End-of-Year Letter from Employee Council, 2016-17

June 22, 2017

Fellow Staff,

As another academic year comes to a close, we write to summarize the Employee Council’s efforts. As described in our welcome email from the fall, the Employee Council (EC) prepared for a busy year. We are pleased to report progress on a number of fronts:

Public Presence: The EC strove to be a more publicly active, visible, and accountable committee this year:

    • Revised website
    • Improved circulation of meeting minutes
    • Created a Facebook page (Follow us!)
    • Renewed connections with other committees/constituencies
    • Instituted Coffee Hours in Frost Café
    • Created the EC’s first public Platform

    Climate Survey: For some years the EC has been asking for a staff climate survey as a routine institutional tool for assessing staff concerns and well-being at Amherst. A survey is planned for this fall, and the EC heartily encourages all staff to participate.

    Retirement: Three years ago a constituent contacted his representative to ask the EC to review the college’s retirement contribution policy. Thus began three years of research and discussion, within the EC itself and between the EC and HR, the faculty-led Committee on Priority and Resources (CPR), and the college’s Benefits Committee. That collaborative effort resulted in a more generous policy, with additional gains targeted primarily at lower income employees.

    Casuals: From year to year, the EC routinely receives constituent concerns about casual employees at Amherst. This year the council began researching how casual employment at Amherst compares to our peers. We learned that Amherst is a bit out of step. While casuals compose anywhere from 13 to 23% of our peers’ respective workforces, Amherst's is just shy of 35%.  Moreover, we have a sizeable number of casuals on campus who fall outside of the college's own definition of what qualifies a position as legitimately casual. Thus, the EC has submitted a recommendation that asks the college to define an additional category of employment for long-term casual employees, a category that is accompanied with a concrete timeline to convert them to regular employees. We’ve also proposed a number of low-cost recommendations intended to address morale and inclusion concerns for casuals (e.g., access to the gym, regular computer upgrades, use of IDs in Valentine, and real parking stickers). We look forward to continuing our work on this issue next year.

    Thank you for your ongoing support and please do contact us if you have comments, suggestions, or questions.

    Finally, we would like to acknowledge departing council members. Jessica Gifford, Denise McGoldrick, Ramon Rodriguez, and Paul Sorrentino – thank you for your service and your time. We will miss you next year!

    Happy summer everyone,
    The 2016-17 Employee Council

    Joshua Baum, Information Technology, Co-Chair
    K.M. Carley (“Carley”),
    Frost Library, CPR Committee
    Katherine Duke
    , Office of Communications, Elections Chair
    Cindy Dumais-Holubowich
    , Religious & Spiritual Life, Note Taker
    Mary Foulk,
    Advancement, HR Working Group
    Liz Gallinaro,
    Facilities, HR Working Group
    Jessica Gifford
    , Health Education, Diversity Task Force
    Malou Hafner
    , Advancement, HR Working Group
    Denise McGoldrick
    , Health Education, CPR/Elections/Recognition
    Doralinda Puente
    , Dining Services, Events Chair, Elections
    Ramon Rodríguez
    , Custodial Services, HR Working Group
    Tracie Rubeck
    , History, Chair
    Paul Sorrentino
    , Religious & Spiritual Life, HR Working Group Chair

    All Staff Meeting with President Biddy Martin - June 9, 2017 (Audio)

    All Staff Meeting 6-9-2017.MP3

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    President Biddy Martin held an open staff meeting on Friday, June 9, 2017 at 1:30 p.m. in Johnson Chapel. President Martin spoke about the college's mission, leadership, and heeding calls for transparency and levity. Kevin Weinman, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, also gave an update on the college's finances.

    Welcome Letter from Employee Council, 2016-17

    October 12, 2016* 

    Fellow Staff,

    Greetings! As we begin another academic year, I write with announcements and updates from the Employee Council.

    The council is preparing for an exciting and productive year, one that constitutes a regrouping of sorts for us. That regrouping is focused primarily on improving the council's ongoing communication with staff and increasing our public presence in the Amherst community. In that spirit, I want to alert you to some upcoming efforts:

    1. Minute Circulation: We vow to do a better job with announcing and distributing meeting minutes. To that end, the minutes for our August and September meetings have been posted online. We are also resuming the distribution of print copies to precincts in most need of them.
    2. Communications Committee: The council has reinstated the Communications subcommittee. The subcommittee's goals for this year, many of which are already under way, include (1) revising our website; (2) routinizing minute circulation (see above); and (3) getting the council on social media. (So, please, do follow us on Facebook and Twitter once we go live!)
    3. Employee Council Coffee Hour: In November the council will begin hosting a weekly coffee hour at Frost Café. We'd like the opportunity for ongoing and in-person conversations with staff in order to provide more opportunities for staff to meet folks across the campus and to find out what issues matter most to you.
    4. Retirement Proposal: The council is excited to partner with the faculty-led Committee on Priorities and Resources (CPR) in support of a standing proposal to revise the college's retirement contribution formula. This proposal originated as a constituent concern in the Employee Council two years ago. It was taken up by the CPR last year and then submitted by the CPR to the Board of Trustees in May. The policy would, in particular, create a more equitable distribution formula that would benefit staff with lower incomes. The council has offered to lead a campus-wide education and outreach campaign to help support the CPR's efforts. A copy of the proposal can be found (if you are logged in) on the CPR's website.

    Last but not least, here are the members of this year's council:  (UPDATED: February 2017)

    Tracie Rubeck, History, Chair
    Joshua Baum, Information Technology, Co-Chair
    Secretary/Treasurer: Position Open as of February 2017

    K.M. Carley, Frost Library
    Katherine Duke, Office of Communications
    Mary Foulk, Advancement
    Liz Gallinaro, Rental Property Department
    Jessica Gifford, Health Education
    Malou Hafner, Advancement
    Denise McGoldrick, Health Education
    Doralinda Puente, Dining Services
    Ramon Rodriguez, Custodial Services
    Paul Sorrentino, Religious & Spiritual Life

    Note taker: Cindy Dumais-Holubowich, Religious & Spirtual Life

    If you are unsure of your precinct or who is your representative from that precinct, please contact us. We also welcome comments, suggestions and questions on our website.

    Best wishes for a productive semester,
    Tracie

    *Last updated April 3, 2017


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