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ACE Newsletter

September 2014

A Periodic Publication of Wisconsin's Association of Career Employees

Bob Alesch’s death
Robert Alesch passed away in February 2014, at the age of 86.  Bob was a founding member of ACE, and served on the ACE board for decades.  Most recently Bob served as the Treasurer of ACE.
Bob worked for the State of Wisconsin from 1951 until his retirement in 1990.  He had been the personnel administrator for the UW system, and served on the committee that developed the current Wisconsin Retirement System.
After his retirement, he remained involved with the State Employees Combined Campaign and served on the State Group Insurance Board. 
The Board will miss his intelligence, wit, and commitment to the welfare of state employees.  ACE made a contribution in Bob’s name to the Coalition of Annuitants, which advocates on behalf of state employee pension rights.
High deductible health plan for state employees
This fall, state employees will be offered a high deductible health plan with the option of a health savings account, to begin in January 2015.  This program is required by the 2013-2015 biennial budget.
ACE wrote the Joint Finance Committee in May of 2013 to point out the problems with HDHP/HSA plans.  Because these are attractive to younger, healthier enrollees, they lead to adverse selection, making other plans more expensive. 
ACE also pointed out that the existing health insurance costs for Wisconsin state employees have increased at a lower rate than the national average, and at a lower rate than other governments which have instituted HDHP/HAS plans.
ACE will monitor the implementation of this new option by the Group Health Board.

ACE Compensation Plan Goals 2015-2017
In advance of biennial budget development ACE creates a list of compensation plan goals and communicates with the Office of State Employment Relations (OSER) and the Joint Committee on Employment Relations (JCOER) concerning these goals. 
Generally, ACE recommends both a General Wage Adjustment and Discretionary Merit Compensation (DMC).   However, this year ACE decided to concentrate on the GWA and not recommend DMCs due to the lack of sufficient GWAs awarded in the last four years and the unfunded nature of the DMC program which result in uneven and limited distribution of awards.
  • General Wage Adjustment (GWA) 
During the last five years, state employees received 1% pay increases in 2013 and 2014.  In addition increases in retirement and health insurance contributions decreased take home pay in most cases.
ACE recommends that pay increases be no lower than the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  The CPI averaged 2% in 2013 and for the first six months of 2014.  ACE recommends that 2% pay increases be provided in each year of the 2015-2017 biennium. 
  • Work toward increased pay for low-income state employees
In the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year, a provision was added to pay employees earning less than $15 per hour an increase of $.25 over the GWA.   There were 104 classifications representing 4,542 employees who benefited from this per hour increase.  The lowest base salary was $11.40 at that time.
ACE recommends that all state employees should be paid at least $15 per hour and recommends that the OSER continue to provide incremental increases in the pay plan to bring existing employees to that compensation level and also to set the base pay level for these classifications at $15 per hour.
Adjustments should be made to other civil service classifications that experience compression with this increased wage for low-income employees.  This will help offset the impact of across the board increases for retirement and health insurance contributions on low-income employees.
  • Funding for market survey adjustments identified by OSER
In 2013-2015, OSER was only able to fund 48% of the needed classification market adjustments that were identified by market studies and by departments.  Only the classifications with the highest needs were compensated.   ACE recommends that sufficient funding be included in the compensation plan to provide for closer to 90% of the identified needs.  ACE understands that some market adjustment studies yield ambiguous results.
  • Pay compression between managers, supervisors and their employees
ACE long worked successfully for parity compensation for managers, supervisors, and confidential employees when there was pay compression relative to the bargaining unit contracts for those supervised.  However non-represented employees fell behind before Act 10 was enacted and this has never been rectified.
Non-represented employees were not successful in obtaining the GWA of 2% that came June 7, 2009, the end of the 2007-2009 biennium, that many unions had negotiated and were unwilling to give up at the state’s request.  The 2% increase was removed from the non-represented pay plan and was not available in FY2009-2010.   This caused pay compression between managers and supervisors and the employees they supervise.
ACE recommends that an adjustment be made to rectify this problem.
  • Health insurance benefits
Both higher and lower paid employees contribute toward their health insurance premiums at the same rate.   In the past, ACE has pointed out that lower paid employees are at risk of losing their pay increases when premium increases exceed the General Wage Adjustment. 
ACE recommends restricting increases in employee’s health insurance premiums to a percentage equal to or less than the increases in the state’s health insurance costs and in an amount that does not exceed the GWA for lower paid employees.
  • Sick leave conversion
ACE recommends preserving the current program where sick leave can be converted to health insurance and the state provides a supplement up to a specified number of hours. 

ACE needs Board Members
ACE needs people to serve on the Board.  Both active and retired members are welcome to serve.  Please contact Sally Drew at 251-3406 or if are willing to serve. 
It is time to elect members to the ACE Board so expect to see an election ballot in your email shortly. 

Copyright © 2014  Association of Career Employees

Our mailing address is:
ACE, P.O. Box 44578
Madison, WI  53744
CONTACT: / 608.848.9008