Written by James Holman, Employee Forum Delegate
Special thanks to Kathy Bryant, and UNC HR staff for fact-checking
The 2013 General Assembly Session has closed, having enacted into law a number of measures that will impact government workers throughout our state. Virtually all of the bills that were passed have been or will be signed by Governor Pat McCrory.
While the range of issues addressed by this history-making legislature has been broad and deep, promising to impact every citizen of NC for decades to come, some of the issues directly affect staff employees at UNC. First, the good news:
- The Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) was fully funded for the third year in a row.
- The basic 70/30 State Health Plan will continue to be offered without premiums.
- The State Health Plan benefit year will be changed to a calendar year rather than beginning each July 1st. The change will take place on January 1, 2014, and should make it easier for retirees who also receive Medicare to coordinate their benefits between the two plans.
- The Christmas holiday has been set permanently to three days, rather than two or three days depending on how the holiday fell in the week.
The bad news is:
- There will be an increase in the premium for the 80/20 State Health Plan effective January, 2014.
- There will be no pay increases for state employees or cost of living adjustments for retirees. In lieu of a raise, legislators voted to give workers five bonus vacation days that must be used within Fiscal Year 2014.
- The budget for the biennium continues to be grim for the UNC system. It:
- Reduces the UNC System budget by almost 2.5%, bringing the cuts to UNC-CH since FY 2008-09 to approximately $147 million.
- Eliminates a $15 million direct appropriation to the UNC School of Medicine.
- Cuts an $8 million transfer from the University Cancer Research Fund.
- The tax-free weekend, used each August by many University families to help make back-to-school shopping more affordable, has been ended effective in 2014.
Other actions taken by the legislature include:
- The State Personnel Act, which governs the working conditions of SPA employees at the university, was changed via the “Modern State Human Resources Management Act.” Fortunately, provisions that would have compromised employees’ due process rights were removed from the final version of the bill.
- In addition, the re-employment rights of workers subjected to reductions in force were clarified in the Act. RIF’d employees will lose this right if it is not exercised within one year of their RIF notice. For employees notified July 1, 2011, and after, priority re-employment consideration is terminated when an eligible employee refuses an interview or offer for a permanent position for which the eligible employee applied. This includes any permanent position regardless of the salary grade/salary grade equivalent from the last position.
- The office of the State Treasurer, which has had the right to invest up to 30% of the $81 billion TSERS retirement fund, was given slightly expanded investment powers.
The annual community meeting of the Employee Forum on May 21, 2013 in the Student Union at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Speakers include Pres. Tom Ross, Chancellor Holden Thorp, and Employee Forum Chair Jackie Overton. Vice Chair Dan Barmmer moderates questions from the audience.[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/67128462[/vimeo]