Staff Council Minutes
Thursday, November 11, 2004
2-3:00, Mary Maples Dunn Conference Room
(Submitted by Nancy Brady, co-secretary; Approved Dec. 2, 2004)
Attending: Kim Allen, Adrianne Andrews, Suzanne Beaumier, Joseph Bialek, Nancy Brady, Terrilyn Calloway, Janice Cole, Gayle Fitzgerald, Karen Hebert, Chris Carr Hill, Marti Hobbes, Kate Kilpatrick, Linda LaFlam, Karen LeHouiller, Merrilyn Lewis, Jinny Mason, Steve Montiero, Patricia Rist, Bill Sheehan, Xinh Spangler, Mike Washut,
Excused: Adrian Beaulieu, Patty Kimura, Laura Matta, Linda Rainville, Sam Rush
Guests: Stacey Anasazi, Sandy Bycenski, Mimi Lempart, Basil Stewart, Lianne Sullivan-Crowley
1. Minutes - In pp. 5 of Section V, Chris Hill corrected the acronym ECE to CECE. Also Patty Kimura submitted a correction to her comments during that same discussion. The minutes were approved with these two changes.
2. Guests presentations:
Basil Stewart and Lianne Sullivan-Crowley
Basil Stewart, College controller, presented two proposed policies: the policy on the Protection of Employees Reporting Financial Misconduct and the institution-wide Code of Conduct. Both were recommendations from our external audit firm and senior management have endorsed it regarding both accounting and transparency. The Code is really a compilation of existing practices and policies. Creating it "sets a tone for the College." Basil said he was meeting with us to explain the policies in advance of community-wide distribution. The Code will probably be posted somewhere on the College website with links to other policies and will be made public in a couple of months. Basil said they are still considering how else it will be distributed. Senior staff may decide but the goal is to get it to all current employees. They may have employees “sign-off” after receiving it. They are also considering how to distribute the policies to student employees. It may be done by their supervisors and put in the hiring packets. When asked, Lianne said it would be included in the Staff handbook and also in several spots on the web such as the HR site, staff council's site, faculty pages and the union site.
The Single Payroll Initiative was then presented by Basil. This change, which is only a proposal at this point, has been suggested by the Controller’s Office and HR. The initiative would put all employees on 2-week (bi-weekly) pay periods. The rationale behind this change is to reduce the processing time in both HR and payroll who currently deal with 80 payrolls per year. The proposed change would drop this number to 26. HR would also be streamlined as benefits, vacations, etc., would be more standardized. Benefits is very busy right now. They are also considering moving more processing to online time sheets. This will save energy, time and produce better records although it will require employees to produce their own records online.
Both Lianne and Basil said they are looking for changes which will have a minimal negative impact on employees but still help the institution achieve greater economies. They suggested that loans could be floated to help employees transition from weekly to bi-weekly pay periods, for instance. As yet there is no implementation date for this proposed change. Six months to one year were dates that were mentioned. Both Basil and Lianne want to have time for further discussions to occur among all staff.
Discussion followed their presentation. Adrianne Andrews asked if dropping to 2 payrolls rather than the current 3 had been considered. Merrilyn Lewis reflected that her former job paid bi-weekly and she liked getting 2 "extra" pay checks every year. Adrianne also cautioned that many employees have gone through a lot of changes this past year. Instituting another change in the near future might be an unfortunate addition to the stress load of many employees. Is this the time to implement this change? Would this change enhance or erode the image of the college as a caring employer to its employees? Karen LeHouiller said she liked the idea of a "float" loan to help staff and cautioned payroll never to institute this change in December. Jinny Mason said that UMass made this change a couple of years ago. A few questions were raised about how overtime and hours would be computed. Basil said that education and support would be part of the change if it happens. FAQ sheets would be produced. Electronic deposits were also mentioned as another way to streamline operations in payroll. Lianne and Basil said they want input from lots of people and that's why they've brought the proposal to us. Merrilyn suggested that our members could talk to staff they represent and get feedback on this proposal from them.
Mimi Lempart spoke about next spring's Staff Visions which will be held in the Book Arts Gallery from March 7-April 8. Applications will be sent out during the weeks of Dec. 6 and Jan. 3 with a due date of Feb. 7. Activities will help with the reception on March 7. The committee is seeking submissions of written works again this year. There will be 2 gallery talks and 1 reading during the month-long show. Mimi also asked for suggestions of staff musicians to perform background music during the reception. She wondered if Activities would like to host a Talent show during that same time period. Mimi said that last year they spent $268.07 half of which went to print the Staff Writers submissions. Council agreed to contribute to this. She also said they need one more committee member. Stacey Anasazi volunteered to join them.
3. Reports from standing sub-committees
Linda LaFlam reported there will be another movie shown in January as well as a wine tasting class. The wreath making workshop on Nov. 13th and the NYC bus trip on Dec. 4th are fully enrolled. Also, Activities is helping sponsor an ISSA dinner and Native American drumming and dancing event on Nov. 19th. Volunteers are still needed to help prepare food.
Communications Committee Ð no discussion of minutes
Personnel Policy (PPC) Committee - no discussion of minutes
Ad hoc Diversity Committee
Thanks to all who helped with our first Cultural Heritage celebration. Contributions for the exhibit are still welcome. The committee proposed that next year we partner with student groups and offices on campus to advertise this event more widely.
4. New business
Ad Hoc Parking Committee - Chris Carr Hill and Karen LeHouiller volunteered to join this group
Common Ground, the group being organized by Naomi Miller, Director of the office of Institutional Diversity, would like a couple of staff council members. Janice McDowell, Patty Kimura and Laura Matta may be interested.
Burnout - Steve Monteiro raised the subject of staff who are feeling overextended and burned-out due to workplace changes and increased duties. He said more folks are taking time-off, particularly from Dining staff and physical plant. Linda LaFlamm said in housekeeping 250 more hours were taken in sick time this year than the year before. Some members mentioned that more efficiency training or follow-up is needed to help staff cope with work place reductions. The institutional changes are done, the budget is set but employee problems seem to exist. Attention to this would improve workplace efficiency and employee moods. Discussion of this problem should continue in subsequent meetings.