September 2010

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 -- Appropriateness of unionization message

QUESTION

I thought that labor law prohibited supervisors or administrators from taking a stand one way or another on a union election and prohibited supervisors and administrators from trying to influence votes in an election about union representation. Staff just received an email from Statewide with a message from President Gamble which includes the following:

"From my personal perspective, relationships between employees and supervisors become more difficult when a union steps in between them. For example, while there currently is good opportunity for advancement within the university, that mobility is based on performance and potential. That reward opportunity is pretty much shelved when we switch to a system where seniority is the primary evaluation yardstick. We have exceptional employees, and the goals of those employees are often overlooked by unions seeking to please the greatest number of union members. Seniority, not service, would also play a predominant part in layoff decisions. And yes, even unions have provisions for layoffs. There is no more guaranteed security with a union in this current economic climate than you already enjoy. Finally, the university’s staff governance, a valuable resource for the university staff voice to go directly to top leadership, could no longer provide input on matters relating to compensation, health or any matter negotiated by contract."

Hasn't President Gamble violated labor law with this statement?

Another question: What funds are paying for the mailing of these 8 1/2 x 14 glossy  communications to our homes?

RESPONSE

The university’s communications on this topic, including the letter you partially quote above, are well within the bounds of Alaska's Public Employment Relations Act (PERA). The fundamental right to free speech and PERA acknowledge all employees'--including an employer's--right to express a personal opinion regarding unionization. The university also has the right to correct misinformation unions supply employees and to address questions brought forward by employees.  

Statewide Public Affairs and Human Resources created two brochures for employees within the proposed unit. “A Union is Decided by Those Who Vote,” featured a Q & A format, based on questions from staff.

The second brochure included a message from President Gamble that noted a person’s decision to vote for or against a union is a personal one. The message also contained this quote: “ In the end, it is your informed vote that counts. Either way, you, and who you are, counts a lot more to me than whether you are in a union or not. Thank you for what you do, and good luck.”

The second brochure, “Vote,” was never printed or mailed, since the union withdrew its petition. The first brochure was printed and mailed only to employees in the proposed unit. Statewide Human Resources paid the $1,600 printing and mailing cost of the first brochure.

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 -- University seal

QUESTION

Who owns the rights to use the university seal?  I heard that only UAA could use it.  Is this true?

RESPONSE

The UA seal is a registered mark of the University of Alaska. Its usage is restricted in order to maintain the integrity of the UA and UAF brands. In all but a few very specific cases (e.g., diplomas) and for UAF identity purposes, the UAF logo is preferred over the seal.

The trademark and licensing for the UA seal is managed by staff at UAA, and all requests for usage of the seal on merchandise and products for resale are sent there.

Please send questions about specific usage of logos or other marks for a UAF publication or merchandise to UAF Marketing and Communications at logo@uaf.edu.

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 -- Complicated safety training

QUESTION

An April memo from the Provost's office outlined some mandatory safety training for UAF employees. I am making a schedule and sticking to it so I complete the training this fall. However, I find the process AMAZINGLY complicated!  The site with the 10 mandatory trainings is here: http://www.uaf.edu/safety/training/skillsoft-training/.

Some is available via UAF powerpoints, while some is available via Skillsoft. One powerpoint linked is a bad link, so I started with the next one that is there and upon completion it directed me to another site (www.uaf.edu/safety)where I am supposed to take a quiz, but I can't find the quiz. It took me almost half an hour to find the required Skillsoft classes, among the 100 or so offered, and catalog them into "my plan" so I can maintain a schedule. I don't work in proximity to any labs and some of the classes don't appear to apply to my workplace at all.

I definitely appreciate the university's efforts to maintain a safe workplace, but is there a more efficient way for me to conquer the safety trainings?!

RESPONSE

From Annette Chism, Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management

Thank you for your feedback. 

There are ten (10) basic safety trainings required for all UAF employees. The trainings are listed at http://www.uaf.edu/safety/training . Currently three (3) trainings are available through the EHS&RM website, six (6) are accomplished using SkillSoft, and one (1) is site specific provided by your supervisor.  Instructions for automatically populating the SkillSoft required courses into the “My Plan” section of SkillSoft is provided at:  http://www.uaf.edu/safety/. 

If individuals would like to learn how to find certain safety courses quickly or learn about the additional SkillSoft resources available to them 24/7, they can join an online demonstration Oct. 12, 2010 at 11 a.m.  Individuals may join this demonstration anywhere using a computer with internet access and a toll-free telephone line.    

You can register for the demonstration at the following link http://www.alaska.edu/hrtraining/Calendar/showevent.xml?id=141&showDate=2010-10-23.   Although the calendar shows the demonstration as lasting an hour, it may end earlier depending on questions.  Individuals are free to join and drop from the demonstration at anytime.  A reminder email with log-in credentials will be sent to UA registrants one (1) to two (2) days before the scheduled event.  

Due to your Grapevine submission, the EHS&RM website has been modified to streamline the training information into one page. 

 

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 -- Soft closure and forced leave

QUESTION

With regard to the announcement of this year's soft closure, I don't see how the university expects this to work. An employee with less than 5 years at UAF receives approximately 12 days of annual leave plus 1 personal day per year. All employees are already required to use 3 days (or go leave without pay) during the winter break. These employees are left with 10 days of leave.

The suggested soft closure dates for this year are Dec 20-22 and Jan 3 - 7. This is a total of 8 days. So, if an employee were to take the entire soft closure (this is encouraged in the email), they would be left with 2 day of leave. This is assuming that they've had an entire year to accrue leave and that they haven't spent more than 2 days during that year. I can't imagine that there are many employees who have that much leave available. Do you really expect that many departments will close for the entire soft closure period?

Even though the email specifies that this closure is not mandatory, it strongly suggests that employees should take as much time as possible. I point to this sentence: "Departments performing essential services may need to remain open..." This implies that departments not performing essential services should not remain open. Further, the email includes details on 'leave without pay', further suggesting that you expect employees to take some time off even if they do not have available leave. It is not hard to imagine peer pressure affecting an employee who does not choose to take leave if their department decides to close.

In short, while I understand that UAF needs to save money any way that it can, the amount of leave suggested is so huge that it swamps most employees' leave budgets. 

RESPONSE

From Kris Racina, UAF Human Resources

For reduced business hours or soft closure there should not be any forced leave. Employees may choose to work even if the department is closed; take annual leave or leave without pay. The expectation from the administration is that employees will be allowed to work and there not be any peer pressure to take annual leave or leave without pay during the soft closure. Employees who feel that they are being forced to take time off, should contact UAF Human Resources at 7700. 

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 -- VCR salary

QUESTION

The news release announcing the new vice chancellor for research, Dr. Mark  Myers indicated quite openly that his salary is $214,000 per year.  I am  astounded!  How is paying such a high salary, contributing to the necessary  pull back's needed to satisfy the budget constraints at UAF?  It frightens  me that this is probably not out of line with what the other VC's are being  paid.  Will you release information on salaries being paid to current VC's?

RESPONSE

Mark Myers will begin his new position as vice chancellor for research Jan. 24, 2011. As vice chancellor for research, Myers will oversee administration of UAF’s $123-million-per-year research enterprise and supervise the university’s standalone research institutes.

The following is a list of our current vice chancellors and their salaries.

  • Vice chancellor for administrative services--$177,263
  • Vice chancellor for advancement--$166,864
  • Vice chancellor for student and enrollment services--$150,000
  • Vice chancellor for rural and community development--$134,260
  • UAF provost--$192,547

Salaries are based on a number of factors including competitive market  rates and are in line with College and University Professional Association 2009-10 salaries for  doctoral-degree-granting institutions.

Friday, Sept. 24, 2010 -- Recycling on campus

QUESTION

Does the University participate in the cardboard recycling program offered by the Fairbanks Rescue Mission? If not we should. The Rescue Mission has commercial drop offs Tuesday – Friday from 9 a.m. -  4 p.m. The contact to arrange drop offs is Randy Russell, Recycling Coordinator, by e-mail  randy@fairbanksrescuemission.org or call 452-5343 x110 to schedule.

RESPONSE

The university is not participating in the Fairbanks Rescue Mission's program university wide, however some individual departments are participating in the paper program.

UAF will begin a mixed paper and cardboard recycling program at the Fairbanks Campus Sept. 30, 2010. All the collected paper will be taken to K & K Recycling Inc. to be burned cleanly to generate electricity. The paper will be feedstock for a cogeneration heat and power (CHP) biomass plant. K & K recycling inc. will be weighing the loads so we can track how much paper waste is being diverted.   Recycling paper saves both landfill space and dumping fees. 

To kick off this program, a barbecue will take place on Thursday, Sept. 30 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in front of Wood Center.  All students, faculty and staff are invited; please bring your PolarExpress card.  For more information, please contact Michele Hebert in the Office of Sustainability.

Monday, Sept. 13, 2010 -- Hiring freeze and employee burnout

QUESTION

With UAF in a hiring freeze, yet still trying to grow and expand, isn't this putting not only additional stress and workload on existing staff/faculty, but for an extended period of time? Is UAF concerned with burning them out? How long is this freeze expected to last?

RESPONSE

From Kris Racina, UAF Human Resources

UAF has not issued a hiring freeze, but has asked departments to hold vacant positions open for a period of time before recruiting. The budget outlook is not expected to improve much over the next couple of years, so it's imperative that supervisors, in conjunction with deans and directors, evaluated any new initiatives based on existing staffing levels as well as periodically review existing workloads and opportunities to streamline processes and improve efficiencies regardless of the budget outlook.

There are some departments who have been unable to fund vacant positions due to budget constraints. Doing more with less staff and faculty can take its toll.  

UAF is concerned about its employees and believes that process efficiencies can improve workloads to avoid burnout. Employees know their jobs and requirements better than anyone else; employees can help improve department efficiencies by identifying and suggesting process improvements to their supervisors and we ask for your assistance to make improvements that alleviate unnecessary process and paperwork.

Monday, Sept. 13, 2010 -- Flower beds on campus

QUESTION

I see that UAF grounds keepers are pulling up the annuals from the flower beds.  Wouldn't it be nice if UAF could have a "pick a bunch of flowers" day for people who would like to salvage a few for their office or home.  Maybe there's even time do to it this year...

RESPONSE

Facilities Services crews have begun to pull flower beds on campus and will slowly be pulling the beds as it gets cooler at night. Employees are welcome to pick flowers all of this week, but should contact the landscape supervisor ahead of time, to ensure that the perennial beds are handled with care. Crews are  also pulling flower bulbs to preserve them for next years use, which reduces the costs of repurchasing flowers or bulbs each year. 

Contact Jenny Day via e-mail at jenny.day@alaska.edu for more information. 

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010 -- Flu vaccination clinics on campus

QUESTION

Will UAF be providing or making available flu shots to faculty and staff this fall?

RESPONSE

The WIN for Alaska program plans to offer flu vaccination clinics in October at the Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage campuses. Watch for announcements in the WIN for Alaska newsletter or in the Cornerstone.

The vaccination can also be submitted to insurance plan for reimbursement and is already available at some pharmacies. The U.S. 2010-2011 seasonal influenza vaccine is expected to protect against an H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus, and the 2009 H1N1 virus that emerged last year. 

The World Health Organization declared an end to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic globally in August. However, the 2009 H1N1 viruses and seasonal influenza viruses continue to circulate in many parts of the world and the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccination to protect against the flu. 

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010 -- Turning off computers at night

QUESTION

Do we leave our computers on at night(as we shut down, select restart) or shut them completely off here at the main campus, downtown center, and Community and Technical College? I am aware of an office computer person who asks us to shut them down at night, because he/she said our offices are too small and it will cause our computers to overheat and burn out the power supply. Over time a few OIT specialists who have come to our office, let us know to leave them on at night but this person continues to tell us to turn them off and that OIT is incorrect about this. From what this office computer person says, we will get the updates as we turn on our computers and to shut them down at the end of the work day regardless of what we are told by OIT.  Please help clarify this situation.

RESPONSE

From Karl Kowalski, OIT user services

This is a multi-faceted question. One dealing with adequate environmental conditions for your computers and the other with power savings vs software update management.

The first issue about computers overheating could very well be true if there is inadequate ventilation and cooling a room or lab. In that case, the best thing to do is to turn the computer off. If you need an environmental assessment of your room or lab, please contact the OIT support center at 450-8300.

As for software update management, OIT typically schedules updates to be pushed out at night and most often over the weekend. If your computer is off, it will not get the updates at the scheduled time, but it will get the updates when your computer is turned back on. The key difference is that during the middle of the night, you will not notice the impact on software updates being pushed to your computer. If your computer was off during the push, when you turn a computer back on in the morning and begin to receive updates, you may notice a slow down in the responsiveness of your computer until all the updates are received. That is normal.

OIT is currently looking at various power management programs that would allow us to turn on your computer automatically, install the updates, and then shut your computer back down, thus realizing the benefits of both reduced power consumption and the efficiency of pushing software updates in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2010 -- ASEA for UA Organizing Committee

QUESTION

Who exactly is this "ASEA for UA Organizing Committee" who is sending out the union organizing emails? Their messages are addressed to "Dear co-workers at UA" and keep saying "we" (we are the backbone of the University, we need to come together and protect our jobs, we love working at the University, etc.). Is this sent by UA staff, or is it a cleverly crafted message from union folks?

RESPONSE

From Jennifer Grieve, UA Labor Relations

ASEA/AFSCME Local 52, AFL-CIO is the labor union that filed the representation petition with the Alaska Labor Relations Agency, seeking to represent UA staff.  "ASEA for UA" is not mentioned in that petition, but the union has now asked ALRA to allow that name to appear on the election ballot.  The ASEA for UA Organizing Committee includes UA employees, but it is very likely that ASEA leaders and paid staff members review and approve any communications sent to UA employees as a part of the organizing campaign.

As the dates of the election approach, you will see more communications from the union and UA.  The university has been sending email communications to employees from the e-mail address ua-nonrep-staff-I@lists.uaf.edu. The university addresses its e-mails “Dear University Employee.”  A collection of the emails sent by the university can be found at the following link: http://www.alaska.edu/labor/union-organizing/index.xml.

Thanks for the question and please make sure you vote in the upcoming election. One important thing you can do now is to check to see that your mailing address in Banner is accurate, as the balloting will occur only by mail.  You can use UAOnline to see if the university has your correct address; contact Human Resources with any questions or if you need to update your mailing address.

Friday, Sept. 3, 2010 -- Interim deans at UAF

QUESTION

How many of UAF deans are interim currently and why are there so many?

RESPONSE

From Susan Henrichs, UAF Provost

There are currently five interim deans: Larry Duffy (Graduate School), Burns Cooper (CLA), Mike Castellini (SFOS), Paul McCarthy (Library), and Paul Layer (CNSM). I expect to hire deans for two of these positions within a few months (searches are in the later stages). Deans for the other positions should be hired by spring.
 
The number of deans leaving over the past several years has been greater than usual, but there is no one reason for that. Two retired, two got other jobs, and one has shifted to other duties. There has been delay in filling three of the positions, in that an interim dean has served for more than one year. The CLA dean search failed last year, so it needs to be repeated this year. The CNSM dean search was delayed so a review of the administrative relationship between CNSM and the research institutes could be completed. UAF was considering some administrative reorganization involving the Graduate School, which delayed that search.

Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010 -- Convocation scheduling

QUESTION

While the Chancellor's Convocation is only a week earlier than last year, having it during fall opening makes it a hardship for offices that serve students to be able to close so that staff may attend. Many students will still be seeking advising, registering for classes, dealing with financial aid, etc. Scheduling the convocation the day before final day to pay fees, add/drop classes,etc, doesn't seem very well thought out. Can you explain the reasoning behind choosing this date?

RESPONSE

Thank you for your feedback. Convocation is earlier this year. A number of factors go into scheduling fall convocation, including the participants' schedules and the availability of the venue. In order to accommodate those who can't make it in person, there will be an archive of the presentation posted online that you'll be able to download and view at your convenience.

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