Staff Congress
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SEPTEMBER 12, 2005


Ed Beam Shannon Harr Linda Kegley Amy Moore Dallas Sammons Jonell Tobin
Lisa Caskey Rosemary Hinton Donna King Pam Moore Doug Snedegar Terry White
Rhonda Crisp Phillip James Margaret LaFontaine *April Nutter Stephanie Stewart Elizabeth Williams
Ray Crum *Kristie Jenkins Jeffrey Liles Darlene Ramey Todd Thacker
Kim Fultz David Jessie Rhonda Mackin William Salazar *Cindy Thompson

*Denotes member was absent

Guests: Gene Caudill-Staff Regent & Director of Physical Plant

Chair Jessie called the meeting to order at 1:05 p.m.  A quorum was present. 

Motion: To approve the August 1, 2005 minutes as submitted
  Proposed:  Rep. James Seconded:  Rep. Sammons
Called for Vote: Passed


Chair's Report Chair Jessie reported that on September 1, he attended the President's Retreat in the Crager Room of ADUC.  The basic theme and goal for the retreat was to outline strategic initiatives for ways the university could improve and its strategic plans for upcoming years.  There were some interesting ideas and insights on some things that are going to be looked at by the President's Council.  Hopefully, something productive for the university will come out of the meeting. 

The next regularly scheduled University Council meeting with the President is September 28.

Vice-Chair's Report No Report
Secretary's Report Secretary Crisp reported that $62.06 was spent during August for refreshments, leaving a balance of $2,578.43 in the supply account.


Committee Reports

Credentials and Elections No Report
University Standing Appointments No Report
Fiscal Affairs No Report
Personnel Policies and Benefits No Report
University Employee Benefits Committee Rep. A. Moore reported that the Employee Benefits Committee was asked to review an RFP that was sent out by Human Resources asking for a new administrator for FSA/HRA accounts on campus.  CA will still be the administrator as far as processing bills through the health insurance, but we are looking for a new company to come in and offer debit cards for the FSA/HRA so we won't have to pay cash and get reimbursed anymore.  The money will be automatically deducted from the employees FSA/HRA account when the debit card is used.  This is to be in place by January 1.  Seven companies responded to this RFP with a lot of different approaches to how the company would administer the program.  Two finalists will come to campus for a demonstration. 

There is another RFP out by Human Resources concerning the strategic wellness initiative that was funded by the university.  There were five responses to the RFP and three vendors will come to campus and do a demonstration.  This will also be in place on January 1.  This will be a voluntary program with incentives tied to it, to be a part of a wellness program on campus.

Regent's Report  

Staff Regent Caudill reported that the overtime policy change is on the agenda for the Board of Regents meeting on Thursday.  This change will take the word 'not' out of the policy, which is what Staff Congress recommended.

Old Business - None

New Business 

Rep. Thacker thanked Donna & Carol for the information emailed to Staff Congress members about tuition waivers.

Motion: That retirees with 20+ years of service at MSU be eligible to participate in tuition waivers for themselves and qualified dependents
  Proposed:  Rep. Thacker Seconded:  Rep. Liles
Discussion: Points discussed included:

Some people would retire if their children were not in school.  After they retire the positions' pay scale would go down and this would actually save the university money.  Some people won't retire as long as they have children in school because of the tuition waiver issue.

The number of people eligible to participate would probably be minimal, and some of those people might not participate anyway.

This could either be 'from this point forward' or 'retroactive', whichever congress recommends.

This motion would serve two purposes.  It would provide a service to retirees, and would also encourage people to retire. 

Last time this issue was brought up, it was rejected because of budgetary issues. 

Last year waivers amounted to $700,000, but this was not just faculty/staff tuition waivers.  That number includes all waivers granted by the university.  There are a lot of different waivers.

This is a good idea and would be a good thing from a payroll stand point.

Called for Vote: Passed, 18 voted yea and 1 voted nay


Motion: That retirees need to be able to stay on the university's group life insurance plan until age 70
  Proposed:  Rep. Thacker Seconded:  No second
Discussion: Points discussed included:

The term plan we have on campus lapses when we retire.  There used to be an option of purchasing life insurance without a physical at the going market rate when we retire, but no one knows for sure if that is still offered.  There needs to be some kind of cushion when people retire.  The age could even be 65 instead of 70.  We pay 42 cents per thousand now and that is very high because we allow anyone who works on campus, with any illness, to join our policy.

Congress voted last year that life insurance rates would not be based on age, but we would all absorb the cost of the whole and it would be an across the board rate.  This motion puts more of a burden on the younger people at the university, even more of a burden than what we agreed to last year.

We could put a limitation on it, such as 20+ years of service to be eligible.

More information is needed.  The Personnel Policies and Benefits Committee will look at this issue and report back to Congress.

Rep. Fultz asked what steps need to be taken to get covered smoking areas?  Chair Jessie will look into this.

Rep. Crisp said she received an email from a constituent asking if it is possible to work a four day week to save on gasoline, as long as offices are covered.  One idea was that some offices might allow an employee to have a flex schedule to help deal with the price of gasoline.  This would be a departmental decision.  Staff Regent Caudill said the price of gasoline issue was brought up and discussed at the Retreat also.

Rep. Kegley brought up the issue of chewing tobacco being allowed within 25 feet of doors, but smoking not being allowed.  She feels the tobacco policy should include all tobacco products.  Rep. Sammons said there are two policies on-campus.  One policy is for the university housing facilities: no spit, no smoke, no chew.  The classrooms fall under the second policy which is a 'no smoking policy'.  The policy needs to be changed to tobacco-free for the classroom buildings too.

Motion: That the university adopt a tobacco-free policy consistent across campus that is the same tobacco-free policy as the residence halls
  Proposed:  Rep. Kegley Seconded:  Rep. Sammons
Discussion: Points discussed included:

One difference in the policies is that academic buildings have one smoking entrance where people can smoke.  There are no designated smoking areas around residence halls, but the policy is strictly 25 feet from the building.

In academic buildings, the designated smoking areas are designated by lack of designation.  Signs are posted on all doors where smoking is not allowed within 25 feet.

The issue of  constructing smoking huts was brought up to housing staff by students and the response from the administration was no.

Friendly Amendment to the Motion: To amend the classroom building smoking policy to include all other tobacco products
  Proposed:  Rep. Liles Seconded:  Rep. Kegley
Discussion: This is a university policy and it is to be enforced by supervisors just like any other policy.
Called for Vote: Passed, 17 voted yea and 5 voted nay

Discussion - None


Rep. White announced that road construction on Battson-Oates Drive starts tomorrow.  The bus route will be altered and the street will be closed for a few days within the next 90 days.  Traffic flow will be maintained.  Also, Ginger Hall re-roofing starts soon.  Some parking will be blocked temporarily to unload supplies. 

Our next meeting will be October 3, 2005 at 1 p.m.

Rep. LaFontaine announced that events are still open for the university games.  The closing picnic will be on the Allie Young lawn on Wednesday, September 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Rep. Liles announced that the campus giving campaign was kicked-off last Wednesday with the Ice Cream Social.  It was well attended.  Payroll deduction forms are due by Friday for employees interested in being included in the TV drawing.  Anyone with an on-going payroll deduction will automatically be included in the drawing.

Motion: To adjourn
  Proposed:  Rep. Tobin Seconded:  Rep. Ramey
Called for Vote: Passed

Minutes submitted by:  Rhonda Crisp, Secretary