A Note from Staff Council President Karmen Swim
- By Karmen Swim
Can you believe that 2017 is almost over!?! It has certainly been a year – a rollercoaster ride for me - and I am very much looking forward to the holidays to self-reflect, rejuvenate and be ready to take on what 2018 will bring my way! I hope you each find some time to relax, do things that make you happy and come back in 2018 with renewed energy and peace.
We continue to do amazing work on Staff Council and the representatives of your units and colleges are putting in the hard work and effort to represent the Staff at the University. It certainly is an exciting time to be part of Staff Council. If you want to get involved, I ask you to step forward. You can do so by volunteering for Staff Council’s committees, initiatives, and events, becoming a Staff Council Representative for your unit or college, or simply by reaching out with questions, concerns or comments that will help foster positive change and shape upcoming initiatives for Staff Council. Please reach out to the Staff Council Office or for more information please visit our website at: http://www.uvm.edu/~stffcncl/.
I encourage you to attend the Holiday Bazaar on Wednesday, December 5th in the Davis Center Grand Maple Ballroom – doors open at 9:00 am and will be open until 3:00 pm – the members of the Social Committee have worked tirelessly to put together an amazing event. Again this year, we have many amazing vendors – all of them from our own university community - offering crafts, jewelry, art, delicious baked goods and so much more. A perfect opportunity to find that holiday gift to make someone smile. There is also a Bake Sale, the proceeds of which go to support the events we put on all year long.
Remember that if you donate a non-perishable item (benefitting the Chittenden Food Shelf), you will receive a free raffle ticket which you can submit toward one of many wonderful donations we have received.
I also want to let you know about the LGBTQA Center’s annual Home for the Holidays event scheduled for Thursday, December 7th, from 4 pm – 7 pm, with food and activities throughout the evening. Please see the details in the Events column below!
As you may know, Staff Council had a table at the Benefits Fair last month. Thank you to all who stopped by with positive support or questions. We answered a lot of questions during the event and we also had an opportunity for people to anonymously ask a question to request more information about a topic. We wanted to provide answers to the questions, so we decided the best way was to share the answers through this Staffline letter so all staff at the University could benefit from the topics people raised! Please see below.
Soon the Winter Solstice and the holiday season will be upon us … both can bring joy, but sometimes can also bring hectic times and stress. We hope you can each use the holiday break that the University gives us to spend time with those you love and do things that make you happy and rejuvenate yourselves to take on 2018! Please let us also remember that holidays can be a very tough time of year for people. If it’s comfortable for you to do so, please be sure to check on your neighbors and friends and keep your eyes, ears and heart open for anyone in our community who may be in need. Also, if it’s you who are in need, remember that our door (Waterman 313) is always open.
Let’s continue to make the University a place where we help to create and foster an inclusive environment where we can learn, discover and reach our true potentials.
We hope your holidays will be filled with joy and laughter that will continue throughout the next year.
All the best,
Staff Comments to Staff Council - Benefits Fair 2017
· Lack of parking on campus & Length of time to get a green pass
o Concerns about parking and commuting are currently being addressed by Staff Council. This issue is a working priority for the Personal and Professional Development Committee, who are partnering with Transportation and Parking to share these concerns and find a way forward.
· Price of food on campus
o We will share this concern with the Compensation, Benefits and Budget Committee for discussion with Sodexo. Also, check the Discounts column of the December 2017 issue of Staffline – if you add points to your CatCard, you receive 10% off future dining purchases made with those points.
· Non-unionized staff-why is there still no union and what happened to the people who organized it?
o The non-represented staff voted against the most recent unionization effort in December 2014. We have no current information about unionization efforts on campus.
· When is Cabot sock sale?
o The Sock Sale is usually the two weekends before Thanksgiving.
· Bus trips
o Staff Council’s Social Committee has been phasing out bus trips due to a new external bus contract, which makes bus trips prohibitively expensive. There has also been a decline in participation of bus trips over the last few years which helped lead to this decision. The Social Committee is focusing on more local offerings for staff, but if the Committee has a strong demand for a certain bus trip, they’re willing to try to work it out.
· Discounted athletic tickets
o The Staff Council Office usually offers double-discounted athletic tickets for games over Winter Break. This is the only time Athletics permits us to offer these – we’re sorry it can’t be year-round! Tickets are currently on sale for basketball and hockey – click here for the order form and get it to Waterman 313 before December 15th.
· Discounts for items at the bookstore
o Bookstore sales are generally promoted in Staffline when they occur. There’s one going on in December, the End of Year Sale! We’ll investigate the possibility of a permanent discount, however.
· Summer adventure discounts (hiking, biking, park passes, etc) in addition to ski passes.
o The Social Committee will work to identify great summer discounts for the upcoming season. Let us know if you have specific ideas!
· Do contract employees benefit from UVM benefits?
o Contract employees are not eligible for UVM benefits. For questions about benefit eligibility, refer to the Benefits section of the Staff Handbook (found here).
· Private cell phone usage
o We assume this concern is related to last year’s implementation of two-step identification for PeopleSoft and other UVM systems, which normally requires you to use your cell phone to authenticate your identity. Duo, our service provider for this authentication, provides a method to generate codes which lets you avoid using your personal cell phone for this if you don’t wish to do so. Please refer to this guide.
· Raises next year
o Employee compensation is a main responsibility of the Compensation, Benefits and Budget Committee. Staff Council and this committee are continually working for improved benefits and compensation.
· Every new employee should have a mentor- 1st year
o Staff Council Leadership is currently working to pilot a program that will offer support and connection to newer employees! The first sessions should take place early next year. We’ll be looking for feedback from staff on how to make this program successful and helpful – keep an eye out in case you receive a survey or a focus group invitation.
· Could we reinstate as paid holidays Veteran’s day and the October holiday early in the month?
o The Compensation, Benefits and Budget Committee will research the history of what happened with these holidays and investigate whether it is a possibility to reinstate either of them.
· Increase convenience of getting services like CV Fair tickets, etc?
o Because the Staff Council Office is a two-person office, we do the best we can to efficiently distribute thousands of tickets every summer. We are continually looking for ways to improve, but we have no plans to change the basics of our current distribution plan – since Champlain Valley Fair tickets are pre-paid and not replaceable, the safest thing we can do is distribute them from a central location. If you have trouble with pickup, though, we are always willing to work with staff members to make sure tickets get where they need to be. Just let the Office know.
· Staff input on HRS training requests (i.e LimeSurvey)
o We would love to hear thoughts and comments on what you’d like to see! We work with the team from Professional Development and Training often and we will certainly share feedback we hear from you. We’ll also make sure a question about training opportunities is included in the next Staff Council Survey (scheduled for next year). Also, after participating in any PDT class, you are sent a survey about the class. This survey is also an opportunity to share ideas for future classes you’d like to see.
· Ability to flex time for a reasonable wait for the bus
o You can request a flexible schedule arrangement using the form found here: http://www.uvm.edu/hrs/?Page=info/flexible/fwaforstaff.html&SM=info/infomenu.html
· Ability to take a class as continuing ed. Student on pass/fail basis.
o With the ability as employees at the University to take classes for credit or to audit, we were not sure exactly why a pass/fail basis was identified. If the person who asked this question wants to reach out to the Staff Council Office to clarify, we would be happy to assist you further. For all others, you will find all relevant Tuition Remission information at: http://www.uvm.edu/hrs/?Page=info/staffhandbook/benefits.html#Tuition_Remission