MINUTES 5/12/05

8:30AM – Holmes Student Center 406


Present:    Elizabeth Buck, Gay Campbell, Sara Clayton, Marcia Dick, Margie Foshe, Linda Jennings, Glenda

    Jones, Theresa Kinniry, Joe Koch, Jay Monteiro, Andy Small, Donna Smith, LaRonda Thuestad, and

    Rachel Turner.  


Absent:     Michele Crase and Nancy Schuneman.


Guests:     Tim Griffin and Jodi Tyrrell.


I.                    Call to Order


President Donna Smith called the regular meeting of the Operating Staff Council to order at 8:40 a.m. on Thursday, May 12, 2005.


II.         Approval of Agenda


A motion was made to accept the agenda with one addition to New Business.  The motion was seconded and passed.   


III.        Approval of Minutes of April 14, 2005, Meeting


A motion was made to accept the minutes with one minor change. The motion was seconded and passed.


IV.        Treasurer’s Report


The treasurer’s report was presented for discussion.  There was some discussion about the high cost of postage.  The increase this month was due to the mailing of the Northern Staff News.  It was suggested that in the future, we make sure that large mailings be billed at the bulk rate.  A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded and passed.


V.         Announcements/Correspondence


1.         Smith passed around a letter from Karen Smith from the Employee Assistance & Wellness Program thanking the Council for participating in the Wellness Fair.  The letter also invited the Council to participate again next year.


2.         Smith also passed around a letter that was sent to Steve Cunningham explaining the Council’s position on retirees serving on committees, specifically the SURS MAC.  Cunningham replied that a replacement would be decided upon by both the Council and HR, and would require approval by President Peters.


3.         Smith also passed around a letter that was sent to Walter Czerniak, associate vice-president of Information Technology Services and Cindy Phillips, director of NIUTEL Telecommunications, opposing the proposed elimination of typewriter repair support on campus.  The OSC learned that many offices still use typewriters and the Council recommended that some type of repair support be provided on campus.  Phillips responded to the Council’s letter and said that after further consideration, it was decided that repair technicians would be made available at $40 per hour.  If an ITS technician cannot resolve the problem, outside vendors will be consulted to solve the problem.


4.         Smith also passed around an e-mail from Deb Haliczer regarding the meeting of the University Benefits Committee.  She also passed around a copy of the ISU newsletter.


5.         On April 14, Smith attended the E-mail Announcement Service for You (EASY) rollout meeting.  The program is one in which Individuals can go into the NIU calendar and choose types of events that you want to be notified about and the information will be sent to you.  (e.g., if you are interested in Jazz, any events related to Jazz would be forwarded).  She said we could also add information to the calendar.  Smith said this is something the PR committee could work on and she will share the materials with the the PR committee.


6.       Smith also attended the open forums for searches for AVP for Diversity and Equity and Assessment Coordinator.

7.       Smith reported that shespoke at the OS Awards Banquet on May 6.


7.         OSC Vice President Rachel Turner attended the Northern Star Reader Advisory Board meeting on April 29 in Smith’s absence.  Turner said the discussion centered on problems with the lack of research on some of the articles.  However, it was noted that the newspaper has improved since the last meeting of this advisory board.


8.         Smith sent a sympathy card on behalf of the Council to Janet Kitterle, the wife of Dean Fred Kitterle from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


VI.        Committee Reports


A.                  Personnel/Staff Developments/Benefits  -


1.  Talked about the EyeMed plan.


B.                  Elections and Appointments.


1.  Turner said that ballots for the OSC election are due May 13.  A meeting has been

     scheduled for May 18 to count the ballots.


C.         Public Relations.


1.       Jay Monteiro reported that the Member Handbook is basically ready to go.  If anyone has any other changes they should let Theresa Kinniry so the handbook can be finalized for any new Council members.


D.         Visiting Committees/Guests – None.


E.         EAC 


            EAC met on April 14 & 15 at U of I Rockford School of Medicine and Sara Clayton made the report.  Most people have been trained on the E-testing program, but there is no word yet on when universities will start using it.  Jodi Tyrrell pointed out that NIU is prepared to start anytime.  She also said that there are two separate issues – one is the E-testing and the other is register placement.  She said that because there was no statewide program for register placement, each university developed their own programs and attempting to standardize this process may be problematic.  There were 51 written charges, 14 discharge hearings, and 4 pending hearings.  Eighty-six universities are now using the Pilot Program, which is up from 36 in January 2004. EAC will provide information to the Systems Office for posting on the website to insure compliance with the Open Meetings Act.The Systems Office is considering federal mediation and conciliation hearing officers so that EAC will not have to use local attorneys for personnel hearings.


            It was suggested that Councils might want to start sending a brief synopsis of their meetings for the SUCSS newsletter.


F.                  UAC  -

a.       No report.


            G.         University Council .


1.  Joe Koch reported  on the University Council meeting of May 4, 2005.  President Peters started the meeting with a eulogy and a moment of silence for Dean Fred Kitterle from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. University Council Executive Secretary Paul Stoddard has been re-elected for another year. President Peters has no news on the budget.  There are several proposals for budget reform.  The president will keep us informed as the situation changes. There is currently a bill to increase income tax, but decrease property tax. It is estimated that the proposal would generate $320 million for higher education.  (See New Business for more details about this proposal.)  The governor has said he will veto it because he has vowed no new taxes.  The proposal also includes a sales tax for services.


H.                  Special Events


1.   LaRonda Thuestad reported that Glenda Jones is collecting tickets for StaffFest.  She said more than 700 have been received so far.  Thuestad sent out fliers to 800 retirees. 


VII.       Old Business


A.                   Retirees on Committees


1.  Koch presented the proposed changes to the Bylaws (see attached) regarding retirees serving on committees and commissions.  The proposed changes would allow a retiree to complete his/her term if they retire during their tenure on the committee/commission.  Otherwise committee/commissions vacancies should be filled by a current status employee.  Vacancies will be filled by volunteers, unless none can be found.  This was the first reading.


VIII.      New Business


            A.         Trainee Program -


1.  Tyrrell talked about the employee training program here on campus.  It is a program that is not widely used anymore, but has always been here.  She said that in order to be in a training program, an individual must lack at least one qualification in a particular job description and there must be no one else on the register that would qualify for the position.  The program allows an employee to work in a position without having tested for it or having been placed on a register for it.  The trainee earns up to 95% of the minimum salary for the position and also receives the same benefits as a status employee.  At the end of the training period, the employee must pass the designated test for the position and if they pass, they then begin the probationary period.  Trainees are evaluated every 90 days throughout the training period.    Trainee programs are department funded.  There are also Learner Programs for positions where testing is not required.             

                B.         Legislative Issues


1.       Smith reported that she attended a meeting with Ken Zehnder and other leaders of NIU shared governance.  Zehnder reported on House Bill/Senate Bill 750, which could become Senate Bill 2.  The bill proposes to increase income tax from 3% to 5%, while at the same time lowering property tax.  Corporate income tax would go from 4.8% to 8%.  Monies generated from this increase could only be used for education, with 25% going to community colleges and 75% going to state universities.  Smith said that the state university presidents and chancellors have voiced their support of the bills and she asked the Council if they would like her to draft a letter in support of the initiative.  Kinniry said that the Council should not support this measure because Operating Staff tend to be the lowest paid, and in reality it is unlikely that property taxes would not increase, leading to more money coming out of employee pockets.  Andy Small pointed out that schools are stretched to the max and that the money is going to have to come from somewhere.  After some discussion, Linda Jennings said that the Council should take a stand on this and send a letter to the appropriate politicians????  I don’t remember this.  I got the impression that the Council did NOT want me to send a letter in support of this bill, only in opposition to pension reform.  Smith also reminded Council members that they could contact their state representatives individually.

Following items are other business:


C.         Clayton pointed out that in the ISU Newsletter, there was an article stating that representatives from the companies that provide benefits on campus were on hand to answer questions.  Clayton suggested that NIU consider a similar type event, possibly during the benefit choice period so that employees could ask direct questions of the company representatives.



D.         Marcia Dick said that at the Athletic Board Meeting, the discussion centered on the new $9.5 million facility.  She said the new facility would have study rooms for the athletes and a number of other amenities.  She also said that individuals could make a donation of $25,000 and have a room named after them.  She pointed out that all the monies for the project are private donations.


E.         Monteiro said that Valic has offered to give the Council a TV valued at less than $100 for the raffle at the StaffFest.  Even though accepting gifts under $100 is appropriate under the new ethics guidelines, the Council felt it would be improper for us to accept the gift because Valic is one of the financial planning companies serving NIU.  I don’t remember this either.  I thought we said it was OK because it is worth <$100.


IX.        Adjournment – The meeting adjourned at 9:55 a.m.


Respectfully Submitted,




Theresa Kinniry

OSC Secretary