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January 5, 2006

SAC hopes to expand health plan’s initiative

The Staff Association Council (SAC) has set its agenda for the spring.

Among its plans, SAC is looking into ways to expand the Fitness for Life initiative introduced this fall by the UPMC Health Plan in conjunction with Human Resources. (See Oct. 27 University Times.)

SAC benefits committee chair Steve Zupcic reported at the Dec. 14 meeting that his committee will develop proposals to expand on the wellness enhancements philosophy, which this year offers UPMC Health Plan participants a month’s premium waiver for completing a lipid and glucose profile screening.

“The philosophy is to take long-term control of our own health care,” Zupcic said. “This benefits everybody, because we all share the costs of health insurance. We’re working with the health plan to develop recommendations that are reasonable and practical for how staff can achieve similar benefits to the free premium by living a healthier lifestyle.”

He cited participating in nutrition, exercise and smoking-cessation programs as examples that could result in discounted premiums or other benefits or incentives to health plan participants.

“Some companies, for example, offer discounts for those who join Weight Watchers and achieve and maintain their goals,” Zupcic said. “That’s one model of how this could work.”

The benefits committee also is developing a proposal to standardize Pitt’s flex-time policies across units, Zupcic said. “We know that flex-time is not for every employee, but where flex-time is appropriate, we think it should be a consistent policy across the University,” he said.

Zupcic added that his committee is pursuing an expansion of the Falk pharmacy delivery service, which currently offers on-campus delivery of prescription drugs ordered at Falk to employees at UPMC and Schools of the Health Sciences offices, but not to other Pitt schools’ employees.

Also on the SAC spring term agenda:

• SAC is planning a spring plenary session. The session will combine a flea market fundraiser with information sessions on retiree benefits for staff, Gwen Watkins reported. Watkins, who is chair of the program and planning committee, said that preliminary plans also are underway for a fall fundraising fashion show.

• SAC is redesigning its web site ( The new site is expected to be up by the end of January and is expected to include a link for filing grievances and other complaints on line, according to marketing and communications committee co-chair Kara Richardson. A new SAC logo is under development as well, Richardson reported.

“We’re also looking into eliminating the paper copy of the SAC Tracks newsletter and just putting it on the web site,” in order to save money, Richardson said. SAC treasurer Carol Hodgkiss reported that an issue of SAC Tracks costs about $2,600 plus mailing costs.

• Elections committee chair Betty Homonai reported that SAC membership is some 10 members shy of its maximum allowed under the bylaws. “We are planning a membership drive to attract new members,” Homonai said.

• SAC President Rich Colwell reported that in January he will recommend a bylaws change to allow meeting-time flexibility. Currently, SAC meetings are scheduled for the second Wednesday of each month, Colwell said. “But the officers often have a number of meetings that week on other committees and I’d like to see the flexibility of meeting in another week during a month,” he said.

• Two openings for staff representatives on University Senate standing committees were filled at the Dec. 14 meeting. Richardson agreed to serve as SAC’s representative on the affirmative action committee and Joyce Holl will join the educational policies committee beginning in the spring term.

In other SAC developments:

Winners of the 2005 Staff Association Council (SAC) Book Fund — established for children of Pitt staffers — were announced last month.

The annual book fund provides financial assistance toward the purchase of books for selected Pitt undergraduates whose parent or legal guardian is a staff member at one of Pitt’s five campuses.

Funds are provided by donations from Pitt staff and from proceeds of SAC fundraisers.

Pitt students Amy Osborn and Erika Turner each were awarded $250 toward the purchase of college textbooks. The two students also were recognized at the long-term staff recognition annual reception held Dec. 6.

Osborn’s mother, Elaine Osborn, is a staff member at the Titusville campus, and Turner’s mother, Diane Turner, works in the School of Dental Medicine.

Watkins reported that the SAC holiday candy sale fundraiser netted about $400 for the book fund.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 38 Issue 9

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