UPEA Blog

Help Strengthen UPEA by Participating in a Virtual Recruitment Forum

You have another chance to show your support and spread the word about the importance of UPEA membership! We’re hosting our next VIRTUAL RECRUITMENT FORUM on Wednesday, May 12, at 12:00pm. At this meeting, a panel of member ambassadors and staff representatives will discuss the benefits of UPEA membership and the importance of a strong public employee association.

Please SHARE THIS OPPORTUNITY with others in your office!

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. A Portable Mini Projector will be awarded to the recruiter raffle winner. 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 to join via Google Meet.

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


Stop By the First UPEA Appreciation Event of the Year on May 6

You’re invited to attend UPEA’s
first Public Employee Appreciation Lunch of the year
on THURSDAY, MAY 6 from 11:00am-1:00pm

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is always looking for ways to show gratitude and support for Utah’s public employees. Due to last year’s success, UPEA has decided to bring back the Public Employee Appreciation Drive-Thru! We will be hosting our first lunch of the year on Thursday, May 6. Swing by the UPEA office in Murray anytime from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to grab a deli lunch and say hello to UPEA staff. If you are working in the office, consider carpooling or coordinating with your coworkers to send one person to pick up lunch for the whole team.

Members and nonmembers are welcome! For now, we’re still asking that all attendees stay in their cars to maintain appropriate physical distance. In order to keep the flow of traffic, please follow the posted signs for directions upon arrival.

Keep an eye out for more lunches and appreciation events coming up later this year!

Participate in a UPEA Standing Committee

The best way to contribute and take an active role in Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is by participating in a standing committee. Each of these committees is a forum where ideas become actions.

UPEA standing committees provide direct input and recommendations from the general membership and districts to the Advisory Council and State Board. UPEA encourages members from all districts to become involved in these committees, share their input, and actively work toward the improvement of public employment. Members who cannot travel to the UPEA headquarters in Murray may participate online.

SIGN UP NOW THROUGH JUNE 1!

Below is a list and brief description of the UPEA standing committees.  If you would like to participate in a standing committee, please call 801-264-8732 or email the UPEA staff member or committee chairperson.


Articles & Bylaws

Reviews the UPEA Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation and makes recommended changes, which are then voted on by the Advisory Council and State Board.

Chair: Elaine Bonham, elainegbonham@gmail.com
Staff: Christy Berk

General Council

Coordinates and plans the annual General Council meeting. The committee will meet to discuss speakers, breakout sessions, and the menu. 

Chair: Judy Kearns, judykearns@utah.gov
Staff: Angie Mann

Grievance Appeal & representation

To help better represent our members, this committee reviews and provides recommendations regarding employee grievances and appeals. In the case of a grievance, the committee will meet to review the case, listen to the testimony of the person filing the grievance, and ask questions. The committee will also meet occasionally for training exercises.

Chair: Marsha Bentley, mbentley@utah.gov
Staff: Christy Berk and Hannah Gorski

Insurance & Retirement

The Insurance and Retirement committee tracks heath-care and retirement issues that affect public employees. Throughout the year, guest speakers from URS, PEHP, DHRM and others will present to the committee.

Chair: Max Collotzi, maxcollotzi39@gmail.com
Staff: Christy Berk and Samantha Unruh

Legislative

The UPEA Legislative Standing Committee meets during the summer and fall months each year to review legislative issues that may come up at the next legislative session. The committee ranks issues that are most important and puts them in a legislative package. The legislative package serves as the foundation of UPEA’s lobbying efforts and provides the information that UPEA shares with policymakers to ensure they know which issues are most important to public employees.

Chair: Christie Workman, cworkman@utah.gov
Staff: Todd Losser and Kendle Zdunich

Human Resources Policy & Rules

The Human Resources Policy and Rules Standing Committee is responsible for tracking changes made to Human Resource rules and regulations being proposed by Human Resources or other governing bodies.  This committee also reviews the Human Resource rules pertaining to government agencies.

Chair: Christine Reyes, creyes@utah.gov
Staff: Hannah Gorski and Samantha Unruh

Membership Services & Public Relations

The Membership Services and Public Relations Standing Committee is responsible for researching best practices for communicating with members and nonmembers. It formulates and develops a recruitment plan to enhance public relations and increase membership.

Chair: Alene Stringham, alenest@aol.com
Staff: Kendle Zdunich and Samantha Unruh

Resolutions

This committee gathers resolutions from districts and other standing committees.  The resolutions are compiled for review and voted upon during General Council.  The committee also follows up on approved resolutions. 

Chair: Jackie Pino, jpino@utah.gov
Staff: Hannah Gorski

A Message from UPEA President, Dennis Kay

This is the second year UPEA has found it necessary to cancel General Council and conduct the required business through virtual meetings. I miss tremendously our annual General Council. The social aspects, the training, renewing friendships, and making new friends are the hallmarks of this event. I look forward to the new normal which includes future General Council events.

In this very public forum, I want to thank Lori Benton for her leadership as UPEA President during this most challenging year.

I also want to recognize and thank all the Public Employees who support UPEA through their membership. Those who are willing to give extra as leaders of each UPEA District, Advisory Council, State Board and Officers.

A special thanks UPEA Executive Director Todd Losser and the UPEA staff. They have overcome a global pandemic in making sure UPEA has had a successful year.

The hurdles of the past year have been many. Politics have become even more partisan. UPEA has always taken pride in avoiding that partisanship. In working cooperatively with elected officials to find solutions which provide better government services, improve employee working conditions and moral.

In so many ways, UPEA continues to work toward the vision of its founders and first president, Leonard W. McDonald. He was the Executive Director of the Utah State Retirement Office for 24 years. In a 1987 interview, McDonald said UPEA was established to secure and protect retirement benefits, ensure fair compensation, and employee rights But just as important, UPEA was founded to increase self confidence and pride for those who work in the service of the public.

Going forward one of UPEA’s first tasks will be to organize a task force to study and make recommendations regarding Civil Service and employee compensation. The task force will consist of UPEA members who will represent the perspective of employees from multiple state agencies.

This task force is just one of the many ways UPEA continues to work toward the vision of UPEA’s founder and first president, Leonard W. McDonald. He was the Executive Director of the Utah State Retirement Office for 24 years. In a 1987 interview, Leonard said UPEA was established to secure and protect retirement benefits, ensure fair compensation, and employee rights. But just as important, UPEA was founded to increase self confidence and pride for those who work in the service of the public.

I would like to share what Jackie Pino, UPEA Second Vice President expressed so well:

“I have been amazed and humbled by the sacrifices, innovation, and strength that our Public Employees have displayed during this global pandemic. Each and every day, as we slowly return to a new normal, Public Employees deserve acknowledgment and recognition for their efforts.”

Thank you all for your dedication and I look forward to serving as UPEA President for the coming year.

A Moment in History: Recognizing an Outstanding Member’s Dedication

Elaine Bonham began her career with the Department of Employment Security in 1960.  She worked part time as a Claims Clerk for 5 years before transitioning into a full-time position.  As a full-time employee, Elaine was now eligible to join the Utah Public Employees’ Association.  On the day she joined UPEA, she was also elected as Chapter Secretary.

In 1997, Utah consolidated employment and public assistance programs in the Department of Workforce Services.  In December of 1997, Elaine retired from her career as an adjudicator for unemployment insurance claims.

Over the years, UPEA members, employees, supervisors, managers, legislators, and several governors recall Elaine as a fierce advocate for state employees.  In 2005, she was elected by the association’s membership to the position of Second Vice President and served as UPEA’s president from 2007 – 2008.

She has been appointed, assigned, and elected for just about every role and position at UPEA, and has always diligently served the membership.  In addition to her work with UPEA, she also served as the President of the Utah County Republican Women and remains involved as their Parliamentarian.  She has continued her involvement with UPEA by staying involved in the leadership of the Retirees District, Advisory Council, and chairing the Bylaws Committee.

Elaine has been recognized throughout her career with numerous achievements and success.  However, her greatest accomplishment is the pride she takes in her family, which includes 2 children, 14 grandchildren, and 16 great grandchildren (and counting).

Recently, Elaine has stepped back from her active role in UPEA to focus on her family, traveling, her many hobbies, and her volunteer work.  She has made a permanent and lasting impression on those who have worked with her.  UPEA staff and members will miss seeing Elaine but will recall her final line in her Farewell Message as UPEA President in May 2008, “I’ll be around,” and we are certain she will be.

Rules Corner – Performance Improvement Plans

According to Division of Human Resources Management (DHRM) Rule R477-10-2, when an employee’s performance does not meet established standards due to failure to maintain skills, incompetence, or inefficiency, and after consulting with DHRM, agency management may place an employee on an appropriate and documented performance improvement plan (PIP). Career service employees may be placed on a PIP for failing a performance evaluation.


Performance improvement plans shall identify or provide for:

  • A designated period of time for improvement
  • An opportunity for remediation
  • Performance expectations
  • Closer supervision to include regular feedback of the employee’s progress
  • Notice of disciplinary action for failure to improve

Performance improvement plans may also identify or provide training, reassignment, and/or use of appropriate leave depending on the nature of the performance issue.


While on a PIP, Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) staff recommends that the employee makes completing the PIP successfully a priority to avoid future discipline. After the designated period of time for improvement, normally 90 days, the supervisor must provide the employee with a written performance evaluation. The evaluation depends on the results of the weekly progress meetings and the midpoint evaluation. Employees can submit a written comments to accompany the PIP in their personnel files; this gives employees an opportunity to express their disagreement while still adhering to the requirements of their plans. This evaluation will rate the employee as having either completed the PIP successfully or unsuccessfully. If employees fails the PIP, they have the opportunity to file a grievance over the findings and/or the resulting discipline.

If you have questions about PIPs, please contact your employee representative.

UPEA Forms ‘Career Opportunities, Merit Pay, & Performance’ Taskforce

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) State Board of Directors is in the process of organizing the Career Opportunities, Merit Pay & Performance (COMPP) Task Force to study and make recommendations regarding civil service, at-will service, employee compensation, and pay for performance. The task force will consist of approximately 10 UPEA members representing the perspective of employees from different state agencies. John Barrand, executive director of the Division of Human Resources Management, has also volunteered to participate. 

The COMPP Task Force will meet throughout April, May, and June and make a final report with recommendations to the UPEA State Board by July 1, 2021.

Watch for updates throughout the summer. 

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 originated 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.

JANUARY 2021

Dr. Shannon Wnek is an exceptional public employee, dedicated to her role as the audiology and compliance coordinator for the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program with the Bureau of Children with Special Healthcare Needs. She regularly reviews and updates practice protocols for newborn hearing screenings, working with programs and partners to collaboratively solve any issues or struggles. Thank you, Dr. Wnek, for your commitment over the past 10 years to providing clinical services for the Utah Department Health and providing tele-audiology services to rural locations.

Jeff Olinger, a state employee for more than 10 years, is a program specialist for the Utah Department of Workforce Services. He is recognized for keeping public employees’ best interests in mind and representing their views with his work for UPEA. Olinger is known around the Price DWS office for his positive attitude and willingness to answer any questions. Thank you for always being a voice for public employees!

February 2021

Chris Bowden, an environmental scientist with the Salt Lake County Health Department, has an exceptional work ethic. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Bowden has worked tirelessly, doing contact tracing and making restaurant exposure calls – all while continuing to prioritize his commitment to ensuring food safety for Salt Lake County residents. Chris’s dedication for the health and safety of the public does not go unnoticed.

Matthew Slawson is an exemplary program manager of forensic toxicology with the Utah Department of Health’s Public Health Laboratories. He is known for being knowledgeable, and humble, and for treating his employees with respect and kindness. Over the years, he has earned the respect of others through his dedication and hard work in improving turnaround time for reporting cases out and expanding services the program provides. Slawson is recognized for securing grants to help the Forensic Toxicology Program grow and for sustaining the growth with improving training programs for the staff and public.

Kristen Taylor is an associate professor at Salt Lake Community College. For more than  10 years, she has been a dedicated educator to students in the Biology Department. Her commitment to taking time to help all students has earned her a reputation as one of the best instructors. Taylor is recognized as an amazing professor and is known for being instrumental in providing online courses during the pandemic.

Valerie Worrall is a transitional caseworker for the Utah Department of Corrections Programming Division. Worrall has been instrumental in bringing classes and opportunities to the inmate population to assist in reducing recidivism. She provides encouragement and countless resources for success upon reentry into the community. Worrall has navigated obstacles to continue to diligently provide cognitive behavioral therapy classes during the pandemic. She has been a beacon of light through a very dark time.

March 2021

Krysta Badger has been with the Utah Department of Health’s Children with Special Healthcare Needs Bureau since 2008. She is currently serving as the data coordinator for Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Data. Badger is an unsung hero, working quietly behind the scenes, making sure every birth in Utah is accounted for in the state EHDI database. She makes sure each infant – nearly 50,000 a year – receives a newborn hearing screening. Thank youfor always being a kind person and an excellent communicator. 

Jennifer Maxfield is an essential member of the Health and Life Rates and Forms Analysts Team for the Utah Insurance Department. She excels at  her responsibilities and approaches each one with enthusiasm. Maxfield has created valuable tools to help analysts perform duties more efficiently. She is recognized for her positivity and charming sense of humor. Thank you for helping to ensure insurance carriers offer compliant and value-based products to the residents of Utah. 

Officer Benjamin Suamataia has been an outstanding officer since starting with the Utah Department of Corrections. He is often found mentoring newer officers, responding to critical incidents, and maintaining an air of natural professionalism few can imitate. He faces volatile situations and helps broker peaceful resolutions. Thank you, Officer Suamatiai, for your dedication to the Utah State Prison and for going above and beyond for the public.  

Lt. Alan Zimmerman is a long serving public employee for the Utah Department of Corrections, who routinely goes above and beyond for his officers. He is dedicated to working long weekend shifts so that his officers can leave on time. Lt. Zimmerman is forward thinking, duty oriented, and displays a desire for perfection few others can achieve. Officers who report to him consider it a privilege to serve under his leadership.

Thank you all for your dedication to the citizens of Utah!
Click here to nominate an outstanding employee for recognition in the Public Employee Salute.

UPEA Announces New State Board of Directors and District Advisory Representatives

This March, in lieu of the annual General Council, members of the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) Advisory Council met virtually to nominate and elect the State Board of Directors. Member participation in the UPEA State Board of Directors and Advisory Council is critical to the success of the association. A special thank you to these members for their time and commitment to fighting for Utah’s public employees!

2021-2022 Elected Officers:


Newly Elected State Board of Directors:

Judy Kearns – Department of Workforce Services

Alene Stringham – retiree from Utah Courts

Jeff Olinger – Department of Workforce Services

Travis Dimick – Department of Corrections

Matt Briggs – Department of Natural Resources

Andrew Pacejka  – Department of Public Safety

Marsha Bentley – Department of Natural Resources


Advisory Council District Representatives:

Judy Kearns – Bear River District               

Alene Stringham – Ogden Valley District

Dillon Pitchforth – Mountainlands District             

Michelle Crofts – Panoramaland District

LaRee Howard – Color Country District   

Jone Wells – Uintah Basin District

Jeff Olinger – Southeastern District         

Wayne Anderton – SL Valley Local Gov  

Craig Greenberg – Law Enforcement District       

Travis Dimick – Law Enforcement District               

Matt Briggs – Law Enforcement District  

Andrew Pacejka  – Law Enforcement District         

Rod Andrews – Transportation District

Teresa Johnson – Transportation District

Jerry Rogers – North Temple District       

Marsha Bentley – North Temple District

Jorie Hill – Downtown District

Christine Reyes – Downtown District

Faye Pilcher – Salt Lake South East District

Gale Pace – Retirees District

Max Collotzi – Retirees District

Mike LaPray – Retirees District   

Bob Steele – Retirees District

UPEA Announces 2021 Scholarship Award Recipients

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is excited to announce the winners of the 2021 scholarships sponsored by Mountain America Credit Union. This is the 14th year that UPEA has offered these scholarships, and the nominees are only getting more impressive.

Selections are based on academic achievement, community service, future plans, and skills or hobbies outside of school. UPEA sought to find three well-balanced individuals who will use the $1,000 awards to further their careers and continue to serve their communities. UPEA appreciates the service provided by public employees and hopes that these scholarships serve to ensure that the next generation embraces that commitment to public service.  Here are the 2021 award recipients:

Matthew Harris is currently finishing his junior year as a civil engineering student at Utah State University. He’s already received recognition on the Dean’s List twice for his academic achievements and has maintained a 3.91 grade point average (GPA). Before starting college, Harris graduated from high school with a 4.0 GPA and served as his class valedictorian. In addition to his academic endeavors, Harris enjoys playing classical piano and spending time outdoors hiking and fly fishing. His passion for helping others prompted Harris to serve a two-year religious mission in Canada, where he volunteered for the local community. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Harris seeks to obtain a Professional Engineering license, which will allow him to help build communities, creating physical infrastructures that have social impact.

Jacob Richardson has worked for the state of Utah for the past two and a half years, and currently works for the Public Service Commission as a utility technical consultant. At this time, Richardson also is working to receive a bachelor’s of science degree in statistics from the University of Utah. He has maintained a 3.94 GPA thus far. In addition to his college courses and full-time work with the state, Richardson volunteers his time to help the community through the Volunteers of America Youth Resource Center to feed the homeless, and Tree Utah to plant trees in the Cottonwood Canyons. Richardson also enjoys astronomy and spends his free time with the astronomy club and hosting “star parties” to share his hobby with the community. After completing his education, Richardson hopes to continue his public service as an economist for the state of Utah, helping to ensure stable and affordable electric service for Utah citizens.

Chiana Rossiter will graduate from East High School this spring with a 3.99 GPA, and will continue her education in the fall as a freshman at the University of Utah. Throughout high school, Rossiter has been active in sports and activities, including basketball, mountain biking, art club, and the National Honor Society. She also donates her time to clean, develop, and maintain Salt Lake County trails, tutor refugees through the city’s Know Your Neighbor Program, and volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House to lead family activities. Rossiter has participated in the Sugarhouse Community Council meetings and actively contacts her legislators about the local issues she is passionate about. After earning  degrees in microbiology and statistics, Rossiter hopes to serve in the public sector as an epidemiologist. She hopes to be one of the scientists “studying and implementing evidence-based measures to control disease and empowering the public with solid scientific information that will keep them safe and healthy.”

After reviewing the applications, UPEA had a hard time narrowing the nominee pool down to three. One extraordinary applicant stood out in ways the normal qualifications did not consider. The Association felt this candidate deserved recognition, and Mountain America was generous enough to offer another $500 scholarship to Courtney Richardson.

Courtney Richardson is extremely passionate about aviation. Her love of flying has shaped her life in many ways and impacted her personally and professionally. Richardson currently works as a flight attendant for Delta Air Lines while she finishes training for her Commercial Pilot Certification. She’s an active member of the Ninety-Nines Organization, an international association of female pilots promoting aviation through education, mentorship, and community engagement.  The Utah chapter hosts charity events to provide support and resources to members. In addition to her aviation activities, Richardson donates her time to the Volunteers of America Youth Resource Center to cook and serve meals for homeless youth. Richardson plans to continue her training to become a Certified Flight Instructor, and ultimately hopes to start her career as a pilot for Delta Air Lines.

UPEA was extremely impressed by applications this year and looks forward to continuing to offer this opportunity in the future.

Thank you to everyone who applied.