UPEA Blog

Help Strengthen UPEA by Participating in a Virtual Recruitment Forum

You have another chance to spread the word about the importance of UPEA! We’re hosting another virtual recruitment forum in which a panel of member ambassadors and staff representatives will discuss the benefits of UPEA membership and the importance of a strong public employee association.

The next virtual forum will be held on Wednesday, December 9 at 12:00pm. You and your coworkers are welcome to attend the lunch event – Please share this opportunity with others in your office! See the included flyer for more information on the virtual forums.
We are asking our members to attend and invite nonmembers to join these virtual events. For every non-member you bring to a forum, you will get an entry into the raffle for members. We will be giving away a Kindle E-Reader in the raffle at the end of the meeting. Non-members in attendance will be entered into a separate drawing for a $25 Visa gift card.
Use this link or scan the QR code on the flyer to join the meeting via Google Meet.

Contact your employee representative with any questions.
We look forward to seeing you there!

Pay Increase Approved for Salt Lake County Employees

The Salt Lake County Council has approved the employee compensation and benefits portion of the FY21 county budget. Over the past few weeks, the council heard budget presentations given by various county agencies.

On Oct. 12, Christy Berk, UPEA employee representative for the local district, participated in a meeting for labor associations hosted by Salt Lake County Human Resources Director Kathleen Johnston. When Mayor Jenny Wilson released her budget a few weeks later, the recommendations had changed slightly, in favor of employee compensation.

The Mayor’s budget proposal included:

  • Employees in the General Structure will receive a 1.5% pay increase
  • Employees in the Trades/Technical Structure will receive a 2% pay increase
    • Pay increase eligibility pending a Meets Expectations (3) on their 2020 performance evaluation
  • No change in health and dental insurance benefits or premiums
  • Salary structure adjustments to both the General and Trade/Technical to remain competitive
  • A midyear budget review to determine whether there is enough money for a second pay increase for employees whose jobs specifically affected by the COVID-19pandemic (i.e. the Health Department)
  • 1% lump-sum increase for red-lined employees

During the County Council meeting on Oct. 27, UPEA thanked the mayor for advocating for county employees during this uncertain time.

Additionally, UPEA was grateful to support the temporary suspension of the county “use or lose” policy for paid time off. Employees who have accrued leave from 2020 now may carry it over until 2022.

Finally, UPEA also spoke up for the legal investigators in the District Attorney’s Office, asking that a pay study be done to ensure they are compensated based on their specific job duties.

County Budget 101 tri-folds created by UPEA will be dispersed throughout the county in the upcoming weeks. If you have any questions or concerns about the budget process or other employment issues, please contact Christy Berk, 801-264-8732 ext. 212 or at cberk@upea.net.

Rules Corner:  Familiarize Yourself with DHRM Social Media Guidelines

As remote work has increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, more state agencies now require their employees to use personal phones and laptops for work, and Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) staffers have seen an increase in workplace related issues involving personal social media usage. Division of Human Resources Management policy R477-9-8 outlines the state’s general social media policies.

R477-9-8. Personal Blogs and Social Media Sites

(1) An employee who participates in blogs and social networking sites for personal purposes may not:
(a) claim to represent the position of the State of Utah or an agency;
(b) post the seal of the State of Utah, or trademark or logo of an agency;
(c) post protected or confidential information, including copyrighted information, confidential information received from agency customers, or agency issued documents without permission from the agency head; or
(d) unlawfully discriminate against, harass or otherwise threaten a state employee or a person doing business with the State of Utah.

(2) An agency may establish policy to supplement this section.

(3) An employee may be disciplined according to R477-11 for violations of this section or agency policy.

State employees should avoid using social media during work hours and be careful not to disclose confidential information about their job duties or workplace. It is also possible for state employees to be disciplined for talking negatively about their job or sharing negative or discriminatory opinions that reflect badly on the state. For example, an employee who shares sexist ideologies on Facebook could be disciplined or even terminated, even if the post does not directly refer to his or her employment with the state.  Always err on the side of caution when sharing information and opinions on your personal social media accounts.

Some positions include the responsibility of managing a social media account for the agency or department. If this responsibility is part of your job description, make sure to follow the suggestions listed in the State of Utah Social Media Guidelines.

Questions? Call (801) 264-8732 to reach a UPEA representative.

UPEA Honors Outstanding Employees in 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.

September 2020

Stacy McGovern
Stacy McGovern is an outstanding employee at the Department of Motor Vehicles. A local citizen recognized her for dedicating nearly three months to trying to resolve registration paperwork. She was a true professional who was patient and polite while trying to resolve the problem. The citizen thanked McGovern for helping get a new business started.

Cameron Wright
Cameron Wright is a correctional case manager at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. He is recognized for going above and beyond in his job, doing so with a positive attitude. His leadership is admired, and his excitement to come to work each day encouraging. He is eager to assist new staff and does his best to make a difference.

Mahal Roesser
Mahal Roesser is an administrative assistant with the Department of Workforce Services. She willingly takes on special assignments and does not hesitate to ask how she can help. She is known for her organizational skills and has helped streamline work for her coworkers. Mahal is the epitome of a public servant, believing in the service the department provides to the community.

Brigham City Connection Team
The Brigham City Connection Team is recognized for going above and beyond during the pandemic. The team has guided many individuals through the intricacies of filing for unemployment and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. The team works tirelessly to find answers and make processes as smooth as possible. The Brigham City office is not the only one that has stepped up during this time; every office in the state is working hard to keep customers safe and information available. Thank you to the public employees for all their hard work!

October 2020

Olga Sanchez
Olga Sanchez, a therapist supervisor, works for the Department of Human Services Division of Juvenile Services. She is fantastic at her job and goes above and beyond. She is recognized for taking care of her staff, taking on extra duties when they need assistance. Sanchez is a great supervisor!

Rene Meza
Rene Meza is an unemployment adjudicator for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. She has spent more than 20 years in public service and treats customers with dignity and respect. Meza is a great source of knowledge for coworkers and the community.

Destri Gray
Destri Gray, a Child Protective Services worker for the Utah Department of Child and Family Services, is recognized for her huge heart. Her priority is children’s safety. Gray fights to keep children home with their parents and does everything she can to help parents. Thank you for your service to Utah’s families.

Linda Bright
Linda Bright is a senior assistant caseworker Government Records Access and Management Act specialist with the Division of Children and Family Services. She is kind, hardworking, and will stop to help anyone out. Bright is reliable and is recognized for being a great coworker and friend. She does not get enough credit for everything she does.

November 2020

Dr. Angela Dunn
Dr. Angela Dunn, the Utah Department of Health’s state epidemiologist since 2018, is thanked by Utah’s public employees and community for her continued dedication to Utahn’s health. Her knowledge and insights have led the way for public health response discussions. She has devoted her resources to helping Utah navigate the pandemic and continues to educate the public. Thank you, Dr. Dunn, for making Utah proud.

Gary Edwards
Gary Edwards, director of Salt Lake County Health Department since 2005, always manages to ensure he is fair, balanced, and uses data and reason in his decision-making rather than emotion despite pressure from federal, state, and local agencies. He is truly one of the sincerely nicest people you could ever meet, and his genuine love for public health, his employees, and the people who live and work in Salt Lake County is inspiring and contagious.

Paul Crosbie
Paul Crosbie, an environmental scientist at the Salt Lake County Health Department, has been an asset during the pandemic. He contributes his knowledge and work ethic to contact tracing, restaurant exposure, and quarantine/isolation shelters. Crosbie is admired by coworkers for his dedication to public health and to the residents of Salt Lake County.

Rusty Lundberg
Rusty Lundberg has been a public servant for 35 years. Throughout his career, Lundberg has taken on many assignments and had numerous accomplishments. He is retiring next month following his work as the deputy director of Utah’s Department of Environmental Quality Division of Waste Management and Radiation Control. Thank you, Rusty, for your active engagement and dedication to ensure Utah’s policy voice is heard.

Moment in History: Executive Director Todd Losser Celebrates 15 Years with UPEA

For the final newsletter of 2020, we wanted the Moment in History article to be celebratory. Fifteen years ago, Todd Losser, the executive director of the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA), began working as an employee representative. In the 2006 Spring UPEA Newsletter, Losser expressed his excitement about the opportunity to represent public employees. When he started his career with the Association, Losser had just graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah. Over the next seven years, Losser worked his way up the ranks of UPEA. He gained the trust and confidence of the Association members. In 2014, Losser was chosen to take over as executive director.

During his tenure, Losser has advocated for public employees across the state. He lobbies on their behalf diligently at the Legislature each year. He takes the time to share stories about the importance of Utah’s public employees with legislators and informs them of the barriers they face regarding fair compensation and rich benefits. Losser’s exemplary leadership and dedication to UPEA is admirable. Members of the UPEA staff are grateful to work for an enthusiastic and hard-working boss like Losser and look forward to the next 15 years to come!

 

 

Lawmakers Recognize Work of Utah Public Health Lab Employees

Representatives of the Utah Department of Health presented a COVID-19 update to the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Interim Committee on Nov. 18

Heather Borski, director of the Division of Disease Control and Prevention, spoke about the dramatic increase in testing and contact tracing and about how the Utah Public Health Lab has adapted to that demand.

Borski noted that in March the lab was testing 100 COVID-19 specimens per day and in no more than a couple months, it was testing 10 times that number, averaging 1,000 samples per day. In the past month, the lab has been averaging 2,500 tests a day, surging to 3,000 on occasion.

Borski commended the modernization that has happened in the lab to improve efficiency and accuracy with testing and contact tracing. Committee members expressed their gratitude for the front-line workers at the Utah Public Health Lab who are working tirelessly to manage the pandemic.

Governor-Elect Spencer Cox Presents Four Goals to Guide Economic Growth

During the Legislature’s Economic Development and Workforce Services Interim Committee meeting on Nov. 17, Gov.-elect Spencer Cox spoke about his vision for new economic growth in Utah for the next decade.

Rep. Timothy Hawkes, R-Centerville, and Sen. Ann Milner, R-Ogden, are working with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Cox to create:

  • A robust ecosystem for businesses
  • Enhanced coordination and support
  • Empowered students (future workers) and current workers
  • All players aligned in the same direction.

Cox supported telecommuting before the pandemic and he believes it will be key to economic growth in the future, especially in rural communities. He wants all Utahns to benefit from economic development.

Ensuring low and fair taxes for all Utahns will be a priority as he pushes to create the best state economy in the nation.

Intellectual Property Subject to Public Access Under GRAMA

The Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) protects the public’s right to access specified state records to promote government transparency and accountability. As a public employee, you should know which communications and documents are available by filing a GRAMA request. The law is complex, but understanding your rights is more important than ever now that many individuals are working from home.

As public employees, your position and your agency’s work are funded by taxpayer money – GRAMA promotes government transparency and therefore, governs records related to your job. State records pertaining to the following topics may be available by filing a GRAMA request.

Government property

  • If your employer owns your laptop or phone, you should expect anything on that device to be subject to GRAMA, whether content on the device relates to your job or is personal.
  • Anything in your work email may be provided in response to a GRAMA request.
  • Any texts sent from an agency-owned device may be provided in response to a GRAMA request.
  • Personal property
    • If you are using your own laptop or phone, content is subject to GRAMA only if it is related to work and you are being compensated.

With more people working remotely and receiving stipends to use their personal devices, provisions of GRAMA are being scrutinized and tested. Generally, if anything is related to your job or done on work time, it may be subject to GRAMA.

If you have questions about GRAMA in your workplace or more personalized questions, please reach out to your employee representative.

 

CAPE Committee Seeks Three New Members

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) State Board of Directors is accepting applications for three (3) vacancies on the Citizen Action by Public Employees (CAPE) Committee. The CAPE Committee endorses political candidates and organizes political activities for the Association.  Qualified UPEA members who have served as district or chapter leaders for at least one year are eligible to apply. Members who fill these positions will serve three-year terms that will expire in December 2023.

To apply, submit a letter of intent and resumé to:

UPEA
Attn:  Kendle Zdunich
1000 Bellwood Lane
Murray, UT 84123

or email your information to kendle@upea.net

Dec. 31 is the deadline to submit a letter of intent and resumé.  The State Board will conduct interviews.

Call to Action: Contact Your Legislators

The end of the year is quickly upon us, and there is no better time to reach out to your local government officials to make sure your voice is heard before the upcoming legislative session. State employee compensation was a priority last year, but due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, state employees did not receive the 5 percent increase to their compensation package that the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) lobbied for during the 2020 legislative session. Let your representatives know that the increase was long overdue last year, and that after a year of being a front- line worker in a pandemic, an increase is even more deserved.

3 Easy Steps for Contacting Your Legislator:

  1. Find your representatives
    • All you need to know is your home address
    • Click on their photos to find the contact information
  2. Make the first contact (via phone, email, or even letter)
    • Introduce yourself
    • Make it personal but professional
    • Clarify your point (compensation, retention, retirement, etc.)
  3. Follow up
    • Send reminders weekly or even daily so they don’t forget who you are and what’s important to you

Important Reminders:

Make sure you’re always contacting your representatives on your own time and using personal resources to avoid a conflict of interest. You are reaching out as a constituent who works for the state, not as a representative of a state agency. Feel free to let your representatives know that you are a UPEA member.

For more info about contacting your legislator, check out our tutorial videos on the UPEA website.