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April 16, 2009

SAC applicant numbers may prompt bylaws change

An abundance of prospective members may prompt changes to Staff Association Council bylaws.

SAC elections committee chair Annabelle Clippinger said the group has 16 applications for SAC membership, which if approved would raise the group to 79 members, four over the 75-member limit set by SAC bylaws.

“We are at the juncture where we have to ask the question, ‘What are we going to do about this?’” Clippinger said at the April 8 SAC meeting.

Among the options being considered by the committee are putting the applicants on a waiting list until a seat is available; accepting applicants as associate members until space becomes available, or increasing the size of the group.

Clippinger said the committee preferred some option other than a waiting list. Further discussion within the committee is needed.

“It’s a good problem,” SAC President Rich Colwell noted.

In addition, SAC’s steering committee is reviewing its bylaws to eliminate possible inconsistencies within the document, SAC Vice President Gwen Watkins said.

In other business:

• Ivy Ero of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank discussed the food bank’s need for support through donations of food, cash and time, citing a growing need in the face of difficult economic times.

Pitt Volunteer Pool coordinator Steve Zupcic said Pitt’s food drive runs through April and food donations will be picked up through May. Volunteer opportunities to help with food distribution at the food bank’s Duquesne warehouse will continue on the last Thursday of each month through summer. (See April 2 University Times.)

Watkins proposed that SAC volunteer one evening at the food bank as a group. Members will be notified when a date is selected.

• Colwell asked members for a moment of silence for the three Pittsburgh police officers who were killed April 4 in the line of duty.

• The April 8 meeting was held at the new University Club where SAC members were offered tours and a complimentary lunch. Colwell said SAC is looking into permanently moving its meetings to the University Club, which is more central than Benedum Hall.

• Program and planning committee chair Marissa Arlet noted that upcoming events include the Council of Campuses on June 3 and 4, a new member orientation luncheon in July and the annual Kennywood picnic Aug. 1. SAC volunteers are needed for the Kennywood event, she said.

• Salary and job classification committee chair Monika Losagio reported on several letters that have been drafted by the committee.

The annual request for staff salary benchmarking analysis has been sent to Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources, with copies to Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Executive Vice Chancellor Jerome Cochran and SAC steering committee members.

Another letter requesting statistics from Human Resources about reductions in staff, percentage of effort and attrition will be sent once Losagio reviews it.

Discussion is continuing in conjunction with SAC’s benefits committee on a request to the administration for non-monetary compensation in response to the announced salary pool freeze for fiscal year 2010. (See March 5 and March 19 University Times.) Among the considerations are requests for additional University staff holidays and/or personal holidays.

• Clippinger reported on other elections committee business, noting that a good group of candidates is vying for officer slots. Those who have accepted nominations should submit biographical statements. Additional nominations, including self-nominations, will be accepted through May 20.

Clippinger said she had met with Frisch, who expressed willingness to provide a third party to observe ballot counting. He also offered advice on simplifying the elections process. Among his suggestions was to announce new officers outside of SAC’s June meeting in consideration for those who are not elected.

SAC bylaws call for the names of newly elected officers to be announced at the SAC meeting that immediately follows the determination of the election results, with new officers taking their seats in the month following the announcement.

• A governance committee report submitted by Peggy McNeil, who was not present at the meeting, stated that the committee is reviewing attendance forms for committee meetings and composing a list of members who need to be reminded of their committee attendance commitments. The committee will meet at noon April 23 in 331 Victoria Building.

• Safety and security committee chair Fred Schiffer said the committee had discussed the need for more visible “One way” and “Do not enter” signs on Thackeray Street and North Bouquet Street and had addressed the issue of speeding buses in the Fifth-Forbes corridor with the Port Authority of Allegheny County. SAC members had expressed concerns about these issues at a prior meeting. (See March 19 University Times.)

Schiffer said a CPR class will be offered at 9 a.m. May 9 in 669 Benedum Hall. Cost is $30 for Pitt faculty, staff or students, $40 for non-Pitt participants, cash only. Register through the SAC office (4-4236) by May 1.

Pam Weid requested that the safety and security committee look into a sign for the pedestrian crossing between the Cathedral of Learning and the William Pitt Union. She pointed out that drivers who are not familiar with the Oakland area might not be aware that there is a crossing in the middle of the block.

• Weid also asked what response there was to SAC’s recommendation that Pitt endorse flexible work hours. She inquired whether there was a policy on how to proceed if administrators fail to respond to SAC requests.

A SAC benefits committee proposal asking administrators to promote the use of flex time and to create policies on flexible work hours and a compressed workweek fell flat last fall. At a SAC meeting last September, Frisch said there would be no change to the policy and that flex time would remain at the discretion of department leaders. (See Sept. 25, 2008, University Times.)

Zupcic explained, “A response came prior to the submission of the proposal. That response was read at last September’s meeting. But as far as our committee’s concerned, we’ve never received a response. Once the proposal was voted on, subsequent to the voting on the proposal, there has been no response.”

Colwell said he would address the issue with Frisch to obtain a verbal or written response to the SAC request.

• SAC’s next public meeting is set for 12:15 p.m. May 20 in 1175 Benedum Hall.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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