Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

May 17, 2007

SAC candidate slate announced

The slate of candidates for the Staff Association Council (SAC) officers has been announced.

Running for re-election as president is Rich Colwell. He will be opposed by Steve Zupcic, chair of SAC’s benefits committee. (See story beginning on page 8.)

Incumbent Angela Peskie is running unopposed for vice president for marketing and communications and incumbent Gwen Watkins, vice president for steering, also is running unopposed.

Carol Hodgkiss, current treasurer, is opposed for that office by Monika Losagio, who serves on the salary and job classification and the safety and security committees.

SAC officers serve two-year terms beginning July 1. SAC members who have served one year on the council are eligible to vote for officers. Ballots are expected to go to voting SAC members this week with a June 8 deadline for completion, according to elections committee chair Betty Homonai. Winners will be announced at the June 20 SAC meeting.

Colwell reported that SAC members on the University planning and budgeting committee (UPBC) voted against the recommendations on salary pool increases for fiscal year 2008, which begins July 1. UPBC, an advisory group chaired by the provost that includes administrative, faculty, staff and student representatives, annually makes salary recommendations in confidence to the chancellor, through its parameters subcommittee.

“SAC has three representatives, two who can vote, on UPBC,” said Colwell at the May 9 meeting. “We as SAC recommended a 6 percent increase in the salary pool. We voted against the recommendations of UPBC. I can’t tell you what they recommended, because it’s confidential, only that we voted against it.”

In other Staff Association Council developments:

• SAC members discussed the trend in recent years to keep premium increases low in Pitt’s health plan by raising the amount and number of co-payments. Benefits committee chair Zupcic said, “The benefits committee has reached a consensus that for future years as we shift away from sharing costs across the board — this year it was a 3.9 percent increase — toward increased co-pays, we’re moving away from providing the safety net for the most vulnerable of our employees. We’re moving toward a pay-as-you-go system, which is not what is intended.”

The health of the lowest-paid staff could be affected negatively, SAC members agreed, due to medical procedures that are postponed or avoided because of cost.

Faculty are affected, too, members noted, making this a University-wide issue. “They’re covered under the same plan,” Zupcic said. “But the median salary of faculty is higher than the median salary of staff, and the impact of increased co-pays is different. This is not an attempt to pit faculty against staff. I think it’s safe to say that all of us — faculty and staff — want to make Pitt a healthier, more productive workplace.”

• SAC’s safety and security committee is studying ways in which the University community can be made more aware of emergency procedures, in light of the recent shootings at Virginia Tech. Committee co-chair Bill Heller said that the Pitt police have issued a one-page checklist for recommended safety measures for ongoing and immediate life-threatening incidents involving hostile suspects. Heller said that the checklist could be converted to a wallet-sized card, and should be posted around campus, especially at sites where students gather in numbers, such as classrooms and dining facilities.

Other suggestions included distributing the checklist at new student orientation and posting it prominently in all University buildings.

• SAC member Michele Aldrich read a letter from a staff member complaining about the hours for the Bellefield Hall workout facilities.

In part, the letter said, “During the academic year the center is often bursting to capacity with people after 5 p.m., including a large number of students. Students are permitted to use every other fitness center on campus, but many choose to use Bellefield.”

Moreover, during times when classes are not held, such as spring break, the fitness center is closed, the letter writer complained. The writer called for designated “faculty and staff only” hours, for expanding the center’s hours of operation and for staffing to be provided when the fitness center’s student staff are on break.

The letter further charged that there is an inadequate system for accessing fitness equipment. “Now, anyone [who] would like to use the equipment must ‘wait in the area of the equipment they would like to use,’” the letter stated.

Colwell said he had heard other staff complain about the same things. “About the closed time, I was told that the center is staffed by students, which is why they close it over breaks,” Colwell said.

Zupcic said the benefits committee would consider inviting a University official to a committee meeting to discuss the Bellefield center. “I also think with very little cost involved, they could hire people from the temp pool to fill in when the student staff are not there,” Zupcic said.

SAC members noted, however, that the student staff are expected to be trained in CPR and that hiring untrained staff might open up liability issues.

• Colwell said he had investigated a grievance by a staff member who, due to staff cuts in the unit, now is required to work every Saturday, with a weekday off instead. “The answer is that the supervisor can require you to work on Saturday, which is part of the 37.5-hour workweek,” Colwell said.

• The annual council of campuses, a meeting of staff officers and some members from Pitt’s five campuses, will be held May 24 at Pitt-Greensburg.

• The 17th annual SAC-sponsored Pitt Kennywood Day is set for July 29. A park pass and catered meal for that day are offered for $18 ($10 for employees age 55 and over).

Discounted tickets will be sold at the William Pitt Union ticket office until July 27 on a first-come, first-served basis as long as the 2,000 ticket supply lasts.

SAC also offers discounted tickets for other days at Kennywood, as well as for Idlewild Park and Sandcastle. For more information, call the SAC office at 412/624-4236.

—Peter Hart

Leave a Reply