UBAB to stay course

At meeting, Staff Council also hears plan for staff and faculty members of health trust

The University Benefits Advisory Board (UBAB) will continue its role as an employee representative group and President Bruce D. Benson also has approved a recommendation that a staff employee and faculty member be appointed non-voting members of the University of Colorado Health and Welfare Trust Committee.

The University of Colorado Staff Council learned of President Benson’s decision during its June 28 meeting at 1800 Grant St. The council, along with other representative groups, had previously recommended that UBAB’s role not be changed. The recommendation followed a lengthy debate over whether the Administrative Policy Statement (APS) that defined UBAB should be amended because concerns had been raised about the efficacy of the board.

In a letter dated June 25 to UBAB members and acting board chair Stuart Schneck, M.D., President Benson said the APS will remain unchanged and the stated role of UBAB will continue to be “to provide strategic advice to the president and administration on benefits policy issues by developing recommendations for benefits policy and reviewing the operational and financial status of benefits programs.”

During the debate earlier this year, UBAB had defended its role as an essential group that speaks for employees and acts as a link to other university entities. In a memo to Benson, UBAB also requested that two if its members be appointed to the Trust to facilitate enhanced employee participation in the Trust’s decision-making process. In the June 25 letter, Benson said he will appoint representatives in the 2013 fiscal year.

Also during Staff Council’s last meeting before summer break, members heard updates on human resources issues and new officers.

Jeremy Hueth, managing associate council for the university, discussed Gov. John Hickenlooper’s “Talent Agenda” and changes made to the State Personnel System through House Bill 12-1321 and House Concurrent Resolution 12-1001. While most of the bill’s recommendations require a change to the state Constitution, and hence voter approval, several do not. Changes that go into effect Sept. 1 include the elimination of “bumping rights” for employees separated from employment except for those who are within five years of retirement eligibility. He said the university has not determined how eligibility will be calculated. He also said another change to the system gives the university “more latitude in severance agreements” with those employees.

Another revision that goes into effect Sept. 1 is the implementation of a merit pay system that rewards employees based on performance and placement within a salary range. Also, the state’s current “competitive exam’’ system for hiring will be replaced by a “comparative analysis” that is more in line with the way the private sector reviews job candidates. Hueth said the university is considering how it will go about making those changes.

E. Jill Pollock, vice president of employee and information services, said health care coverage rates have increased year-over-year by 5.5 percent, one of the lowest rate increases in the state. The university also will be paying 100 percent of the employer cost of that increase. So in all but one category of health care, rates for employees will go down beginning July 1.

Pollock also said the university will be accepting recommendations from employees concerning changes to health plans and health programs later this year. For instance, the university is considering plan changes surrounding smoking cessation. In addition, the university is considering alternatives to Colorado Weigh and other obesity or weight-loss programs.

Staff Council Chair Carla Johnson said new officers for the council will be Stephanie Hanenberg, who becomes vice chair, and Tyson Randall, who will be treasurer. The position of secretary remains open.