September

Health System Academic & Research Employee Council

September 19, 2002

 

Sharon Heyka, Chair, began the meeting by passing out a schedule of meetings for 2002-2003. 

Anda Webb from the Provost Office was the first speaker.  She announced that budget reduction plans for the state were due 9/20/02.  Each school was asked to plan for various reductions in the general fund.  The general fund is made up of state tax money while non-general funds are tuition money.  A 7% cut across the board is really a 16.2% cut in general funds.  Virginia now has over a $2 billion shortfall.  The governor only has the authority to do a 15% cut.  Anything more would need assembly approval, and they don’t meet until 1/03, unless a special session is called.  UVA should hear in October or November what amount the cut will be.   

There is a hiring freeze currently.  Anda is approving exemptions for faculty and classified positions based on a protocol that has been developed.  Unfortunately, instructional and administrative departments are the units that are taking the hardest hits.

 The governor announced in August that he would impose spending limits as a way to lower costs.  UVA and other institutions of higher learning have quarterly spending limits, while other state agencies have monthly limits.  These include state funds, auxiliaries, F&A, and grants.  The state can limit grant funds because the state has to appropriate them.  The state must appropriate a large enough amount to cover the grant money coming in.  The state has agreed to work with UVA to maintain appropriations of grant funds. If you have unusually large expenditures, you will need to let the Dean’s Office know.  It is better to adjust the forecast in advance, so UVA can increase the limit than to exceed the limit first.

 It will be mid to late 10/02 before UVA knows what must be done.  UVA is trying to slow expenses now so they can manage the cuts.  This is a long-term problem with which UVA will need to deal.  UVA needs to figure out how to maintain the core of instructional activities, and operate with less money.

 

Debbie Gausvik, Assistant Director of Employee Relations, announced that Alan Cohn will replace Bill Vining as Director of Employee Relations effective 10/25/02.  Bill retired this past summer.  Alan is currently the Director of FEAP (Faculty and Employee Assistance Program).  Debbie said that everyone should be in the middle of the annual performance evaluation process.  The new “Employee Profile” should be on the HR website today.  It should be used as a planning document for the new cycle.  Supervisors can look at the job description now and update it, but the profile is not due back at a certain point in time.  HR will convert to Oracle this month.  Employees will complete new time sheets and receive new earnings statements.

Debbie brought Jeff Overweg, Assistant Director of Benefits, to explain the new VSDP (Virginia Sickness & Disability Plan) open enrollment period.  VSDP provides 8-10 days of sick leave and 4-5 days of family personal leave depending on your length of service per year.  The time does not carry over.  Employees also receive short term & long-term disability and long term care insurance at no cost to them.

Jeff passed out a VSDP handbook and opt out form.  Approximately 1,900 employees (classified staff and some faculty with VRS) did not switch several years ago when VSDP became available.  As a result of the last legislative session, there will be a second open enrollment period from 10/1/02 to 11/30/02.  Any employee who does not want to switch must complete the opt out form or they will be automatically moved to the plan effective 1/10/03.  The opt out form must be received in Benefits by 5 PM on 11/30/02.  UVA cannot accept the form until 10/1/02, and it must be dated between 10/-11/30/02.   If you lose your form, you can print one from the HR website under links and forms.  You cannot submit the form electronically however; you must print and sign it, and return the form to Benefits, UHR.  UVA will batch the forms to VRS.

If employees have a large sick balance, the hours will convert 1 to 1 to disability credits.  The credits must be used in 8-hour increments.  When employees are ready to retire, they can convert unused credits to service with 173 disability credits equal to 1 month of service or receive a 25% cash payout up to $5,000.  This option is available to those who converted several years ago as well.

 Employees need to remember that if they opt out there is no guarantee that there will be another open enrollment for VSDP.  If you opt out, and change your mind before 5 PM on 11/30/02, you will need to personally go to Benefits to retrieve your form.  Employees who need to make this decision should read the VSDP Handbook carefully.  There is also information on the open enrollment on the VRS (Virginia Retirement System) website.

 A question was raised about whether Benefits would be conducting open sessions on the plan and answer employees’ questions.  Jeff stated that they might not have any sessions since the Benefit Division’s staff is stretched thin currently.  If departments want to schedule a session, they will try to accommodate the request, and will probably have a session at Facilities Management because of the staff size.  Jeff also announced that Ann Goodson has resigned as UVA’s Healthcare Ombudsman to return to clinical care.  HR is now searching for a replacement.

 One concern employees had during the first open enrollment in VSDP several years ago was the ability to use 1/3 of their sick leave balance to care for eligible relatives under approved FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) leave.  If you only receive 8-10 days of sick leave per year and you can’t carry it over to the next year, you can only take 3 days (~ 1/3 of 8-10 days) in addition to the 4-5 days of family personal leave.  You would need to take some other kind of leave or leave without pay for the remaining time you needed off.  If you had 1,200 hours of sick leave, you could use 400 hours (1/3 of 1200 hours) or 10 weeks towards the 12 weeks.  Debbie Gausvik commented that leave sharing might eliminate some of this concern.  When VSDP began, employees in the program could not leave share.  They can now participate so co-workers could donate time to help if a family member was sick.

Sharon commented that she switched to VSDP during the first open enrollment and was very happy with her decision.  She has seen it work well for some of her co-workers who have had long-term illnesses.

Jeff also announced that VRS statements for 6/30/02 have been received in HR, and they are in the process of sending them to employees via messenger mail.

 

Committee Reports/Old Business

Sharon received an e-mail from Annette Norton about the bus concern that was raised at the 8/02 meeting.  Employees had raised the concern that some of the buses used during the summer did not have air conditioning and the windows do not open.  With the extreme heat and crowds on the buses, there is a safety concern.  Annette’s update stated that 3 new buses should be delivered in June 2003.  At that time, the entire bus fleet will be air-conditioned.  The bus purchase will not be impacted by budget cuts, because auxiliaries must be self-supporting.  In the meantime, P&T will try to use air-conditioned buses or ones with windows that open.

 

      Sharon again asked for help in leading the council.  Both the other co-chairs have had to step down for personal or work-related reasons, and it is too much for one person to do in addition to their UVA job, especially with more tasks being shared by fewer people because of hiring freezes, Oracle implementation, etc.  Please consider being a co-chair.  The co-chairs lead the meeting, find speakers, take minutes, etc.  If the work is shared, it is manageable.  Alone it can be a nightmare.  Co-chairs also get to attend the Executive Employee Council meetings with Leonard Sandridge to find out what is happening first and advise him on the staff’s feelings.  It is a chance to make a difference for current and future employees.  If no one volunteers by January 1st, she will have to step down, and the council may have to disband.  Please e-mail Sharon at svh5g@virginia.edu if you are interested.

Future speakers were discussed, and Sharon will invite the following:  Gene Block, Provost – 10/02, Ed Howell, CEO of the Medical Center – 11/02, Nancy Rivers, Governmental Relations – 12/02.  She will invite Dr. Arthur Garson, the new School of Medicine Dean, in 2003.

 The minutes for July and August were approved, and the meeting was adjourned.  The next meeting is October 17, 2002.