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Questions from the Trenches

For this installment of APA Questions From The Trenches, we asked APA President Maury Koffman to highlight the main questions raised by members in response to the communications regarding the January 2015 Lump Sum bonus payment.

What is the gross payment members will receive now that the University has chosen to unilaterally violate our contract and issue only partial payment in January 30, 2015 paycheck?
Members should receive a gross, lump sum payment of $961.81 subject to taxes, deductions, and any other garnishments. Per the ratified contract, the $961.81 will be issued in full for 100% full-time equivalent (FTE) status employees and reduced on a proportional basis for part-time employees.

I understand we are only going to be paid a portion of the full payment on January 30, 2015. What was the full amount that should be paid if the University complied with the mutually ratified Wage and Health Care Agreement?
Had the University proceeded with the legally binding contract, the APA anticipated full payment to have been $1,056.39 for 100% FTE bargaining unit members.

How much is being unilaterally withheld by MSU?
In a disappointing unilateral action by the University, the APA has been informed that MSU intends to withhold roughly $100 from each member’s payment under the theory that should the plaintiff prevail in his legal appeal regarding the January 2015 lump sum bonus payment (fully explained in the December 11, 2014 APA email), the same impact would apply for the upcoming January 2015 payment. Rest assured the APA is using all necessary and legal avenues to enforce our ratified collective bargaining agreement.

What makes someone eligible for the payment?
To be eligible for the payment, the individual must have been (1) actively employed on January 1, 2015, (2) be MSU health care benefits eligible, and (3) a member of the APA bargaining unit. Even if a member invoked the health care waiver, s/he is still eligible for the lump sum payment if s/he met the eligibility criteria. And, if both an individual and his/her spouse/OEI were eligible for the payment, both APA members should receive the payment.

How will the January 2014 payment be issued?
The payment will be noted as special pay and should be included in the member’s January 2015 regular paycheck slated to be issued on January 30.

If I was eligible for the full payment as of January 1, 2015 but I subsequently leave MSU before the amount in dispute is distributed, will I still receive the amount that was wrongfully withheld by the University?
Yes. The eligibility criteria will remain the same and therefore if an individual satisfied the eligibility criteria as of January 1, 2015, the full amount must be issued to the APA member even if that individual leaves MSU before the withheld amount is distributed.

What are the steps from here?
In an effort to enforce our contract as ratified, the Michigan Education Association is providing full assistance to the APA and using all legal means necessary to ensure the Wage and Health Care Agreement is enforced as ratified by the APA membership and the University. The APA will continue to keep members informed of any substantive updates related to the payment.

Who should I call with my additional questions?
APA members should feel free to contact the APA office at 517.999.4004 or via email at with any questions or concerns.

Expanded Autism Coverage

by Melissa Sortman, MEA Uniserv Director

The MSU self-funded health care coverage will include autism claims for children age 0-19 beginning January 2015. Previously, the coverage was limited to autism claims for children age 0-8. Due to the Mental Health Parity Act and standard of care required under the Affordable Health Care Act, the Joint Health Care Committee (a coalition of Labor and Management) expanded autism coverage.

The APA, in partnership with the Coalition of Labor (CLO) on campus, identified the need for autism coverage for our respective membership. The APA and CLO had been advocating within the Joint Health Care Committee to provide autism coverage. We were successful in achieving the first critical step in autism coverage through bargaining the Wage and Health Memorandum of Understanding 2014-2017.

Michigan mandated under Public Act 101 of 2012 that commercial and non-profit insurance carriers provide autism coverage. Michigan State University is a self-insured provider and does not have to comply with the coverage requirements of insured plans. Any autism coverage had to be bargained in the Wage and Health Memorandum of Understanding.

The autism coverage commenced on January 1, 2014. It covers Autism Diagnosis, Pharmaceuticals, Psychiatric, Psychological, and Therapeutic services (Speech, Occupational, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Physical therapies; and social workers) for children that have been assessed and diagnosed by three Center of Excellence on autism: Spectrum Health System, University of Michigan Health System or Michigan State University.

The Legislature appropriated funds for self-insured employers like MSU by creating an Autism Reimbursement Program. The fund was originally appropriated with $15 million dollars in 2012-2013 fiscal year, an additional $11 million dollars for 2013-2014 fiscal year, and no funds were appropriated to the fund in the 2014-2015 fiscal year. As of September 30, 2014 the balance in the fund was $22 million.

MSU has an expert on autistic medical coverage in Dr. Jane Turner, a professor at the College of Human Medicine, Department of Pediatric and Human Development. Dr. Turner is on Governor Snyder’s Autism Council charged with overseeing Michigan’s Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) State Plan. Having a leader in the field on campus assisted MSU’s agreement to expand autism coverage to the self-insured plan. She is a true advocate for children with autism.

If your family has any concerns regarding the autism coverage and related behavioral, speech and occupational coverage, please contact the APA office at (517) 999-4004 or email The APA would like to work with you to ensure the coverage is implemented for the best outcome for your family.

For more information:

1) Senate Fiscal Agency Analysis of PA 101

2) Frequently Asked Questions about PA 101

3) Autism Coverage Reimbursement Fund,5269,7-303-13047_13049-297217–,00.html

4) Autism Coverage Fund Senate Fiscal Analysis 2014

5) For additional information and resources, families may want to contact Autism Alliance of Michigan, or Autism Speaks,

Questions From The Trenches

For this installment of APA Questions From The Trenches, we asked APA President Maury Koffman to answer questions regarding the APA 2014 October wage increase.


How much is the negotiated APA annual wage increase this year for 2014?

The APA negotiated annual wage increase is applied every year in October. For the 2014 year, the APA annual base wage increase is 2%. Per the APA contract, 40% of the wage increase is automatic – across the board – and 60% applies the merit pay guidelines that require objective and consistent application. Your immediate supervisor should also provide advance notice of you annual wage increase amount before it is realized on your October 2014 paycheck.


How is the merit pay portion of the wage increase determined?

The APA contract codifies a mandatory objective process in determining the merit pay portion of the APA annual wage increase. The full details can be found within the Letter of Agreement on Merit Pay located at the end of the APA contract. In short, the criteria must be openly communicated and objectively applied in the department. Additionally, the decision on merit pay allocation is to be discussed between you and your immediate supervisor before your October 2014 paycheck is issued.


Does the APA contract define a minimum and maximum annual salary for all members of the bargaining unit?

Yes and no. The APA contract outlines minimum salary requirements for all grade levels within the bargaining unit. However, the APA contract serves as a floor and individual bargaining unit salaries may rise above the APA minimums and progression levels. Per Clause 132 of the APA contract:


Salary Progression increase consideration [annual 3% maximum] will be given to employees who have completed at least one (1) year of service on the effective date of the increase, whose current performance is determined to be not less than satisfactory, and whose salary is less than one hundred twenty-five (125%) percent of the minimum hiring level.

What is the APA base wage increase in future years?

The following annual base wage increases are subject to the APA contract provisions of 40% across the board and 60% using the merit pay process:


October 2014 – 2% base wage increase

October 2015 – 2.5% base wage increase

October 2016 – 2.6% maximum base wage increase through matrix formula

October 2017 – 2.6% maximum base wage increase through matrix formula

October 2018 – 2.6% maximum base wage increase through matrix formula

How does the matrix formula work to determine my annual base wage increase?

The matrix in the ratified agreement defines the formula for the annual APA raises commencing with the October 2015 base wage increase.  For example using the matrix, because health care costs increase between 1.01% – 2% in the first year of the agreement, APA members are eligible for a 2.5% base wage increase in October 2015, subject to the contract provisions of 40% across the board and 60% using the merit pay process. The complete matrix can be found within the ratified agreement which is conveniently located on the APA website:


Your Fellow APs

This month’s featured APA member is Joshua Wortz, Information Technologist I who serves as a Systems Administrator for Collaborative Services & Support @ IT Services.


How long have you been at MSU?  Have you held other positions prior to your current one at the University?

I began at MSU in October 2009 at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. This past November I moved to IT services


Can you tell me a little about what you do? Any specific projects you are working on?

I work with the Content Services and Support group, supporting the new CampusAD Active Directory and Exchange environment and Office 365.

(CampusAD is an Active Directory [AD] infrastructure that allows units on campus to more easily collaborate with others by securely sharing resources with other CampusAD users.  For more information on the project, visit


What brought you to your job at MSU?

I grew up in Battle Creek, MI and after attending college and lived near Philadelphia for a few years. After my wife and I had kids, we wanted to move closer to family so I found a job at MSU and moved the family to Michigan.


What do you love about working at MSU?

I enjoy the camaraderie of being a Spartan and the family friendly atmosphere


Can you share a little about the challenges of working at MSU?

In 2011 my son was 4 years old and was diagnosed with Autism. When we began to seek out the therapies that he needed, we discovered that Autism was an excluded from receiving the needed speech and occupational therapies. This has put a financial and emotional stress on my family.


What are your favorite things to do when not at work?

I love spending time with my wife and 2 kids (Brayden 5 & Ava 4). I started coaching a special needs kids soccer team in Charlotte through AYSO. I am also studying for the MCAT in July and I will begin applying to medical schools in this June.


APA Benefit News – Best Doctors

New Best Doctors service comes to MSU

You should have recently received a welcome letter from “Best Doctors” at your home mailing address.  Best Doctors is a new service you can use to easily and confidentially get second opinions from medical experts all around the nation. When you are facing a serious diagnosis or making decisions about surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or any number of other complex treatment options, please consider calling Best Doctors at 1-866-904-0910.  There is no out-of-pocket cost to you for using this new service and any benefits-eligible member of your family can also use the service (regardless of whether they are actually enrolled in your benefits.)  If you missed the welcome materials from Best Doctors, you can view a copy of what was sent at:

You also can learn more about Best Doctors and even initiate a contact with them by visiting their website at:

Want to talk to your Health Plan in Person?

Representatives from both the Community Blue and BCN MSU health plans maintain office hours in the Human Resources office each week.  Krystal Williams from Community Blue is available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesdays and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays in Suite 30 of the Nisbet Building.  Jasmine Henry from BCN is available on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the same location. You can call 517-884-0128 to make an appointment with Krystal or Jasmine.  Both also see walk-ins during their office hours, but those with appointments are seen first.  Krystal and Jasmine can help you figure out claims issues or just answer your questions about your health plan coverage.

2012 Reminders

Please remember that as of January 1, 2012:

·      Any changes you made in your health plan selections during Open Enrollment in 2011 became effective (and the clock started over for the new plan year on any services that have deductibles in the plan you selected.)

·      If you are enrolled in Health Care Spending Accounts (HCSA) and have an HCSA debit card, that card is now drawing from your 2012 account.  You can still use funds left over in your 2011 account until March 15, 2012.  However, to access 2011 funds, you have to pay bills first and submit receipts by April 30, 2011 for reimbursement.  Only use the debit card to draw on 2012 funds.

·      Retirement plan consolidation changes took effect. The University’s approved vendors for new contributions are Fidelity Investments and TIAA-CREF and a new core investment menu is in place.

Questions? You can always contact the MSU Human Resources Benefits office with questions about your benefits.  Call 517-353-4434 or 800-353-4434.  Or email Visit for additional information.

House Bill 4770 – OEI Benefits

House Bill 4770 – Does it Apply to APA Members?

Several members have contacted the APA office inquiring about the passage of Michigan House bill 4770 that prohibits a public employer from affording domestic partner health care benefits, raising concern of the impact to APA members currently receiving the benefit and those in the future.

Prior to signing the bill, and in a letter to the legislature, Governor Snyder clearly stated “that higher education institutions [including MSU] would not be included in H.B. 4770 as the constitutional autonomy of universities has been reviewed and affirmed many times by the courts since the adoption of the 1963 Michigan Constitution.”  This rationale, among other reasons, leads the APA to conclude the law should not result in a change of benefits at MSU.

To date, through statements in interviews and issued through email, the University Administration, including President Simon, has indicated they do not believe the enactment of this law will result in any change to the current health care benefits program at MSU.

Yet, several legislators have asserted that this bill is intended to apply to MSU and other constitutionally identified universities.  Such a disagreement could result in the matter being litigated in Michigan courts leaving the Michigan Supreme Court with final authority whether this bill can and should be applied to MSU and therefore APA members.

In the immediate, it does not appear the bill will result in a change of Other Eligible Individual benefits.  Furthermore, the APA has a current health care agreement in place into 2014.  Therefore, no change could even occur until the expiration of the current agreement in 2014.

The APA continues to be engaged on this topic and will communicate with the membership if there are any future developments.

Your Fellow APAs

Interview with APA member Jodi Potter

Administrative Assistant, Dean’s Office  |  MSU College of Education

How long have you been at MSU?

I started working at MSU in the fall of 2008 at CSTAT (Center for Statistical Training and Consulting).

Have you been a member of APA the whole time?

No. When I began working at CSTAT in 2008, I was an on-call temp in a 19 hour per week position. In June 2010, the College of Education posted a 50% time APA position in the Dean’s Office which I filled. Since an APA cannot also be employed on campus in an on-call position, CSTAT created a 50 % CT position in September 2010. I currently work both jobs – as far as I know, I am the only person on the entire MSU campus to be both a CT and an AP!

Can you tell me a little bit about what you do?

In my APA position, I am the graduate records secretary for the College of Education. I monitor paperwork related to PhD and master’s students’ academic progress throughout their degree. I also crunch data for the College so our programs can be ranked against other colleges of education nationwide. I also function as the secretary for the curriculum of teacher education certification programs. When the State of Michigan changes the rules about how educated a teacher must be, our programs have to change and I am responsible for making sure the materials are turned in.

At CSTAT I do a bit of everything; since there is just one secretary – me – I am the office administrator in charge of HR, hiring, the service center, managing clients, record-keeping, and organizing training workshops. Our faculty give presentations to others about statistical software and I am in charge of registration and making sure the workshops go as planned.

What brought you to your job at MSU?

I was forced into a career change from my previous position off campus. I was drawn to MSU because of its positive workforce, and the structure of positions is well-defined.

What do you love about working at MSU?

I like that there are clear expectations with no drama.

What are the challenges of working two separate jobs on campus?

At both jobs, the workload at times doesn’t fit into 4 hours a day. It is hard having to walk away from a project because you do need to leave for the other job. I like to finish things and do them well but I feel rushed sometimes because I have to leave. There is a delicate balance between quality and time allotted.

What do you like to do when you are not at work?

I like working on my home, especially working in the garden. I also like spending time with my neighbors – they are a good group of people – and my friends and family.

Community Based Events Update

The APA Community Based Events Ad-Hoc Committee is proud to announce over 600 books were collected during the November 30 – December 2 children’s book drive. Members contributed books at 15 locations across campus with the support of APA members and their units.  A special thanks to the College of Osteopathic Medicine should be noted for their inclusion of the drive in their “Simple Gifts” program.  All books were delivered to the Capital Area Literacy Coalition, better known as the “Reading People,” to support their efforts toward improving at-risk youth literacy.

The CALC is a non-profit, non-religious, volunteer literacy organization founded in 1985 and directed by Dr. Lois Bader, MSU Emeritus Professor of Education.  CALC provides a variety of services to enable people to achieve personal goals through literacy, believing the ability to read is critical to personal freedom and the maintenance of a democratic society.  Further opportunities to volunteer and donate can be found at

The CBE Committee is seeking for opportunities to support the Greater Lansing Community.  Ideas and inquires should be made to Debra Porter or Nick Bourland