue dilemma.  However, about $300 million of the approved funding is one-time money and next year some items may not be funded.

One of the most important items funded with ongoing money is a 2.5 percent “labor-market” increase for state employees. A labor-market adjustment is administered like a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).  All employees, including those with longevity, will receive the increase. Legislators also funded the 4.3 percent health insurance premium increase. However, targeted compensation increases that aim to help salaries for some hard-to-fill positions achieve market parity were not funded this year.

Legislators can convert the one-time funding into ongoing funding if they choose to hold a special session to address the revenue issues.

“We are very frustrated by the tactic of holding hostage the need to increase services in order to change the tax structure and model,” said Todd Losser, executive director of the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA).  “We thought we were going to end this legislative session in a stalemate, with the House and Senate refusing to back away from their positions about the budget.”

“This was unchartered territory as it rarely gets this acrimonious between the two bodies this late in the session,” he added. “These disagreements usually [occur] much earlier in the session.”

Over the past few years, Utah has transformed from a goods-based economy to a service-based economy. Due to this structural change, experts advise a re-examination of the current tax framework. Income from sales tax has declined and will continue to do so, leading to future budgetary issues. Due to this problem, a task force has been established to study this matter and determine the best course of action. For the time being, there are no changes to Utah’s tax structure, but UPEA anticipates adjustments to the current tax code and will keep members apprised of further developments.

If a special session is called, UPEA will continue its conversations with legislative leaders to make the case for public employee compensation.