Friday, April 19, 2013Took a couple calls and Facebook messages this Wednesday. One retiree called about issues related mostly to current state government employees. I was taken by how much this person still cares about what current state employees must endure: 1) A human resources system that many employees feel does not work for or care about them. 2) The absence of an official, impartial, legislatively sanctioned body that can independently evaluate and recommend disciplinary and grievance procedures from the front of an issue to its back. 3) The perception that the deck is stacked against the average state employee.
I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with the retiree, maybe 45-50 minutes, with most of my time spent listening (while I also researched some of the issues). The retiree asked what could be done about the various things mentioned. I gave the following advice, and it's the same advice I have for all SDSEO members: 1) Contact the SDSEO about the issue(s), so that we may begin to do research and formulate a plan to explore or deal with the issue. Most often, if you have an issue or question related to your employment as a South Dakota public servant, I can have your answer(s) and your solution(s) within moments. 2) The first step determines the second. If you contact the SDSEO first, you'll have a better second step.
I also spent quite a bit of time that day Facebook messaging an SDSEO member about issues related to the ACES evaluation system, specifically as it relates to compensation when the new fiscal year begins on July 1. Over several hours, I made phone calls, checked state websites for relevant info, messaged PDFs and webpage links, and really gave the issue a good going over. By the end of the day, the member thanked me for my work and time and stated that I'd for sure earned that person's $5 in dues for the pay period. I was happy and thankful, but it got me to thinking. Was I working for that member's $5 in dues alone, or was I working on behalf of all SDSEO members and their dues that day? I like to think that I was working for everybody, but on a one-on-one basis. The knowledge and information I gained from helping that member goes into my bag of tricks, and it's a bag that gets opened at the will of an SDSEO member. Have you recruited a new member or joined?
Categories: Benefits, Bureau of Human Resources, Grievance, Member, Movement to Job Worth, Retirees, Salary, Termination
Friday, April 5, 2013The South Dakota Retirement System's board concluded its meeting in Pierre yesterday. The great news out of that meeting was that the SDRS is up 14.9% for the first 9 months of the fiscal year. There's one quarter (3 months) left. We'll see what shakes out over the next few months. Here's a couple story links: KELO TV, Rapid City Journal.
Also meeting was the South Dakota Board of Regents, and we had some great news out of that meeting as well. The BOR adopted a "State Employee Reduced Tuition" program for those employees that attend University Centers in Sioux Falls (website, Facebook), Pierre (website, Facebook), or Rapid City (website, Facebook).
Tuition reductions are substantial, subtracting $66.55 per undergrad credit hour and $100.95 per grad credit hour. Undergrad tuition for state government employees will be $235.15, while grad tuition will be $299.10. The rates are effective this summer semester.
This action by the BOR is extremely welcomed by the SDSEO. Former State Representative Tad Perry worked pretty hard to get the Legislature to support reduced tuition for state employees at the university centers, and the SDSEO supported his efforts. Though Rep. Perry was not successful in those efforts, his work there had to be integral in getting state employees this benefit. Thank you to the BOR and to Rep. Perry.
Categories: Benefits, Board of Regents, Facebook, South Dakota Retirement System
Monday, March 25, 2013Today is Veto Day and is the last day of the 2013 Legislative Session. With no vetoed bills affecting state government employees, it's safe to say the 2013 Legislative Session was successful for state government employees and for the SDSEO. We gained $47 million in funding for the next fiscal year, putting the total expenditure for salary and benefits at nearly $950 million. Complete info on the General Appropriations Act for FY 2014 is here.
Salary increases will come July 1 in the form of a 3% across-the-board increase, movement to job worth from 0% to 3.5%, career banding from 0% to 3.5% (engineers, environmental scientists, IT software engineering, and IT technical engineering) and from 0% to 4% (accountants/auditors, nursing). Longevity pay is essentially continually funded, so is not addressed specifically.
Categories: Benefits, Legislative, Salary
Monday, March 25, 2013The state health plan will see changes in FY 2014. FY 2014 begins July 1, 2013. The South Dakota Bureau of Human Resources proposed to the 2013 Legislature the following changes, all of which were accepted and approved as part of the budgeting process:
- 5% dependent premium increase for all plans.
- The FY 2013 rates for active employees in 2013 are here. Apply 5% to the applicable rate with a dependent to find the FY 2014 rate, which begins on July 1. Example: Employee and One Child - FY 2013 rate is $41.35 semimonthly; FY 2014 is $43.42 semimonthly; that's a 5% increase of $2.07 semimonthly.
- 12% retiree premium increase.
- The FY 2013 rates for retirees are here. Apply 12% to the applicable rate to find the FY 2014 rate.
- 5% COBRA increase.
- Co-pays removed on $500 and $1,000 deductible plans, except the ER co-pay, which remains.
The employee cost of these changes is $5.6 million; that's the amount of increase that users of the state health plan will pay over their cost in FY 2013. The $5.6 million comes from an additional $1.1 million in premiums, and $4.5 million in member cost sharing.
The state's costs are increasing as well. FY 2014 will see the state invest an additional $12.3 million in the health plan. The Legislature, in Appropriations, decided against a proposed wellness plan that would have cost an additional $8.1 million. That wellness plan would have alleviated the cost born by employees with the premium and cost-sharing changes because the bulk of the funds would have gone to employees who successfully completed quarterly wellness initiatives. There will be exploration and discussion of wellness initiatives over the summer.
Categories: Appropriations Committee, Benefits, Bureau of Human Resources, Health, Legislative, Lifetime Members, Member
Wednesday, September 19, 2012The SDSEO executive board met this past weekend. As executive director, I thought the meeting went well. Past SDSEO president Fred Nelson was a guest speaker, and he made an excellent presentation about how executive boards and executive directors can serve their organization and their membership. While Nelson's presentation was "on the mark" and will no doubt positively affect the SDSEO and all it does for quite some time, perhaps the best part of him being there was simply him being there.
While the board members and myself were able to take from him his knowledge, in interacting with him, we were able to give him deeper insight into ourselves and the organization as it stands today, insight which he will then take to others. Note how I say "will then take" and not "can" or "might." In science, we may have "every action is met with an opposite but equal reaction," but in communication, you can leave out the "opposite"; in communication, you typically get what you give, so "every action is met with an equal reaction." Just as I'm talking up Nelson and his presentation, I'm certain he's doing the same for the executive board and me. That's why it's important for the SDSEO and all of its members and supporters to "spread the word, with positivity" about the SDSEO and everything we are and everything we do.
If you haven't seen the News page, know that State Employees Day will be held at the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. It'll be in the President's and Speaker's lobbies off the Senate and House floors, respectively. I'm thinking we'll do ice cream and brownies or something along those lines. Everybody is welcome to attend. I do hope to have a good turnout of both state employees and of SDSEO members.
The Department of Human Resources put out a new Benefit News Briefing on Sept. 14. Here's a PDF. Here are some highlights:
- There's a blood drive tomorrow (Thursday, Sept. 20) in Pierre.
- Walgreen's is up and running as a pharmacy provider for the state employee health plan.
- There's a fitness challenge for what should be a nice hybrid bike, some helmets, and a couple bike racks. (Note from Eric: Please try to take advantage of the opportunities you have as a state employee to improve your physical fitness. It helps the state to have fit, healthy employees, and it helps you to be fit and healthy as well. Everybody wins.)
- There's a section on what kind of medical provider you need, based upon your symptoms.
- There are a couple road-race plugs. More fitness!
Categories: Benefits News Briefing, Bureau of Human Resources, Executive Board, Health, Legislative, Meetings, State Employees Day
Thursday, August 16, 2012A review of the SDBHR benefits news briefing.
Categories: Benefits, Benefits News Briefing, Bureau of Human Resources, Member