UPEA Blog

President’s Message

Hello again everyone. It has been a busy and exciting past few months since I became your UPEA president. First, I wish to thank the UPEA staff (Todd Losser, the UPEA office staff, and the district representatives), for their dedication and hard work. Each and every one of them has worked hard to provide members, as well as non-members, legislation updates. They’ve attended benefit fairs around the state and coordinated Public Employee Appreciation Days (PEAD).  All the UPEA staff members have done and continue to do an outstanding job for the UPEA membership. As your president, I encourage every member to review our UPEA committees. If there is one or several that interest you or you would like to know more, I encourage members to review those committees on the UPEA website for information and the next scheduled meeting(s) and contact their district leadership and/or district representative to identify whether they would like to attend in person or via telephone conference call.  Each UPEA member has a valued voice in and with UPEA. Every member can participate in any of the UPEA committees they desire to. Attendance in person is not required for every meeting. UPEA members can sit in on the committee meetings even if they are not participating members of that committee. If they are not an official member of a committee, they cannot vote on any business/actions that the committee performs. This is another great way to learn more about your UPEA and the actual details of UPEA’s business and the things UPEA does for our membership.

Along with this, I encourage all members to submit, through their local district leadership and their Advisory Council representatives, any ideas, suggestions, and/or concerns they may have with UPEA.  I urge district leadership and their district representatives to review the locations of their members and identify any areas/offices/locations where we may have had members previously and either we no longer have any members there or member numbers have dropped in those locations, and see if a plan can be developed to re-engage the public employees in those offices/areas for possible new memberships. If this is a daunting task for the district leadership/representative to take on, seek assistance from the UPEA Membership Services and Public Relations committees, other district representatives, other districts and the UPEA leadership.

Because it is the summer vacation/weekend getaway season, I would also like to take a few minutes to remind members of all the great UPEA membership discounts available to/for and around our great state. These member discounts can be found on the UPEA website (www.upea.net). I would also like to let all district leadership, district representatives, committee chairs and UPEA staff and members know I will gladly attend any meetings and/or events they wish me to attend. Of course, this is as long as my normal work schedule allows. Again, I maintain an open door policy for every UPEA member and nonmember if they have questions about UPEA.

To all public employees throughout the year, I wish safe travels, fun times, and joyous memories that last a lifetime for their loved ones and themselves.

 

 

 

 

UPEA Committee Helps DHRM Improve Rules

An employee who transfers from one state agency to another will not have to complete a second probationary period as long as there is no lapse in service from one position to the next under a new rule approved by the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM).

The new rule, R477-5-2. for the 2018 fiscal year resulted from a meeting between DHRM andthe UPEA Human Resource Policy and Rules Committee.  UPEA staff members Christy Cushing and Kamarie Nicdao met June 8 with Bob Thomas, DHRM labor relations director DHRM HR Specialist Bryan Embley to review DHRM rule changes.

UPEA and DHRM also agreed to add a surviving spouse to R477-7-6, Sick Leave Retirement Benefit. New language in the rule ensures that both employees and their spouses are more aware that they are entitled to access this benefit if  an eligible employee passes away while still employed. Under R477-7-6(5)(B)(vii), in the event an employee is killed in the line of duty, this benefit allows the employees’ spouse to be eligible to use the employees’ available sick leave hours for the purchase of health and dental insurance under Section 67-19-14.3.

The only DHRM rule change UPEA disagreed with was R477-8-17(3), Temporary Transitional Assignment (TTA). DHRM wanted to add language that stated, “time spent on a temporary transitional assignment may be counted as leave for purposes of 477-7-1(9),” where the employee may be separated from employment regardless of paid leave status unless prohibited by state or federal law after four months cumulative leave in a 24 month period.

However UPEA opposed this language because an agency may place an employee on TTA when he or she is under investigation, on corrective or disciplinary action. UPEA believes that because an employee doesn’t volunteer to be placed in TTA under these circumstances, that time should not be counted toward the four months of cumulative leave use in R477-7-1(9).

Thompson acknowledged that UPEA’s concerns are valid. He agreed to exclude time spent an employee is under investigation, on corrective action, or being disciplined.

UPEA members can voluntarily join the committee or give suggestions on human resource rules by contacting their UPEA staff representative. If you would like to attend the next committee meeting, it will be held on Thursday, September 14th at 6:00pm at the UPEA office.

Moment in History: The Merit System

On May 31, 1960, UPEA, with the support of 35 commissioners and state department heads, wrote a letter to Gov. George D. Clyde requesting an in-depth study of state personnel administration.  This letter was the beginning of UPEA’s involvement in the creation of the career service system, a.k.a. the merit system.  Over the course of a year, UPEA researched various state personnel administrations across the nation.  This research culminated in a UPEA-sponsored bill that would be presented during the 1963 legislative session. Senate Bill 149 State Merit System provided for the creation of a statewide merit system.   While this bill had support from the full-membership of UPEA and numerous former state administrators and officials, it was ultimately defeated during the final reading on the Senate floor.  The bill’s defeat was decided by one vote; 13 nays to 12 ayes.  Two years later, during the 1965 legislative session, UPEA succeeded and a sound merit system was developed for state employee.

2017 Legislative Interim Update

Lawmakers Told State Agencies Face Challenge to Retain Workers

Employee recruitment and retention remain a problem for the Utah State Tax Commission, Executive Director Barry Conover told the Legislature’s Business, Economic Development, and Labor Appropriations Subcommittee at its July 26 meeting.

Conover said 732 public employees work for the Tax Commission in six divisions, yet the agency “cannot get enough staff.”

He said it’s difficult in particular to retain tax collectors and auditors because the commission cannot compete with the higher wages offered by  large and mid-sized accounting firms.

In addition, Conover referenced changes to state retirement and health insurance benefits over the past couple years, saying that when benefits were better, employees “could get a lower wage and they would stay for the retirement issue or the medical issue.”

“We have good medical. I’m not complaining and our people don’t complain,” he said. “But those were compensating values between salary and retention.”

Conover also explained that the agency’s “turnover is costly,” noting that the commission uses its efficient employees to train new hires. He said depending on the position. it takes one to five years for a new hire to become fully trained and knowledgeable about the various tax codes.

UPEA often hears from employees struggling to meet their expenses with low wages. Get involved in the Legislative Committee, where members vote on the Association’s legislative priorities, by contacting Kamarie Nicdao at 801-264-8732 ext. 203, or knicdao@upea.net.

Social Services Appropriations Committee Considering Cuts to Office of Recovery Services

A report by the legislative analyst of the Office of Recovery Services (ORS) shows a 35 percent decrease ($3.07 million) in health claim collections from the Bureau of Medical Collections (BMC).

The report, presented to members of the Legislature’s Social Services Appropriations Committee on July 26, recommends cutting full-time positions at the bureau as a result of the reduced workload. .

ORS administrators responded to the recommendation by proposing limiting the potential reduction to five full-time employees. They also proposed reassigning affected employees  to other areas that are experiencing an increase in workload.

UPEA staff is tracking this issue and supports the ORS recommendation from ORS to preserve current employee positions through reassignment rather than a reduction in force.

To view the report, click here.

UPEA Members Establish Legislative Priorities

Each July, UPEA sends a survey to members seeking input on which items should be prioritized during the next legislative session. The 2018 survey was sent on July 10, and UPEA received 706 responses.

Respondents identified compensation as their priority, with 50.74 percent calling it the most important issue, followed by healthcare (18.57 percent) and retirement (18.37 percent). Issues of less importance that UPEA will continue to monitor were the career service system/merit system (6.47 percent), sick leave/annual leave/PTO (4.28 percent), and post-retirement retire/rehire (4.15 percent).

UPEA asked members which method they would prefer if the Legislature were to fund a pay increase. The majority (61.14 percent) preferred the pay increase to be a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), while a general increase was the second most preferred (33.68 percent ) and a discretionary increase was least preferred (6.69 percent).

Of respondents, 21.84 percent were very satisfied with their PEHP healthcare plans, while 49.86 percent said they were satisfied.

UPEA members said they are willing to contact their legislators regarding public employee issues during the 2018 legislative session. If you do not know who your state legislator is, please click here. Contact your legislator before the legislative session, and introduce yourself as a public employee and a constituent. When issues occur, maintain contact with your legislator. For brief guidelines, please click here.

The Legislative Standing Committee will take the survey results and put together the 2018 legislative package on Aug. 24 at 6 p.m.  at the UPEA office. Once the package is reviewed and finalized, the Legislative Standing committee will present it to the Advisory Council onSept. 9.

“UPEA is a grass-roots organization that is looking for volunteers that will strengthen the Association. There are many ways to participate, from your local district to UPEA standing committees,” said Todd Losser, UPEA executive director. To learn more about district involvement and committees, click here. You can contact your UPEA representative at 801-264-8732 for additional information.

Grievance Update

May – July 2017

One of the most valuable aspects of your UPEA membership is grievance representation. Over the past quarter, UPEA has addressed more than 68 workplace issues related to the following:

 

Termination

Suspension

Demotion

Written Reprimand

Written Warning

Failure to Promote or Get Promotion

Annual Performance Evaluations

Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Transfer

Reassignment

Reclassification

Pay Issues

Resignation

Harassment / Discrimination

Whistleblower

Reduction in Force (RIF)

Benchmark / Market Comparability

Job Slotting Appeal

Paid Time Off

Other: DOPL, PEHP, URS, Workers Comp