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March 18, 2010

SAC proposes sick-leave bank

A Staff Association Council (SAC) proposal to establish a University-wide sick leave bank of staff-donated sick time is being reviewed by Human Resources.

Such sick-leave banks, which have been created at other universities, benefit staff members who have used up their accrued time off, but still have conditions that prevent them from working.

SAC unanimously endorsed the sick-leave bank proposal at its February meeting. The group believes the proposal is cost-effective for both Pitt staff and the University.

Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources, told the University Times the proposal is in the review process. “I have been out of the office and have not thoroughly read the proposal yet,” Frisch said. “I am assuming that once I review the material, I will ask my staff to conduct some additional research … and then prepare my own discussion notes for a future discussion with the University leadership.

“I anticipate this process could take weeks and I do not anticipate a response until mid-spring.”

At SAC’s March 10 meeting, the issue of potential pay increases was discussed. SAC President Gwen Watkins referred to University Times coverage that quoted Pitt’s senior administration as saying that employee raises in the next fiscal year are a priority. (See March 4 University Times.) Pitt has had a salary freeze in place for the current fiscal year.

Rich Colwell, SAC vice president of steering, is one of two SAC voting representatives on the University planning and budgeting committee, which makes salary increase recommendations to the chancellor. Colwell assured SAC “we will do our best to let the concerns of the staff be known that we feel that a raise is necessary for this fiscal year coming. We have been reassured from the upper administration that they will do everything possible to make that happen.”

SAC’s salary and job classification committee also is developing a letter with the council’s confidential recommendation on a salary increase for fiscal year 2011.

In response to questions, Colwell, vice chair of the grievance committee, and Angela Coldren, chair, reviewed the Pitt policies on bereavement leave and extreme weather.

One SAC member questioned the amount of bereavement leave an employee qualifies for based on the relationship to the person who died. Colwell read the policy and cited the link:

SAC’s grievance committee has received questions about Pitt’s extreme weather policy, prompted by Pitt’s closure during a pair of major snowstorms last month. The questions center on who qualifies for compensatory time or overtime pay for working on days when the University officially is closed. The link to the policy is

Coldren noted that the extreme weather policy does not supersede union contracts. In the event a union employee has a concern about pay rules that apply, he or she should contact Labor Relations in Human Resources, she said.

On a separate matter, Coldren issued a word of caution regarding the UPMC Health Plan.

She suggested those who live in an outlying area, where there are fewer doctors’ offices and labs in the UPMC network, be proactive in dealing with their medical offices and reviewing their bills.

Although her own family pediatrician is in the UPMC network, Coldren said, the office sent lab work to a facility that was not in the UPMC advantage network, and thus she was responsible for the bill.

She advised Pitt staff to check with the doctor’s office in advance to avoid a similar situation. “I now know to take a stand and say, ‘Look, if you can’t send this to someone in my particular network, give me the [prescription] and I’ll go find someone myself.’”

In other SAC business:

• Marissa Arlet, chair of the program and planning committee, recommended that members of the Pitt community attend an information session on the changes in the Port Authority’s routes and schedule, set to begin in early April. The open meeting, part of SAC’s brownbag lunch series, will be held noon-1:30 p.m. March 25 in the Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall.

Presenters will include representatives from the Port Authority and Oakland Transportation Management Association, as well as staff from Panther Central, who will demonstrate the use of the Pitt I.D. card on Port Authority vehicles equipped with scanners. The I.D. scanners, which are active in a few buses, are expected to be used system-wide by the fall.

Arlet reported that the 20th annual Pitt Kennywood Day is set for July 31. SAC also will sponsor a services marketplace in May and a Pitt Pirates Day in June, on dates to be determined.

In July, SAC plans to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Details will be announced at a future SAC meeting, Arlet said.

• Meg Mayer-Costa, chair of the governance committee, said attendance at SAC standing committee meetings continues to be a problem. She reminded members that bylaws governing attendance will be enforced. The SAC secretary is compiling meeting attendance records that will prompt letters from Mayer-Costa warning of dismissal from SAC for unexcused members who miss three meetings a year or any members who miss four meetings, regardless of circumstances.

• Rick Fabean, chair of the safety and security committee, reported that the Feb. 27 CPR class drew 20 participants. The next SAC-sponsored CPR class will be held May 8. For details, contact the SAC office, 4-4236.

Fabean reported that his committee had forwarded a small number of alleged violations of Pitt’s smoking policy to the Environmental Health and Safety office, which is investigating. He said that office has a mechanism on its web site to report all campus health concerns at

• Monika Losagio, chair of the salary and job classification committee, reported that her committee is awaiting a report from Human Resources on concerns and comments on the new PRISM TRKS time record system. (See March 4 University Times.)

She urged staff with concerns to contact the PRISM TRKS hotline, 412/383-8463.

Her committee continues to prepare a letter to Human Resources, requesting an annual benchmark review of the job family salary ranges, Losagio said.

She said that Barbara Adelman has resigned her position as vice chair of the committee. The committee elected Jonah McAllister Erickson as vice chair. The committee also welcomed new member Jennifer Sample.

• Libby Hilf, chair of the marketing and communications committee, reported that about 650 people have subscribed to SAC’s electronic newsletter. Hilf urged members of the Pitt community to subscribe at

—Peter Hart

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