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

June 28, 2007

Incumbents sweep SAC election

The four Staff Association Council (SAC) officers all won re-election to two-year terms that begin July 1.

SAC elections committee chair Betty Homonai announced the results at the June 20 meeting. Re-elected for a third consecutive term as president was Rich Colwell. Gwen Watkins won another term as vice president for steering; Angie Peskie will continue as vice president for marketing and communications, and Carol Hodgkiss won re-election as treasurer. Colwell defeated Steve Zupcic and Hodgkiss won over Monika Losagio. Watkins and Peskie ran unopposed.

Homonai declined to reveal vote totals, but noted there was more than a 90 percent return of ballots by eligible voters, that is, SAC members who have served one year.

Colwell thanked his supporters and praised Zupcic. “I want to acknowledge that Steve’s done a fantastic job as chair of the benefits committee, and I’m glad he’ll be continuing in that position. They do a lot of good work for staff,” he said.

Zupcic also thanked his supporters, adding, “I want to make it clear that I wholeheartedly support Rich and Rich’s work on SAC.”

Zupcic reported on four items on the SAC benefits committee’s agenda, including working with the University to minimize the use of Social Security numbers as employee identifiers.

The benefits committee also is proposing that the timeframe for being re-employed without loss of accrued benefits following an involuntary separation from the University be restored to 12 months from the current six months. (See March 22 University Times.)

In addition, Zupcic reported on staff members’ concerns about whether Pitt’s severance policy regarding employees who are separated involuntarily is consistent.

“This issue was just presented to the committee,” Zupcic said. “Because of confidentiality in amounts of severance, is there a lack of consistency in how it’s handled? Is it on a case-by-case basis is what we’ll be inquiring about.”

But Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources who attended the June 20 meeting, insisted there is no inconsistency in Pitt’s severance policy for involuntarily separated employees. “It is done strictly on a length-of-service basis, and there is a minimum and maximum [amount of severance pay].” He declined to say what those amounts are.

Zupcic said his committee also would prepare a statement urging the University to renew the contract with the Port Authority that allows employees to ride buses county-wide fare free. “This is a benefit for staff” and has other positive effects on the University community such as reducing traffic congestion, he said.

However, Colwell disagreed with that assessment. “As I’ve said many, many times, this is not a benefit for staff. It is an opportunity for staff to take advantage of,” he said. The difference is more than semantic, Colwell said, because if the contract with the Port Authority, which expires July 31, is not renewed, the University is under no obligation to employees regarding public transit.

(See related story on page 10.)

“If the deal falls through, we will be requesting that faculty and staff at least can use their pre-tax Benny cards for buying bus passes,” Colwell said, although he noted that the open enrollment period for flexible spending accounts (which are accessed by the Benny card) is closed until next spring.

In other SAC developments:

• SAC’s safety and security committee wants to expand the number of CPR training classes, currently offered only in the spring, to as many as eight classes per academic year, according to chair Bill Heller. “This will make it easier for people to sign up and would give participants more individual instruction,” he said.

Heller also will investigate whether a map exists or could be created showing the locations of all AED (automated external defibrillator) devices around campus.

SAC’s fall assembly is expected to center on campus safety issues, Heller said. No date has been set for the assembly.

• The 17th annual SAC-sponsored Pitt Kennywood Day is July 29. A park pass and catered meal for that day are available for $18 ($10 for employees age 55 and over). Discounted tickets will be sold at the William Pitt Union ticket office until July 27 as long as the 2,000-ticket supply lasts. For more information, call the SAC office at 412/624-4236.

—Peter Hart

Leave a Reply