2017 Session Review

Update and Correction: The budget cut announced last week is for this fiscal year and applies to category B. Merit is in B. No official word yet on if it can still be given. The cuts announced last night apply to the coming fiscal year and apply to category B as well. The pay plan funding is in category A.

We are following this closely and working to keep your Merit and Pay Plan intact. Stayed tuned for more updates.

Arkansas Business article:

Click here for updates on the bills we’ve been watching: 2017 bills update 4.25.17

Pay Plan Updates

See more-frequent updates like these below, including pictures of the Governor signing the bill/act on our Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/arkansasstateemployeesassociation/

3/8/17: Quick tip: If you’re having trouble finding your title or other info in the pdf of Act 365 (formerly SB289) involving the pay plan, click Ctrl then F on your keyboard. This brings up a search bar, where you can type in any word and it will find it in the document. Here is the link again: http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/…/2017R/Pages/BillInformation…

3/7/17: Thank you all so much for your emails/comments/IMs. We are printing them off, researching and preparing them for OPM. This is our third input request, and we are now to a point where most of the comments/emails are similar, or similar concerns are being repeated. We talked with OPM yesterday and they said they’ll look into the requests and work on them throughout this Spring and Summer. Thank you all again so much for helping us help them!

Pay plan update from John Bridges 3/2/17:

Merit Pay

ASEA lobbied for over a year to return the Merit pay back into the base salary. That was accomplished. You will now receive yearly salary increases based on your PE scores.

ASEA Priority Accomplished

Career Pay

The initial language that struck out Career payment was amended and replaced. It will continue to be lump sum payments. Why was it struck out? The Governor wanted to have flexibility as to how it was paid and the amounts, which could have been a positive, our talks with the Governor’s office is that he wants to re-energize the workforce.

ASEA Priority Accomplished

Reclassification/Pool Positions

In our meetings with OPM they stated that the initial reclassifications would not be perfect and thus a one thousand pool positions was created. This will allow OPM to reclassify up to one thousand positions at any time. Before the bill was ran in the Senate, it was pulled down to reclassify as many as possible in one day. A Senator reached out to ASEA and asked to get input from our members. You might have seen this on Facebook, and may have responded. We printed off all the emails, took notes from phone calls, researched as fast as we could and took them to OPM for review. As a result, we were able to get approximately 662 individuals reclassified. That initial push does not affect the one thousand pool positions. We will continue to help as much as possible, and if you have submitted your situation to us and have not heard back yet do not worry – OPM will continue to work on the pool positions and other aspects of the pay plan throughout the spring, and up until it goes into effect in July.

ASEA Priority – Getting There

Moving to New Minimums and 1%

The Governor first wanted to address high turnover positions, then start rewarding high performers with annual increases. Thus, approximately 56% of state employees moved to the new minimums and 44% received a 1% COLA. We expressed our concern that the last time the pay plan was addressed it focused on raising the base pay grades and did not focus enough on career employees. This concern will be the center of our focus going forward. See the “What’s Next?” section below for more details.

ASEA Priority – Getting There

Pay Plan Reviews

New language has been added that the pay plan must be reviewed biannually. This is very important to ASEA and state employees so that we do not go through long periods of no labor market adjustments. Smaller, more-frequent adjustments will be easier for the state to absorb. The last adjustment was eight years ago, and this adjustment comes with a price tag of approximately $56 million.

ASEA Priority Accomplished

Pay Raise Incentives

New language for allowing pay increases are scattered throughout the Class and Compensation Act, such as:

  • If revenues increase salaries, COLA’s may be increased. pg. 72 section (2).
  • Special pay increases to retain well-qualified employees and for additional duties. pg. 74 section (b).
  • Moving to the mid-point. pg. 74 section (c)(1).
  • Allows for pay-plan adjustments outside of the General Assembly. page 74 section (c) (4).
  • Pages 77-78 discuss various ways for an individual to get salary increases.
  • Allows for additional compensation for those who do not work normal state hours. pg. 80 section (19) (a)(1).
  • Allows for increases for those who provide critical support and care during the weekends at state human development centers, hospitals and correctional facilities.
  • Hazardous duty pay increased from 6% to 10%. pg. 83 section (c)(1).
  • Professional development, education, second language, geographic differentials increased from 6% to 10%. pg. 85-86.

ASEA Priority Accomplished

What’s Next?

Our work is not finished, and the pay plan is not finished. One of our board members said it best that we just got the cart out of the ditch and back on the road. In our discussions with the Governor’s office and the lead sponsor of SB289, all admitted that they could not get everything done with one swoop of the pen. That this is a two-year plan. ASEA’s priority going forward is to focus on our career state employees and to assist in submitting our members’ concerns about the reclassification to OPM for the pool position changes. We need something to alleviate the salary compression and recognize veterans for sticking through the lean years. We have ideas of asking for a tiered COLA based on years of service, something along that lines, that will relieve the salary compression and tip the cap to our career employees. This will probably upset our younger members, and there will never be a point where everyone will be satisfied. It is a balancing act of rewarding, motivating and retaining. This is a step in the right direction, and we will continue to lobby on your behalf and listen to your input. Please call or email us with suggestions or concerns. We are here to listen.

John Bridges

Assistant Executive Director

501-378-0187

jbridges@aseaar.org

 

 

 

 

SB289

UPDATE: SB289 passed out the Senate today 34-0! Near perfect since one Senator was absent. We know there have been lots of Qs about veteran employees, and they promised they’d keep looking at it; the 1,000 pool positions is there, and they’ll keep making corrections as they shape the policy. We’ll be there with your suggestions as well next week, it should run in the House probably Monday, we’ll keep you posted!

Recapping last week: SB289 was pulled down to add amendments. Language for Career Service lump sum payments was added, as well as reviewing the reclassification. ASEA was asked to provide a report based on our members’ feedback, and as a result almost 100 positions were changed.

This morning in JBC Personnel, the bill was once again pulled down for an amendment. After a recess, an amendment to add Merit pay back as a percentage of salary was added and passed out of committee.

SB289 headed straight to the full JBC committee and received a do pass. It will run in the Senate tomorrow. So far, everything is moving in the right direction.

We do not have anything in hard copy to post as of yet. ASEA will continue to work on your behalf and will keep you updated.

Thanks,

John Bridges
Assistant Director

Pay plan update

NEWS: We’ve turned in our report, thank you all so much for your comments and suggestions; this shows a lot of interest in the pay plan, which is good since it’s a big undertaking. A lot will be done in waves to correct all inequities. The bill will run next Tuesday, and we will keep you updated on progress as we know more. Thanks again, and don’t forget – Monday is a holiday so we will be closed. Have a wonderful weekend!

Paid Maternity Leave Bill Passes

Breaking News! SB125 by Senator Missy Irvin and Representative DeAnn Vaught completed its last hurdle yesterday in the House by a vote of 93-0. The bill will now head to the Governor’s office to sign into law. An emergency clause was added to the bill making it effective immediately.

A BIG thank you to Senator Irvin and Representative Vaught for crafting this legislation!

More updates concerning the bill that involves the pay plan.

In case some didn’t see our comments in an earlier post, here’s where we’re at regarding SB289:

3rd update: We met with OPM and they said the reason the career and merit sections were struck out was to create a hybrid plan that could produce annual increases to reward veteran employees. They said they plan to work on this all this Spring, so again, a lot could change.
Up next, we’re meeting with Joint Budget members.

2nd update (a reply): We asked about the strike out. The strike was due to the language stated it had to be in lump sum and this gives flexibility to award in either a lump sum and/or added to your base.

1st update: We are meeting with co-chairs of joint budget, the Governor’s office, OPM, and joint budget personnel regarding this. Please remember this bill just dropped and a lot could change. We are spending today learning all we can, and finding out more info, and have read all of your comments. Please send any further Q’s you have to our Communications Director, Shauna Carpenter at: scarpenter@aseaar.org and she’ll pass them along to John Bridges, so he can present them to key personnel in the meetings. As always, we want to get rid of salary compression and we want annual salary increases for state employees. We will keep you posted as we learn more. Thank you all so much for your concern, and your service.