Staff Congress
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MOREHEAD STATE UNIVERSITY

STAFF CONGRESS MINUTES

MARCH 3, 2003

MEMBERS:

Darlene Allen Lisa Caskey David Jessie Pam Moore *Dallas Sammons Willis Taylor
*Sharon Beller Joy Cecil *Linda Kegley Carole Morella Rhonda Sloan Jonell Tobin
Brad Bennington Gaylena Cline M. LaFontaine Lora Pace Tim Smith Barbara Ward
Larry Besant Rhonda Crisp Rhonda Mackin Darlene Ramey Doug Snedegar Maurice White
T. Bumgardner Mike Hopper Tina McWain Belva Sammons Stephanie Stewart Rick Williams

*Denotes member was absent

Guests: Roger Barker-Director of Human Resources

Chair Pace called the meeting to order at 1:09 p.m.  A quorum was present. Roger Barker was welcomed.

Motion: To approve the February 3, 2003 minutes as submitted
  Proposed:  Rep. Moore Seconded:  Rep. Cecil
Called for Vote: Passed

 

Chair's Report Chair Pace reported that we have not abandoned the issue of weekly payroll.  We will consider the issue at the April meeting.

PG-58 will be discussed in the 'Discussion' portion of our meeting.  We will not vote today.  We will give comments to Rep. Besant for the Personnel Policies and Benefits Committee to consider and we will vote in April, or May if changes are needed.  It will not go to the board until June.

Vice-Chair's Report No report
Secretary's Report The month of February, $293.55 was spent out of the supply account.  $227.63 was spent for box lunches for the special salary distribution meeting and $65.92 was spent for refreshments for the February meeting.  There is a remaining supply balance of $1,781.54.  

 

Committee Reports

Credentials and Elections Rep. LaFontaine provided two handouts, 'Proposed Revisions to Staff Regent Election Guidelines' and 'Proposed Revisions to Staff Congress Election Guidelines'.  We will discuss these guidelines during 'Old Business'.  The 'Call for Nominations' will be sent out tomorrow.  The document is at the printers; all we need to do is fold and stick labels.
University Standing Appointments Rep. Stewart pointed out that if a person resigns from a Standing Appointments Committee, they need to resign in writing to Staff Congress.
Fiscal Affairs No report
Personnel Policies and Benefits Rep. Besant  reported that there has not been a meeting of the University Employee Benefits Committee.  The Personnel Policies and Benefits Committee met on February 24 and discussed PG-3, 'Types of Appointments'.  The committee will bring a recommendation to Staff Congress in 'New Business'.  PG-58 was discussed in some detail and will be discussed in the 'Discussion' portion of this meeting.  Thursday, March 6 will be the next committee meeting in reference to PG-58.
Ad-Hoc Parking Committee Rep. Snedegar reported that the committee has met twice.  They are proposing that fines for first offenses in parking be raised from $6.00 to $25.00.  Towing fees will also increase.  The amount has not been decided yet, but the amount of money that is going to Public Safety will be increased.  The committee discussed $10.00 - $15.00.  They are looking into long-term issues such as campus police being an auxiliary service and funding themselves through fees and fines.  They also discussed not allowing Freshmen to have cars on-campus, but that probably will not happen.  They could make a portion of the U.S. 60 lot for Freshmen only, but Public Safety has tried that before and it doesn't work.  There was a proposed increase in parking tags, but Rep. Snedegar was adamantly against that.  Right now the committee is going to concentrate on fees and fines.   With the proposed budget cuts, Public Safety was cut in the student personnel area; the students were checking parking areas.  One of the things the extra fine money would be used for is to keep the SGA shuttle buses running.  Public Safety is trying to be more consistent when writing tickets and towing.  They are looking into trying to come up with a plan that after the third ticket the vehicle would be towed.  There will be another meeting of the committee soon.  Please email any suggestions to Rep. Snedegar.

 

Old Business 

Rep. LaFontaine and the Credentials and Elections Committee reworked the 'Staff Regent & Staff Congress Election Guidelines' document.  There are now two documents 'Staff Congress Election Guidelines' and 'Staff Regent Election Guidelines'. 

Motion: The proposed revisions to 'Staff Congress Election Guidelines' and 'Staff Regent Election Guidelines' be accepted by the body
  Proposed: Credentials & Elections Committee Seconded:  None Needed
Discussion: Vice-Chair Jessie asked what is the 'specified time frame' in #2 of the 'Staff Congress Election Guidelines'.  Rep. LaFontaine said April 7-May 9 are the dates for absentee ballots.  Voting online can be done from anywhere in the world the day of the election if there is internet access.  Paper ballots and computer access will be available at two locations:  Rice Maintenance Building and Thompson Hall on election day for employees who do not have access to a computer or do not want to vote by computer.  Chair Pace said that Martha Patrick of Institutional Research and Computer Applications said we could lock people out of the computer if they have already voted by paper ballot.  That would prevent someone from voting twice.  Last year there were about 45 paper ballots the day of the election.

Rep. Hopper asked about #3 on the 'Regent Guidelines' document.  Does it mean a candidate cannot email people from home?  Rep. LaFontaine said they are trying to prevent candidates from using university resources.  Rep. Stewart was wondering what the penalty would be if this was violated.  Rep. B. Sammons said that mailing information from home to campus addresses would also be a problem then.  Campus mail is the U.S. mail if the candidate puts their own postage on it.  There should not be a problem using the university post office if the candidate pays for the postage.  

Rep. Morella pointed out that this is a university function, but these guidelines seem very limiting.  It sounds as though the only campaigning that can be done is to put up a picture and/or biography on the Staff Congress Web page and that information would be edited for content.  The candidate doesn't seem to have much of a voice.  It doesn't sound like the candidate will do a formal speech at the forum so we won't know how well they speak or write.  Rep. LaFontaine said the 'Staff Regent Election Guidelines' do provide for the candidates to speak at the forum.  Rep. B. Sammons said that some people don't have time to go to a forum and wouldn't have the opportunity to meet candidates running for Regent.  Rep. White asked if a forum had been held in the past.  Rep. LaFontaine said no.

Rep. B. Sammons asked if #3 on the 'Staff Regent Election Guidelines' could say 'Campaign material including posters, flyers, and pamphlets may be distributed at the candidate's expense on-campus.'

Vice-Chair Jessie asked if #2 on the 'Staff Congress Guidelines' could say 'Paper ballots will be made available during a specified time frame to absentee voters and/or individuals voting by paper.'

Rep. LaFontaine said there are bugs with online voting, but she hopes as time goes by most will be ironed out.

Question Called for Staff Regent Election Guidelines: Rep. Moore
Motion: In the 'Staff Regent Election Guidelines' document, #3, the second sentence should say 'Campaign material including posters, flyers, and pamphlets may be distributed at the candidate's expense on-campus
  Proposed:  Rep. B. Sammons Seconded:  Rep. Morella
Called for Hand-Count Vote: 12 in favor, 9 opposed, 2 abstained, Passed
Motion: In the 'Staff Regent Election Guidelines' document, #4, the last sentence should say 'Paper ballots will be made available during a specified time frame to absentee voters and/or individuals voting by paper'
  Proposed:  Vice-Chair Jessie Seconded:  Rep. McWain
Called for Vote: Passed
Motion: To accept the proposed revisions to the 'Staff Regent Election Guidelines' with amendments
  Proposed:  Credentials & Elections Committee Seconded:  None Needed
Called for Vote: Passed
Discussion about Staff Congress Election Guidelines: Rep. B. Sammons pointed out that #1 says candidates can put information on the Web page and she would hate for people not to run for Staff Congress because they are uncomfortable writing a biography to put on the page.  

Candidates do not have to put anything up on the page or they can only put up a picture if they don't want to write anything.  Several members have gained election to Staff Congress without doing any campaigning at all.  

Question Called for Staff Congress Election Guidelines: Rep. Moore
Motion: To accept the proposed revisions to the 'Staff Congress Election Guidelines' with #2 saying 'voting by paper'
  Proposed:  Credentials & Elections Committee Seconded:  None Needed
Called for Vote: Passed

 

New Business 

Motion: Move for Staff Congress approval of PG-3 'Types of Appointments' 
  Proposed:  Personnel Policies & Benefits Committee Seconded:  None Needed
Called for Vote: Passed

Rep. Stewart asked Roger Barker if seminar information coming from Human Resources could be condensed down on a card instead of getting individual sheets for each seminar.  Information Technology sends out a card once a semester that lists all workshops for the semester.  They also list their workshop information on the Web site.  With budget problems this could save money.  Mr. Barker said they do know the schedule for the entire semester in advance, except there are occasions where new seminars are added.  Rep. B. Sammons said there are MSU employee ID numbers on the labels.  She is not comfortable with anyone having access to her ID number because she uses that number to code grades, etc.  

Discussion  

Chair Pace said she thinks there are some people on-campus who fear that we are looking at PG-58 because there is going to be a reduction in force.  She has talked to a lot of supervisors and nobody is talking about a reduction in force right now.  This is the eighth policy we have looked at in eight months.  It is better to review this policy now, when we are not looking at a reduction in force, than wait until we're in the middle of something and don't have the policy the way we would like for it to be.  When we talk with our constituents, let's be responsible and let them know that a reduction in force is not being discussed at this time.  The President is still very supportive of the 5% increase in salaries and is still looking for the 5% increase.  We don't have a budget yet so nothing is definite, but it doesn't make sense for the administration to be talking about a 5% increase in salaries if they are considering lay-offs.  This is an important topic for us to be looking at.  We need to be responsible in laying down a policy that works in case it ever does get used.  We hope it never gets looked at again because we never have to use it.  We want to give comments to Rep. Besant for the Personnel Policies and Benefits Committee to consider.  They will bring something back to us at our next meeting.

Rep. Besant said a new or revised version of a personnel policy comes to Roger Barker in Human Resources after it has went through the President's Cabinet.  After that it comes to us and the Faculty Senate.   That has occurred with PG-58 and it has been put up on the Staff Congress Web page.  We passed out a version with line numbers to make the discussion easier today.  PSE-6 and PSNE-7 are also up on the Web page.  The Planning Committee met before this meeting and the question was asked of Beth Patrick, "Where is the budget in Frankfort in terms of how it is going to affect Morehead State?"  She said there is no danger of lay-offs, at least as compared to the uncertainty of a few months ago.  This is not a policy that is going to be suddenly brought out June 1.

Roger Barker said this policy has always been a trouble area.  He didn't feel it was a real RIF (reduction in force) policy.  He said in the old policy, the requirements for management making the decision on whom to RIF goes from none at all to very vague.  Standards need to be applied to lay-offs and reasons for lay-offs should be included in personnel files.  It puts the university and employees at risk if no one knows what standards are used in lay-offs.  There should be a paper trail if we have to go back and justify why positions are eliminated.  This new policy makes that a requirement.  If any office is reducing force on any basis other than seniority, there must be approval of the Human Resources Director and the Affirmative Action Officer.  Those two people know the law.  The university can get into trouble if a RIF is not handled correctly.  That is one of the most dangerous areas you can get into in employee law because of age discrimination issues for employees age 40 and above.  Mr. Barker has been pushing for this new policy for almost four years; this has nothing to do with the current budget situation.  At the Planning meeting, Mr. Barker asked Beth Patrick if in any of the budget reduction plans from the units did anyone plan to have a reduction in force.  She said that MSU has no intention of reducing their workforce.  That only applies to 'filled standing positions', not fixed-term or vacant positions.

Rep. B. Sammons asked where 12-days comes from on Line #86 & 93.  Mr. Barker said that was two work weeks with a weekend between.  

Rep. Hopper asked if letters of appointment carry any weight as an implied contract or is it just a piece of paper.  Mr. Barker said it does not create an implied contract in any form or fashion.  It is just a notification.  

Chair Pace would like for more than 12-days to be considered.  Rep. Bennington said that exempt employees have to give 30-days notice when leaving the university, but the university only gives employees a 12-day notice.  Rep. B. Sammons said that non-exempt employees have to give two weeks notice.  Rep. Besant said 12-days does seem abrupt, it is too minimal when all benefits end with the 12-days except the tuition wavier that is already in effect.

Rep. Besant said the committee had been discussing the question of cumulative versus continuous time at the university.  If there is an employee who has a longer cumulative period of employment and a colleague who has a longer continuous time, the person with the shorter length of employment could be laid-off with this policy.  Mr. Barker said that is correct.  

Rep. Besant said lines 14-17 say the university 'provides for reasonable transition assistance'.  The benefits provided would be that for one year they could apply for positions as internal candidates and keep their benefits for a period of time if they pay.  Those two items exhaust the 'reasonable transition assistance'.  Also, line 26 & 31 says 'This policy applies to all non-probationary full-time staff', it sounds like probationary people can't be let go, when in fact probationary people can be let go at any time.   Rep. Besant said the language is misleading.  Mr. Barker said releasing probationary people is not defined as a RIF, we have a right to release probationary people with or without cause.  This policy does not apply to probationary people, period.  You do not need any policy for probationary people as long as you don't violate anyone's rights.  

Vice-Chair Jessie asked if the policy should state that people could draw unemployment.

Rep. Besant said line 67 says 'Seniority will be the first basis for reduction in force'.   It sounds like the people with the most seniority would go first.  Mr. Barker said that was a good point.

Chair Pace said in line 153 under 'Grievance', there is not enough protection.  We can grieve that the process hasn't been done, but as long as everything has been followed employees don't have any kind of recourse.  If you compare that to PAc-26, the faculty have about 20 layers of protection and an audience of the President at some point.  We don't have to go that far, but there should be something in the language to allow the staff person to be able to challenge the lay-off.  

Vice-Chair Jessie feels we should offer openings to laid-off individuals instead of making them come to us looking for jobs.  Mr. Barker said there is no way the university could keep up with that, it should be the employee's responsibility.  You wouldn't find that anywhere in the world.  There are affirmative action plans on how we handle searches.

Rep. Besant said it is important to distinguish between lay-off and elimination.  In the early 90's, PSE-6 and PSNE-7 were revised and in the early 90's there were some people let go because of budgetary concerns.  At that time, other actions were taken that are not eluded to here, neither in the category of lay-off or elimination.  Mainly, some people with 12-month jobs were allowed to change their work period to 10 or 11 months. That is not mentioned here, but if it was a good idea ten years ago why is it not mentioned in this revised policy.  Mr. Barker said he never considered that a RIF, but technically it could be and should be stated.  

Rep. LaFontaine asked if an employee is laid-off and recalled, when they are recalled are they on probationary status.  Mr. Barker said no.

The committee will put these comments in writing and Staff Congress will vote on it in April and submit to Mr. Barker.

Mr. Barker said this seniority situation needs to be clarified to determine whether it is seniority with the university or time in position.  Rep. B. Sammons said theoretically if you are not a good employee then you wouldn't get to move to a new position.  If that be the case, then she feels both issues should be considered.  Time in position and total seniority at the university should be a determining factor in staff reduction.  Also, on line 93, is it a normal thing that a person can be paid instead of getting 12-days notice?  Mr. Barker said sometimes there is an emergency situation that makes that statement necessary.

Rep. Besant said everyone got an email about the policies being posted on the Staff Congress Web site.  Has anyone solicited comments from constituents?  What is the discussion that might be expected in committee from beyond Staff Congress?  A lot of comments raised today were from outside Staff Congress.  New comments can be emailed to Rep. Besant, Chair Pace, or the Staff Congress email address.

Rep. Besant said the Personnel Policies and Benefits Committee will meet this Thursday.  Staff members from the University Employee Benefits Committee might want to attend also. 

Regent Report - No report.  Chair Pace said there is a Board of Regent's meeting on March 11.

Announcements

Tuesday, March 18 is Founders Day.

Spring Break is March 24-28.

Mardi Gras lunch is available tomorrow.

There is a men's basketball game tomorrow night at 7 p.m.  There is a charge.  SGA has purchased 500 tickets for students on a first-come, first-serve basis for $5.00.  Other ticket prices are $8.00 and $10.00.    

Motion: To adjourn
  Proposed:  Vice-Chair Jessie Seconded:  Rep. Ramey
Called for Vote: Passed

Minutes submitted by:  Rhonda Crisp, Secretary