Understand the Issues: UPEA’s Vigilance Protects Utah’s Career Service System

Utah’s Career Service System covers most of the state’s “merit” employees, and guarantees fair compensation, retention based on performance, and access to a speedy grievance process, among other important rights.

In place since the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) fought for its creation more than 50 years ago, the Career Service System, outlined in the Utah Personnel Management Act (67-19-3.1), is key to a career in public service, yet state workers never should take its guarantees for granted.

Each year as the legislative session approaches, UPEA demonstrates vigilance in its efforts to protect the Career Service System from attempts to whittle away its protections. It foresees no such challenges so far for the 2019 Legislature, but as recently as 2016, lawmakers considered Senate Bill 176, which, if it had passed, would have empowered the Utah State Board of Education and the Department of Human Resources Management to offer financial incentives for some information technology and financial employees to voluntarily relinquish their merit status.

Across the nation, merit-based employment for state workers is under attack.  Arizona and Colorado are among states that have started to phase out some aspects of their merit systems.

Any effort to diminish or alter merit status afforded under Utah’s Career Service System would change merit employees’ status to “at-will,” meaning they could be dismissed at any time without warning as long as their firing did not violate state or federal law.

UPEA believes merit-based employment is vital to most categories of state workers because it prevents a “spoils system” under which politicians award government jobs as political favors and fire employees as political retribution.  Utah’s Career Service System ensures a stable, high-quality workforce that operates equitably and free of political coercion.

The Association answers critics who argue merit employment restricts hiring and prevents firing of poor performers by advocating for improved supervisor training and proper use of performance management tools to address problems.

UPEA considers the Career Service System one of the Association’s key accomplishments, and it will continue to advocate for state employee rights. For more information, call (801)264-8732.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter 2019 President’s Message

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season with your families and friends. I also hope 2019 will be a good year for all of you.

I have some things that need to be brought to your attention.

  • The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is getting ready for the legislative session and has posted the 2019 bill tracker online. If you are curious about which bills UPEA is watching and where those bills are at in the legislative process, feel free to check it out on our website.
  • UPEA has partnered with Mountain America Credit Union to offer three $1,000 scholarships to our members and their dependents. If you’re interested, please visit our website for the forms and requirements. All applications are due March 1. The successful applicants will be honored at General Council in March.
  • It’s almost time to vote for UPEA’s new second vice president. Make sure to read up on the candidates so you are able to make an informed decision.
  • I urge you to get involved in your districts. Each district has several positions that you could help out in.
  • Get involved with one of the standing committees that UPEA sponsors. Pick one that you are interested in or choose several committees; just get involved and let your voice be heard and be a part of shaping UPEA.

Thank you for all your hard work and being apart of UPEA.

Mark Murray, president

 

 

 

Apply for the UPEA/MACU Scholarship by March 1

Every spring, Mountain America Credit Union (MACU) partners with the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) to offer three scholarships to members of the Association or their dependents. Only members of both UPEA and MACU, their spouses, their dependents, and/or grandchildren are eligible to apply for the scholarship.

The awards are granted based on skill, scholastic ability, community service, and future employment plans.

Click here to access the scholarship application, which is due March 1 at 5 p.m. Send forms to the UPEA office, 1000 W. Bellwood Lane, Murray, UT, 84123-4494, or email them to kendle@upea.net.

Scholarships will be awarded at the UPEA General Council recognition dinner on March 28 at the Downtown Salt Lake City Sheraton Hotel. Contact Kendle Zdunich at 801-264-8732 ext. 209 if you have any questions.

Salt Lake County Gets a New Budget and a New Mayor for the New Year

The Salt Lake County Council in December approved a 2019 budget that former Mayor Ben McAdams believes rewards employees who have remained with the county.

Changes that will benefit employees include:

  • 2 percent salary structure adjustment (in response to job market changes)
  • 3 percent across-the-board pay increase for eligible employees
  • $3.4 million in compensation set aside for sworn officers to manage recruitment and retention
  • $4 million set aside for pay compression (not including benefits, this number will end up increasing)
  • modest increases to some health insurance premiums
    • Traditional PPO Plan: 6.5 percent increase due to rising pharmaceutical costs and to solidify ESR reserves; no change to the “80/20” split will be made
    • High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP): no increase

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) supporting McAdams’ budget proposal. Staffers spoke before the county council in support of the budget shortly after McAdams unveiled it on Oct. 23.

“Salt Lake County employees are some of the most talented in the valley,” McAdams said at the time, thanking employees who have stayed with the county despite hard times. He characterized aspects of his proposal as a reward for county employees’ loyalty and patience.

McAdams in December resigned as county mayor after being elected to represent Utah’s 4th District in Congress. The Utah Democratic Party will choose a candidate to serve the rest of the mayoral term and there will be an official election in 2020. Shireen Ghorbani and County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson are running to replace McAdams.

 

Public Employee Salute Winners – August-December 2018

The Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) is proud to participate in the Public Employee Salute Program.  The program began in 1999, when a past UPEA executive director noticed that KSL Radio had a special “Teacher Feature” segment to recognize Utah teachers.  UPEA and Mountain America Credit Union modeled the Public Employee Salute Program after Teacher Feature.

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

August

Roger Whitear

Roger Whitear is an employment counselor at the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) South Davis Employment Center. He has worked for the state for 20 years. Whitear is “stationed” at the front desk. He greets and helps those who enter the doors. He is the first person customers see when they arrive and the last when they leave. He knows many customers by name, and takes care of their needs immediately. In turn, DWS customers know Whitear by name, and if he is not at the front desk, they ask for him. Whitear takes the time to find out what the customer’s needs are, and instead of handing them off to someone else, he tries to assist them. He has helped individuals fill out tedious applications, fax mountainloads of documents to the appropriate departments, and he does this all with a smile. He is kind and understanding, and easily expresses empathy for customers. Whitear is always trying to assist his coworkers and make their jobs simple and enjoyable. He makes sure printers are full of paper, copy machines are working properly, and that all tools and supplies needed are in order. Whitear truly understands the concept of customer service and he demonstrates this every day.

Clarice Garcia

Clarice Garcia is a caseworker for the Department of Human Services (DHS). Garcia has worked for the state for nine years. She goes above and beyond to work with community partners and have her clients’ needs met. She is very organized in her job duties and is known to color-code each case, exemplifying her creative skills. This also helps her remember different cases. Garcia is friendly and willing to offer any coworker advice if needed. She goes on to show support to the families she works with, and helps them identify formal and informal resources. She recently worked on a case that had been open for several years that had encountered various setbacks. Due to her dedication, she was able to find a permanent home and close the case with a successful sibling adoption. On her off time, Clarice enjoys volunteering for the Girl Scouts, leading her own troop. When she is not busy with work or her troop, she spends time with her family.

Julie Stark-John

Julie Stark-John is a DHS caseworker for the Utah Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). She has worked for the state for four years. She always goes out of her way to make sure that the kids and parents she works with know that she cares about them, wants to help, and has the child’s best interest at heart. Stark-John is always positive, and has a smile and a kind word for everyone. She has a great sense of humor and always makes other laugh and smile. She has a way about her that quickly puts people at ease. Stark-John is organized, pays attention to detail, and always remembers what she’s been told. If you have a question for her, she has the answer. When you interact with Stark-John, she never makes you feel rushed or like you are a burden. She is awesome about answering texts, emails or phone calls even if it means taking her time after hours to help you or answer a question. Another great quality that Stark-John possesses is her desire to better understand her clients and their individual needs. She has a gift of communicating and explaining things in a way that each individual understands. Being involved with DCFS and the court system can be a scary and uncomfortable situation for children or their parents but Stark-John has a way of making others feel safe, comfortable, and cared about. She is not only an incredible caseworker but an all-around genuinely good person.

Bonnie Wilder-Estes

Bonnie Wilder-Estes’ zeal for doing forensic science is unparalleled in the Utah Bureau of Forensic Services (UBFS). It is safe to say that she lives for doing forensics. Wilder-Estes  has been with UBFS since 2005, when she interned with the Bureau’s Identification Section while at the same time finishing her bachelor’s degree in criminalistics at Weber State University. She soon gained employment as a forensic specialist for the Bureau’s Evidence Section in 2006, and has since progressed to her current position as a senior forensic scientist with the ID section. Wilder-Estes principally works as a fingerprint analyst, and she is one of the ID Section’s top producers. In her tenure with the ID Section, she has worked more than 1,800 fingerprint cases. Some of her more notable recent cases include helping to identify a murderer, leading to his apprehension just hours before he boarded a plane out of the country. In another recent case, Wilder-Estes’ ingenuity led to identifying an unknown individual who had been burned beyond recognition. In both instances, she interrupted her normal duties and personal life to get the identifications necessary for a quick resolution to these cases. In addition to her duties as a fingerprint analyst, Wilder-Estes acts as a team leader for the Bureau’s Crime Scene Response Team. She is also an instructor for the annual crime scene specialist training and the fingerprint detection, enhancement and collection course. She is finishing her own training to become qualified as a bloodstain pattern analyst, the first the bureau has had in the past five years. True to the level of professionalism that she exemplifies, Wilder-Estes is certified both as a latent print examiner and as a crime scene analyst with the International Association for Identification (IAI). She is an active member of the IAI, and has served locally in nearly every board position, including president of the Utah chapter of IAI. In addition to her duties with the Bureau of Forensic Services, Wilder-Estes for the past four years has served as an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University. There, she teaches classes in fingerprint processing, crime scene investigation and blood stain pattern analysis. Her enthusiasm, coupled with her propensity to expand her professional horizons and willingness to sacrifice her personal time, make her an outstanding public employee.

September

Lee Thompson

Lee Thompson has worked for the state for more than 20 years. He is an Electronics Tech II for the Utah Department of Transportation.  After more than  20 years in maintenance, Thompson has eagerly learned a new field, taking on any task assigned. Lee works on traffic signals, blue-stake locating, school crossings, flashing signs, and roadway lighting. He has recently become proficient in trouble shooting CCTV cameras, traffic counting and monitoring stations, variable message signs (large and small), and fiber and radio communication. When ATMS devices were added to his responsibilities, Thomposon enthusiastically applied himself to learn all he could to maintain these systems. He often takes phone calls at all hours of the day and night to answer questions in his areas of expertise as well as to respond to unsafe traffic conditions. He is always concerned about keeping himself and his coworkers safe and out of harm’s way.

Raymond Caldwell

Raymond Caldwell works for the Utah Department of Workforce Services as an administrative support manager. Caldwell works diligently to further public trust, and to ensure taxpayers are able to access services in a comfortable, clean, and safe environment, while making sure that funds are used wisely. He guides his team of facility and support service coordinators and purchasing agents, ensuring they have needed technology and equipment.  Ray emphasizes efforts to use taxpayer money wisely. Consistency in furniture purchases affords the ability to maintain a small storage of furnishings that can work in a myriad of locations as needed given staff turnover. He ensures an accurate inventory is valued for adequate insurance coverage, reducing premium costs for an overestimated value. He coordinates needed capital improvements to maintain the function and safety of staff and consumers.

Kathy Holder

Kathy Holder has worked for the state for 15 years, and is the Utah floodplain manager for the Division of Emergency Management. She works tirelessly, taking calls at nights, attending late-night meetings, and working weekends. Holder is committed to her work and has exceeded all expectations.  In the time she has worked for the state, she has distinguished herself as a true professional who represents the citizens of the state. Holder’s commitment to Utah is tremendous.

Tom Cox

Tom Cox is an engineer for Division of Water Resources, having worked for the state for 28 years. Not only does he commit his time to the state, he spends a lot of time volunteering. He donates to various charities as well as to blood banks, and supports the Blue Sky Program for new energy technology. He helps make mattresses for those in need and helps sort and deliver food for the food bank.

October 2018

Tanya Schwemmer

Tanya Schwemmer is a permanency specialist for the Department of Child and Family Servicers. She is always cheerful and positive. You will never see her without a smile on her face; she is always giving a friendly greeting.  She advocates for clients any way she can, interacting with them in a patient and kind manner. She is a great listener and cares about her clients. Her work is detail oriented. She ensures her work is done on time and to the best of her ability. Tanya is surrounded by employees who admire her positive nature and kind heart.

Sharlene Thomas

Sharlene Thomas is an administrative assistant for the Biology Department at Salt Lake Community College. She is admired for her willingness to help anyone who needs it. She always volunteers to usher at graduations, hand out literature to employees at convocations, and assists on committees. Thomas is always first to volunteer. Her professional opinion is valued and she is a dependable team player.

Beth Craig

Beth Craig, having worked for the state for 30 years, is currently a program manager at the Utah State Tax Commission. She works on the agency’s Taxpayer Access Point (TAP) System, which allows users to file and pay their taxes electronically, working with partners to ensure the security of tax data while making the system user friendly. She educates staff and taxpayers on the system and the benefits of filing and paying online. Craig is a diligent worker who cares about the agency, working tirelessly on refining the process of the billing and collection program to ensure that accurate notifications are sent. While doing all of this, she has simultaneously managed a group of employees in a call center. Craig genuinely cares about the agency and the way information is presented to customers, the tax-paying public. She is diligent in ensuring that public information is clear, understandable, and secure.

Kristine Bradley

Kristine Bradley is a supervisor at the Department of Workforce Services. She has been an employee for DWS for 20 years, and is appreciated for her leadership and supervisory skills. She listens with care and concern to employees and customers, going out of her way to support her employees as individuals. She has great interest in the success of her employees at work and in meeting their personal goals. She encourages employee participation at conference and workshops to enhance skills, preparing individuals for promotions. Bradley is patient, demonstrating a positive, gentle demeanor. She is knowledgeable and proficient in the people skills she has obtained through the years, learning all the programs she supervises, and is always willing to step in and cover appointments as needed.  She is respected for her caring and positive attitude; she never hesitates to assist anyone who needs it.

Stacie Smith

Stacie Smith is a training employment counselor at the South Davis Employment Center. She plays an integral part in working with customers. Her understanding, skills, and most of all, her caring concern, are an essential asset for her success. She is always willing to meet with her customers and coordinate services with employment counselors, schools, and employers. She works tirelessly to help customers move into employment.  She understands the importance of helping these customers obtain their education and training so they can move into employment where they will be able to support themselves and their families.

November

Deki Kelsang-Yanger

Deki Kelsang-Yanger is a forensic scientist for the state. She is known by coworkers and peers to be kind. She is helpful to anyone who needs help and gets along with everyone she meets. She joined the Forensic Toxicology Program in September 2007, and was promoted to be the lab’s quality assurance manager in 2009.  During this time, she worked side by side with the chief toxicologist to achieve accreditation for the laboratory. She is always looking for ways to improve customer service to clients, as well as using resources in the most appropriate ways. She helped transition the lab from doing most drug analyses on gas chromatograph -mass spectrometry (GC-MS) to liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry  (LC-MS-MS) starting around 2010. The move made it possible for the lab to quantitate at lower concentrations and improved it testing capability for various analyses. Kelsang-Yanger is humble, and doesn’t want to take all the credit. She feels that she would never have been able to make these changes without the help of the toxicology staff.

Theo Priskos

Theo Priskos is a Trans Tech II for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT). He has worked for UDOT for three years. Priskos is recognized for helping out other employees along with answering questions from a contractor about the job he was on. He keeps a positive attitude while assisting fellow employees and contractors. Priskos’ work ethic is strong. Coworkers are proud of how he handles himself while being pulled from two directions.

Russell Labrum

Russell Labrum is a nurse investigator for the Utah Office of Inspector General over Medicaid. He has been a state employee for 24 years, and digs in to discover answers to all questions. He is willing to help in any way possible. He is a true team player and is respected in the office. Labrum loves to bake and will share his skills with the office at least twice a month if not more.  He is a shining example to all state employees.

Travis Simons

Sgt. Travis Simons works for Department of Corrections in a variety of positions at the Utah State Prison. He is a well-rounded employee. His experiences helps his team understand how to collaborate more efficiently. As a founding member of the new Level of Service – Risk, Need, and Responsivity team, he helps to implement new policies and rules to ensure fidelity of the program. Simons has a natural talent for performing assessments of offenders, and for keeping the team focused. He is an exemplary mentor for other staff, preparing them for promotions. He passes on the tools he has learned throughout his career and shares then with others, helping provide a great succession plan.

December

Sherrie Brokaw

Sheri Browkaw is an agent assistant who has worked for the Department of Corrections for more than 20 years. She does clerical work for agents, forwarding documents to district courts and district attorneys’ offices, while also researching statistical data and documented narratives so agents can finish reports. Brokaw is recognized for stepping up for six months when she didn’t have assistance for her job, and carried the office with minimal assistance, never once complaining. She works quickly and accurately, but does not hesitate to help in other areas. In June, the office moved to another part of town. Brokaw volunteered to coordinate communication between all parties in the move, including the new building owner and the city whose building was being vacated. She coordinated getting new signage and had new keys cut. She also collected keys for the city building being vacated and did the final cleaning of the office. Brokaw earned a challenge coin from the Regional Director for how smoothly the move went. She also monitors a police radio in her office, which is not one of her required duties. She works part time at the local police department and is familiar with their dealings. Her knowledge of families and family ties in the area has been valuable. Two things she does that show dedication to this line of work is, she takes lunch at her desk every day and she reminds agents when leaving the office to respond to incidents to please wear bulletproof vests. Sherrie has a work ethic that gets her in the office before anyone else arrives. She works long hours at times and is very concerned that work is done well and by the assigned deadline. She is a good editor who is able to catch flaws in reports and documents before they leave the office. Brokaw contributes greatly to the way the office is viewed as a professional agency. There are too many things to list that she does above and beyond her work duties.

Pam Perri 

Pam Perri is an administrative assistant for the Department of Natural Resources Utah Geological Survey. She always has a smile and a positive comment for coworkers. She is kind and hardworking, always willing to help anyone in the department, and doesn’t wait for a request to help out. She is very knowledgeable and if she doesn’t know an answer to a question, she will research it until she finds it. She will volunteer to help other offices and other employees. When her coworker was filling in for another employee as well as doing her own job, she would walk down and ask if she needed a break or needed something done. She didn’t wait for a call of help, she offered it frequently. She was the only one in the department who did that. The employees she works with know they can go to her for anything and she will resolve whatever it is they need.

Desiree Ehlers

Sgt. Desiree Ehlers is the epitome of what a state employee should be. Regardless of the assignment, she is willing to step in and do what needs to be done. She continually goes above and beyond with the limited resources she has. Ehlers is a part of a new assessment team. She helped organize the team to ensure priorities were met, creating spreadsheets and assignments to ensure this with the limited staff. She ensures all assignments by team members are completed in a timely manner, and works closely with the Board of Pardons and Parole to provide them the information they need. Ehlers is continually mentoring the department’s future leaders, and volunteers at the pre-service academy, passing on knowledge by teaching several classes. This is all in addition to her regular assignments.

Mark Urry

Mark Urry is a trial court executive for Utah State Courts. He is welcoming, informative, kind, effective, and efficient. He has a ready smile and listening ear. Urry is a man of vision, working hard to keep the people he works with informed. He has been coordinating the changeover to the new courthouse, providing tours and instruction, and leading the way to gradually implement changes that will be necessary once operations have moved. This is helping to prepare as smooth a transition as possible, minimizing the stress and fear that can accompany large changes.

 

 

UPEA 2nd Vice President Elections Begin Feb. 1

UPEA second vice president elections will be held Feb. 1. Please become familiar with the candidates and make an informed decision. Within UPEA, the second vice president’s responsibilities include:

  • Serving as chairman of the Resolutions Committee, which reviews resolutions and makes recommendations to the General Council and proposes a platform for the coming year.
  • Representing the State Board as a voting member of the Citizen Action by Public Employees’ (CAPE) Committee.

You will receive a ballot by email when it is time to vote.

Here are the two candidates and their platforms:

Wayne Anderton

Hi, my name is Wayne Anderton. I have been employed by Tooele County for the past 22 years, and I’ve been a member of the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) for 20 years. I have spent the past several years as an active member of UPEA in Tooele County, working full time and pursuing my bachelor’s degree in natural resource management. The experience I have gained through my employment, my higher education, and the opportunities I have had working with UPEA on issues such as wage disparity, cancellation of post-retirement benefits, and leave compensation changes give me the confidence and leadership skills to help guide the Association for the next four years. I have confidence in my ability to work with UPEA’s officers and leadership to make the organization stronger and more unified. I intend to focus on the following objectives as second vice president:

Recruitment and membership growth

  • UPEA has a diverse membership that includes state, county, local government, public safety, and retired members. The Association has something to offer every public employee, and I am committed to work with UPEA staff to create a strong voice for all public employees. Through communication and representation, I will work to increase UPEA’s membership.

Representation

  • Utah’s greatest asset is its public employees. As an officer of UPEA, I am committed to create a positive public perception for public employees through education of both the public and elected officials.

Compensation and benefits

  • I will work with the excellent UPEA staff and leadership to effectively communicate to elected officials the economic position and needs of Utah’s public employees. I will help create a plan to educate policymakers and other stakeholders about the tremendous work public employees do for the citizens of this state. In return, public employees’ pay and benefits need to be at the forefront of discussions, and I will help organize and implement a long-term plan to address the pay and benefit needs of public employees.

Dennis Kay

Pay and benefits must be fair and equitable for Public Employees. I don’t know how to express my  platform and candidacy more plainly. Utah is no longer in a recession. The economy is strong. Revenues are up. For over ten years public employees in Utah have carried the burdens of bringing government through hard times into Utah’s current economically strong position.

Now is the time to repay employees for the sacrifices they and their families have made while helping Utah become one of the strongest economies in the nation.

We must work to elect forward thinking candidates to all elected positions in Utah. Utah must elect Candidates who recognize how far behind pay and benefits have fallen. Candidates who want a team oriented work environment to provide the best government possible.   Who will respect public employees and work with employees in providing the best services for Utah’s citizens.

I am running for UPEA 2nd Vice President to help make this happen.  It is my way of trying to pay it forward.  Of saying thanks to those who preceded us, who worked to make public employment better than they found it.

Currently, I help UPEA in the following positions:

  • State Board
  • Advisory Council
  • Color Country District Board
  • CAPE Committee (UPEA’s Political Action Committee)

I am humbled to be able to put my name before you as a candidate for UPEA Second Vice President.

 

 

 

 

UPEA Board Spotlight: Christie Workman

Christie Workman has worked for the state for 23 years this February. She is the executive secretary for Vocational Rehabilitation in the Spanish Fork Department of Workforce Services Office.

She has been a dedicated member of UPEA for almost 23 years. She has held the positions of secretary and treasurer for the Mountainlands District for numerous years. Workman has served on the Advisory Council, State Board, and the Articles and Bylaws Committee. She currently is chairwoman of the General Council Committee. Workman has worked alongside UPEA’s Political Action Committee, CAPE, to interview several political candidates.

Workman became involved with the UPEA State Board because she felt she could help contribute to the great leadership with her skill and input. “What I love about UPEA is that it stands for the public employee,” she said. “It gives us a voice when we don’t have the time to because we are working. The staff listens to your concerns and gladly takes them to the next level to help us maintain our benefits and increase our pay.”

UPEA would like to thank Workman for her dedicated involvement. She is a strong asset to the Association.

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