STAFF SENATE MEETING MINUTES October 16, 2013
President Lynn Livingston presided over the October 16, 2013, Staff Senate meeting held at Peabody Hall, Room 225, on the LSU Campus at 10:30 a.m.
P - Torres, Donna (’15)
P - Collins, Lorita (’14)
Pr - Matkovic, Igor (’14)
A - Williams, Elmer “T” (’14)
A - Chaney, Carolyn (’16)
P - Baker, Sheantel (’14)
P - Gothreaux, Chad (’14)
P - Millican, Tammy (’14)
P - Moreau, Scott (’14)
P - Perkins, Julie (’14)
P - Carruth, Holly (’15)
P - Lede’, Robert (’15)
P - Livingston, Lynn (’15)
Pr - Loveless, Kathryn (’15)
P - Sasser, Leigh (’15)
P - Saucier, Kandie (’15)
P - Silver, Jon (’15)
P - Craddock, Jacquelyn (’16)
P - Davis, Anaiah (’16)
P - Hale, Robert (’16)
P - Hart, M.E. (’16)
P - Heil, Mark (’15)
P - Adedeji, Funmilayo (’16)
P - Love, Donna (’14)
A - Jones, Patrick (’16)
P - Collins, Judy (’14)
Pr - Bennett, Casey (’15)
A - Collins, Debra (’16)
P - Joseph, LaToya (’16)
A - Indicates Absent
P - Indicates Present
Pr - Indicates Proxy
A.G. Monaco, Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resource Management
Chantae Haliburton, Staff Senate Scholarship Recipient
Mary Haliburton, Mother of Scholarship Recipient
Ronnie Haliburton, Senior Associate Director, Athletics and Father of Scholarship Recipient
Diego Campoblanco, Staff Senate Scholarship Recipient
Lorena Colina, Assistant Director, International Services and Mother of Scholarship Recipient
Sasha Bacchus, Staff Senate Scholarship Recipient
Sandy Bacchus, Administrative Assistant, Strategic Initiatives and Mother of Scholarship Recipient
Zuzanna Lomnicka, Staff Senate Scholarship Recipient
Izabela Lomnicka, Research Associate, Veterinary Medicine and Mother of Scholarship Recipient
Eugene Thibodeaux, Library Associate, Library and Staff Senate Fee Support Scholarship Recipient
CALL TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order by President Livingston at 10:30 a.m.
There was a quorum with three proxies noted.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Senator Davis led the Pledge of Allegiance.
President Livingston welcomed all of the guests listed above who were in attendance.
APPROVAL OF THE MINUTES – September 18, 2013, Staff Senate Meeting
A motion to accept the minutes was made by Past-President Gothreaux. The motion, seconded by Senator Joseph, carried.
SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS PRESENTATION
President Livingston presented a certificate to Eugene “Trey” Thibodeaux, a recipient of the 2013-2014 Staff Senate Fee Support Scholarship Award. Trey is majoring in Computer Science. After graduation, he plans to continue his career at LSU. Trey works as a Library Associate with LSU Libraries.
President Livingston presented a certificate to Member-at-Large Sheantel Baker, a recipient of the 2013-2014 Staff Senate Fee Support Scholarship Award. Sheantel is working towards her Master’s Degree in Public Administration. After graduation, she plans to continue her career at LSU. Sheantel works as an Accountant Manager with Accounting Services.
President Livingston presented a certificate to Zuzanna Lomnicka, a recipient of the 2013-2014 Staff Senate Scholarship Award. Zuzanna is majoring in Biology. After graduation, she plans to go to graduate school and pursue a career in research. Her mother is Izabela Lomnicka who works with the School of Veterinary Medicine.
President Livingston presented a certificate to Diego Campoblanco, a recipient of the 2013-2014 Staff Senate Scholarship Award. Diego is majoring in Civil Engineering. After graduation, he hopes to design, create and build structures that will benefit the public in the United States and around the world. His mother is Lorena Colina who works with International Services.
President Livingston presented a certificate to Sasha Bacchus, a recipient of the 2013-2014 Staff Senate Scholarship Award. Sasha is majoring in Mechanical Engineering. She intends to work in industry once she graduates in May 2015. Her mother is Sandranee Bacchus who works with the Office of Strategic Initiatives.
President Livingston presented a certificate to Chantae Haliburton, a recipient of the 2013-2014 Staff Senate Scholarship Award. Chantae is majoring in Business Management with a focus on Entrepreneurship. Her plans after graduation are to attend graduate school at LSU and participate in the JD/MBA Program. Her father is Ronnie Haliburton who works with Athletics.
Livingston announced that there are two other recipients for the Staff Senate Fee Support Scholarship who were unable to attend today’s meeting, one of which is unable to attend the next meeting due to his class schedule and the other will attend the November meeting to be recognized.
GUEST SPEAKER – A.G. Monaco, Associate Vice Chancellor with Human Resource Management
President Livingston welcomed A.G. Monaco for coming to share some information with the Staff Senate about the Optional Retirement Plans and the Unfunded Accrued Liability.
A.G. Monaco thanked the group for the invitation to speak about the retirement pensions. He began by explaining that we have LASERS which basically covers classified employees and long serving non-classified employees, people that have been here for 40 something years. We even have some faculty that are in LASERS. And then we have TRSL which is the teacher’s retirement system and there are technically two pension systems with TRSL. There is the traditional retirement system which is a defined benefit plan and then there is ORP which is the Optional Retirement Plan. His guess is 99.9% of the questions that he receives on campus has to do with ORP which is a defined contribution plan which is you put in x amount of dollars, your employer puts in x amount of dollars, you pick a vessel in which to invest that in and then the market does the rest. For the last 8 months, the market has done a good job, the previous 5 years, the market did a terrible job, and the previous 15 years it did a good job. What we find is that concern and basically complaints about self-managed or the optional retirement plan tends to spike when the stock market doesn’t do well because you don’t see your investments growing. Monaco mentioned that he is an economist by training so he’ll give us a little secret about the stock market: it’s totally illogical activity and since 1776 the New York Stock Exchange has never had 5 continuous years of losses. On the other hand, you just don’t know when those drops come. So what we saw in 2007-2008 across the country, there was a wipe out in all the gains that the pensions made in the previous 7-9 years and what we saw then was that 68 became the new 62 to retire which is what we were saying in Human Resource world because people were sticking around for another 5-6 years to retire.
Monaco mentioned that we’re seeing a lot of people who are in self-managed funds who are preparing to retire this year. Why? Because the market, the Dow Jones is over $15,000 which is where it was in 2007-2008 and people are beginning to cash in and get out. What makes Louisiana’s situation unique are a couple of items that seem to be done here that are done nowhere else where he can find. Monaco was on the Pension Board for 12 years for the state’s university retirement system in Illinois before that he was on the City Retirement Board for the City of New York and also in Ohio, so he has been on three boards and mostly the way pensions work are, if you put in a certain amount of money, your employer puts in a certain amount of money. In a defined benefit plan, you’re guaranteed a benefit based on salary and years of service. So in years when investments do well, the amount the employer puts in doesn’t go down because that’s a kind of socked away for those years that investments don’t do well. Here in Louisiana, what happens is the amount the employer puts in which is the normal cost, they often decrease that amount, perhaps in some way to try to balance the budget. So the result comes down to, they sort of don’t save for rainy days. The problem with the self-managed fund when you operate that way is for example, he is in a defined benefit program, so when the normal cost goes down it doesn’t affect his benefits because it’s 2.5 times the years of service times the percentage of his salary but if you’re in the ORP, they’re going to lower the contribution into the ORP so the amount going into the market place that you invest, decreases. What LSU saw since about 2009, was the freeze on salaries, a decrease in the amount of money being invested by the employer. As a result, when the market goes down folks who are about to retire in about 5 years are in a good position and you don’t want your mutual fund to accounts to be worth a whole a lot, you want the value of those individual shares to be low because your money can buy more shares and when it goes up, you have more money so you have more shares. The problem is that you should’ve been buying more shares when the market was down but not only were you not getting a raise; they were decreasing the employer contribution. Now let me be blunt about the employer contribution, it’s not the employer contribution, LSU actually puts more in your pension, whether you’re in ORP or the defined benefit plan than most of our competitive institutions, the problem is that money is siphoned off, so an optional retirement plan creates no unfunded accrued liability, meaning no future costs because all you are going to get is what you were given and what it returns in the market. Yet this year, we will pay between $30-31 million dollars for unfunded accrued liability for the people in the ORP. Now that money, since you don’t create an unfunded accrued liability if you are an ORP, that money basically gets distributed to support K-12 pensions across the state. Because in addition to the people who are in the traditional plan, we’re paying $14-15 million for them so a total cost of about $45 million. If you just take what we paid in the unfunded accrued liability for the four to five years, it actually outstripped what the state cut us by $5-6 million dollars during that time period. So we have an issue.
Last year we ran into a real difficult situation. The cash balance plan that they came up with would have reduced the contribution for future ORP participants, not for people that are in it now but the people who would have been hired in the future, to somewhere to like .8 of 1 percent. As Monaco has explained to legislators and members of our board, who is going to come to work at LSU if you have to fund your own pension, we’re either going to have to pay more money or people are not going to come. This year they just announced a couple of days ago, that the normal cost that is what is going to be put in on the employer’s side of the pension is going to drop down to about 3.6-3.5% because they had a good year in investing and the market went up. The problem is that impacts ORP. Monaco will be meeting this afternoon with some folks and one of the things that we intend to do and the news he has received yesterday was that our new President was briefed on this even before he took the job, feels that this is the number one or two legislative issues facing him.
Last year, we were successful before even any court case got involved with installing the implementation of the cash balance fund based on the fact that we would not been able to recruit and retain people who would be eligible for the TRSL. We think we’ve got legislatures listening to us but he mentioned that the entire system is running opposite of what other people are doing. If you were to go to the TRSL’s website, it would tell you not to take part in the ORP. If you were to go to any other public pension website, they would tell you to go to the self-managed, it saves the state money, it gives you control over your investments and when the market is good, you can do better. But this is one that actually goes the other way and he doesn’t know why. We did a presentation last year for some Legislators and the first screen in the presentation was: LSU’s Baton Rouge campus is the primary supporter of the government’s efforts to reform public pensions, because we, more than any other institution that is involved in the state pension, create the lowest unfunded accrued liability because more than 90% of the employees that who we hire who are eligible to enter into the TRSL, which is about 94%, go with ORP. The assumption is, it’s a new world and younger people who come to work here don’t assume they’re going to be here for 30 years, and what’s the beauty of the ORP, it’s portable, you can take it with you.
Monaco pointed out that interesting things have happened. You all may have heard of LSU United where some employees were going to form a Faculty Union. He went to meet with them and you know it came down to most of the faculty pulled out of that because they realized that Louisiana Association of Educators, the union that they were going to join, was working against them to help the ORP. Why? Because if you are in the K-12, that $30 million is coming from our campus and also ULL in Lafayette and Monroe, the larger universities and it’s ending up to help support the K-12 pensions. K-12 is important to us, he wants school teachers to have good pension, he would just prefer that my employees not pay for it. That’s the situation we’re in; we’ve got a meeting again this afternoon. What he can tell us and he didn’t know this when he agreed to be here, is what he was told that as far as the Administration is concerned, this issue is either number one or two in our legislative agenda. He can take number two if number one is more money in our budget. Because you wouldn’t be complaining about ORP if you had gotten a raise in the those 4 years because there’s two ways to build your pension up in an ORP, either the employer puts more in or your salary grows so you can put more in. The problem was that was stagnant while they were cutting back and that’s what we have got to stop doing. What’s sad about this is if you compare us to Ole Miss, to Alabama, to Texas A&M, we’re putting more in the pension for each of the employees who are in the ORP than any of our competitors, the difference is that you are just not getting that now, what you are getting maybe is about 11-12%, so you are putting in 8% and they are going to give 3.6%, so you will get about 11.6% but we are putting in close to 24%. That’s our problem.
The ORP in of itself is still a good structure. His recommendation which quite honestly lead to some problems with my relationship with representatives with TRSL is he believes that people in the ORP do not need to be in TRSL. The year before last they passed a law that allowed the charter schools to pull out of TRSL and they said anybody who is already in TRSL can stay, and everybody else can pull out. Well of course they don’t want that because they will lose $31 million dollars that they don’t have to give back to our employees. When he started to bring that up, they tried to pass something that said if we outsourced anything, we still had to pay back the unfunded accrued liability, even if we didn’t have the employees. The other thing they said was the reason we are charged that unfunded accrued liability was to deal with the unfunded liability that was created by the old LSU pension system. That pension ended in 1979 so think about those of us who might have been working and what we were making in 1979. We have no one working here that would’ve been covered under that pension right now. Those employees who may have been working since 1979 were in LASERS. In addition, what was paid out didn’t come close to what we’ve been paying. On top of that, in the early 1990s, there was a settlement, he believes the oil company was Texaco and LSU instead of taking the cash, put the money towards its unfunded accrued liability which means that we’ve been paying for this thing over and over. Is there sunshine on the horizon? He thinks so. Not this January but next January, the law or the general accounting standards is going to require, that we put down on our balance sheet what our true unfunded accrued liability for future pensions. That means that TRSL will have to give us the numbers that they refuse to give us now. Again, he has never worked with a pension system like this that says if you want to hire an actuary and spend $300,000, you can get these numbers, these numbers are supposed to be given to us. LASERS is a traditional defined benefit plan. It is very well run for a state pension system. One that has people of all different varieties and different salaries. Their cost to providing pensions per person is significantly less than TRSL even though they claim to receive awards for this. They way they do things is a bit more open. So we don’t have a problem with them. What our primary problem with TRSL is the way that they treat us with the ORP.
A.G. Monaco opened the floor for any questions.
Q: So this new figure the 3 point whatever percent, where did that come from?
A: The State Actuarial Board meets and determines how much is going to be needed to maintain pension benefits for the next 12 months. So they’re saying it was a very good investment year, we earned more than we expected, therefore we don’t need to put much in. Like he has said before, that’s unheard of whether it’s New York City, Illinois, Ohio, or New Jersey, all other places that he has managed pensions, that amount would stay the same and in years when investments were down, you had this money in reserve. That’s not the way it works here and because it has to do with the way they budget for the state. He can tell you that the university will spend less this year on our share of what we put in the pensions but it will still be much more than the 3.6% because they are still going to hit us with the unfunded accrued liability for the ORP people. Which we think could be $31 million, every time we add a person it goes up. Senator Love mentioned it just seems like they are totally ignoring the fact that some of us are self-funding. Monaco mentioned that they do not care, bluntly and he thinks that the deal we made with the teacher’s retirement system when we got the ORP was a bad deal.
Q: Is there anything that we can do as a body to express our concern?
A: Yes, he thinks timing is everything. In the next two months, most of the work is going to be behind the scenes by people far more important than him. But when we get into the legislative session and he will come back, and say here’s the timing, on this date, you need to contact people and start talking about it. What we need to do is put a face other than mine and Kevin Cope’s to this problem. That’s what we need to see. The other side to this is he doesn’t want to take employees who want to be in LASERS and move them into a defined contribution plan. Every other major institution that he knows of allows a choice, but we should not diminish the ability to retire the people who make the choice. What you should pay the penalty for is if you decide to invest in programs and plans that don’t do well. That’s the risk you take. But the design shouldn’t put you at risk.
Q: So if we were going to participate in a consolidated effort, let’s say the day that the bill comes up for discussion in committee, to put names and faces other than Kevin Cope which would take us going to the legislature. What do you think of that idea?
A: It worked for us last year. He kind of got in a little bit of trouble for this. He got the people from ING, TIAA CREF, VALIC and MetLife, they all have lobbyists and he got some faculty members. And he knows Chad and some others were involved to speak with these people who were investing their money in the ORP and pointing out to them that while our pensions might be at risk, their businesses were at risk if they diminish the contributions for future employees down to less than 1%. And they got involved in lobbying to show how bad this was for state employees. He will do that again, they make money off of this, now they provide us with the service but they make money. We need to be involved with them, so when you meet with your representative, you’ve got to say, you helped us last year, you need to help us again. We need to work with the faculty; Kevin Cope was able through his consolidation with all the other Faculty Senate’s in the state to get people from all over the involved.
Q: We have a similar group of LSU system staff members that meet every month just before the Board meeting, would it be worthwhile for each member of that committee to have a conversation with their legislator who is from that area?
A: Monaco thinks so; we need to start this in January. He hopes that the new President can build good relationships with the legislators. This campus and Pennington are more involved in this than that rest of LSU system. LSU AgCenter, a large number of their people are traditional positions that do not enter into the ORP. Extension agents stay a long time, they don’t expect to go anywhere else. Ultimately, everybody in this room can do their job in some way at another agency or in the private sector, but much of what the AgCenter that’s not true. He doesn’t know why but Eunice, maybe it’s their size or their location; they don’t seem to be as active in the ORP.
Q: What about the Health Science Centers?
A: Absolutely and we worked particularly with New Orleans because they have difficulty recruiting people. LSU Shreveport even Alexandria certainly but we all have contacts with ULL and Monroe, and the people at Southern have started to pay attention.
Member-at-Large Torres receives a mailer before every legislative session from her representative asking her about issues that she has concern with and this is something that she puts on the card and sends it back. But she wonders how many people take the time to actually fill the card out and say “I voted for you and here’s my voice”, so that’s another way and she agrees with Monaco that this is not something that we need to start now, but as we get those cards from our representatives and as we learn that they’re going to be debating in committee and if there were a group down there like the teachers who converge but remember we would have to take leave to do this, there is strength in numbers. Not just showing our faces there, but take those cards because we voted for them, we have to tell them what we want.
Monaco thinks there is some logic in explaining this situation. For example, he was invited to a meeting with the Governor’s staff the year before last to discuss their proposed changes in the pension. And they talked about how LSU is going to save $50 million in pension costs by going to the cash balance plan. And he looked at it and said to this woman, “your numbers are wrong” and she says, what do you mean? And Monaco said, well it’s really rather simple, you haven’t taken into consideration ORP which is about 50% of our employees, which create no UAL’s and we’re not going to save any money there. And in fact, we’re going to lose money because in the future the people are going to choose the cash balance plan rather than the ORP, so he told her that “your numbers are garbage.” You can get pretty angry about this because they didn’t even bother to check to see if there was an ORP. Higher education tends to be forgotten as part of the teacher’s retirement system. And notice what they did with the whole cash balance thing, police were exempted, K-12 teachers were exempted, but not higher education.
Q: Would there be any benefit in the spring for the Staff Senate to present a resolution just expressing our concerns about the UAL?
A: Monaco thinks so and he doesn’t know what the Staff Senate’s interactions are with the Senior Administration. He thinks expressing a concern and he wants to say this in the right way, a concern from a community level. He has been working on this a lot, so have some other people who are not even impacted by it but we know the place is not going to be as good as it should be if we don’t fix this and that’s how we have to understand it. Because he genuinely believes that when all of this shakes out, in about 3 years the market is going to zoom again and what’s going to happen is that people between the ages of 44-50 right now are going to be in a real good position to cash in and get out. He thinks that in many ways the market will take care of this. What’s bad about it is that we have increased the risk by not contributing and we’re not paying people properly. Compensation should be done in certain ways and one of the ways is it has to be distributive justice; it has to be distributed equally. It doesn’t work when we limit health insurance based on your lifestyle choice or your orientation or whatever. When we say that ok one pension is going to be fully funded but the other one we’re going to charge it as if it’s fully funded but we’re not going to give it to the employees. Our problem right now is the way we distribute compensation in higher education is not done in a way that provides for justice.
Q: In a perfect situation, if we did not have ORP just LASERS and the two traditional plans where we pay in and then the university pays in, we hear that ORP and UAL is killing us, but what is the better situation overall?
A: The problem is if you do away with the ORP, you are going to limit yourselves in terms of recruitment and retention with people who are mid-career and that are part of the issue. There are people who choose to come here at an early age and do not plan to ever leave. And by that, I mean finish their whole career which are the back bones of this place, but not everybody is born and raised within five zip codes of this place. If he Monaco was 5-6 years younger when he took this job, he would be in ORP because he would not know how long he was going to stay. Think about a faculty person who comes in, they have to be granted tenured, so they work four years and then they are told whether or not they get tenured, if they don’t get tenured, they are going to move. So this is a way for them to retain their pension because they would not be vested in a regular plan. So he thinks that it’s very important that the future of public pensions in this country are that, and Louisiana’s not the case, but New York, Illinois, California, they’ve given away ridiculous pensions, but the future is probably a self-managed fund which is overall better for the economy because essentially everyone owns stock. All of that put together says we should have an ORP or some sort of choice. That way people can decide. A lot of people have chosen ORP and have decided to make this their life’s work. He doesn’t want them to feel diminished by that.
Senator Davis mentioned that she is the young employee that could move but she was born and raised here and she didn’t choose the ORP because she knew the value in staying. Monaco mentioned that the concept of being able to move to another agency or state, all of that is there. If you were born in New Jersey and you came down here because it’s a great job, we want those people. Some people come here and contribute for 5-6 years greatly. We want to be able to get the best and the brightest as well.
President Livingston thanked A.G. Monaco for coming to speak to the Staff Senate today.
President Livingston reported that she attended the University Council on Women meeting and the Quality Enhancement Plan Committee meeting on September 27 and the Holiday on Campus Committee meeting on October 14, she submitted reports which were part of the meeting packet.
Livingston reported that on September 30, she attended the Chancellor’s Staff Meeting which was the first meeting of the semester. She learned a lot about what is going on at LSU at this meeting. She wanted to share some updates from some of the functional areas, please understand this meeting was two weeks ago, so you may have heard about some of these things. The university is concentrating on affordability of a degree from LSU. So you may see some information circulating about how much of a value LSU is which you may have heard from President Alexander. For those of you who may have a recruiting piece associated with your job you may want to stay updated with that. We will pass along any updated information as we receive it.
Livingston reported that they received an enrollment update, the final tally for the fall semester was 29,865 with 5,001, freshman. The goal was 5,000 and the 171 Tiger Bridge students that are living in McVoy Hall, they are not counted in this total. They are already beginning recruitment efforts for next year. These numbers came in right after the Georgia Game and they had multiple events in Georgia trying to capture some of those talented students who are going to leave the state.
Livingston reported that there was a research update. There was an update from last years’ awards and there were three highlighted major awards that the university has received which have been in the news lately.
Livingston reported that Academic Affairs provided an update on the SACSCOC Reaffirmation of Accreditation report has been submitted. They are going to bounce it back with questions and improvements. The Quality Enhancement Plan is the way which we have talked about. Livingston mentioned that six of the twelve Dean’s, there are searches for. Academic Affairs is also working on filling a lot of faculty positions.
Livingston reported on Finance and Administrative Services, there was some discussion about enrollment since the numbers just came out but there was also some discussion about TOPS and restructuring which has some questions out there. Bob Kuhn also mentioned that enrollment across the system is down by about 500 not here but across the whole LSU System part of that is due to the dual enrollments only counted once this year.
Livingston reported that there was also an update about the search for the university’s new ERP System, so that is a huge thing that is going on campus right now.
Livingston reported that Jason Droddy mentioned the new broadcast email consolidation. You might have noticed that you are getting less broadcast emails which is on purpose. The Staff Senate may have an exception to this but departments are now trying to creative and look for alternative ways to get their word out. If you can send messages to people you know, if you have a departmental listserv, feel free to forward it on but maybe the Staff Senate can help the university and our friends on campus by getting the word out about things. Jason also mentioned that there is a little bit of a set back on the Procurement System. It was not placed on the agenda earlier in this semester but they are trying to get this on the October Meeting schedule but that was kind of a huge unexpected set back in the Procurement System with regards to the adoption of the new Pilot Procurement Code.
Livingston reported that the Foundation is continuing fundraising for the Engineering Complex. You may have remembered last year that there was a development fee that was being implemented through the Foundation and they said that that was carried out with relative smoothness. There is also a new development office in Houston.
Livingston reported that TAF will be conducting a survey regarding the economic impact of athletics across the state. Not just in Baton Rouge and surrounding areas but across the state. They are also going to be doing some surveys regarding parking on campus for games. They are very ambitious to solve the game day parking problems.
Livingston reported that Faculty Senate is working on fine tuning the plagiarism software and the suffix grading policy about the plus or minus.
Livingston reported that Athletics has got their eye on the NCAA reform and they are looking at the game day experience as well.
Livingston reported that the Alumni Association had a successful graduation fair and they will be holding a scholarship banquet.
Livingston reported that Equity, Diversity and Community Outreach, are having lots of involvement with National Diversity and Equity Groups and Task Forces, some have been coming here, some of our staff going to conferences. They are also working on Strategic Planning.
Livingston reported that the Executive Committee Meeting was held on October 3 to set the full Staff Senate’s meeting agenda.
Livingston reported that she along with Senator Craddock and Secretary Carruth attended the Dining Advisory Committee on October 7, which she will open the floor for feedback later during the meeting. The Farmer’s Market was mentioned and will continue through November 21, in front of the Bookstore on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. which will have a theme every time. She encouraged Senators to get that word out. As mentioned earlier on October 7, she attended another Holiday on Campus Committee Meeting. Livingston reported that on October 11, the Staff Senate participated in Fall Fest and had some Cotton Candy fun. She thanked everyone who participated this year and mentioned that President Alexander stopped by the Staff Senate table.
Livingston reported that on October 14, she along with Senators Millican and Davis attended the Bookstore Advisory Committee Meeting which gave an overview of their operations but they may ask for Bookstore Feedback in a couple of months. She will be reporting back on that once more develops.
STANDING AND AD HOC COMMITTEES
President Livingston announced that the committee reports were attached to the meeting packet. Livingston asked Committee Chairs if there was anything additional to add for Standing Committee reports.
President-Elect Perkins reported that the Staff Senate Benefits, Policies and Development Committee has set the date for the New Staff Reception - Breakfast which will be held on Wednesday, November 13, at 8:30 a.m. in 225 Peabody Hall. She invited all Senators to attend as the committee would like to introduce all of the Senators who are able to attend. Perkins also announced that if Senators would like to order a polo style shirt at the cost of $27 each, or any size above an X-Large is $2.50 additional instead of having just a casual Staff Senate T-Shirt to wear at these types of events. The order will need to go in around October 23 since there is a two week turnaround to receive. Melonie Milton, Staff Senate Administrative Coordinator will send out an order notice to the full Senate for those interested in placing an order.
Livingston reported that the Communications Committee met prior to the Staff Senate Meeting today, and the committee discussed trying to get the Staff Senate’s Facebook Page more active. She encouraged all Senators to like the Staff Senate page and to encourage their staff member/friends to also like the Staff Senate page on Facebook. The committee would like to get some more activity going with questions and posting information.
Livingston asked if there was anything additional for Special Ad-Hoc Committee reports. Livingston reported that the Holiday on Campus Committee needs the annual donation of candy for the goody bags which you can purchase at great discounts immediately following Halloween. We really appreciate the candy that is donated every year for the goody bags. Please bring your candy donation to the November 20, Staff Senate Meeting as we will stuff goody bags after that meeting for the Holiday on Campus event which will be held on Wednesday, December 4, 2013, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the LSU Student Union. We will take part in the University Holiday Spectacular this year, where Holiday on Campus will begin the festivities, and then the performances are scheduled a little later with the Tree Lighting Celebration happening last in front of the Tower.
Livingston asked if there was anything additional for Liaison Committee reports. Senator Love mentioned that the Faculty Senate has some resolutions that they are working on and the travel situation, there has been some concerns with Book It, so if anyone travels you may be interested in looking up that information.
President Livingston again thanked everyone who attended and participated in Fall Fest this year.
President Livingston announced that Benefits Fair will be held on Tuesday, October 22, 2013, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Livingston circulated a sign-up sheet again for more participation.
Benefit of the Month
Member-at-Large Torres announced that there are two benefits this month. One is to remind everyone that it is Open Enrollment time. So not only is it time to look at the current options that are available for health insurance and all of the other optional coverage’s but more important it’s time to look at whether you should participate in the dependent care spending account of the flexible spending account for healthcare. It’s a way that you can set aside dollars that you would not pay taxes on to pay for dependent care or medical costs that you may have to pay for anyway. Open Enrollment ends October 31, 2013.
The other is it’s not too early to think about taking classes for the spring. So, if that is something that you’ve had in the back of your mind and you would need to apply to the university, go ahead and do it! After you have been at LSU for a year, the classes are tuition free but you do have to pay for the fees associated with the classes which is why we offer the Staff Senate Fee Support Scholarship to help offset that cost if you are chosen as a recipient. And you can take one class during the normal work hours. So what better investment in yourself then to continue your education.
President-Elect Perkins asked if Member-at-Large Torres had clarification on how required it is that your class be applicable to your job. Perkins has never encountered that going through the process but is that required. Torres mentioned that she believes it is up to the unit. She has had employees in her department receive degrees that did not pertain to accounting but her preference is that her employees are taking an accounting class but she believes how the policy is written that you have to be working towards your field of study for a graduate degree but for an undergraduate, you just need to be working towards a degree. Torres is unaware of any limitation but that is not to say that a department could not impose that limitation.
Staff Senate Gift Fund
President Livingston reminded the group of the Staff Senate Gift Fund. If you haven’t contributed and you can, please donate $10 towards the fund so we can build that fund back up in case we have any celebrations for the year.
LSU Dining Feedback
President Livingston would like to open the floor for feedback in understanding staff needs with concern to Dining. The Dining Advisory Committee discussed during the meeting about staff eating in the Dining Halls. What kind of services they could provide for staff? They really looking for any feedback. Livingston does not believe that they have ever had a functioning Advisory Committee, so any feedback that we can provide regarding dining would be helpful. One of the things that Livingston mentioned during the meeting is that she does not want to go to any of the Dining Halls because there is lines and it is stressful, you can’t find a table, those kinds of things are what they are looking for. They really want to know what services they can provide for staff.
Member-at-Large Torres mentioned that one of her frustrations are we got to the Dining Halls when the students are here, which like you said is very busy and when you are stepping away from the office for lunch, you are looking for a little peace time, so as soon as the students leave the Dining Halls are closed, so our options are typically Subway or McDonald’s, so why wouldn’t the vendors during the week time, in between classes encourage staff to eat in the Dining Halls instead of shutting down. That is the time that they can really accommodate us but we would have to make sure that we supported them because we don’t typically go there because it is so busy, even if they gave us a week or three days a week, like Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, to come and kind of showcase what they do as a way to support staff but staff would have to come out and support them as well to make sure they are covering their expenses for being open those days. Secretary Carruth mentioned that they did mention extending their hours, the length of time that they are open past the semester end to benefit staff and faculty that are still here. Senator Craddock mentioned that that may not apply to the vendors in the Union as in the meeting they mentioned that may adjust days and hours for the Dining Halls.
Senator Davis asked if they have discussed possibly sectioning off an area just for employees, like a designated area. Davis mentioned that in her department they do not have a break room and she has thought about going to the Dining Hall but realizes that it is busy during that time, so she just goes off campus during her lunch break. Livingston asked for those of you who leave campus or bring your lunch, why don’t you rely on Dining Services? There are healthier options off campus and what form of payment they take (like having to use the Tiger Card)? Cash or Credit Card is accepted at the Dining Hall as well as the vendors in the Union. Senator Heil mentioned that ten years ago before they contracted the Dining Services out, the university offered the employees a discount on breakfast and lunch and most of the 500 employees with Facility Services did eat at the Dining Hall until they contracted out and the discounts were not offered anymore, so a lot of those employees just bring their lunch. Not only do we not get a discount anymore but it is very expensive to eat in the Dining Halls. Senator Love mentioned for her, it is a good distance away to get to the Dining Halls, the closest hall to her is Piers Landing and if you only have a 30 minute lunch break, you just don’t have the time to get there, eat, and get back in time.
President Livingston mentioned that they discussed a Food Truck and they were exploring feedback options in areas that are not close to the Dining Halls or the Union. Part-President Gothreaux asked if they discussed a food delivery service. They are getting ready to do that something like that, where if you order bagels Einstein, you can send a student worker to go and pick that up and it is reasonably priced. The problem is that employees have not heard about this. Gothreaux mentioned even an online ordering system, where you order from a menu, pay for it in advance or have it go on a billing statement that you could run a tab, that at the end of the month can be payroll deducted and have it delivered to you (like something like Geauxshop). Livingston will get some more information about that and let the Senate know. Senator Craddock added that they are looking at pricing for staff and faculty at different venues or possibly using Paw Points.
President Livingston asked about a Staff Meal Plan. The options they have online right now are not convenient and there are not a lot of places you could go. So you can get Paw Points or you can go to the Magnolia Room. Maybe they could withdraw money every month from an employee’s check to go into some sort of Meal Plan Account. Member-at-Large Torres mentioned that you have to be careful because the Paw Points are set-up and if you leave the university of discontinue the withdrawal, you would have to request the refund or it just gets scooped up. It would be a convenient way to build that up instead of putting money in there to start with.
President Livingston encouraged everyone to ask their co-workers what they think of Dining and share those thoughts with her by next Thursday so she can gather and get to the committee. She thanked everyone for sharing their thoughts today and will share this feedback at the next Dining Advisory Committee Meeting.
Staff Senate Bylaws Questions & Answers
President Livingston presented a power point and mentioned that these Bylaws questions were brought to the Executive Committee back in the spring and the Bylaws Committee wanted to provide answers to the full Senate. This presentation was included in the meeting packet as well.
Q: Should a short meeting agenda be sent to committee members prior to a committee meeting?
A: It is recommended that a Chairperson provide agenda items to a committee prior to a meeting. A chairperson can do this in a formal or informal way when a reminder is sent about an upcoming meeting. If a Chair anticipates guests at the meeting that will be introducing a new item, it is highly encouraged for that Chair to notify committee members that a guest will be attending and to provide as much information as possible in advance.
Q: Does a committee need to reach quorum to hold a meeting or make decisions?
A: Yes. Quorum is defined by a simple majority, or half of committee members plus one. (Bylaws Article VII, Section 6.b.) This really relates to when the committee is voting on something.
Q: What is the process for holding a proxy for a committee member who cannot attend a committee meeting?
A: Bylaws (Article VI, Section B.3.) state that a committee member should notify the Staff Senate Administrative Coordinator of an absence and attempt to secure a proxy per Article I, Section E (same way for Senate meetings).
Q: How should the committee keep minutes/notes of the meeting?
A: Note taking is up to the discretion of the Chairperson. There is no requirement to have recorded and transcribed minutes (sometimes this is not appropriate), but at a minimum have a list of action items to include in the committee report.
Q: Does each committee select a secretary or rotate that duty?
A: This decision is up to the Chairperson. Some options available to a chairperson are to have the Chairperson take notes, appoint the co-chair, select a Secretary, or have the Administrative Coordinator take notes.
Q: Do all members need to have the opportunity to review committee meeting notes before they are submitted to the Staff Senate?
A: Not required but recommended to recap action items before adjournment so that all committee members are aware of what has been agreed upon. Alternatively, the chairperson can send a draft of the Committee Report to the committee before sending to the Administrative Coordinator as well. Please be mindful of the amount of time it will take to have a committee approve a report and to submit to the Staff Senate office.
Q: What is the process for an interested party to follow to bring a concern to a meeting?
A: It can be brought to the Chair’s attention in advance or at the committee meeting itself, with or without notice. If a chair knows beforehand, please notify the committee.
Q: What is the responsibility of a committee if an interested party brings an issue to a committee?
A: It is up to the committee whether to move the issue forward, this can be done by vote. A simple majority is all that is required.
Q: Is the committee obligated to move that issue forward to the Executive Committee?
A: No, the committee is not obligated to move the issue forward. However, the committee may want to vote on whether to move the issue forward. This can also be done by acclimation.
Q: Where do Staff Senate resolutions originate? In committees or in the Executive Committee?
A: Resolutions can originate in both. Committee resolutions are submitted to the Executive Committee for review.
Q: What is the process for a resolution to be considered for adoption by the Staff Senate?
A: Aside from commendation resolutions, Staff Senate would like to adopt a first reading/second reading system to allow Senators time to review a resolution and to share with constituents. The time between the two readings will be the span of time between two subsequent Staff Senate meetings. A vote on the resolution will take place at the same meeting at which the second reading occurs. The Bylaws Committee will work to amend the Bylaws to include this system.
Q: What is the role of the Staff Senate President, or the President’s proxy, in a committee meeting?
A: The Staff Senate President is a non-voting, ex-officio member of each committee by virtue of the position.
Q: What is the role of the Staff Senate Administrative Coordinator in committee meetings?
A: The role of the Administrative Coordinator is to provide support to the chairperson and committee members. He/she is a non-voting, ex-officio member of each committee.
Q: Is there a process that a staff member, who is not a Senator, needs to follow to become recognized as a committee member or do they just attend a committee meeting?
A: That staff member can express his/her interest with any member of Staff Senate or the Staff Senate Administrative Coordinator or may simply attend a committee meeting. If that staff member is interested in becoming a permanent member of a committee, he/she may do so and will be added to the committee roster designated as a non-Senator committee member.
Q: Prior to elections, can Staff Senate post all candidate names on the website?
A: Yes, we will work on it!
Q: Can we distribute to the full Senate the names of Senators who are nominated for Executive Committee offices prior to the Senate meeting when the ballots are distributed?
A: Unfortunately we cannot share that list because it is not official prior to the Senate meeting when ballots are distributed. The speeches that are given at that meeting are in fact an acceptance of the nomination and until that occurs the list is not official.
Q: When a Senator is nominated for more than one Executive Committee office, how is that handled?
A: Though not specifically stated in the Bylaws, a fact which may need to be clearly articulated through an amendment, Senators may only hold one Executive Committee office. To avoid the potential for a Senator to be duly elected to more than one office, nominees are asked to accept the candidacy for only one Executive Committee office. The Bylaws Committee will take under advisement the development of a proposed provision which would allow for the option of running for more than one Executive Committee office. Any such provision will be submitted for Senate ratification as an official amendment to the Bylaws.
Q: In the case where only one person has been nominated for an Executive Committee office, are write-in candidates allowed on the election ballots?
A: No, acceptance of the nomination speeches are required of each nominee seeking an Executive Committee office as stated in Article III Section C.3 The acceptance speeches finalize the ballot, precluding the addition of write-in candidates.
Q: What are the attendance policies for the monthly Staff Senate meetings?
A: If a Senator is absent for two meetings during the year, the President may declare the seat vacant. Senators may appoint alternative representation by proxy in accordance with Article I, Section E, with a maximum of two proxies per year. Representation by proxy constitutes attendance. Non-attendance at special meetings or absences caused by a change of the regular meeting date will not count as an absence.
Q: What are the attendance policies for Staff Senate committee meetings?
A: Attendance at regular committees meetings and liaison appointments is required. Senators should notify the Administrative Coordinator of anticipated absences and attempt to secure a proxy in accordance with Article I, Section E.
Q: What are the policies related to proxies?
A: Absent Senators may be represented by proxy provided said proxy is eligible for Staff Senate election from within the absent senator's EEO/job category. In the event no senator from the absent senator’s EEO/job category is available, proxy representation for any EEO/job category can be held by a member of the Staff Senate Executive Committee.
Q: How do I notify someone of a proxy arrangement?
A: You have two options. Preferably, you should print out the Proxy Authorization Form (on the Staff Senate website under “Documents”) and deliver to the Administrative Coordinator prior to the meeting. This form provides for an indication of voting preference on issues before the Senate. Alternatively, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org prior to the meeting indicating the proxy arrangement. Please note that notification of the proxy arrangement must occur before a meeting begins or an absence will be recorded. The proxy form has an indication for voting purposes as well.
Member-at-Large Torres announced that the United Way Campaign is coming back to LSU. Susan Bell will be acting Chair and the Co-Chair this year is Basketball Coach Johnny Jones. Maria Cazes and Member-at-Large Torres have been working with Susan Bell on what was previously done with the United Way Campaign and it’s exciting as this is a way for LSU to give back to the community since the community supports us. This will not be as big a campaign as it has been in the past ,but next year it will be bigger. Every year you have to re-elect your contribution amount, if you plan on giving. The goal this year is $75,000, in the years prior it was up to $285,000 as a fundraising goal. When Maria and Member-at-Large Torres started the campaign back in 2005, the goal was $60,000, so it grew to $285,000 within five years or so. This year you can select an agency to give.
Staff Senator Birthdays
President Livingston announced that Senator Kathryn Loveless celebrated her birthday on October 5, Senator M.E. Hart is celebrating her birthday today, October 16, and Senator Jon Silver will celebrate his birthday on October 29, “Happy Birthday”.
MOTION TO ADJOURN – With there being no more business, Senator Hart moved to adjourn. The motion, seconded by Secretary Carruth, carried. The meeting adjourned before noon.
Holly Carruth, Secretary