February 25, 2013

February 2013 APAC News Vol. 6, No. 2

A Win for APs; University: Merit Board Votes Not to Take Away University Exemption Authority

STATE UNIVERSITIES in Illinois, including UIC, are keeping their ability to exempt some jobs from Civil Service classifications.

THE STATE Universities Civil Service Merit Board, composed of trustees representing Illinois’s nine public universities voted 8-2 in Urbana on Jan. 30 to withdraw a proposed rules change that would have moved the exemption authority to the State Universities Civil Service System.

CHANCELLOR PAULA Allen-Meares expressed gratitude to the Board and her support for its decision.

ALSO AT the Senate meeting, Dr. Albert J. Schorsch, Associate Dean, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, Co-Chair of the Support Services Committee, addressed the issue, noting that the Support Services Committee sent a member to testify against SUCCS’ attempt to take the exemption authority away from the University. “Bureaucrats assume our patience is unlimited,” he said. “It isn’t.”

THE CHAIR of the Council of Academic Professionals at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign told Illinois Public Media News that the University is happy with the Merit Board’s decision. Kostas Yfantis said the exemption authority should stay at the University level. He said moving it to the Civil Service System would put it in the hands of officials who are not familiar with University needs and operations.

“YOU WOULD have an agency outside of the day-to-day operations, outside of the operational fabric of the University, determining who is an Academic Professional and who is a Civil Service employee,” said Yfantis.

SEE ALSO the article “Universities to keep job classification authority,” Inside Illinois, Feb. 7 issue, http://news.illinois.edu/ii/13/0207/sucss.html.

APAC Meetings Scheduled

ALL APs are invited to the monthly APAC meeting at 12:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month. Meetings are held either in Room 5175 of the College of Medicine Research Building, 909 S. Wolcott, or Room 2750 of University Hall on the East Campus. Next meeting is March 13 in Room 2750 of University Hall. For information, call (312) 996-0306.

APAC Elections Coming

PETITIONS TO run for a seat on the Academic Professional Advisory Committee (APAC), or for the AP seat in the University Senate, are due Wednesday, March 13.

APAC REPRESENTS close to 4,000 Academic Professionals on campus and advises University Administration, reviews policy, represents APs on search committees, voices concerns regarding APs to the Chancellor, and plays an active role in professional development efforts at UIC. APAC is comprised of 15-to-18 APs, elected for a three-year term. Approximately one-third of the APAC seats are up for election this year.

SENATE AP representatives attend regular University Senate meetings and may also serve as AP representatives on Senate Committees. One AP Senator will be elected this year.

NOMINATION MATERIALS for APAC and Senate seats can be obtained by e-mailing Jennifer Rowan at jrowan@uic.edu. Complete the nomination petition, including a personal statement and the name and signature of ten endorsers who are APs. Fully completed petitions must be received by noon on Wednesday, March 13. Send your completed packet for the Senate to Jennifer Rowan, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, 310 AOB, MC 672. For information, e-mail jrowan@uic.edu. Send your completed packet for APAC to Ahlam Al-Kodmany, Institute for Health Research and Policy, MC 275. For information, e-mail ryyan@uic.edu.

ELECTION BALLOTS will be available on the APAC website (www.apac.uic.edu). 

SUAA Aims to Help University Employees, As Well As Retirees

By Lucia Gonzalez
THE STATE Universities Annuitants Association (SUAA) was founded in 1971 to advocate for current employees, retirees, their spouses, and their survivors who either are or will be receiving benefits from the State Universities Retirement System (SURS). Advocacy includes earned pension, healthcare benefits, and issues related to higher education, as well as promotion of the general well-being of the 208,000 SURS participants and beneficiaries.

SURS IS a pension system that is regulated by the State Legislature, State statutes, and laws. The pension system cannot advocate on behalf of its members, however it does work to provide clarification and technical support to policymakers, such as members of the General Assembly, the Governor, and others. Therefore, “SUAA works closely with SURS so that we can advocate effectively on behalf of the individuals,” said Linda Brookhart, executive director of the SUAA.

MEMBERS OF SUAA are represented by those who are currently working for, as well as those who are retired from, community colleges and State-supported universities such as UIC. If someone is a member, participant in, or beneficiary of a pension from SURS, then he or she can join the SUAA.

“MEMBERSHIP IS quite diverse as SUAA represents everyone from Civil Service employees through administration,” Brookhart explained. “Those who have chosen careers as lawn maintenance personnel, cooks, faculty administrators, presidents— everyone is included in SUAA’s representation.”

SUAA continually keeps its members updated as to legislation that would affect them. SUAA advocates on all employees’ behalf to represent them at the Capitol. SUAA is “not to be confused with a union’s presence,” Brookhart said. “Our message and our lobbying tactics tend to be much different, and our approach is also distinctive.”

SUAA believes that most of the adverse State legislation is aimed at those who are currently working.  It began particularly for those employees who were hired after January 1, 2011. “Legislation will need to be passed to correct the wrongs of their current benefits, which do not equal Social Security benefits,” Brookhart said of the more recent hires, whose benefits are lesser than those of University employees hired in 2010 and before.

SENATE BILL 1, which currently is in the Senate Executive Committee, if enacted into law would cause those who are currently working to decide between access to health insurance but a cut of 50% of retiree Cost of Living Allocation (COLA) or a cut based on the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less, at a simple interest; or the current 3% COLA, but with no access to State-funded health insurance. If someone chooses the 3% COLA, then no raises while employed would count toward his or her pension allocation. If a person chooses health insurance and half of the COLA (or Consumer Price Index figure), then raises would be counted toward pension allocation. 

“THESE ARE tough choices, especially if such legislation were found to be constitutional,” explained Brookhart. “There is no incentive to continue to work at a community college or State- funded university. People who can make choices as to where to work will find private sector employment more inviting than public sector employment.”

LEGISLATION TO abolish tuition waivers for employee dependents also has been introduced--again. “During the past several years, SUAA has been instrumental in defeating these legislative proposals,” Brookhart said. “SUAA became the voice in the Capitol for those who are currently working.” 

EMPLOYEES WHO would like to join the SUAA should visit www.suaa.org for more information. The dues for UIC are $39, $9 of which are allocated to the UIC Chapter and $31 to the State SUAA office. Employees can have payroll deductions, pay by check, or go on-line to the SUAA website to pay by credit card. 


Teresa Soto-Plutz is Liaison Between APAC, Chancellor

By Lucia Gonzalez

TERESA SOTO-PLUTZ, Assistant to the Chancellor and Assistant Director for Government Affairs, is the liaison between Chancellor Paula Allen-Meares and APAC.

SOTO-PLUTZ’S duties in the Office of the Chancellor include managing and coordinating the Chancellor’s schedule, such as preparing for her meetings, speaking engagements, and travel. She also serves as the Chancellor’s liaison to colleges, administrative offices, external constituents, and government agencies. Many of Soto-Plutz’s duties involve assisting the Chancellor with issues that require confidentiality, discretion, and troubleshooting.

HER POSITION also puts Soto-Plutz in the role of serving as an intermediary between the Board of Trustees and the Chancellor on various issues and inquires. She also communicates with the Office of Government Relations on any campus inquiries, complaints, press events that involve elected officials, and legislative hearing preparation.

“IN MY 24 years at UIC, this has been the most exciting time for me,” said Soto-Plutz. “Every day is unique, demanding, stressful, and exciting— all at the same time. The most fulfilling part of my job is showcasing all that the campus has to offer to external constituencies.”

FOR MORE information, contact Soto-Plutz at (312) 413-3350 or e-mail teresas@uic.edu.

Attendance at Campus-Sponsored Events Allowed

Among the benefits of working at a UIC is the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops.
AMONG THE benefits of working at a world-class research University is the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops moderated by some of the most renowned experts in their respective fields. Questions invariably arise regarding permitting employees to attend UIC-related events. Policy 805-03 covers employee attendance during work hours at UIC-sponsored events.

THOUGH MANY events are scheduled during lunchtime or after traditional work hours, other offerings occur during regular working hours. As a reminder, approval protocols have been outlined to allow members of the UIC community to attend events without interfering with the functioning of each unit. Policy 805-03 applies “to all UIC employees.”

THE POLICY specifically provides: “Employees may be released from work without loss of pay to attend such events and meetings whenever operations permit. As long as supervisors receive adequate notice of such approved events and meetings and coverage can be arranged, every effort should be made by departments to release employees to attend.”

EACH UNIT’S needs are unique, as are the interests of every staff member. Regardless of the event, department supervisors are responsible for determining if release time should be granted for any particular event. Employees should take care to obtain prior authorization to attend campus sponsored events. It is the supervisors, discretion to determine if attendance at a campus sponsored event is appropriate based on the operational needs of the unit.

YOU CAN read the entire policy on the UIC Human Resources website at http://www.uic.edu/depts/hr/relations/policies_procedures.shtml


State Employment Webinar for Persons with Disabilities Set

THE ILLINOIS Department of Central Management Services’ Disabled Hiring Initiative Committee (DHIC) and the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) will host a webinar on State employment for persons with disabilities on Wednesday, Feb. 27, from 10  to 11:30 a.m.

THIS WEBINAR will provide information for persons with disabilities seeking employment with the State of Illinois. Presentations will be made by the Illinois Department of Employment Security regarding the Illinois Job Link program, Central Management Services regarding the Successful Disability Opportunities (SD) Program, and the Department of Human Services Division of Rehabilitation Services regarding client services. The DHIC is partnering with public libraries, centers for independent living, State universities, and veterans organizations to provide persons with disabilities a venue for participating in the webinar.

ACCESSING THE webinar will require an Internet connection via a computer, laptop, etc. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, send an e-mail to Susan.Allen@illinois.gov and you will be contacted with a list of requirements for participating in the webinar, login instructions, and promotional materials.


APAC Resume Writing Workshop Set

APAC WILL sponsor an interactive workshop on resume writing. Learn about resume formats and styles, and find out what to include in your resume and how to make it stand out in the crowd.

PRESENTER IS Laurie A. Schellenberger, Human Capital Development Coordinator, UIC. Date is Thursday, March 7, from noon to 1.30 p.m. Location is 1040 W. Harrison, EPASW (Engineering, Performing Arts & Social Work) Building (#623) Room 4013 (4th. floor). Register at https://illinois.edu/fb/sec/5471335

BRING YOUR resume and plan on making notes and comments on how to improve it. Seating is limited. Please register and send in any questions you might have by Wednesday March 6, so we can bring some answers for you.


State Senator Daniel Biss and State Representative Elaine Nekritz.
Editor’s Note: “The Continuing Crisis” is a section of APAC News which links to news pertinent to the State budget crisis and other financial matters as they affect the University and Academic Professionals. These news outlets are not affiliated with or endorsed by APAC.

NEKRITZ-BISS-Civic Committee pension bill unconstitutional? See UIC Retirement Matters, Feb. 8: http://uicretirement.blogspot.com/.

THE UNIVERSITY Institute of Government and Public Affairs compares Illinois’s and California’s budget situations: http://igpa.uillinois.edu/fiscalfutures/CAvsIL.

REPRESENTATIVE LOU LANG calls for permanent tax increase to fund pensions. See State Journal-Register of Feb. 20: http://www.sj-r.com/carousel/x930802728/Lang-Make-income-tax-increase-permanent-dedicated-to-pension-payments/.

Vol. 6, No. 2 February 2013

ISSN 1946-1860
Editor: William S. Bike
Staff: Lucia Gonzalez, Gail Mansfield, Monica M. Walk
Vice Chair: Ahlam Al-Kodmany
Chair: Michael Moss
Secretary: Mary Berta
Treasurer: Virginia Buglio
Web Chair: Jeff Alcantar