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Home | From Bob's Cluttered Desk | Welcome to the Party Pal: Oregon Gov Announces SAIF Board Nominations/Replacements

Welcome to the Party Pal: Oregon Gov Announces SAIF Board Nominations/Replacements

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In a letter addressed to SAIF employees dated today, August 25th, Oregon Governor John “I Seee Nuthhink” Kitzhaber has announced the appointment of 3 brand spanking new Board members for the embattled state insurer. If approved by the states Senate, they will replace outgoing Board Chair Cathy Travis and Vice Chair Robb Van Cleave. Current Board members Krishna Balasubramani and Kevin Jensen will remain, which is probably not as bad as it sounds. Someone is going to have to stick around and try to explain the mess they've made. It should be an interesting first meeting; “Why is there an angry mob here? And what's up with the torches and pitchforks?”

Frankly, it's about goddamned time. With the exception of one quick mention at a gubernatorial debate, some of us where concerned Kitzhaber didn't even know he had a state workers' comp insurance agency.

The three new members Kitzhaber has nominated are:

Maurice Rahming – Mr. Rahming is President of O'Neill Electric, Inc., of Portland. He has been a journeyman electrician, foreman and general foreman for more than 20 years and is a SAIF policyholder. Mr. Rahming is active on numerous boards and committees, including the Portland Fair Contracting Forum and the Oregon Department of Transportation Industry Leadership Committee.

Jeff Stone – Mr. Stone is Executive Director/CEO of the Oregon Association of Nurseries, based in Wilsonville, and is a SAIF policyholder. The Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN) is a nonprofit trade association that represents nearly 900 individual nursery stock producers, retailers, landscapers and related companies serving the nursery and greenhouse industry. Prior to joining OAN, Mr. Stone worked as Chief of Staff to the Metro Council and as an advisor to U.S. Sen. Bob Packwood.

Jennifer Ulum – Ms. Ulum is Director of Public Affairs and Advocacy for PeaceHealth system in Eugene, and will serve in the remaining "public member" position on the Board. Ms. Ulum has deep experience in communications and public policy issues, and her civic contributions include service on the boards of Oregon Public Broadcasting, United Way of Lane County, Eugene/Springfield.

I must note that these are probably fine people who have had nothing to do with the agency's internal issues surrounding the termination of CEO John Plotkin. They also appear to be people who are very successful in their respective fields. It is unfortunate that none of those fields appear to have anything to do with running an insurance company. This means that the entire SAIF Board will remain without any experienced insurance professionals. For the tail, this makes the dog much easier to wag.

In fact the only one who may come closest to understanding the internal workings of a carrier is a lawyer whose main profession is that of defending SAIF's competitors (and employers who use those competitors). I suppose we should not be surprised. After all, look what happened to the last new guy at SAIF who knew anything about the business.

At least the Guv got this done in time for his re-election.

I could be completely wrong on this. These new additions may come in, pay close attention, ask appropriate questions, learn what is needed and carefully act to correct the agency's issues. In other words, they may do what the prior one failed to do at all levels across the board. One can only hope on that. Here is a hint: There is some definite housecleaning due in Executive Council.

The Governors' letter, which purportedly was designed to give employees the first word on these nominations, says “I know events over the past few months have overshadowed the excellent work at SAIF and brought a level of uncertainty that has affected morale. I nominated these three individuals to move SAIF forward and to help return the focus to where it should be - on your important work and on the future.” This is an opening for SAIF personnel, and a chance to see if the Governor is willing to put his money where his mouth is – or the state's money at least. I don't know if these new people will be in place by the scheduled September 10, 2014 Board meeting, but SAIF people who have been unhappy with the treatment of Plotkin and the complete ignoring of their concerns should plan to show up and make their displeasure known.

The message should be simple: “Welcome new members. You want to move SAIF forward? Start by reversing the mistakes of your predecessors, because the only way truly forward from here is back to the path we briefly traveled.”

Oh, and “we handle workers' comp here. Let us know if you have any questions about how that works.”

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For a list of Bob's other SAIF/Plotkin articles (as well as a couple old AASCIF articles that get picked up in the search), Click here.

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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.

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Subscribe to comments feed Comments (132 posted)

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08/25/2014 20:05:50
According to an email I received from Kendall Clawson, the governors executive appointment person, the senate committee on executive appointments will meet on Sept. 15th, after the next board meeting.
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09/02/2014 13:47:52
These candidates forBOD certainly are qualified to objectively assess the damage and move forward. SAIF's greatest "intangible" assets are it's workforce and it's reputation. The reputation right now is, due to incompetent managerial controls, in question. The work force is not. Putting people on the BOD with some degree of experience with evaluating SAIF's business model is a smart move by the Governor. He'll finally get some good data. They will not be swayed by an overbearing, self important, fiend with no experience in worker's comp.

It hasn't been discussed that much, or maybe I missed it, but BR actually prided herself on having no insurance experience. Imagine that, 4 billion and no experience. She joked about it at her retirement party. So, she had no work comp experience, no general insurance experience, and no finance back ground of any depth . Her time at the lottery barely counts for anything as it was only 1 year. She sold retail, legal, highly addictive games of chance to mostly poor people who can hardly afford to lose any money. In the end she was all hat and no cattle. Just a ball busting fraud. Cross her? You're out. She wakes up on the wrong side of her inflatable twin bed? You're out. And only a couple of people stood up to her in nine years. Were they masochists? Or just in it for the money?

What company with as little wrong with it as SAIF had with it 10 ago years allows a fiend to come in and wreak this kind of havoc? This is what a political appointee get's you. Inconsistency, inexperience, phoney allegiance to company principles, and greed. No different than Madoff.

So, these new BOD folks will hopefully see through the managerial blue smoke and mirrors and get things moving in the right direction. To genuine transparency Kitzhaber needs a couple wartime consiglieres at SAIF on the Board. People who can separate the shit from the shinola. These guys look good. They actually wanted to get rid of SAIF. It's a great move. They will not be easily co-opted as Brenda's clueless village idiots were. They will, it is hoped, be neutral, transparent, honest, deliberative and ask questions when the mob of VP's and Directors storms the meetings for show.

First thing I would say if I was the new BOD Chair is 1) what are are you people doing here, 2) if it's not on the agenda there is no discussion 3) and, if it's not on the agenda you need not be here...you have better things to do, if we need you we'll call you.
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08/25/2014 20:21:10
That means SAIF employees will need to show up at the next two meetings. One to tell the current dunderheads what a screwed up bunch of losers they are, and the next to tell the new board what a screwed up bunch of dunderheads the last group of losers was.

Word of warning on this. The outgoing board is likely to make Gilkey permanent. What do all of us do then?
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09/02/2014 16:56:57
The thing that's been missing from this entire saga is humor. Someone once said, "not having a sense of humor is like a car without shock absorbers...you feel every freaking bump". I think Bob has done an exemplary job of highlighting all of the weirdness, the inconsistencies, the contradictions, the dis ingenuousness and the duplicity...and it is, admittedly, hard to see where humor fits. Basically this small band of brigands backed a dump truck up to SAIF and covered it with a mound of crap from which everyone was forced to dig out. Reminds me of the fight William Wallace mounted ( can you say mounted? ) against the British once he saw that the Brits were simply exploiting the Scots and buying them off cheaply with grants of land with ancestral title. Basic feudalism...(Simply defined, it was a system for structuring society around relationships derived from the holding of land in exchange for service or labour) Many people were enriched for years by this scheme but it left the Scots bankrupt from enormous taxes, their women raped, their men working for corrupt Lords and their villages pillaged. Wallace united the clans and forced the Brits out. It was not without treachery and bloodshed. Some people just could not resist the temptation for a quick peace when their were rumblings of rebellion against the crown were anticipated in return for land and gold. But I digress.

This whole modern day saga has untied the SAIF clans...Now Wallace was eventually captured because of the treachery ( he was, among other things accused of heresy) of Robert the Bruce, disemboweled, beheaded with his body chopped into quarters and sent to the furthest regions of the UK as a warning ...with Wallace's head placed on a pike. Alas, it didn't work. Scotland finally defeated the Brits and there were free.
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09/02/2014 21:05:10
united the SAIF clans...typo
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08/25/2014 21:46:34
Not going to happen.....no quorum I'll bet for first meeting...which is good. Gin up your packet of info for the new bod.....mail it to them before their first meeting....then show up en masse. Gilkey must go. Fleming....go....thats a good start.
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08/27/2014 01:33:22
Current bod members are under no obligation to appear at any meeting much less the upcoming one in pdx....it will be canceled for lack of a quorum....good riddance to bad rubbish....especially that yutz Travis.
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08/27/2014 18:17:01
Yutz means a stupid, clueless person in Yiddish ....it's not a dirty word. If it was a man I'd use putz. A lot of guys putzim. But you get my point. i.e what a putz, that putz, I use them interchangeably. They are quite effective.

John Plotkin was a mensch. No higher compliment...good guy, caring, empathetic, as in Plotkin is a mensch.
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08/27/2014 15:05:10
Is the Sept 10th BOD meeting in Portland? The website says Salem.
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08/26/2014 00:01:10
Although I'm grateful changes are coming, it's too little and too late Mr. Kitzhaber. My vote, and hopefully the vote of every single person I have the chance to talk to will go to someone else. You think we're only a few hundred employees who cant make a difference in your election and maybe you're right, but you fail to realize we are a few hundred professionals who are typically pretty well respected in our non-work circles. You can bet my family and friends respect and hear my opinion when I talk about where my vote is going this election- and you should be aware many will choose to follow me without researching any other reason for themselves.
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08/26/2014 01:53:23
It is just a start and hopefully the bod will be a quick study and call for an internal, wall to wall, management audit, conducted by Corragio or a similar group that can objectively assess the status of the corporation and make recommendations for a retooling.

The marching orders from the bod will need to make sure the existing vice presidents and Directors input is counterbalanced by in depth input from operations staff.

Otherwise they will get a whitewashed version of events, areas that need change, bold new ideas....Saif is not known for bold, new or ideas....as they took 20 years to approve a change to casual dress...truth, though painful, hurts....at times.
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08/26/2014 03:34:39
Well, the governor has awoken from his slumber. Does he really think the letter to SAIF employees makes it all better? Where was he the last few months? We will give the benefit of the doubt to the three new board members...but, we still have two on the Board who bought into this destruction of Mr. Plotkin. As Kevin Jensen said, if even one person is offended, we had to take action, is this reality? Does he deserve to be on our Board? Thank god, Rob and Cathy are gone..(oops, I invoked God, that could be offensive to some). We also have members of EC, who while they remain, are a stain on the fabric of SAIF...they must go, two have gone so far, two remain...please go away and let us heal...this will not end until you are gone...even then, we will be a company greatly divided that will not heal anytime soon, we are broken, yet we complete our job responsibilities day in and day out... Until HR is reorganized and credibility brought to it's leadership, we will continue to tread water. I really don't think the EC understands how deeply this has impacted the core of SAIF and our faith in HR.... and how upset we are with HR leadership. There are many very long term employees, who have devoted their lives to this company who are sick to their stomachs with what has happened...we will not have the wool pulled over our eyes ever again..Brenda and Colleen, you ruined this place for many of us..we just survived during your tenure, that was all..thankfully, we have a future without you, however cloudy it is because of you..Steve Snyder, Mike Mueller, Jerry Dykes, Ken Collins, we are in solidarity with you, and we are so sorry you suffered so much..
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08/26/2014 22:43:44
Brenda is gone. The remnants of her nine year reign of stupidity almost eradicated as well. Her time will leave no marks in the geologic record. SAIF will emerge better understood and better able to carry on its mission free from political hacks appointed by uninvolved governors. The dumping ground for preretired state bureaucrats beefing up their PERS final average salaries are over.

The cautionary tale here for the new BOD is...."choose wisely"....and stay arms length...do not be co-opted by management as they work for you.

Brenda and her ilk are almost gone. John is going to get 2 million because of her...a drop in the bucket...but...this is the price you pay for acting without integrity....indeed...their true motives will be revealed. Someone....maybe a DOJ investigator has to flip one of the big shots to get the full story....its coming. In the meantime the frauds who never spoke up...vps and directors...should resign. Clean slate for the new guy. Best all the way around
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08/26/2014 14:07:18
Ken Collins is still here, but Pam Jordan did not fare so well under BR.
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08/26/2014 05:23:36
So what is your deal Bob? Maybe one or two articles, but wow!. Are you John Plotkin's brother-in-law or ? You have a little too much interest in this whole thing. Terrible it was and it should and will work it's self out, You are of no help. Also, there is a sizeable number of employees who do not want him back. Just let it go. The situation will work itself out,
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08/26/2014 17:59:00
Obviously written by a scared shitless VP....or director....partys over.
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Thank you Bob! 08/26/2014 17:45:25
I can't thank you enough, Bob for all you have done to follow the story of SAIF and John Plotkin. SAIF Employees need someone to listen, recognize the injustice, and tell our story to gain public support. You are a true hero to hundreds of SAIF employees.
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08/26/2014 14:29:53
You clearly are the one with the agenda. There's no other explanation for your assertion that "a sizable number of employees" do not want Plotkin back. That is demonstrably false. Every employee I know, in claims, underwriting, admin, IS, and elsewhere, and at every level, from VPs to directors to supervisors and front line employees, supports his return. I know of no one outside HR or Gilkey's own office who doesn't. Given the depth and breadth of support I personally know of, it is statistically improbable that there are a "sizable" number of employees who don't support his return.

I suspect you are either a shill for Ryan and Gilkey, or you're one of the players himself. Considering how poorly written your missive is, my hunch would be Ryan. Is that you, pal?
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WorkersCompensation.com 08/26/2014 15:12:19
Interesting to note that the "So what is your deal" author is, by IP address, the same person who suggested some time back that the executives who denied statements attributed to them would have likely switched sides had the prevailing support gone against Plotkin. Specifically, in this thread:
http://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/from-bobs-cluttered-desk/19178-saif-saga-even-the-salem-witches-got-a-trial.html

On July 2nd they wrote:
Thinking out loud! 07/02/2014 00:09:23
Is it not obvious to anyone else that now that John Plotkin has gained so much support that some of the higher ups and VP's are "changing" their story or at least trying to make it out to be not something that was said? I bet had the support gone the other way, they would be yes I helped bring him down!!!


They earned an impressive 20 thumbs down for that effort.
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08/26/2014 16:19:51
The shape shifting directors and vice presidents who have remained deaf and dumb will now start revising history....It will be a combo of asserting they were in the dark and lied to....like everyone else....their motivation is to run between the rain drops and keep the big paychecks rolling in.

Talk about the need fora housecleaning...this is it.
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08/26/2014 13:57:54
Easy Ryan, we all know you are sweating behind that fake smile as you should be. I cannot imagine how sickening it must be to know the mass majority of the company you work for is revolted by your presence. You are a joke!
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Bob Wilson 08/26/2014 10:52:10
I've never met Plotkin. The concept of his return has long ago faded, so don't concern yourself there. This was never about him. It is about corporate malfeasance and a governing structure that supports and condones unethical behavior; in fact, one that doesn't even appear to know the difference. It is about a tone deaf Governor. It is about a board not up to the task. It is about the challenges of running a "private" company with politicians and political appointees. It is about ruining the lives of innocent, well intentioned people who did nothing to deserve the action taken against them.

Ultimately, it is about accountability in government, because that is where you are.

**Edited** - And one more thing. It is about the black eye you gave my industry!
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08/26/2014 14:13:49
Spot on again, Bob. Thanks for stating so well why this is so important to us.
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08/26/2014 12:52:14
Bob pay no mind to that comment. without your poking and prodding a lot of this would have been swept under the rug. SAIF execs made the lives fat and happy for years. they took advantage of a lot of things are now organizationally obsolete. This burgeoning and very highly paid group of directors and vice presidents. The grooming of others who drank the Kool aid and can be trusted to not rock the boat.Then the incompetent but extremely nice folks who have been around for years and will do or say anything to keep those checks rolling in.....Brenda counted on their silence and loyalty. They were bought off cheap.

Now the fun will begin as a new bod steps in. Their charge will be to elect a chair and clean house...28
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08/26/2014 14:54:40
Maybe the legislature needs to create a quality and control oversight group, sunset ed after two years that makes sure the Governor and BOD do something. Sunset....as in not permanent...goes out of business after the Costa Concordia is floating again.
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08/27/2014 19:59:54
Let me clarify to all the nervous nellies out there. This group, created by statute, will be overridden by veto almost certainly by Kitzhaber. But with enough support they will vote to override the veto and it will become law. He might not veto it as it kind of takes the onus off him to pay attention to what the BOD is doing and this thing has been such a mess he might welcome the added sets of eyes. They won't have any policy making or approval authority. Their role is merely to observe and report to the Speaker. After 2 years they evaporate.

Now SAIF people are not used to this kind of scrutiny. Some of them still believe that they are not a state agency...but they are in PERS, have their BOD appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the senate, have their mission set forth in statute, are granted certain charter provisions by statute not available to other insurance companies etc., They are a quasi public corporation that receives no state income tax revenue to operate. In training classes all of this is glossed over. And the mythic, superior, scandal free, always fair and honest SAIF not being connected to state government notion is perpetuated. Bunch of bullshit.

I am not advocating any changes to SAIF's delivery model with the exception of gutting managerial sinecures by 50%, beefing up resources for claims, legal and IT where needed, and the routine teaching of the technical side of where all the money goes....simple stuff. You don't need people standing on the sidelines screaming boom shaka laka laka...boom shaka, laka, laka...they are adults. Coffee breaks over VP's and Directors....back on your knees.
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08/26/2014 16:53:27
The vps and directors never made a public statement about their support or lack of support for John one way or another apres the may 9 firing debacle....silence is their friend....where like Italians beholden to Benito were quick to switch their allegiance once they know who the odds on favorite was. Its a game they play exceedingly well.

They gotta go.....baby, bathwater....the works. You know the drill. Break a few eggs.. Make an omlette. Pretty amazing not one of them has stepped forward and provided any leadership. Gutless...just gutless. There was a huge vacuum and no one has stepped out upon the world stage. Not one of them. Ever. Wastes of skin.
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In addition to the ever silent VPs, Directors, Managers and most Supervisors contine to robotically deliver the same message...keep doing the excellent work you all do. Continue to serve the customers. Interim CEO in place, support him, support him, support him. In unofficial conversations around the corporation, employees were told that this VP was outraged, that director supports Plotkin. However, in meetings, Direct Talk responses, or any other corporate channels, not a whisper about how they really felt about the underhandedness by SAIF's upper echelons. Employees are sick of the inability of management to take a stand against injustice. Why are you not demanding that Fleming leave? Why are you not letting the people below you know where you stand? Will you stand before the BOD in September and October and tell the truth. Probably not. Instead, it's the same old follow the "let's not get honest here and rock the boat" philosophy. Truly, it's just plain ol' CYA time for them. They don't care about us, just maintaining their cushy paychecks. For all of you in SAIF management too afraid to speak up against this whole travesty, you are now outside the SAIF employee circle of trust.

I still stand by John Plotkin
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08/28/2014 15:17:37
It is kind of weird how they always fall back on that line about "doing excellent work", yada yada yada. It is placating and appeasing behavior. As if to say, "this too shall pass". Wrong this time. This too will not pass. You have a paradigm shift underway the like of which SAIF has never seen or chosen to avoid for many years. The new Board is a very interesting crew. Two of them worked with Liberty to gut SAIF a few years ago.

They will take a very objective approach to this mess. Thinking you're going to pull the wool over their eyes is ridiculous. I would argue SAIF has no idea how to really work with a BOD since the last 9 years activity has been such a fraud. So, some training is in order. The days of SAIF management coming en masse to BOD's needs to stop. It's intimidating and a waste of manpower. The CEO and a few others can synthesize the issues, progress, plans and advise the BOD and seek their input, approval, and green light. Having thirty SAIF blowhards show up against 5 BOD members is bush league. If they are not on the agenda there is no need for the to be there.

With all that management in the room it's like a kind of dare. It's like saying "we know what's best and we just need you to go along and shut up". It was a BR strategy to overwhelm with numbers.

The BOD's first mission is to let it be known who works for whom. The CEO works for them. The subordinates work for the CEO etc., If you're not on the agenda you're excess baggage and taking up seats the public could be sitting in or interested others. Get out. Go do whatever it is you do.

Forget the "healing process" with a barbecue in Pringle Park. Way past that. Try a couple symbolic moves like sending out a questionnaire to get input from staff about what their primary concerns are with a directive to supervisors to allow it to be completed on work time, they are not to collect or review them, and staff can talk about the questions openly with anyone they want. Have the result collated and send them out asap. Have a group of MBA students from Willamette do it. SAIF managers are just responders this time like everyone else. But they can't tamper with the results.

Direct John Gilkey to fire Fleming. He's a nuisance and repulses staff. Give him a check for severance and show him the door. The DOJ will still indemnify and defend him...but he doesn't need to be there. Or put him on paid admin leave pending results of the lawsuit. Work stationed at home with his kindle fire. That would be a legal method of getting him out the door and gone until thing get wrapped up and be a great morale booster.

Then tell Gilkey thanks for your services during the interim. Now get out. Install a person who everyone knows and trusts to sit there until the new CEO comes on board. Then do the Corragio audit or management audit. Better late than never.

No potlucks, no Costco cakes, no cheerleading. It's demeaning. Time for some honest, frank soul searching. Welcome the new BOD, make sure they spend at least 10 seconds over in operations.
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A SAIF Chick 08/29/2014 17:23:31
Oh, by the way, regarding the "Healing Process" in Pringle Park with a BBQ lunch, I only agree on one point, that is long gone. We meet to develop strategy, plan logistics and keep a watchful eye. We don't just sit and bemoan the woes of SAIF, we are a group that strategizes and plans to go beyond the walls. So, you have not attended or you would have known this. So, don your bulldog badge (not required for entry) and join us sometime. It will enlighten!
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08/29/2014 22:00:37
I'd love to join you. I wasn't referencing your efforts at Pringle Park and apologize if I wasn't clear. Your efforts show leadership, willingness to take risks, and challenge the status quo in a very productive way.
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A SAIF Chick 08/31/2014 14:16:25
Well said. We're still in toddler stages but plan on putting army boots on soon!
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08/31/2014 17:26:10
It's all good. You've gotten the IME, things look surgical, not going to resolve on their own. More than a nip and tuck. There will be some pre and post op pain...but..it will resolve.
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08/28/2014 04:11:56
As WC Fields once said, "in the aggregate I find them to be a highly distasteful collection"....Reminds me of the McCarthy hearings. Mind control stuff. Ratting each other out. Forget what the VP's and Directors say. Ignore them, keep your own counsel and make notes. Remember what happened to the , Dutch who collaborated with the Germans? The current crop of quislings are scared shitless. Any person with half a brain can see how useless they all are. It is what it is. They'll see it.
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Doug Muravez 08/26/2014 20:07:05
Bob, the reason there are no insurance professionals on the Board of Directors is because in Oregon they are there to represent the interests of important stakeholders. Traditionally they will be representatives and leaders from labor and from policyholders. Personally, I'm happy the governor has acted. I took his letter positively. I look forward to the new directors taking their positions. It's time for us to move forward with a focus on our statutory mission, which is taking care of injured workers and policyholders.
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08/26/2014 21:22:26
With a new board you can tap Saif retirees to help out....we can provide all kinds of public discussion....question asking....but the vps and directors gotta go....spineless
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08/26/2014 23:27:14
Best to be in the years coming will be in claims, legal and IT. The managerial hierarchy will be broken up....back to basics. SAIF was never supposed to be so top heavy....it happened when returns from the surplus went thru the roof. SAIF managers had nothing to do with these returns but they took credit for them....OIC manages SAIFs money and is quite well versed at just doing their job and foing home....basically the SAiF people were never transparent about this....frauds.
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sylvester 08/26/2014 23:49:41
We had a health fair at SAIF today, by all factors it was a positive thing with good well meaning folks running the booths, health care providers, emergency responders and others. What was also interesting is watching how John Gilkey interim ceo was looking lost, trying to talk to employees and being basically ignored, politely but still ignored.

I also heard, unfortunately did not witness, Fleming attempted to mingled with the crowd. Grinning ear to ear like he won the trophy. How sad he is still employed at SAIF and how sad and morale shattering it is to see our EC refuses to take action, investigate the allegations of Flemings lying and falsifying information.

The new board members elect, have stated they will be attending this next board meeting. Provo this is a positive sign they want to get into what's happening at SAIF.
I wonder if they will be tossed out like employees were?

Apparently the Board meeting is to be webcasted, why don't they just have it in Salem in our auditorium and we could attend in person.
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Kathryn Olney 08/27/2014 14:58:54
The auditorium won't hold all of the Salem employees, and there are folks in the field offices who would like to attend, if only virtually. I am glad to hear they are going to webcast the Board meeting, and plan to watch.
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08/27/2014 01:46:09
Fleming must suffer from not having enough Facebook friends. The guy must also be delusional and a mild sociopath. He won't get a pass on his involvement, has zero skills and is about to be unemployed....where he going to go? Vernonia?

It hasn't sunk in yet is all. Pretty sad. But everyone has to maintain a broad focus so Fleming doesn't take the fall for all of the idiots involved. That's to SAIF a solution. Too Easy. He's one of many.
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08/27/2014 03:40:23
Bob, you are so in tune with SAIF. When Brenda showed up, we had a huge investment portfolio..and you know what has happened to the stock market in the past 8 years...up, up, up...and so Queen Brenda, and Princess Colleen could sit back, let the stock market gains pile up and travel throughout the State of Oregon, delivering huge dividends. with the appearance of success all the result of investments from decades earlier and it will be decades before we know whether or not we broke even during the colleen/Brenda era..but that doesn't matter for Brenda, Colleen and Chris, they will reap their huge PERS pensions along with Bellotti...and guess what, according to the public info, Brenda, being a former PERS board member, chose a very obscure aspect of the law, to allow for a beneficiary to receive her same pension for their life..(mind you, she doesn't have a spouse or child). but some other person (presumably as young as possible)...wow...here is a boot in the ass to all potential PERS pensioners...so, the spotlight goes on PERS again for further reform and limitations...and those of us who are left wallowing in the PERS watershed who are not yet ready for retirement, must deal with the backlash and hope that the crumbs that are left will provide for our immediate family..all for one and one for all??... Mike Mueller, Steve Snyder, Jerry Dykes (who remains at SAIF but was subject to a VP quick tryout and demotion), and Pam Jordan, we all should have realized what was coming....but then we got what was coming Ryan and Theresa...at least Theresa had the wearwithall to go away..Ryan, we are waiting for you to leave..there is absolutely zero respect for you...zero, zero, and can I say, zero, based on how you treated the investigation of John Plotking, how sad it is that you are still here....really, do you have any self-respect? Brenda and Colleen...how can you sleep at night...except on a PERS feather pillow built upon the shoulders of all of us in the trenches at SAIF who delivered benefits, provided customer service and upheld our responsibilities to the FUND, injured workers and policyholders...
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08/27/2014 13:40:42
Jerry Dykes is retired. Ken Collins was subject to a quick VP tryout and demotion, and was disparaged publicly by Brenda on a regular basis.
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08/27/2014 04:59:29
Six state legislators participated in a goat milking contest today at the fair. Better be carefull when they retell the story, you know how offensive that can be...

http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/politics/2014/08/26/hansell-keeps-goat-milking-championship-title/14663227/
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nwagent 08/27/2014 13:10:54
Hello again. SAIF employees, thank you for your thoughts on this: you don't have many/any competitors in this state due to your low prices, which is only possible through your surplus. Do you think you can produce change through following the money, as Bob has said? What will the new board do? Will they approve expenditures/dividends that are recommended by one of the folks that wanted your CEO out? Who will recommend these things to the new board and how will you know these are correct amounts? Thank you again.
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08/27/2014 16:01:03
There is nothing wrong with offering dividends. The enormous surplus allows for that. It's throwing off 10-20 % a year. That allows SAIF to lose money on expenses, overhead and claims and still "make money" and pay dividends. This surplus is totally separate from the reserves required by law. But one does feed the other. The more you use a conservative risk prediction tool, the more you reserve and collect as a fraction of premium. This is fine. It does bring up the question of why SAIF is collecting premium, paying claims and then returning dividend thereby lowering the amount a company actually pays for workers comp insurance. Why is the state subsidizing business?. Why not just say: "hey we have 1.2 billion and we're going to pay 50% of everyone's work comp premiums for 5 years or until we get it down to 600 million. When they write that check for workers comp insurance they never expect to get it back, and write it off as a cost of doing business on their taxes...only to get a rebate. It's fine to do it but it needs to be widely understood and not a secret or not emphasized by management that SAIF is also in the business of paying a rebate. It's not technically a dividend anyway. It's a rebate. A dividend is totally different. So, call it what it is: a rebate if the market does well. The other way to look at is to change the reserving risk model. Collect less in premium, stop reserving based on ultimate PROBABLE exposure and reserve based on statistically valid claim sampling data. Look at 1000 similarly situated claims and their reserving history. Adjust your reserving strategy accordingly. This was scary stuff to Davie et al., They didn't want to do the math. And it would require that staff drink different Koolaid...retraining. Why bother?. SAIF has it good over other wc carriers in many ways...and this is one of them. Who else has 1.2 billion unencumbered dollar in el banco? No one. It just keeps growing and growing and growing.

Colleen and BR, two political PERS bound pre-retiree hacks, once they figured it out, used it as their vacation money to lolly gag around the state and take coals to Newcastle. It was total bullshit. They were like little Santa Clauses and the BOD never had a clue. So, while they were scamming operations the claims folks were pounding it out, closing claims, dropping reserves at 100 miles an hour, mitigating claims costs, doing the right thing, slapping on huge reserves so they wouldn't have to come back and stair step them. This all had a very real impact on the surplus. Now, with the right leaders management wouldn't be lining it's own pockets it would be say, "how can we do this as efficiently as possible, from a personnel perspective, without any downside". Instead they said, "merry freaking Christmas" and hired more vps, directors, do nothings, bullshit artists, good old boys, free loaders, sycophants and sinecures.

They would throw an occasional bone at Operations. But for the most part they kept it for themselves to dole out externally and internally. You think Kathy Keane screwed up?. Not even close to these fiends. Kathy's crimes were paying Goldschmidt a 20K per month consulting fee which would have gone on a while longer had Sen. Vicki Walker not uncovered the fact he was a pedophile. But Kathy never ran such a fat, happy and ever expanding admin crew. That's what John inherited when he arrived. And it freaked them out. Totally. Party was over...or was going to be over as soon as he got his feet on the ground.

The current directors and VP's are bound hand and foot with the old model. They ( some of them..I know I know) were not hired for the knowledge, skills and abilities. They will always function from a place of doubt if anyone changes the game plan. So...the new broom has to sweep the old crap out. The too will declare, "we were just waiting for our savior as well". But this is just a survival strategy. None of them stood up when John was getting his ass handed to him and said..."this is an outrage I quit". Not one of them. They curled up into little balls trying to be as invisible as possible and wait it. Keep those big fat checks rolling in. Disgusting. Unprincipled. Worst managers I can imagine. If SAIF managers had stood firm and said, "governor this is an outrage and we will quit en masse unless you declare an emergency" John would have been reinstated, and things would have swiftly returned to forward motion under a new CEO. Not one threatened to quit. They acted exactly like the Cover Oregon people. Those gutless, spineless, lacking in any form of integrity, wastes of skin...who supposedly care about SAIF...have to go. Demote, resign or e fired. Demote, resign or be fired.

More to follow. I'm just getting warmed up.
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08/27/2014 13:50:34
Folks the first few steps out of the swamp have been taken. it's been a mere 4 months since all hell broke loose. You've come together in many positive ways as a result. Now it's time to really focus on phase 2 . Informing the new board. The Execs have no credibility. The good ones are known and will be fine. So consider yourselves equal until told otherwise. Keep the dichotomy in mind. New Saif and old saif. Many will continue to function as if nothing has happened. Not a problem. There will also be a lot of revisionism of events going on. Ignore it. The record is pretty clear. The suspects identified.

John Plotkin will be okay. You have to stay focused on the future.
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08/27/2014 17:17:07
What is all this rhetoric about your responsibilities to the fund?. "THE FUND". Do you know how the fund got there. How it grew to 1.2 billion? Are you confusing the fund with the reserve fund?...the legally required amount separate from the fund to pay for cost associated with injuries into the future? The reserve account is about 3 billion and that throws off a lot of returns as well. The fund or surplus is different. It's a function of investment gains. Those investments are managed by OIC...(as are the reserves) .the same people over at Treasury who manage PERS. Both accounts are in tact and performing quite well. One is mandated by law. The other is a function of investment returns.

A good BOD will understand the Fund and the Reserve fund and ask good questions. They will also ask, "hey Money Bags, does Operations have every resource and dime it needs to provide a super deluxe work experience for them, Herman Miller chairs, nap rooms, in house massage therapists, copper triangle hats to ward off fatigue with career advancement opportunities, time off, conferences, travel, continuing education, etc., Or are you giving them the absolute bare minimum and salting away the rest for your pet projects....? The last BOD were a bunch of easily manipulated know nothings who didn't have a clue. Why those two are staying is a mystery. I am sure they will resign soon and you have two more slots to fill. And the VP's and Directors were more than willing to show up en masse to the BOD meetings..an intimidating show of force, give their 2 minute reports, get the good housekeeping seal of approval, and be on their merry way...."Let's go to Bend, Baker,Pendleton and cath some of the Round Up milking cats, Portland, Coos Bay ( gross), Ashland...talk to the Harry and David gang and catch a series of plays, ....and leave the adjusters adjusting, sweating bullets over closures, worrying about IME's and doctors conferences and surveillance video.

Should have put surveillance on the VP's and Directors, gotten good stuff, and shown it to the BOD. There are two words that come to mind. It' is a contraction more or less of the word mother and another word which cannot be used here. That's how I think of the BOD, VP's (not all of them) and the Directors...all of them. None of them stood up when John was shit canned and said..as I've said before..." this is an outrage, I cannot work in this environment, my career and reputation are too important, a persons reputation is their coin of the realm...and I quit. I quit. I urge you all to quit."

Not one of them quit. Not one. There's a series of words that can be applied to them, (see above).

I know this is hard to hear. It's not elegant. It's not polite speech. It's biting commentary on recent events. But it can all be corrected.
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08/28/2014 02:25:41
I'm not sure if you're the same poster as the one referred to as the "hijacker," for his long-winded, indecipherable rants on topics he knows little or nothing about, but regardless, your characterization of "all" VPs and directors as essentially cowardly and fearful people who failed to take a stand after the coup is absurd.

Before you attack my credibility, know that I am an insider, not a VP or director, and have been one of the most vociferous voices in support of Mr. Plotkin in posts to this blog and traditional news sites. In addition, I have have done a great deal behind the scenes to hold the coup members and supporters accountable. Those who need to know of my activities do.

That said, I feel compelled to call you on your consistent harping about all management (I acknowledge you exclude one or two VPs from your bellicosity). My comments are limited to those members of management who were not involved in the coup.

You criticize these VPs and directors, specifically, because when the board fired Mr. Plotkin they did not walk off their jobs and urge all employees to do the same. You apparently consider that course to be the only principled one these managers could take that would preserve their integrity. You have made it clear throughout your many posts that that is the only course you would have considered taking.

But you didn't.

You didn't because you didn't have to. The choice was never before you because you are not a SAIF employee. Perhaps you have other fantasies of extraordinary acts of courage you would take, if only you had the chance. Then the world would see how brave and fearless you are. But in this life, the real one in which we actually live, most people try to do the right thing most of the time. Even SAIF VPs and directors, believe it or not. And the right thing very rarely involves such self-destructive acts of faux courage.

These people are not corrupt, they are not liars, they do not kick puppies or harm children. They pay their bills, treat others with respect as often as any of us do, they care about their subordinates at least as much as they care about the company, its policyholders and injured workers.

They did not walk off the job because they are not wealthy, contrary to your warped and weird sense of reality. They need to work so they can meet their obligations, like most other people. They did not walk off because they are responsible people; responsible to the company, to injured workers, to their subordinates, to policyholders and to their families. They did not walk out because it would not have reversed the board's decision, and if it had, what would Mr. Plotkin do with a company with no management or other employees? They did not walk out because they are not impetuous, immature children and they intuitively understand that following your course would have resulted in immeasurably greater harm to all that SAIF should stand for than remaining on the job, keeping the ship as steady as possible during this storm, and conducting the very important business that is required of all SAIF employees.

Your impulsive act of fake, self-defeating courage would have done absolutely nothing to advance the cause of returning Mr. Plotkin to the CEO position. It would have done nothing to restore SAIF's tarnished reputation. It is even debatable whether it would've garnered Kitzhaber's attention long enough to take any action sooner than he finally did.

The only sure thing your course of action would have done is enrage thousands of injured workers, medical providers, vocational providers, agents, employers, vendors and god knows who else, as we watched OUR cause and OUR reputation take a shellacking in the media and in public opinion. You think Plotkin's demise was a story? It would have been vastly eclipsed by headlines reading "Thousands of Oregon Workers Left to Starve by 'Highly Principled' SAIF Employees Taking a Stand For Their Affluent Ex-CEO," or "Injured Workers Unable to Obtain Critical Medical Treatment or Pain Medications in Face of 'Principled' SAIF Employees' 'Courageous' Abandonment of Their Jobs," or perhaps, "Kitzhaber to 'Courageous' SAIF Employees: 'Plotkin is Still Fired and So Are You."

Finally, I must address your strange criticisms of Brenda's and other executives' and middle managers' intra-state travel to meet with policyholders and others with whom SAIF conducts business (including, not infrequently, injured workers and their families and medical providers). You imply that going to LaGrande or Coos Bay or Burns is tantamount to a European or Caribbean junket. I assume you've never been to any of these unfortunate towns throughout the state. Trust me, it is inconceivable that more than a few SAIF managers look forward to such road trips. I'm sure many or most enjoy meeting with employers and others, but to insinuate that these trips were inappropriate, outrageous and unjustifiable boondoggles is nothing short of laughable and astoundingly naive.

So long as this site's filtering methods permit your rants to appear, I imagine you will continue to post. You clearly enjoy writing your provocative, if marginally coherent, polemics. But you should no longer assume they will go unchallenged when you offer absurd and malicious assertions with nothing behind them but hot air and ignorance.
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09/01/2014 19:45:54
one word: Skype
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08/30/2014 16:21:02
you would prefer SAIF filtering the messages, tracking the IP addresses and ambushing the writer in their beds while they sleep, tarring and feathering them, or worse?
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08/29/2014 05:14:00
I agree with the fact that EC members and directors should have joined together and took some form of formal action once they knew what happened. This was their responsibility as officers of the company. However, the problem at SAIF (at least in claims) is the VP's and the Directors lack the leadership experience and knowledge to even know how to respond to a situation like this. Remember most of these folks were appointed. How many of these folks do you think had formal executive training or even appropriate mentoring? This group unfortunately hasn't demonstrated the skills necessary to act. They are all nice people and I am sure they feel they are performing in the best interests of the company. That is the main problem. They cannot see the forest through the trees any longer and is why it is necessary for SAIF, to truly move forward, needs to replace EC at a minimum and many of the directors (many of these positions may actually not be needed). We need a leadership team including CEO that are humble and know how to communicate and work together. It is called leadership for a reason. We need to learn to walk the talk again and this will go a long way to raise morale and improve employee satisfaction.

The current EC doesn't communicate with each other and is completely dysfunctional. As is CMT. Come on people. Now is the time to show you do have the skills necessary to do the job and no one seems to be stepping up. Your time is running out. Step up or move on!

To all the employees, stay positive and focus on staying engaged. Don't lose momentum or lose sight of the issues.
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08/28/2014 19:16:52
You can always count on the old guard of VP's and Directors to use the poor injured workers as human shields. It's an old and tired trick. The exeunt, stage left, of the VP's and Directors, or the mere threat, would hardly have registered in the local paper much less the Richter scale so stop with all the sturm and drang.( we are not talking about people who actually work) You didn't do a thing but sit there like bumps on logs with your teeth in your mouths. "Poor John...glad it's not me...let's hit the salad bar at Willamette then do a quick shop at Nordstroms...grab a latte, hit the gym, and head back to beat the 5PM rush out of the parking structure".....
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08/29/2014 02:46:20
Your willful and unproductive ignorance and naivete about people and positions you know nothing about would be astounding if offered by a rational, thinking person.

Your fatuousness evokes a truism by Jonathan Swift: "It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into."

Your inanity also inspires a quote long attributed to Mark Twain: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”
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08/31/2014 15:37:56
Why is Oregon in the business of providing workers compensation insurance anyway?. There are numerous insurance companies that have been chased away by SAIF's low rates, made possible by specific legislation. Why not look at liquidating SAIF? I'm sure there are many company's out there that would be interested. The book value or assets minus liabilities could be established by examining the actual reserve fund, segregating the portion that is needed ( much lower than what is currently in the account) determining and carrying that as an actual liability, then examining the surplus (an asset), real estate etc., and setting a book valuation. Then selling it lock stock and two smoking barrels.

Or, maybe the company could issue and an IPO, and go from being basically a privately held corporation to public corporation. It's funds are well managed so it's new stock holder would be getting 8-10% a year on their investment. Not bad. The BOD would hire a professional insurance person, they'd assemble a new group of managers and work would go on. Maybe it's time for the state to divest itself of this service? Would rates increase? Doubtful. With a lean management crew and well compensated adjustors...and the surplus used as an offset...doubtful. Stockholder would get the dividends..based on earnings ratio. Insureds could still get a rebate just like you get on your car insurance. Maybe an ESOP..ESOPs provide a variety of significant tax benefits for companies and their owners. ESOP rules are designed to assure the plans benefit employees fairly and broadly.

Employee ownership can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Employees can buy stock directly, be given it as a bonus, can receive stock options, or obtain stock through a profit sharing plan. Some employees become owners through worker cooperatives where everyone has an equal vote. But by far the most common form of employee ownership in the U.S. is the ESOP, or employee stock ownership plan. Almost unknown until 1974, by 2014 7,000 companies had ESOPs covering 13.5 million employees.

Companies can use ESOPs for a variety of purposes. Contrary to the impression one can get from media accounts, ESOPs are almost never used to save troubled companies—only at most a handful of such plans are set up each year. Instead, ESOPs are most commonly used to provide a market for the shares of departing owners of successful closely held companies, to motivate and reward employees, or to take advantage of incentives to borrow money for acquiring new assets in pretax dollars. In almost every case, ESOPs are a contribution to the employee, not an employee purchase.
An ESOP is a kind of employee benefit plan, similar in some ways to a profit-sharing plan. In an ESOP, a company sets up a trust fund, into which it contributes new shares of its own stock or cash to buy existing shares. Alternatively, the ESOP can borrow money to buy new or existing shares, with the company making cash contributions to the plan to enable it to repay the loan. Regardless of how the plan acquires stock, company contributions to the trust are tax-deductible, within certain limits.

Shares in the trust are allocated to individual employee accounts. Although there are some exceptions, generally all full-time employees over 21 participate in the plan. Allocations are made either on the basis of relative pay or some more equal formula. As employees accumulate seniority with the company, they acquire an increasing right to the shares in their account, a process known as vesting. Employees must be 100% vested within three to six years, depending on whether vesting is all at once (cliff vesting) or gradual.

When employees leave the company, they receive their stock, which the company must buy back from them at its fair market value (unless there is a public market for the shares). Private companies must have an annual outside valuation to determine the price of their shares. In private companies, employees must be able to vote their allocated shares on major issues, such as closing or relocating, but the company can choose whether to pass through voting rights (such as for the board of directors) on other issues. In public companies, employees must be able to vote all issues.

It would take some leadership, involvement with the legislature but maybe it's time for oregon to get out of the work comp business. SAIF would still exist, only in a more accountable and open and transparent manner. What you've got now is a privately held company for all intents and purpose..like a family business...with no transparency. If the people owned it it would be removed from the political appointee realm of Governors...making is a safe haven for good business practices.
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09/01/2014 01:42:11
The better question is why shouldn't the state be in the workers' compensation insurance business? Please identify the economic disadvantages that SAIF presents to Oregon employers and workers. Don't bother with ideological, philosophical or political reasons. I'm interested in what you believe are the actual, objective economic disadvantages of SAIF's presence in the market.

In addition, please explain why you believe that a nonpublic SAIF Corp., regardless of the legal structure (I.e., corporation, mutual company, ESOP, etc.) would be unlikely to increase rates for employers. As a nonprofit SAIF is under no pressure from investors to consistently exceed each preceding quarter's results, as are most publicly traded companies. In addition, SAIF is exempt from corporate taxes, which further enhances its competitiveness, which translates directly into increased profitability for its policyholders - a majority of Oregon employers.

If you want to see rates climb, the quality of claims processing decrease and employer dissatisfaction increase, then you're on the right track.

For the reflexive, irrational, ideologically driven "free marketeers," who cannot anticipate consequences or do not care to, privatizing SAIF must seem like a marvelous idea. But it is not.
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09/01/2014 15:06:22
Dude. You're basically private now. You are not a state agency but you are protected by the state. You have your own personnel rules, have business practices that are proprietary, and don't answer to anyone. You're left to do your thing. (You lose money on claims and still can pay a dividend. It's like your continued recapitalization is guaranteed if you show a gross profit or not. Basically, you can operate at a loss forever. The whole screaming emphasis on dropping reserves asap only shifted the money back to surplus..where it grew and grew.)

How do you think you got into this mess in the first place? Your BOD was merely (or was) an adjunct of your CEO, VP's and some Directors. They called the shots the BOD rubber stamped them. Absurd this was allowed to go one without protest.

There is an absolute emphasis placed on keeping things as they are...until there is trouble then it's run to the "mission" or call DOJ or the Governor. You want it both ways. Who else has it both ways. Either you're accountable or you're not.

If you were accountable this would never have happened. You're not. And you need to be.
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08/31/2014 19:13:35
I meant to say, "if the employees owned it". To do this you'd need to hire an investment banking firm to do the due diligence,value the company, structure the esop, etc., It would be better for the employees to own SAIF and control and direct it's future. Not this weird EC and VP's and Directors...that are in the hedgerows 99% of the time.
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08/30/2014 04:27:52
Unproductive ignorance?. Really?. If you only knew. SAIF Corporation is a fetid swamp of overpaid undertasked VP's and Directors. You are living off the hard work of a staff that brings home the bacon every day, day in and day out, while you posture and puff about the fund, integrity, transparency best practices and stability. You take advantage of the isolation SAIF has imposed on itself over the years, fully protected by an uninvolved Governor, aided and abetted by a legislature that is further isolated, and a surplus throwing of millions of dollars which actually allows you to lose money as a company and continue to function and pay huge dividends (they are actually rebates), and then remain mute when a good and decent leader is hired only to be fired for absolutely no credible reason. Your business model is, in brief, self serving. Yes injured workers are taken care of and their benefits paid. But your business practices have allowed for the for unchecked and unseemly expansion of management that is under tasked and self entitled. If I'm wrong lay it out. Say something. Prove me wrong. Your BOD has functioned as an adjunct and accomplice to your business model for 10 years. The Plotkin termination is the most public manifestation of their co-optation. So, don't tell me this was all approved by the BOD. The BOD is indistinguishable from SAIF management. The new BOD will not be.
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08/28/2014 16:23:47
I agree with you but I am not giving you a thumbs up. The blowhard is fulfilling a much needed purpose. Some of it is hyperbole and a little over the top but most of it has the ring of truth. Stuff needs to be said. His solutions are pretty harsh and maybe the idea that you could get the Governors attention by quitting en masse or threatening to quit is bonkers but it is not outside the realm of possibility given what's gone on for years. They could have said something. Someone said down below somewhere they aren't cowering. But what are they doing? Seems like the blowhard is right in his or her observation that they are just waiting. Waiting for the next regime to take over that they can inculcate with the way "we really do things around here". So, I like the blowhard. He's kind of like a court jester. One observation that is interesting is about the constitution of the new BOD. These people have some depth of experience the old BOD lacked. Organizationally and politically.
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08/29/2014 01:46:02
Or perhaps these "villians" aren't "hiding" or "cowering" from anything, but, rather, are merely trying to run a company that cannot run itself.

Life is filled with choices. Everyday we make decisions of varying magnitude. Rarely are the decisions we make character defining. Most are rather mundane and routine. Whatever kind of work we do we answer to someone. That is as true for the president of the United States as it is for the most unskilled laborer. No one has the absolute freedom to dictate the terms of his existence, except within very broad parameters, if one is fortunate.

VPs at SAIF, and especially directors, are employees just as surely as any adjuster, IS tech, secretary, attorney or any other of the roughly 800 folks who depend on SAIF for their livelihood. During her reign, Brenda was the CEO. No one else within the company had the level of authority or power - or responsibility - that she had. Every employee in the company was free to either work for her or not. Very few chose to leave because of her, because though she wasn't personally liked by most, she was a competent enough manager by all the usual metrics and the company thrived under her leadership, regardless of the reasons.

It was not until after Mr. Plotkin was fired that so many came out of the woodwork to vocalize their feelings for the woman. The reality is that before she retired, the vast majority of employees tolerated her just fine. Her micromanagement tendencies were frustrating but very few employees, at any level, felt strongly enough about her to be compelled to take a hard line stand against her style, policies, results, etc. It wasn't because employees lacked courage, it was because humans have an almost limitless capacity to tolerate annoyances and injustices when necessary.

So by the time the coup occurred, there was not a fully pressurized tank ready to explode. Despite widespread speculation, it was not until several weeks after Mr. Plotkin had been terminated that evidence became widely available that permitted reasonable minds to infer that Brenda was centrally involved. Only after that point did the pigpile begin. By then, the company was listing, morale had plummeted, leadership at the top was nonexistent, and steady management at all levels was more crucial than ever before.

Hijacker, you set up a false and narrow definition of leadership that excludes many perfectly reasonable courses of action for this situation. You believe that if the VPs and directors were true leaders they'd have done one of two things; resign impetuously or step down to a non-leadership position. What you fail utterly to comprehend is that there are other, vastly superior, options available to these leaders, one of which is to NOT abandon all those who rely on SAIF's work. This leadership option includes working hard to rebuild morale; deliver services uninterrupted; continue to demonstrate by example that SAIF has not lost its way, even if Gilkey is clueless and Fleming, et al. remain employed; and using steady hands to right this ship, right alongside every other employee in the company.

Everyone here has a profound interest in helping SAIF succeed, presently and in the long term. A company this size needs managers, your screeds notwithstanding. Effective leadership is not always flashy, tempestuous, dramatic or exciting. Sometimes the most effective leadership involves actions unseen and unknown by subordinates. Sometimes leadership requires patience, caution and even inaction, when the alternative would be precipitous. And of course, often what is perceived as inaction, and interpreted as cowardice or pusillanimity, is actually the manifestation of mature, patient decision making.

The point, hijacker, is that you have absolutely no more basis to proclaim all VPs and directors to be cowardly, ineffectual leaders than the BOD had to terminate Mr. Plotkin. In both instances, false, baseless assertions were made to support biased, predetermined conclusions which were the products of individual political agendas.

Hijacker, you clearly have some sort of anti-authority streak in your personality. Perhaps that explains your relative lack of success at SAIF, and also your clear bias against all SAIF leadership, most of whom you do not know, but pretend to understand. Your incoherent rants belie your efforts to present yourself as a management expert. Your posts are steadily revealing you to be a disgruntled former employee whose agenda here appears to be exorcizing the demons of a failed career, the blame for which you place at the feet of all current SAIF leaders. This behavior puts you in the very good company of such Hall of Fame luminaries as Cathy Travis and Mssrs. Van Cleave, Davie and Fleming.
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08/29/2014 13:45:23
Beautifully written but I must disagree with you. First of all I was very successful at SAIF, exceedingly so. When I could retire I did. As much as I didn't want a party they had one anyway. My experience there was great and I speak of it often.

Brenda was a caricature of a bad boss. Her behavior predates the Plotkin affair by years. People advanced their careers under her leadership that is true. But very good people who were exceedingly competent and dedicated to the company were let go for reasons known only to her and her tight knit crew of goons she surrounded herself. No one said a word. No one spoke up when it was obvious she was operating way out of bounds.

Comparing me with Travis et al., could be interpreted as insulting but I don't take any of this personally. I am merely an observer. When I read:

"Life is filled with choices. Everyday we make decisions of varying magnitude. Rarely are the decisions we make character defining. Most are rather mundane and routine. Whatever kind of work we do we answer to someone. That is as true for the president of the United States as it is for the most unskilled laborer. No one has the absolute freedom to dictate the terms of his existence, except within very broad parameters, if one is fortunate".

It took my breath away and confirmed everything I have thought and written about. "Rarely are the decisions we make character defining". Oh. But they are. The decisions we make speak to the very type of people we are. The decisions we make define us. If we sit idly by and do nothing institutions and people can suffer. And they have. In the extreme one need only recall testimony of the Nuremburg Trials. I said, in the extreme. Chew on that.
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08/28/2014 23:39:18
I too like everything the hijacker says. It's true and funny at the same time. Leave him or her alone. The stuff he or she says strikes me as totally true. When is the last time you saw a VP make a time loss payment...never. Or pay a bill? And what's that crack about the CEO who lasted 3 months being affluent? How do you know? There are upfront costs associated with filing a lawsuit against SAIF, costs associated with moving to Oregon to take the job and the costs of getting the job. So, if he was affluent it's flying out the window. I guess he could file for u/e but that's only 562.00 a week.

If getting the message out were left to the VP's and Directors it never would have gotten out. Right? So..whatever works. Anyway the new BOD will soon be on board and I'll bet they have been given their marching orders by the Governor. Clean it up...He's just of hearing about SAIF as everyone else is...
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sylvester 08/28/2014 14:04:40
well said!
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08/28/2014 13:55:34
These very filtering methods allow you to focus on the issues and not the person articulating them. I think of SAIF managers as a group of people who have grown fat and lazy. Most of you are redundant. Then I look over at the operations side and I see this finely tuned swiss watch watching their claims, putting out fires, paying benefits, talking to employers, juggling 3-4 balls in the air at a time. Worried about closures, worried about this, that or the other thing. People who can articulate right down to the smallest detail what it is they do. Day in and day out. Then I think of a group of VP's and Directors. Who sit their waiting for the monthly result results to come in...or whatever their metric of their performance is. And, I ask myself: why is there such an asymmetrical allocation of resources at SAIF? How did this happen? Is it good for the company?
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08/28/2014 13:36:13
Good response. Clear and succinct. Could not disagree with you more. But, you have a right to your opinion as do we all.

My opinion, stated above repeatedly, is simple: Aside from financial considerations, bills and such, managers at SAIF had an absolute duty to express their distaste for BR's behavior, up to and including the treatment of Mr. Plotkin. Your choices were to resign, make a statement and await your fate, demote to some other position as you "couldn't be a part of this team and a party to their behavior", or do nothing. You chose to do nothing.

Your choice was personal and selfish. It put your needs above the group you represent. It is in a word: gutless. But, it was one of your choices. Leaders lead. They close ranks, acknowledge there is a problem and lead. There are multiple ways of leading. Doing nothing isn't one of them.

You're right I'm not there. But I was there for a long time. I enjoyed my work, my colleagues, my routine and the city. But, I always questioned the things that were out of kilter, or seemed just plain wrong. One of my observations was that my coworkers were afraid of management. Afraid to voice opinions, afraid to question policy, afraid of reprisal, afraid of arbitrary and capricious application of discipline. So, they kept quiet and did their jobs and went home. They were, aside from their paychecks, miserable. But, most of them were stuck. My coworkers were serious people who did their jobs with precision. They took their jobs very seriously and most were paid one sixth of BR was paid. So, you have multiple layers of people, after time goes by, who are also well trained in not speaking up, or questioning.

Back to my point. Leaders lead in all things. It's one of the "burdens" of management in a screwed up company. You act. You do something. One of those choices, one, is that you leave. And on your way out, you make it known why.

Not one of you have done that. Not one of you has demoted. So, you chose the wait and see choice. My point is that had some of you shown leadership this would have been resolved sooner. But, you chose to put your heads in the sand and continue getting those big checks, and wait for the next CEO to tell you which way the wind was blowing. It's a style...and it's marrow deep at SAIF. That's good for you but not for SAIF.
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08/30/2014 17:49:16
By extrapolation, you must also support the notion that adjusters, for example, should quit or be demoted when they disagree with the management style or conduct of their supervisors, and you must fault them when they don't "close ranks" and walk off the job when one of their colleagues is terminated.

It must be strange, this black and white universe in which you exist. Most of us live in a reality that includes primarily shades of gray, in which there are few absolutes, and most tough questions have multiple correct answers.

You are critical of executives and directors who did not casually discard their careers for Mssrs. Meuller and Schneider and others, when they fell victim to BR's wrath. But you should admit that you know absolutely nothing about those situations, what lead to their ultimate fates, what precipitated them or what discussions, debates, etc., were had in executive meetings, formal and informal, before and after, if any. You are unaware of what executives and directors were told about those situations, after the fact, if anything at all. You don't know and likely don't care because knowing might undermine your carefully crafted agenda to sow seeds of discontent and whip folks into a seething frenzy for perceived injustices, real or imaginary, they did not even know existed.

Suggesting that all VPs and directors are "gutless" because, from your perspective, they did not pound on Brenda's desk all day, everyday, to demonstrate their personal distaste for her, or openly defy her authority as CEO, or grandstand in front of employees to encourage their defiance and resultant mutinous chaos is absurd, to put it mildly.

To be more blunt, you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. Tell us, hijacker, how many times did you quit your job at SAIF in protest of the CEO? None? Why not? Surely you had many opportunities, under your own moralistic, judgmental standards. Why would you require such draconian, self-defeating conduct from others, but not of yourself? Your alleged knowledge of BR's management style suggests you were employed during at least part of her reign. In addition, you have described yourself as "exceedingly successful" in your career at SAIF. How was it, precisely, that you were so fabulously successful at SAIF? Your own arguments suggest such success would be possible just one of two ways: To keep quiet in the face of horrible injustices all around you, or to courageously vocalize incessantly about these same injustices. The former would suggest you are a hypocrite, requiring of others sacrifices you were unwilling to make. The latter would suggest that the oppressive, punitive management culture about which you obsess doesn't really exist as you've described it.

So which is it, hijacker?
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08/31/2014 02:31:54
In my career I changed jobs multiple times. Those changes offered advancement opportunities, new challenges and more responsibility. One of those changes came as a result of working for an administration that lacked moral fiber. I left. Found another job. Worked my way back up but never compromised my principles for a paycheck. The situation was very similar to what has transpired recently at SAIF. ( when it became apparent to me that BR was a hoax I left...life is too short to be around that kind of stuff)

I am not advocating that adjusters cut and run. I think the future holds great promise for them to be finally celebrated and compensated for the essential work they do. They are victims. Now, to your question if an adjustor disagrees with management or finds that managers are acting without integrity? Should they respond by quitting. That's a personal decision. But they are not the focal point of these current problems.

This discussion is uncomfortable for some but it is needed. In fact it needs to continue. Hopefully it will. In the meantime it's important to offer options, comment, play the devils advocate, pick the scab, etc.,
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08/29/2014 05:19:09
I agree. We must expect and demand more from our leaders. I cannot believe this was allowed to continue for so long and is now such a mess. The worst part of this entire fiasco is the loss of trust and the picking of sides. I honestly do not know who to trust. None of the VPs stood with Mike Mueller or as the entire situation slid into the abyss. Most of the VPs have silently hunkered down waiting for the storm to pass. At least two of the VPs who stood behind Plotkin, and are now getting kudos, used below the belt tactics similar to those used against Plotkin. There are no 'clean' sides in this mess. The you know what has flown in both directions. Thankfully there are hundreds of dedicated employees that will keep up the good work while the VPs stand in the shadows. I support the new board in completely cleaning out the boardroom. We will not come to a standstill. The employees are currently getting the work done without leadership.
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08/27/2014 19:31:11
Hey, whoever you are. Without Roberto this thing would have never hit the local press. SAIF is very good at suppressing local coverage. Jeff Manning and Nigel Jaquiss in their stories for the Oregonian and Willamette Week always give a link to this website. For those of us in the w/c biz it is considered the only really coherent and honest record of the totality of events which lead up to John's termination and that which followed. He has performed a public service for everyone. SAIF would have buried this thing down deep. No one would have ever known and everyone would have continued with their self deluded idea that John had done something wrong...when in fact he had basically done nothing. With the exception of his job.

So, asking Robert "what his deal is"? is insulting to everyone. The good that will come out of this is an open and truly transparent SAIF Corporation stripped of all it's managerial artifice, fraud
and mindless cheerleading that perpetuates the endless present way of doing business. All agencies have their "come to jesus" moment and this is SAIF's. Out of the dark and into the light thanks to the relentless search for truth by Bob. The employees are afraid and rightfully so. They have seen one person after another burned at the stake. Careers ruined. Lives destroyed. All because they questioned the Koolaid...or the ingredients.... It had to stop.

The post mortem will continue. But I have nothing but praise for Bob and this website. He is truly a white knight. SAIF needed to have a very bright light shined on it.. now the people responsible need to be eviscerated (figuratively speaking) and replaced with professional workers comp insurance people who act first with integrity in all things. The new face of SAIF may be more boring...but it certainly will have more cred.

You notice I have not mentioned BR once in this column. Old news. Like yesterdays bird cage droppings, or dog park bagged detritus. Like when they took Goldschmidt's picture down in the Capitol her visage will be relegated to the far reaches of people minds....her name will cause a shudder and an audible "yuck".

The others will soon be forgotten as well. It's a new day. Personally, I am excited by the prospects for a new and improved SAIF....sure some folks career trajectory's will be attenuated. That's how it goes. All those years of sitting behind a desk, waiting for the call, to sit behind another desk at more pay with less to do....it's over. At least it's over for the current crew. You can thank BR for ruining your career and yourself for not standing up for John. Even if you had to quit it would have, in the long run, been better than hanging on by your fingernails hoping everything would soon go back to normal. Leaders, at all levels, lead. They lead by example. They lead with courage. I saw none of it with the exception of two people.
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sylvester 08/27/2014 23:22:22
I found the Board of Directors Meeting time and date. September 10th 8:30 for the audit discussion and 10:00 for the BOD meeting.

BUT they have not announced where the meeting will be held, prior to today it was still in Portland today I heard it will be in Salem, probably easier to webcast from a controlled environment.

There also appears to be at least one supervisor advising their people you need to get permission to attend and then you need to speak with the VP before attending.

Hmmm, why if SAIF employees are required to take vacation to attend why do we need permission (other then time off approval as always and desk coverage) and a talking too to attend this meeting?

If it is in Salem I believe the opportunity is to show we ARE Concerned and WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY by attending this BOD meeting.
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08/28/2014 04:01:19
Everyone knows you are concerned. It's always easier to ask forgiveness than permission so just go. The supervisor is a martinet...clueless. Probably more of a rule bound annoyance than a mentor, role model and manager. Just go. Quit quibbling over where it's going to be. They'll let you know. They have to. You don't need permission from SAIF Corporation on how you spend your vacation time. Are you kidding? This is a public meeting and you are a citizen. Jesus Christ if you're hung up on this kind of stuff how will you ever articulate your concerns for the future? Act. Take a vacation day and go. And quit telegraphing your moves to your supervisor. You are your own person. Enjoy it. Feel it. It's a powerful thing to stand up and be counted. Cowering about rules is just what they want. What's the worst that happens? They screw up and try and discipline you? For what? Exercising your civil rights? I'll hire your lawyer and sue them on your behalf.

I had one good supervisor at SAIF. Class act. Knowledgeable, thoughtful and cool. Her replace ment was a classic SAIF supervisor trainee type. Clueless. He got fired. The next one was worse but we ignored her. She was actually incompetent but has risen steadily up the line...because she is a team player, rule enforcer, fake smile, big hair....Forget them. Go.
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sylvester 08/28/2014 14:20:36
Thank you for your words of encouragement, although I and possibly others like me do not believe we are cowering, however I may be quibbling "argue or raise objections about a trivial matter".

My supervisors (past and present) and our current director are honest hard working employees of SAIF who care about their people. My supervisor knows exactly how I feel about the actions of the SAIF BOD and our immediate VP.

My supervisor also knows I fully intend appearing at the BOD Meeting, because it is what everyone of us should do. So I hope to see you there. I will be wearing black.
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milking goats 08/28/2014 01:40:43
read the article from today's statesman journal about our elected legislators milking goats at the state fair, it is so sexist, and demeaning to female goatkind...there are so many offensive comments, I expect that everyone in Salem will cancel their subscription, and each participating legislator will lose election...at least If they think like Brenda and our BOD...How can something happen like this in our city, how can the state fair promote something as offensive as this..how can anyone ever read the paper without being offended or thinking about milking goats. I am sure Colleen was the first one to cancel her subscription..I doubt the statesman delivers to the Pearl District or to Ryan..but BR and Ryan would be horrified I am sure...
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08/28/2014 18:39:44
First thing I would ask Krishna Balasubramani and Kevin Jensen when the BOD convenes is :"What is your impression of the last 4 months, what do you think SAIF employees are upset about, can you be objective, can you divorce yourself from your past ( short) track records and really participate? Either one of these members could have said "NO". But they bought it and voted "YES"..and went along with the ouster of Plotkin. So, I guess someone needs to find out what their motivation is for serving on the BOD in the first place. It is quite a responsibility with, as we have seen, enormous consequences to their decisions. Are they really up to the task? Do they want to put in the time? Can they be objective and really weigh the issues that are coming before them without them being sifted, steered and manipulated by the EC and VP's and Directors and shown only one side. Are they open to full staff participation?

These are important questions they need to ask each other as they go forward. Then maybe they can attract a CEO or slate of CEO candidates who can come to work FOR THEM and get the job done of restoring SAIF's reputation in the industry, which is tarnished but totally fixable.

I think what I am going to do is contact the slate of confirming senators who will vote to confirm the new people and make sure they ask the right questions in the context of all that has happened. Send them a packet of info taken from this site ad the local papers. That'll get the party started and the new folks off to a good start....Senate confirmation hearings are usually "pro forma". But this one should attract SAIF employees .....they are open to the public, the senators are open to questions, and that is the place to ask them. You want to get your message out in a positive way...no better place than a senate confirmation hearing.
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tone deaf 08/29/2014 03:01:07
so today, we received a news article ( the lead story, was actually the riveting information about our 5:30 exercise class being cancelled), instead what we found when we looked closely, the article buried in the list.. there was a vague mention in the "teaser" about some changes in our financial division. You really had too look closely to find out any info.. When one looks at it, and you had to be looking, you found out that we were eliminating a VP position among others, and we appointed a new CFO, not a VP, but nonetheless a new member of EC, one that will have a vote on everything that will have a direct impact on the overall operations of SAIF and every employee of SAIF...and this didn't merit an announcement by our interim CEO??? Really????. Gina, good luck, you have now joined EC, you are now one of them, ...even though you didn't want to be a VP, you are now there on EC.....Additionaly, we heard about many other promotions at SAIF in financial services...wait, I guess Ryan is in charge of job postings.. oh yeah, that makes sense..I guess I just missed those in the job postings...
John, I have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, but it is clear, you don't get it..you have no insight in communication and political awareness, and to our esteemed C&D...you failed....in this as well...how tone deaf is everyone ?? Immediately after the announcement came out, I heard groans.....it seems that SAIF leadership at the EC level is destined to make the wrong decision at every juncture...Ryan, did you decide the communication method for this? If not, John Gilkey, are you that much of an idiot? Have you not reviewed all of the comments that have been made? My god....tone deaf, deaf..just dumb.....How ridiculous is this...you have a few VP's who "might" be able to give you some advice on how to communicate...do you ever sit around the big table in EC and discuss, what will this message might mean to everyone??? are we doing the right thing? My god,..is
SAIF really that tone deaf in our communication??
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08/30/2014 02:30:16
worse than tone deaf....arrogant...basically flipping you off. Wait for the new BOD....my sense is Kitz picked good people to cut to the chase....he is just as sick of this as you are
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08/29/2014 14:04:52
Not sure what you are upset about, is it that they DIDN'T add a VP position to our bloated EC? Is it that they chose to communicate the change in a news article, rather than an email? I agree a change this significant warranted an email. It also would have been an opportunity for Gilkey to send an email that wasn't patronizing. We don't want to have insincere praise heaped on us in a veiled attempt to appease. Address the real issues (Flemming, Coney, etc.) if you want to appease us.
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08/29/2014 11:34:18
And the beat goes on. Management is trying to project their view that a small group of disgruntled employees are making all this noise. They are hoping a few cosmetic changes will placate and appease the troops and allow them to say, : we heard you and look what we've done". It's all cosmetic how ever. Like bondo on a beater. John G, by retaining Fleming, is essentially flipping you off. Fleming will be foist upon his own petard in due course. Sword cuts both ways. Firing him at this juncture has been put on hold until DOJ finishes their investigation of the May 9, 2014 clown college performance, settles with JP, etc., The new HR team will, after the lawsuit is settled, unceremoniously cut him lose. At the direction of the new BOD/CEO. That will be on their short list of ESTDTBM: easy stuff to do to build morale....housekeeping. If he's lucky, he'll end up in Rickreal bucking hay bales. But he's on borrowed time.

You;ve got bigger fish to fry than Fleming at this point. Getting the new BOD interrogated properly by the member of the Senate Rules Committee, before they are confirmed, then methodically educating them after they are confirmed. This is the best route as they don't work for SAIF. BR had every one of them cowed. But with a new BOD they will want to hear from the employees.

Don't let the Directors and VP's and supervisors influence your actions. They are all terrified they are about to lose their jobs...very unsettling. They won't because the ship needs to limp along. But man I'd hate to be one of them right now. Jut remember the BOD is neutral. They are not part of the managerial chain of command and do not work for the VPs and Directors no matter what BS they are saying about protocol etc., The CEO works for them. In the past BR and her goon squad packed the house and ran right over them. Snowed them. I'm sure Travis just sat there and had no clue of her real duty.

Your personnel rules need to be amended to include a real appeal process, investigation process etc., to insure employees basic employment rights are consistent with best practices. Right now it's all subjective and open to interpretation....so you have uneven. inconsistent and unfair application of rules.
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Not Disgruntled-Concerned 08/29/2014 17:09:22
After months of reading almost every single response in Bob's blog, I have became rather cynical of the EC. We have heard that some of these people were horrified of John Plotkin's termination. But who are they? Where are they? I have been with SAIF for many years and I am not a disgruntled employee. Lately I have been speaking out more to my department's manager and supervisors about some very dumb procedures and internal cultural weaknesses. Have we fallen into the pit of lack of true ideas and collaborative thinking or what? I still think very highly of my fellow employees and the great work they do. But management seems to just brush off their worker bees and their ideas.

Yes, I go about my daily business and routine and do it well. I love my job and this company and
am isolated from the pressures of working in Salem. I serve our customers and usually do not give upper management a thought during my day. Lately, who needs them and their over analyzing micro management style? We are professionals and conduct our jobs very, very well.

Back to my main thought. To Kathy Gehring, Michelle Graham, Rick Hanson, Michael Hartman, Bruce Hoffman, Theresa McHugh, Shannon Rickard and Pam Woods I would like ask this question. Where do you stand on this mess? Are you with the employees or not? Or do you just want the status quo? I sense some of you are good people. The BIG QUESTION: Can we trust you? Because right now I do not think most employees know who to trust, especially HR. That is a travesty caused by words that were horribly twisted and the plot that ensued. It was wrong! So why not address us directly here, on this blog? Because we will never otherwise hear from you through "normal" SAIF channels, which have essentially become the Iron Curtain.
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Not Disgruntled-Concerned 08/30/2014 02:11:37
I do enjoy working with my immediate supervisor and our department manager. They are good people and I count them as my friends. It's the management above their pay grade that bothers me. Good ideas presented by employees go up the food chain only so far. Upper management seems to fear or not care about proposed changes. I get the distinct feeling that the various department managers know this and therefore hesitate to share employees' concerns and ideas about procedures, work loads, etc.
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Direct Talk 08/29/2014 20:09:42
You should post your comment/question to direct talk. You probably won't get a response, if it even gets posted but I think those are solid questions that we employees must know and deserve the answer to and if nothing else, maybe it will prompt each of them to take a good look in the mirror and think about who they really are, what their purpose is and who and what they stand for, because right now we are worlds apart from them and drifting farther away and that is not a healthy & productive way for a business to run. The cookie will crumble, the ship will eventually sink and there will be no one to blame but those leaders who are acting only as followers, who refuse to stand with and for their "people".
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08/29/2014 22:44:21
Probably the best way to approach it is to ask them simple questions:

1) What value do you contribute to this company.

2) Could the Company exist without you and what might be the impact?

3) Are your job functions duplicative (i.e., are they being performed by multiple persons)

4) Is your job essential and if you were canned, died or left would it be noticed?

You won't get an answer as this is highly unusual and quite unorthodox for a company where so little trust exists. In many company's today this exercise is routine. It allows for change while operations continues the participants knowing that things change, duties expand and contract and the management structure should reflect those changes. Form follows function....or should.
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Not Disgruntled-Concerned 08/29/2014 19:49:41
I would like to add: always do right. This will gratify some and astonish the rest.
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A SAIF Chick 08/29/2014 22:46:12
Friday afternoon, and again with the TOILET issues in the Parkway building. I realize Mr Fleming, that you are doing your job but personally, don't you think it rather odd that your first BIG assignment since the MAY Witch Hunt happens to be about the loo? It's your smiling face on the email that's just bothersome for me.

Let's be honest with each other Mr Fleming. You lied, you deceived many, and to what point? What has been gained? I can count on 15 hands what's been lost.

Perhaps like the restrooms on the 4th floor in Parkway are in hot water, so you always will be; in hot water.
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08/30/2014 01:47:07
Memorandum

To: All SAIF

Fr: Your Culligan Man
Re: Fleming, toilet, water, flushing, etc.,
Date: Until further notice

Fleming is the new Director of the Loo. His primary role remains HR but he is actively avoiding it. He knows that's a hot potato where he lacks any modicum of credibility . So, he has to focus on toilets, the royal flush, water levels in the tanks, hygiene in and around the bowl, hand washing, inter stall behavior, excessive use of toilet paper, loud flushing, failure to lift and lower the seat, residue on the seat, residue in the bowl, unauthorized sword fight during work hours, excessive flatulence, etc., What an absolute nightmare it must be for him to show his punim at work. But this is important work and it should move forward unencumbered.

The longr Fleming is allowed to remain on campus in any capacity the more credibility is damaged and lost. He needs to move on for everyone's sake. There are plenty of other VP's and Directors who can be delegated the toilet oversight functions.
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08/30/2014 01:29:03
The hijacker can say whatever they want. This is not a SAIF managed site. Thank god. SAIF and free unencumbered speech are a complete contradiction. SAIF has never tolerated people speaking their minds. They require and reward towing the line, not making waves or challenging managerial rule or dicta. Sure they deliver a quality service/product but so did the German Industrial giant J.A. Topf und Söhne. There is never any truly candid discussion at SAIF between employees and management. There are these insipid ear to ear grins, followed by the "well this is the way we do's it, have always done, and have to do it".

The truth hurts. It's gone on for years and has been taken as agreement when it's merely compliance. Employees have learned to just keep their mouths shut and suck it up and not propose ideas, and challenge management in open communication. SAIF employees are treated like children. ( The recent dress code debate is a good example, change in how work is done, or policy, is basically completely off-limits unless you're willing to subject yourself to an interminable wait as your idea works it's way through the maze and layer after layer of management where it hinges on multiple levels of approval and support. Most ideas (all?) die on the vine..good or bad.

I don't know how many times I had a suggestion that everyone agreed was a good idea and when proposed was summarily shit canned with some lame excuse. Basically it was lazy management all the way up the line that were fat and happy and knew would gain nothing stewarding an idea to implementation. Simply could not be bothered. ( Fleming trying to put the kibosh on Plotkin's " Bring Your Kid to Work Day" is a perfect example.) Now, apply that mindset to operational ideas and you see where the lack of innovative enthusiasm can be very damaging.

One time I had a very technical reserving suggestion that would have saved money. There was no disagreement that it would, over time, do exactly that and would be good. The idea was shit canned. My sense is the VP and Director didn't want to take the lead on it as it required buy in from Davie and a whole host of other folks. That in turn would have required them to get off their arses. If I knew then what I know now I would have pursued it further.

SAIF is a conservative financial institution, that just happens to sell w/c insurance that has the attitude "if it ain't broke why bother even discussing it....the employers will never know the difference and it will mean lot's of work for me".
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08/30/2014 16:49:39
Fair criticism, but surely you understand that the bureaucratic crawl you describe is hardly unique to SAIF. This management culture is endemic to most businesses of size and significance, particularly those that have been around awhile. It is virtually a given to exist in an insurance company which, by its very nature, operates conservatively and deliberately. When coupled with the facts that we don't operate entirely free of the state government bureaucracy, and that most of our top leaders throughout the years have come from within government, and one can more easily understand the etymology SAIF's management culture.

Can the status quo be changed? Perhaps. Should it change? Perhaps, in some ways. Might Mr. Plotkin have reshaped the company to be more responsive and nimble in addressing employee concerns and implementing good ideas? It seems likely, as he appeared to be headed in that direction until he was thwarted by those who apparently feared change of any kind.

Regardless of whether the board appoints Gilkey permanently or somehow manages to find a new person stupid or crazy enough, in light of recent events, to take the position, we cannot expect our company's management culture to change dramatically, now or in the future. A creative, energetic new CEO may succeed at implementing changes around the margins by encouraging and empowering employees at all levels to think and act creatively and communicate openly and freely, and by prioritizing the investigation and implementation of ideas that are likely to benefit the company, its employees and policyholders, and the delivery of services.

However, regardless of leadership, I do not think it likely that SAIF will ever be the responsive, nimble little entrepreneurial organization we'd like to see. That is just not possible, for the reasons described in my first paragraph.
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