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Classified Benefits & Wellness Newsletter March 2017 Issue #5

Classified Sick Leave Bank
2017-18 Enrollment Coming in May!

Packets for the 2017-18 Classified Sick Leave Bank enrollments will be emailed on May 1, 2017.  Only benefits eligible employees (.50 FTE or greater) are able to participate.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Benefits eligible employee participation in the sick leave bank is voluntary.
  • Employees are only eligible for use of sick leave bank days after they have exhausted all their available sick leave, vacation leave, miscellaneous leave, or compensatory time.
  • Sick leave bank days will begin after an employee has been on unpaid leave for five (5) consecutive days.

Reference Price Program Update

The Oregon Educators Benefit Board (OEBB) has a Reference Price Program (RPP) for certain procedures.  This program currently includes Bariatric Surgery, Major Joint Replacement Surgery and Oral Appliances.  As of March 1, 2015, the RPP for joint replacement surgery applies to the Statewide PPO (Connexus) network but does not apply to the Synergy network.

As of January 1, 2017, Connexus network enrollees who need joint replacement surgery are no longer required to travel out of the Eugene/Springfield area to obtain the highest level of benefits.  PeaceHealth Sacred Heart and PeaceHealth Riverbend are both participating facilities for the RPP.  Slocum Surgery Center also participates in the RPP but only performs partial knee and hip replacements at its facility.

You can find additional details on the RPP on the Moda website for OEBB members:  https://www.modahealth.com/oebb/members/rpp/index.shtml

Wellness Clinic – Open Spring Break

The 4J Wellness Clinic will be open spring break! This may be a perfect time to get your yearly physical or gear up for allergy season.

Regular hours are Monday – Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  The clinic is closed for lunch from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.  You can schedule an appointment by calling 541-686-1427.
Retiring this Year?
Retirement planning is not something that can be done in a day, a week, or even a month. The best plans are the ones that provide enough flexibility to allow us to make changes if the need for doing so becomes evident.

To achieve this kind of flexibility and to come out with the best series of investments to help you achieve your goals, it is good to work with a retirement planner to make the process simpler and to help expose you to ideas and investments you might not be aware of. Retirement planning can be a difficult and sometimes mysterious process, but professional planning can make the process a whole lot simpler.

Ready to Retire?  Please allow yourself plenty of preparation time. If you are considering retirement sometime this spring or at the end of the school year, there are three steps you’ll need to take:  contact PERS to begin your Service Retirement process, notify your supervisor, and then contact me to learn about your 4J benefits.
To get advice regarding your PERS retirement, you will need to work with your financial planner or directly with PERS.  4J does not give PERS advice.   The phone number for PERS is 1-888-320-7377.  The website is http://oregon.gov/PERS/.  You can find a great deal of information on the PERS website, and can download forms and sign up for education sessions as well.

What Can Be Done About Job Stress?

Everyone feels overwhelmed and overly busy. Below are a few strategies to take your work stress down a peg, before it takes over your life.

Consider these helpful ideas to reduce your stress:

  • Take a deep breath: If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need to clear your head, a few minutes of deep breathing will restore balance. Simply inhale for five seconds, hold and exhale in equal counts through the nose.  It’s like getting the calm and focus of a 90-minute yoga class in three minutes or less at work.
  • Reduce stress with relaxation using meditation and yoga.
  • Focus on the positive – Use joyful attention by waking up in the morning and thinking of people who make you happy.
  • Notice something new – take 30 seconds per day to notice something novel. This could be noticing the sounds outside your window.  The idea is to be attentive to the present moment with a playful attitude of discovery.
  • Enter your home with positive intention – Greet your family (pets, roommates) as you haven’t seen them for a very long time. Resist the temptation to criticize anyone or grumble about your day for at least three minutes.
  • Question fearful thoughts and replace negative thoughts with those that are calmer and more rational.
  • Eat right and sleep well – eating badly will stress your system, so eat a low-sugar, high-protein diet. When you’re not sleeping well, you’re not getting the rejuvenating effects. Most of us are not getting sufficient sleep, which is a critical recovery period for the body.  If racing thoughts keep you from falling asleep or you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep, try a simple breathing trick that will knock you out fast:  Cover your right nostril and breathe through your left for three to five minutes.

PEP Fund 2nd Request Available Now!

There are still funds to help reimburse you for job-related trainings, activities, tuition reimbursement, registration or material costs, and conferences and workshops.  Reimbursement forms can be found on the 4J website under the Human Resources department forms page.
Second requests are now available.  Again, both first and second requests will be processed on a first come, first served basis until funds run out.  Call me to verify eligibility and funds today!

4J Safety Committee

If you have safety concerns related to your work environment, the best place to address those concerns is at the building level.  Your custodian and building administration can help address issues to increase and improve safety.

Another place to share your concerns, or your success stories, is with the 4J Safety Committee.  This committee is made up of representatives from different departments and employees groups, and meets the first Thursday of each month.  The goal of the Safety Committee is to work collaboratively to prevent workplace injuries/accidents and build enthusiasm for safety programs, ultimately producing a safer and healthier workplace.

Members of the committee are:
Scott Asbury, Ron Bell, Mark Bennett, Randi Bowers-Payne, Joane Butler, Steve Cooper, Matt Cornwell, Christopher Hawks, Tammy Jeffries, Diana McElhinney, Scott Mayers, Jim Nusser, Eli Plouff, Maxine Proskurowski,, and Julie Wenzl.  You are welcome to share your safety concerns with any member on the committee, or you can contact the full committee via e-mail:  safety_com@4j.lane.edu.

You can find contact information for individual committee members and minutes from committee meetings on the 4J Safety Committee webpage:  http://www.4j.lane.edu/hr/safety-committee-minutes/safety-committee/.

Cage-Free Eggs:

Cage-free eggs are not all they’re cracked up to be.  There are no national standards for cage-free egg production in the U.S., but the term generally means that the hens are not in cages and have more room to walk, spread their wings, and engage in other natural behaviors including nesting, perching, and dust-bathing.  Thus, cage-free is considered more humane than the crowded wire “battery cages” that house the majority of egg-laying hens in the U.S.

But cage-free birds are still typically raised indoors and may still be subjected to crowded factory conditions and other dismal practices, such as painful beak cutting.

Bottom line:  Cage-free is more humane than cages, but the label doesn’t mean “cruelty-free.”  Look for the Animal Welfare Approval label, which ensures the highest level of humane conditions.  Some trustworthy labels include Certified Humane, American Humane Certified, and Food Alliance Certified.  The Humane Society provides a comparison of egg carton labels at http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/guide_egg_labels.html

Better yet:  Raise your own egg-laying hens! Raising your own chickens allows you to monitor what your hens consume, so you know what goes into the egg.

Important!  Before considering raising chickens, be sure to check with your city council to see if chickens are even allowed in the city. If you raise chickens in a city that doesn’t allow them, you may face a penalty. In rural areas, chickens should be allowed.

Beware:  Chickens have many needs, and you have to be willing to care for them and make sure they receive adequate nutrition.

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This newsletter is reviewed and edited each month by the District 4J and OSEA representatives of the Classified Joint Benefits Committee (JBC).The information in this newsletter is summarized, and is not intended as advice or counsel.

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