Governor’s Budget Proposal Sets Baseline for Compensation Lobbying

Gov. Gary Herbert took the podium on Dec. 6 at Silicon Slopes headquarters in Lehi to present his proposed budget for the 2020 fiscal year. Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) staff members were there to hear the proposed recommendations for Utah’s public employees and to witness initial reactions.

Herbert said Utah’s economic success has put the state in “an enviable position compared to any other state in America.” The proposed budget reflects the challenges economic success brings with people wanting to come to the state. Herbert continued, saying, “Budgets tend to be just a bunch of abstract numbers, [that] demonstrate what our priorities are,” as a state. The FY 2020 “budget is attempting to, in fact, embrace the successes we’ve had economically, recognize the challenges we see, and see if we can address them together to keep things growing in a positive way.”

Herbert’s recommendations for Utah state employees included a 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) , 0.5 percent targeted and discretionary funding for high-performance employees, funding for the 4.35 percent health insurance increase, funding for the increase in the traditional 401(k) match, and a 1 percent one-time bonus or 401(k)/457 contribution for high-performing employees.

“The governor’s proposed budget is a guideline and should always be viewed as a beginning for future discussions,” UPEA Executive Director Todd Losser said. “There are questions about how the targeted funding and the one-time bonus will be distributed.  There are also questions about how many employees are eligible and the guidelines for determining who are the high-performing employees.”

Since the announcement of the proposed budget, the list of discretionary and targeted compensation increases by agency has been released.

UPEA knows how important state employees are to the success of Utah. State employee compensation should be a priority with the governor’s office and legislators. With the economic success of the state, and Utah’s public employees’ role in this success, it should be reflected through compensation.

This year’s budget proposal represents an increase over last year’s.  Losser also indicated “that UPEA is the only advocate and voice for public employees.  Without the hard work of staff and members, public employees might not have seen the steady increases in pay over the past few years.  UPEA makes sure compensation is a priority and meets year round with the governor’s office, legislators, and other policy makers.”

As final budget numbers are announced in mid-February, UPEA’s lobbying efforts, and the input of state employees, will continue to be at the forefront of conversations with lawmakers. Please be advised that UPEA will send you periodic updates throughout the session on the status of bills.  We are currently tracking legislation that may require you to contact your legislator.

 

 

 

General Council Set to Begin on March 28

Mark your calendars!  The Utah Public Employees’ Association’s (UPEA’s) 2019 General Council will be March 28-29 at the Sheraton Hotel, 150 W. 500 South, Salt Lake City.

Registration forms will be sent to district leaders at the end of January.  This year’s workshops will include:

  • UPEA 101 by UPEA staff
  • “Investment Risks: Lessons from a Bee, a Ladder, and the Titanic” from Financial Education Systems
  • “Wise Use of Credit and Budgeting and also Digital Management” from Mountain America Credit Union
  • Family disaster plans, disaster kits, and protective action from Be READY Utah

Keynote speakers are to be announced, but you won’t want to miss it! Employees will be granted administrative leave for Friday, March 29, but seats are limited. Be sure to reach out to your UPEA representative if you are interested in attending.

For more information about the 2018 General Council and how to attend, contact the UPEA office at (801) 264-8732.

New Law Gives Workers the Right to Appeal Abusive Conduct Investigation Findings

Although a new law allows appeals in workplace abusive conduct cases, no one asked for a review in the first six months after the law took effect, Akiko Kawamura told the Legislature’s Retirement and Independent Entities Interim Committee at its Nov. 26 meeting.

Kawamura, administrator for the Career Service Review Office (CSRO), said he  “hopes [this] indicates the process is working, and that employees are happy with the investigations, and they have been thorough and fair.”

He addressed committee members about House Bill 383, which passed during the 2018 Legislature. Work Environment and Grievance Procedure Amendments took effect May 8, 2018, enacting changes to the state’s abusive conduct procedure.

Since 2016, the Department of Human Resources Management (DHRM) has held the authority to conduct investigations into allegations of abusive conduct in the workplace for executive branch employees. Before HB 383 took effect, investigations could not be reviewed.

Now, however, abusive conduct investigation decisions can be appealed directly to the CSRO.

The legislation also updated training for employees on grievances. Kawamura and managers participated in a pilot training program that is ready to launch. The training is thorough and easy to understand, Kawamura said.

 

 

Rules Corner: Understanding Lunch, Break, and Exercise Release Periods

For many public employees, the right to take breaks at work can seem ambiguous. It is important to know what you are entitled to and to understand the differences between lunch, a break, and an exercise release. Department of Human Resources Management (DHRM) Rule R477-8-3 states that each full-time workday may include a minimum of a 30-minutes uncompensated lunch period, granted at the discretion of agency management.

It is important to note that lunch periods may not be used to shorten a work day. An employee is also entitled to take a 15-minute break for every four hours worked. Again, these breaks may not be accumulated to shorten a work day or lengthen a lunch period.

Because more agencies now permit employees to engage in compensated exercise release time, it is important to understand the parameters. At the employer’s discretion, an employee is allowed to exercise up to three days per week for 30 minutes. Please note that work time exercise that is a job requirement is not subject to be used as exercise release time. Utah Performance Management documents all authorization for exercise time and regularly scheduled lunch breaks less than 30 minutes in length.

A part of Rule R477-8-3 that is often overlooked or unknown to employees is that a female employee, following the first year of a child’s life, is allowed reasonable, daily breaks to pump breastmilk for her child. These breaks must be requested by the employee through her supervisor and human resources. A state agency must provide a private location, other than a restroom, for the employee’s convenience and privacy whiling pumping breastmilk. Agencies also must provide temporary storage for the expressed milk.

If you have any questions about breaks in the workplace, please contact the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) to learn more.

 

 

Moment in History: UPEA Helps to Establish Statewide Retirement System

The approaching legislative session present a good opportunity to look back at the history of the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) and the bills it fought so hard for in the past.

One of UPEA’s earliest accomplishments was passing Senate Bill 67 in 1961. At the time, Utah public employees had no statewide retirement system and the systems in place were not functional nor did they provide sufficient benefits for employees. As a result, UPEA decided to draft legislation to address problems and extend retirement benefits to employees of all state agencies.

Commissioner Arias G. Belnap met at the state Capitol to consider the nine basic recommendations submitted by UPEA’s Bill Drafting Committee. The nine matters discussed that comprised the bill were:

  1. Investment provisions for contributed funds
  2. Effective date of the new system
  3. Formula of employer-employee contributions
  4. Retirement age
  5. Disability provision
  6. Withdrawal of contributions by separate employees
  7. Death benefits
  8. Relationship of the old retirement system to the proposed new system
  9. Relationship of the proposed new system to existing programs of other groups

After the bill was drafted and officially presented and supported by key supporters, it passed unanimously in the Senate. Its passage was considered a milestone because it represented a collaboration of state, county, and city units in addition to UPEA.

“Our success to date is a tribute to the officers and committees of the Association (UPEA) who have worked many months in preparing these bills designed to improve the status and effectiveness of state employment in Utah,” UPEA said at the time.

Finally, in February 1961, the bill became law and was set to take effect on July 1 of that year.

UPEA had high hopes that the bill’s passage would represent a strong step forward for those who view state service as a career.

Throughout the years, UPEA has fought to make a career in public service a path that leads to a healthy, happy, and stable life. Its goals have not changed since 1961, and UPEA will continue to help strengthen and improve public employees’ lives by working to create a worthwhile and sustainable environment.

 

FY20 Governor’s Budget

Governor Herbert released his proposed budget on December 6, 2018.  His recommendations included a 2.5% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for state employees, .5% targeted and discretionary funding for high performance employees (click here to see the full list of targeted positions), funding for the 4.35% health insurance increase, funding for the increase in the Traditional 401(k) match, and a 1% one-time bonus or 401(k)/457 contribution for high performing employees.

UPEA’s executive director Todd Losser stated, “The Governor’s proposed budget is a guideline and should always be viewed as a beginning for future discussions.  There are questions about how the targeted funding and the one-time bonus will be distributed.  There are also questions about how many employees are eligible and the guidelines for determining who are the high performing employees.”

As final budget numbers are released in mid-February UPEA’s lobbying efforts, and the input of state employees will continue to be at the forefront of conversations with lawmakers.

State employee compensation should be a priority with the governor’s office and legislators.  This year’s budget proposal is an increase over last years.  Losser also indicated, “that UPEA is the only advocate and voice for public employees.  Without the hard work of staff and members public employees might not have seen the steady increases in pay over the past few years.  UPEA makes sure compensation is a priority and meets year-round with the governor’s office, legislators, and other policy makers.”

Please be advised that UPEA will send you periodic updates throughout the session on the status of bills.  We are currently tracking legislation that may require you to contact your legislator.

Rules Corner: DHRM’s Rulemaking Process Explained

The Department of Human Resources Management (DHRM) is in charge of making rules that govern Utah state employees. DHRM receives input (agencies, state employees, employee advocacy groups, interested citizens, and the Legislature are all eligible to submit), reviews the input, and drafts and revises rules to reflect the intended result. The proposed changes/additions are compared with current  laws and rules to determine whether they may lead to any unintended consequences.

Bryan Embley, who administers the rules-change process for DHRM, spoke to the Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) Human Resource Policy and Rules Committee on Sept. 20. “The process of rule change isn’t always pretty, but it is straightforward,” he said.

The committee asked Embley to present on the process, and to explain how UPEA can best provide input about rule changes.

Input may be submitted to DHRM at any time during the year, Embley said.  The following must be included when submitting input:

  • the proposed change
  • why the change should be made
  • contact information of those requesting the changes

If a proposed changes was previously submitted and rejected, DHRM will contact the submitting party to ask why it should be reconsidered. A running list with the original rule, the proposed rule, and the reason for change, along with thoughts on unanticipated consequences, is added to year round until it’s time to approve the policy changes.

DHRM creates a master draft of proposed rules during the legislative session that uses redline to show what would change.  The DHRM Labor Relations team reviews the redlined draft, seeking out experts in the areas of proposed changes to ensure proposed changes will be effective and will not conflict with existing rule and law. It ensures that the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) approves the proposed language, and that any unintended consequences are acceptable. At the completion of the legislative session, any legislation passed related to rulemaking is added to the master document. When the Legislature ends, the master draft is sent out for comments on unintended consequences, Embley noted that, “sometimes the changing of one rule will change another rule,” and DHRM wants to make sure any subsequent changes are done intentionally.

Embley notified the Human Resource Policy and Rules Committee that DHRM wants new rules to be effective on July 1, 2019. He informed UPEA that DAS must file finalized rules between April 16 and May 1, 2019, resulting in proposed changes being published in the May 15, 2019 DAS  bulletin. This means that UPEA needs to submit comments before April 16, and he encouraged UPEA to submit ideas as they come up.

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