OPERATING STAFF COUNCIL MEETING
MINUTES 09/11/03
8:30AM – HSC 406

Present: Judy Burgess, Gay Campbell, Sara Clayton, Michele Crase, Marcia Dick, Ada Hetland, Linda Jennings, Glenda Jones, Theresa Kinniry, Joe Koch, Jay Monteiro, Dena Olson, Andy Small, LaRonda Thuestad, and Rachel Turner.

Excused: Elizabeth Buck

Guests: Steve Cunningham, Tim Griffin, Donna Smith, Eric Smith, and Jodi Tyrrell

I. Call to Order

The meeting was called to order at 8:35a.m. by President Sara Clayton. Clayton asked for a moment of silence to observe September 11, 2001.


II. Approval of Agenda

A motion was made to approve the agenda as submitted. The motion was seconded and passed.


III. Approval of Minutes of August 14, 2003, Meeting

A motion was made to accept the minutes as amended in paragraph VII. A. The motion was seconded and passed.


IV. Treasurer’s Report

Copies of the two-month report ending August 31, 2003, were distributed for the Council’s perusal. After discussion, a motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded and passed.


V. Announcement/Correspondence

1. Clayton distributed the following memos and announcements:

a. Letter from Donna Smith to Sue Willis regarding the Faculty/Staff grievance procedure.
b. Memo of the August 13, 2003, meeting from the Secretarial Advisory Council [SAC]. The memo discussed the “Who to Call” list compiled by the SAC and the first “Show and Tell” workshop on Excel. The memo announced vacancies on SAC and asked anyone interested to submit a letter of interest.
c. Water Quality Reassurance letter distributed to the campus community.
d. Memo from Steve Cunningham, Associate Vice President, Enterprise Planning & Human Resources, regarding the extended Holiday/Closure schedule for 2003- 04.
e. University Benefits Committee meeting minutes.

2. Rachel Turner shared photos from the Staff Fest ’03 Event.

3. Donna Smith shared a copy of the ISU Open Line Newsletter.

4. Jodi Tyrrell announced that the State Universities Civil Service Advisory Committee [also known as the Employee Advisory Committee “EAC”] is holding an election on October 21, 2003, to fill a term beginning January 2004 and ending December 2007. Election information will be posted September 12, 2003. For anyone interested in running, Petition and Statement of Candidacy must be filed with Human Resource Services by 4:30 p.m. on September 26, 2003.

5. Marcia Dick gave the information that the State Universities Civil Service System [SUCSS] web site has information on seniority rights and layoff issues. There is a lot of information on this site. If anyone has questions or needs clarification on anything they read at the site, they should call Jodi Tyrrell.

6. Tyrrell announced that 10 people from NIU attended mediation training in Chicago, spending four days at the Center for Conflict Resolution. Certificate of completion was given at the end of the training. This is part of a program being developed in Human Resources as an option for NIU employees to have mediation for conflicts other than things that are disciplinary. More information will be coming from HRS to the campus community with university meetings and demonstration of how mediation works.

7. Tyrrell announced the addition of three additional Human Resource Services [HRS] drop boxes to assist with the collection of employment paperwork, forms, and other communication. The three new additional drop boxes are: East side of the Field House on the west edge of lot #M6, South side of the Music Building on the northern edge of lot #3, and the East side of the Engineering Building in the fire lane on the west edge of lot #A-1.

8. Koch asked that the Council give recognition to past NIU president, Rhoten Smith, for the contributions he made to the university and for his role in empowering the Operating Staff Council. At the same time that Dr. Smith was helping the student body, he was paving the way for the Council to become a viable, integral part of the shared governance system that the administration would listen to and rely on. Dr. Smith died last week.

9. Tyrrell announced that the Secretarial Advisory Council [SAC] is working on the next “Show and Tell” workshop to be held in October. This workshop will be a round table discussion on questions concerning Microsoft WORD applications.

10. Tyrrell attended the Administrative Advisory Committee meeting of SUCSS. Discussion of layoffs and budgets at all state universities took place. For example, ISU had 23 positions eliminated, which trickled down to 10 layoffs. One of the other topics discussed was the Pilot Program and how schools have been adjusting to using that program instead of taking positions to SPS. Employee groups are watching the civil service numbers. The Systems Office is getting strict on exemptions being sent to their office. If there is a civil service classification that could be used, the exemptions request is being returned to the school. Currently, NIU has had very good results with the Pilot Program. Six more civil service classifications have been put into the program, the management series of the IT classifications. On another matter, Director Morelock has been working in conjunction with the University of Illinois to computerize the examination process for civil service, both taking the exam and the delivery system of the information back and forth between the institutions and the system. The University of Illinois has currently converted six of their most frequently used civil service exams to computerized format.


VI. Committee Reports

A. Personnel/Staff Developments/Benefits. No Report.

A suggestion was for the OSC Benefits Committee to keep the Council informed as to issues that the University Benefits Committee is working on.

B. Elections and Appointments. No Report.

C. Public Relations

Joe Koch reported that the subcommittee had a short meeting September 4, 2003. They had a general discussion on an OSC handbook for new Council members. Koch reported the Newsletter should be ready for distribution next month. This subcommittee meets the first Thursday of every month at 9:00 a.m. at Blackhawk East.

D. Visiting Committees/Guest

Steve Cunningham, Associate Vice President, Enterprise Planning & Human Resources, joined the Council and opened the floor for discussion of several items.

a. Collective Bargaining. Cunningham reported to the Council that a new Labor Board has been appointed by the Governor and will take office when the current Board terms come to an end. New Bill, Public Act 93044, became effective August 5, 2003, and does change the procedure for union representation practice in the state of Illinois. Cunningham is working on a document that will go to employees as soon as Human Resource Services know how the new Labor Board will interpret this bill. The Labor Board will be looking at all classifications and working papers and will go from there. Meanwhile, employees need to read papers, petitions, letters, and/or cards thoroughly and think about what they sign.

b. Holiday Schedule – is in place and the memorandum to the campus community was sent August 25, 2003. Administration is working on the budget savings accrued because of the four-day workweek.

c. New state minimum wage law - will affect the student workers on campus, which number around 3,500. Effective January 1, 2004, minimum wage will be $5.50 per hour. Effective January 1, 2005, minimum wage will go to $6.50 per hour. This is an un-funded state mandate, so will be handled internally by departments.

d. Layoffs – no massive layoffs are pending and they are not in the works. At this point in time, Northern Illinois University is the only public university in the state of Illinois that has not had layoffs. NIU is probably the leanest in the state, but has been handling allocations very well. NIU does not get much credit for the leanness, where those universities that lay off send the message about how much the governor’s budget cuts hurt. The shields, however, are getting thin. At NIU, layoffs are reviewed at the divisional level before action. An event that could cause layoffs would be more budget cuts. Layoffs are usually seasonal [an employee’s insurance continues] or permanent, which exceeds 16 weeks. Cunningham would like to visit the Council at another date and review layoff procedure with them.


E. EAC

Clayton will be attending an EAC meeting October 2-3, 2003, at SIUC Carbondale. Clayton announced her candidacy as EAC representative for Northern Illinois University and said she would appreciate everyone’s vote.


F. UAC. No report.

 

G. University Council

Koch announced the first meeting of the year was September 10, 2003. President Peters opened the meeting by welcoming the faculty. The Administration is in the process of assessing the savings impact of the summer closure. The President has received numerous e-mail messages lobbying to repeat the four-day workweek. Peters told the Council that NIU is “better than we should be economically at this campus, but not getting any better.” Peters introduced Greg Paveza, American Council of Education Fellow, who is spending his fellowship here at NIU. There have been no increase in faculty numbers, but 55 new faculty came this year as replacements. This year there are some large course sections with 100 or more students. For the first time since 1987, NIU has an enrollment of more than 25, 000 students, 311 more than last year, which equals a 1.5% increase. The incoming Freshman class is up about 20%, one of the largest in NIU history. Graduate enrollment was up by approximately 140 students.

President Peters told the history of the FY04 budget and that approximately 100M comes from General Revenue funds. Of that 100M, NIU had to give back about 3.2 million. With all the budget reductions, including the 8.2% NIU did not get for FY04, the campus is back fiscally, in general revenue appropriations from the state, to FY99. Realistically, the campus should expect another two years of this fiscal leanness. University has restricted travel and is in a hiring freeze unless approved at the Vice Presidential level. The President will continue to work on the health and safety of the institution and academic programs and to minimize layoffs. The second half of the increment is in place, so will not have to be taken out of the budget. The FY05 budget work has been delayed a few months because of new leadership in the Illinois Board of Higher Education and their discussion with state administration.

Re-accreditation site visit by the Higher Learning Commission [previously known as the North Central Accreditation] is scheduled for February 23-25, 2004. A draft of the report will be posted on the web for anyone to read and send comments to Dr. Virginia Cassidy, the Associate Vice Provost for Academic Planning & Development.

Committees gave their reports, and the academic calendar for 04-05 was approved to move the first day of classes from August 30 to August 23, 2004. Fall commencement will then be December 12 rather than December 19, 2004. December 19th did not allow staff enough time to process dismissals before the holiday break. All committee reports can be found on the University Council website.

H. Special Events Committee.

LaRonda Thuestad stated that the budget for Staff Fest ‘03 is complete, now that transportation costs have come through on the treasurer’s report. All the bills have been paid and prizes distributed. Planning for the next annual event will not begin until spring.

VII. Old Business

A. Assistance Group

When a grievance situation proceeds to a disciplinary hearing level, the EAC Representative will appoint someone from the assistance group to go as an assistant for the employee and someone to take notes of the hearing. These people are only there to make sure the staff person’s rights are not violated according to the State Universities Civil Service System’s statutes and rules. Director Morelock would like to see universities work harder at trying to resolve problems before they get to disciplinary action. Eric Smith will work with the Assistance Group in the future to go over the guidelines for disciplinary hearings.

VIII. New Business

A. No new business.


IX. ADJOURNMENT

A motion was made to adjourn the meeting at 11:15 a.m. Motion seconded and passed.


Gay Campbell
OSC Secretary