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April 18, 2007 Minutes

Employee Assembly Meeting
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
12:15 — 1:30 p.m.
316 Day Hall

I. Call to Order

D. Goss called the meeting to order at 12:22 p.m.

V. Trustee’s Report (M. Esposito)

M. Esposito was unable to attend. D. Goss told the group that he had no report at this time.

II. Call for Late Additions to the Agenda (D. Goss)

There were no late additions to the existing agenda.

IV. Report from the Chair (D. Goss)

D. Goss said that she would suspend her report until the end of the meeting and would give it if there was enough time remaining.

VI. Approval of Minutes

Approval of the minutes was tabled until the next EA meeting to give the members more time to review them.

VII. Old Business

Inclement Weather Committee (P. Mahoney)

P. Mahoney reported on the first meeting. The group of representatives were mostly academic, plus Thomas Bruce. The group looked over the information that was submitted to the blog during the last storm. The group was receptive to the suggestions and comments given. There are two other groups on campus working on this situation; CIT working on emergency email alert system, and a phone call alert system is also being looked at, not just for storms, but any emergency. All groups are now involved in sharing information and discussing the total plan. They will meet again soon. She said she felt heard as an EA member, and as a representative of Geneva. Fifteen or so people are involved in a conference call to decide about closing.

P. Beach asked the group how they felt about how the last storm was handled with regard to communications.

L. Lawrence said it was good, kept checking the web. He knows that not everyone has access to the web. If there is no electricity, then cordless phones would not work. Also, there are areas where cell phones do not work.

P. Mahoney said the Marilyn Cummings is leading the group to find a phone software vendor. This would be a complicated process to get a phone to make all the calls, but it is possible to do it. D. Stein asked if it would have the capability to go to cell phones, Pat was unsure about that.

P. Beach said they were very prompt with updates, and tried to keep the web consistent with the voicemail message.

P. Mahoney said that there were comments about this other than the notification system. The bottom line was that employees and staff need to use their head and not drive if they do not feel safe driving, and that staff should know if they are essential, and figure out how to notify all.

L. Lawrence asked if CU corresponds with local media. P. Beach said that Simeon Moss contacts TV and radio stations with updates. This is critical because most people have a battery-operated radio at home, or in their car.

K. Howell said that a common sense rule does not always work. People still think if CU is open, they should be here. Communication on coming in or not should be discussed in advance as well as whether the person needs to take personal time or not, to avoid mixed messages. Units need to be more supportive of staff who travel a long way and decide not to drive to campus.

D. Goss said that the essential personnel list needed to be carefully reviewed and revised. Some departments would say that everyone is essential, others would say no one is.

S. DeGiorgio asked if there was any way we could help support employees from home by servers? B. Cornell said that CIT is working on a plan for this, some colleges have already started doing this.

D. Stein said that in events of bad weather or in a case like at VA tech, there is a real need to communicate quickly with staff, and under any circumstance.

M. Opperman said that this has been a discussion for about a year. This started with the idea of a pandemic. It is a complicated issue, and answers do not come fast. CU cannot ever really close, many things need to carry on 24/7/365, lab experiments need to be maintained, research animals and hospital animals must be taken care of, etc. In the event of a pandemic, staff and students would not be allowed to leave so there would be no option of closing.

D. Goss asked for clarification on who is “essential” personnel. There are two ways; 1.) 9 levels of staffing, and everyone knows where they are on the scale or 2.) describe the areas that run no matter what, develop plans for reduced staffing due to weather or illness. This may change on any given day. For example, payroll could stay home on a day if it wasn’t a payroll day. Other offices would have similar situations.

T. Jacobs asked if it would be possible to define days within sick time as snow days. M. Opperman said that even if there was a segment of time for this, some staff would not use them. Some staff do not use sick time when they are really sick. Policies and rules cannot replace good judgment. A good plan that is communicated by supervisors to staff in advance is needed. Often, supervisors are not mean-spirited, they just do not know what to say so they end up giving a mixed message.

M. Opperman announced there will be a remembrance service at Sage Chapel tomorrow at 12:30 for those lost in the VA Tech tragedy. It will be streamed on the web also.

III. Business of the Day — Mary Opperman

Mortgage Benefit Program

M. Opperman said that she had been working with Steve Golding and INHS on this issue. Other universities have had a major role in renewing communities. With the Master Plan on the table, the idea of CU having a program like this has come up again. There are many possibilities; helping staff buy homes close to campus that have student apartments in them, helping staff monetarily with closing costs, could help make it affordable for staff to live on bus lines, or CU could possibly consider the idea of building reasonably priced townhouses within walking distance to campus. Helping staff to live closer would help with town/gown relations. Mary noted that communities resist having townhouses/apartment complexes built because having a large group of people in one area taxes the resources of the community (schools, sewers, etc.) that are already stressed.

The money would come out of the fringe benefit pool if we can get a handle on health care costs. Health care costs are so out of control right now, especially for prescription drugs. This is why staff do not see more direct pay. She suggested that Paul Bursic come in to talk about the two new plans. One program is wellness based, trying to keep people healthy from the beginning, instead of treating them when they are not. These plans would help to moderate costs over time.

P. Mahoney asked if this program would help those at Weill or Geneva. Mary said that Weill would not be included, but Geneva would be.

P. Mahoney asked a question of Mary about whether their heating plant workers would be allowed to take comp days after June 1st. Mary replied that a deadline is put in place so people are forced to take the comp time or lose it. The prospect of losing the time compels them to actually take it.

VIII. New Business

Sabbatic Leave/Staff renewal for Staff (D. Goss)

This idea came from the Chili Chats last year. It would mean that staff could take a break and go to another place to do something else for a brief period of time while a temp covered their duties. It would be considered on a case-by-case basis based on the persons interest, and many things would have to be worked out since it presents a number of complications. It would be a plus in that it would allow the staff member a new opportunity, and allow another person to learn new skills to fill in while they are away.

D. Goss asked to extend the meeting until 1:45 p.m.

IX. Committee Reports

D. Goss asked if there were any urgent reports from committees.

1. Communication

P. Korolov reported that they are working on a brochure for the new employee packets.

2. Finance

P. Mahoney said the resolution on the budget will be done and ready for voting on by our next meeting.

X. Open Forum — Once around for all members

A. Epstein asked about R 2 regarding the code of conduct. The president is waiting for a response from the EA. D. Goss said that she thought this was already taken care of. T. Jacobs said that the resolution needs more discussion, and she will send it out for approval by email. D. Goss asked that everyone look this over and make any changes quickly so that we may hand this in to the president’s office very soon.

XI. Adjournment

P. Mahoney motioned to adjourn this meeting. I. Mahler seconded this motion. The meeting was adjourned at 1:35 p.m.

Contact EA

109 Day Hall

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY 14853

ph. (607) 255—3715