Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/17/1995 03:15 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 236 - REDUCTION IN STATE EMPLOYEE COMPENSATION                           
 Number 078                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Representative Hanley, prime sponsor of HB 236,           
 to come forward.                                                              
 Number 078                                                                    
 MARK HANLEY, PRIME SPONSOR of HB 236, commented that there had been           
 a press conference three weeks ago on an overall five year                    
 financial plan.  They had discussed that there were three areas of            
 government that made up 75 percent of the spending.  Those include            
 education, health and social services, employee salaries and                  
 benefits.  He stated that overall employee salaries run about $700            
 million in general funds.  All three areas are growing at about               
 four percent per year.  The overall goal is to reduce spending $70            
 million below last year's budget.  He said without making                     
 reductions in those three areas, it would require incredible cuts             
 in the other 25 percent of the budget.  He stated it was not their            
 intent to balance the budget on the backs of state employees.                 
 There are major reductions in programs that will be affected                  
 throughout the budget, with people all over the state being                   
 affected.  There is the potential for graduated reduction in the              
 lower range salaries instead of the five percent across the board             
 reduction.  He said they are willing to look at areas that will not           
 utilize these particular tools, but the overall goal is to start              
 closing the gap on state spending.                                            
 REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY pointed out that the specifics of the                   
 existing bill is intended to be a five percent reduction for all              
 state employees including the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, who           
 were inadvertently left out.  He stated in the backup section of              
 the bill packets, there is information from the Department of                 
 Administration that gives statistics of relative levels of state              
 salaries compared to the private sector.  The average change in               
 salaries in 1980 to 1991, in the private sector, in comparison to             
 the inflation rate has lost 25 percent, whereas the state wages               
 have lost two percent.  He said that non-covered employees are paid           
 based on a salary schedule in statute, this bill makes a five                 
 percent reduction in those particular salaries.  For employees                
 covered under collective bargaining agreements, as their contracts            
 come up, this bill would require the Governor to negotiate a five             
 percent reduction in the value of those salaries and benefits.  The           
 reductions are required for all parties and are to exist for three            
 years.  Those who take the five percent reduction through the                 
 statutory chart change, at a particular date or those that have               
 their negotiations come up sooner, may take their reductions                  
 sooner, but they will last for three years.  The intent is that               
 everyone would take a five percent flat line and it would last for            
 three years, even though they're not implemented at the same time.            
 Whatever inequities exist, would exist throughout the process.                
 This does not attempt to equalize all of the contracts.                       
 Number 211                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if theoretically, you could have members within           
 the unions not taking any pay cuts.  For instance if the union had            
 just ratified a contract for three years, and a group of                      
 individuals within that group retired in two and a half years,                
 would they not take the cuts.                                                 
 REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY replied that would be correct, there would be           
 no penalty for those individuals.                                             
 Number 220                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA asked why they were singling out this bill              
 before the special session in October.                                        
 REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY asked if he was speaking of the Long Range              
 Planning Commission.                                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA responded yes.                                          
 REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY stated the point could be made that why                 
 should any reductions be made now, and the same point could be made           
 of why should we allow any increases.  He said their intent was to            
 put together a five year plan to try to make progress to that.  He            
 said if the commission comes back with some recommendations, they             
 will incorporate them into their plan.                                        
 Number 247                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked how they could implement the sliding            
 scale provisions.                                                             
 REPRESENTATIVE HANLEY commented that people were interested in                
 achieving the same net result but of having less of a reduction on            
 the lower end of the scale.  He said the concept was reasonable but           
 would take some time to work through it.                                      
 Number 280                                                                    
 stated that non-covered employees for the state have not had any              
 kind of increase since 1991.  At the present time they are 3.6                
 percent below most of the bargaining unit salaries.  Under the                
 terms of several recently negotiated contracts with the                       
 legislature, another 2.5 percent would be added to that.  The                 
 compounded effect of this will be a 6.2 percent difference between            
 non-covered employees and those protected by collective bargaining.           
 She said the State Personnel Board recommended consideration of an            
 adjustment of this schedule to 6.2 percent looking not only at                
 equity with private sector employers, but also internal equity                
 among state employees.  She continued there are several contracts             
 currently under negotiation.  Section 10 takes much of the                    
 bargaining aspect out of collective bargaining.  Once parties reach           
 impasse, the unilateral implementation of changes to compensation             
 of members could not be done as this legislation envisions.  She              
 explained there are three classes of employees in the State.  Class           
 one employees are not permitted to strike, they include police and            
 fire employees, general prison and correctional employees, and                
 hospital employees.  State statute provides that those employees,             
 should they reach impasse, would go to mediation.  If that was not            
 successful, they would go to arbitration.  Class two employees                
 include public utilities, snow removal, and sanitation employees.             
 If they were to reach impasse, they go to mediation.  If mediation            
 is unsuccessful, they are able to strike.  Class three employees              
 are able to strike if impasse is reached.  Her concern in this                
 section is that there is no anticipation of strike resolution.  If            
 they are bound by an inability to negotiate compensation under any            
 conditions then the five percent reduction and the employees go to            
 Number 331                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked Ms. Elgee to explain how she came up            
 with the 6.2 percent.                                                         
 MS. ELGEE stated that the last pay adjustment for non-covered                 
 employees was passed by the 1991 legislature.  Since that time,               
 employees covered by collective bargaining have received additional           
 increases.  The non-covered employees are 3.6 percent, below the              
 Alaska Public Employees Association (APEA) employees.  She said               
 many of the other smaller units that currently have contracts under           
 consideration by the legislature would include an additional 2.5              
 percent in conjunction with a 40 hour work week.  The compounding             
 effect of these two actions will make the non-covered employees, as           
 of July 1, 6.2 percent below the majority of union members.                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked if the first integer was 3.6 percent            
 and if it had a compounding affect over the life of the average               
 MS. ELGEE replied that it was 3.6 percent with 2.5 percent on top             
 of the already adjusted base.  The accumulated effect being 6.2               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT pointed out that there were bills in both the House             
 and Senate that would close that gap.                                         
 Number 364                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA asked if the Administration supports this               
 MS. ELGEE responded that they had not taken a position on the bill            
 number 368                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked her to comment on Section 10, as to whether or            
 not she could suggest any compromise language that could resolve              
 the no strike provision of the bill.                                          
 MS. ELGEE stated that she would talk to the labor relations analyst           
 to see if they have suggestions that might work.                              
 CHAIRMAN KOTT announced that the Speaker of the House, Gail                   
 Phillips, had joined the meeting.                                             
 Number 379                                                                    
 that he had major problems with the substantive contents of this              
 legislation.  He pointed out the non-covered, including judicial              
 employees, have not had a raise in a much longer period than their            
 union counterparts.  He also stated that the 3.6 percent that the             
 Executive Branch talks about should be compounded back to when this           
 raise was given to the unions.  The non-unions have lost the use of           
 that money.  The State Personnel Board, has suggested the                     
 following:  While it appears that state employees are generally               
 adequately compensated, in most job classes the non-represented               
 employees have not received reasonable cost of living increases,              
 received by and offered to represented employees.  The State                  
 Personnel Act requires that the statutory pay plan reflect the                
 principal of like pay, for like work, (AS 39.25.150 2B).  He                  
 continued that the law further requires that the annual pay                   
 schedule be developed, taking into account the statistics and                 
 reasonable internal pay relationships.(AS 39.27.035).  This report            
 suggests that there is a 6.2 percent pay gap.  He stated that we              
 are violating statute right now, and he believes that they are                
 balancing the budget on the backs of the employees, mainly because            
 of the sponsor's statement that the unions would only take a                  
 reduction for the term of their contract.  He stated that when you            
 change the statute, it could be forever.  It doesn't say for three            
 years and then it sunsets.  He pointed out that 70 percent of the             
 court system employees are a range 15 or under.  These people are             
 on the edge of having to receive assistance.  He said that 200 of             
 his employees have already organized, and if this legislation                 
 passes, they'll be hanging out a sign that says "Union Shop."  He             
 said if they want fairness, take the union cuts first once they've            
 achieved those, then they can cut the general pay schedule.  He               
 said that they would then be even and they wouldn't have to cut the           
 general pay as much because unions are already in front of the                
 non-covered in regard to salaries.                                            
 MR. SNOWDEN passed out a document that would take the committee               
 through the judicial side of his testimony.  He disagreed with                
 Representative Hanley's remarks that the state employees had not              
 taken a big hit on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  He illustrated            
 that when you adjust for cost of living that, for example, a                  
 Supreme Court Judge in Atlanta, makes `X' amount and the CPI in               
 Atlanta is `X', a judge in Anchorage makes `Y' and the CPI in                 
 Anchorage is 'Y', based on this report, Alaska's Supreme Court                
 ranks 35th in the nation in pay.  On page 2, it shows the                     
 Intermediate Court of Appeals ranks thirty-third in the nation.               
 The general trial court is thirty-fourth.  He said that since 1975,           
 the Supreme Court judges have lost approximately $17,000 in                   
 purchasing power.  In 1989, the legislature had to provide the                
 judges approximately an $18,000 pay raise because the only                    
 applicants they were getting were out of the public sector;                   
 private sector attorneys wouldn't even apply.  He stated they need            
 to provide a range that attracts some of the most skilled attorneys           
 in the state to the bench.  With this reduction, our courts would             
 drop to forty-fifth in the nation, in salary.  He added judicial              
 employees work two and a half hours more, per week, than the                  
 Executive Branch;  they don't receive overtime until after 40                 
 hours.  They process over 140,000 cases, per year, and they didn't            
 receive the last pay raise.  He asked that the committee change               
 their priorities and demand that the unions negotiate these cuts              
 and, at that point in time, bring the non-covered employees into              
 parody with the unions.                                                       
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked where the document came from.                             
 Number 468                                                                    
 MR. SNOWDEN stated that they took from the National Center of State           
 Courts, their report on salaries of judges in all states, and the             
 report from census bureau on the CPI.  He said that they matched              
 these across the country and made the reductions accordingly.                 
 Number 470                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG made the comment that it would be                     
 interesting to see these same graphs, along with the price of oil,            
 adjusted for inflation.  He said this might help everyone put                 
 things in prospective.                                                        
 MR. SNOWDEN stated that since 1975, a range 24 wage has increased             
 by 165 percent, a range ten has increased by 177 percent, a                   
 superior court judge by 99 percent.  These are well behind the                
 other state employees.  In reference to Representative Hanley's               
 recommendation that they start at two percent for lower ranges,               
 graduated for the middle range, and more for the upper ranges, the            
 personnel studies show that the highest paid executives in the                
 state are well under paid.  The Commissioner of Health and Social             
 Services, running a $300 million organization, makes $78,000, he              
 said if there is a negative adjustment for the private sector, it's           
 in the middle.  Therefore, adjusting the salaries as suggested by             
 Representative Hanley, would further exacerbate this problem at the           
 top.  He understands the problems of the state.  However, if they             
 want to cut everybody, don't take the uncovered first this time.              
 Number 496                                                                    
 ALLEN ODELL, testifying via teleconference, said he is an operator            
 for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities                    
 (DOT/PF).  He said that he is opposed to HB 236.  His major concern           
 was with them bypassing collective bargaining.  He asked if                   
 troopers and teachers would be included in the pay cuts.                      
 CHAIRMAN KOTT responded that yes, there is that provision.                    
 Number 509                                                                    
 (AFSCME), said he is the chief spokes person for the General                  
 Government Unit (GGU) at the collective bargaining, currently                 
 taking place, testified via teleconference.  He agreed with the               
 Administration's concerns about the effect of HB 236 on collective            
 bargaining.  He feels that it takes the bargaining out of                     
 collective bargaining and is a detriment to the whole process.  He            
 said he is concerned about the numbers that have been thrown about.           
 The last collective bargaining agreement was January 1990, since              
 that time the CPI has increased by 19 percent.  Their wages have              
 increased by eight percent.  He said that this may be more than the           
 unchartered employees, but he encourages all uncovered employees to           
 "organize, organize, organize."                                               
 MR. SEWARD said that through various negotiations, proposals and              
 research he has done a great deal of comparisons with the private             
 sector.  He said that the numbers he uses are generated by the                
 Department of Labor.  He found that the average hourly wage,                  
 monthly wage and work week for members of the GGU remain in the               
 middle of the private sector.  In the mining and construction                 
 industries, we do much worse.  In the retail trades, we make a                
 better average wage.  He stated that in going from work site to               
 work site, as a business agent for the unions, he has come to                 
 believe the workers in the field are running a fat free operation.            
 He said that Alaska needs to decide what services are no longer               
 needed and, in that way, shrink the size of government.                       
 Number 540                                                                    
 DEBRA CHRISTIANSEN, testifying via teleconference, said she has               
 been employed with the state since 1986.  She said she is a Native            
 Alaskan, single mother of three and is currently a range 10                   
 grossing $526 per week.  She explained that six months ago her                
 children's father filed for a garnishment of her wages.  The state            
 finance office notified the courts that she did not make enough               
 money for a garnishment.  She said that if the legislature                    
 decreases her wages five percent over the next three years, her day           
 care and housing costs would still remain the same.  At that time,            
 it would behoove her to quit her job, obtain food stamps and any              
 other assistance that is out there.  She closed by stating that               
 "our elected officials profess to believe in the sanctity of the              
 Alaskan family.  But Alaskans are seeing with HB 236, is to the               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT thanked Ms. Christianson for her testimony and                  
 commented that the bill sponsor had made comments on the                      
 possibility of graduating the percentages.  He stated that if this            
 bill did come to fruition, she would be affected very minimally.              
 MS. CHRISTIANSEN stated that any decrease in her salary would                 
 affect her children and she could not afford it, period.  The                 
 people that she works with can't afford it.  She said if you                  
 decrease her salary by even one percent, she wouldn't be able to              
 meet her living costs.                                                        
 Number 565                                                                    
 HB 236. He said it is inconstant with both the collective                     
 bargaining and merit system.  Bargaining units are established on             
 the basis of a community of interest.  He said that each group is             
 unique, or it wouldn't be its own bargaining unit.  He said that we           
 all have different demands, and working conditions.  They deal with           
 these issues through the bargaining process.  To establish an                 
 across the board cut ignores this process.  He said that the state            
 has the responsibility to establish wages.  Many people think that            
 the unions go in and negotiate the wages, however, the Supreme                
 Court took this away from them several years ago.  He said the only           
 thing they negotiate is the salary schedule.  The state has the               
 right to put classes at different levels.  Depending on the                   
 statute, they may put a clerk typist at a range 6, 8, or 10.  He              
 said that he represents the supervisory unit employees (middle                
 management).  In the last ten years, they have received four                  
 increases.  In 1985, they received a 3.5 percent; in 1990, it was             
 3.3 percent; 1991 was 5 percent; and in 1992, they received a 3.6             
 percent increase.  He said that they had a 3.8 percent scheduled              
 for 1996, but voluntarily gave that up when the price of oil                  
 dropped.  He said hundreds of their members volunteered to a                  
 reduced work week and to leave without pay.  The raises that they             
 have received are 27.8 percent behind the Anchorage CPI since 1993,           
 taking into account the 6.6 percent increase that is before the               
 legislature at this time, negotiated during the Hickel                        
 Administration.  He said they have substantially cut their health             
 plan, holidays, travel and premium pays.                                      
 TAPE 95-20 SIDE A,                                                            
 Number 000                                                                    
 MR. LUDWIG pointed out that everyone knows that the oil money is              
 tapering off and they aren't going to have the money they used to.            
 He suggests that the state figure out which programs they don't               
 want to operate, or let the employees within the Administration try           
 to mitigate and keep as many programs from going with a certain               
 amount of money to accomplish that.  He closed by saying taking               
 five percent from everyone is not a good idea.  They should bury              
 the bill, and "let it rest in peace."                                         
 Number 015                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked Mr. Ludwig to summarize the second                        
 Number 020                                                                    
 MR. LUDWIG stated that they are currently working with the                    
 Administration to create a labor management program with the                  
 different state unions.  Their goal is to identify ways of cutting            
 costs by giving workers a target figure.  For example, "Joe" is two           
 years away from retirement.  If we can find a way to have him                 
 retire early, that would save `X' amount of dollars.  "Mary" wants            
 to be a programmer.  If we can get her training, that would leave             
 her position vacant.  He said maybe there is no alternative but to            
 layoff.  However, the employees are the ones that do the work and             
 have the best ideas on how best to do it.                                     
 Number 144                                                                    
 DON ETHERIDGE, PUBLIC EMPLOYEES LOCAL 71, testified that Local 71             
 just finished negotiations with the Administration.  Both sides               
 feel the negotiations were fair, both sides had concessions in that           
 contract.  He said that it wouldn't be fair for this contract to              
 now be thrown out after spending so much time and effort on the               
 negotiations.  They are opposed to a five percent cut in any form.            
 He said in the contract, they voluntarily went to a 40 hour work              
 week with no wage increase.  They did this because they were tired            
 of public ridicule for not putting in a 40 hour work week.  He said           
 that the only thing they wanted with this was their hourly wage.              
 They were offered an increase, at the table, and declined.  He                
 stated that Local 71 has probably been the hardest hit in any of              
 the state bargaining units since the 1986 cuts.  The Buildings                
 Division in Juneau had 33 employees in the 1970s to take care of              
 all buildings in the Juneau area.  Today there are seven caring for           
 those same buildings.  He said that there was more maintenance                
 staff taking care of the Capitol Building, than there are taking              
 care of the rest of the state buildings in the area.  He said that            
 Local 71 has had no step increases, except for longevity, which is            
 three percent after seven years, another three percent after your             
 ninth year.                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA asked if the maintenance people in the                  
 Capitol building were all working for the legislature.                        
 MR. ETHERIDGE responded "yes," they work for Legislative Affairs.             
 However, when the Capitol Building was taken from the Division of             
 Buildings, they also took two employees and then gave the Division            
 of Buildings back maintenance of the third floor.                             
 REPRESENTATIVE KOTT referred to the 40 hour work week, and asked if           
 they were compensated for the extra two and a half hours, and                 
 didn't take a wage increase beyond that.                                      
 MR. ETHERIDGE said that they will be paid the base rate for the               
 extra hours                                                                   
 Number 144                                                                    
 GINA SAMUELS testified via teleconference that she is a 25 year               
 resident, and a 10 year state employee for the Department of                  
 Corrections at the Wildwood Pretrial Facility in Kenai.  She                  
 disagrees with the five percent pay cut.  She said that 75 percent            
 of the state employees are under a range 15.  She herself is a                
 range 10 and can't afford a pay cut.  She said that there are other           
 ways money can be cut from the budget.  She said she cannot                   
 understand how the legislature can even consider cutting state                
 employees wages when the Eighteenth Legislative Council voted to              
 increase their per diem rate.  She asked how can it be fair to                
 raise per diem rates and then turn around and cut employees wages.            
 She noted that the sponsor of HB 236, along with Chairman Kott and            
 Speaker Phillips, were the people that voted for this increase.               
 She asked that they consider that the bulk of state workers do not            
 make big bucks.  The loss of this money is also a loss to the                 
 communities and local economies.                                              
 Number 192                                                                    
 ELAINA SPRAKER testified via teleconference against HB 236.  She              
 said that she is married to area biologist, Ted Spraker, who works            
 for the Department of Fish and Game.  She said it is obvious that             
 supporters of this bill are balancing the state budget on the backs           
 of the state employees.  She indicated she speaks on behalf of the            
 many of the Department of Fish and Game employees, in using her               
 husband and family as an example.  Her husband averages 60 hours              
 per week.  She said last week, three of the days he worked were 18            
 to 20 hours, per day, with no overtime pay.  Any compensation he              
 receives in his pay, which is called "hazardous pay," is a whopping           
 $2.11 per hour.  She enlightened the committee as to what hazardous           
 pay has included:  One plane crash, one helicopter crash, he fell             
 off the side of a mountain while taking goats, has been bitten by             
 wolves, kicked by moose and crawled into many bear dens, but the              
 most dangerous hazard that he endures is when people don't realize            
 the dedication that he has to his job.  She said that his                     
 colleagues with the same number of years in the department have               
 also endured these hazards as well and she has rarely heard them              
 complain.  Most the employees in the Soldotna Fish and Game Office            
 have not had a pay raise in ten years.  She stated that this gives            
 her heartburn.  With her husbands busy schedule, he is very hard to           
 reach.  Many people call their house figuring that since she lives            
 with him that she too works for the state.  She said that she has             
 personally donated hours and hours of public service to the                   
 department, and is glad to do it because she supports her husband,            
 the Department of Fish and Game and the state of Alaska.  If she is           
 willing to do this, the legislature should be willing to do so                
 also.  HB 236 is taking direct aim at destroying one of the highest           
 standards of resource management in the United States by cutting              
 wages and budgets from skilled and dedicated people.  The wildlife            
 scientist will soon become underpaid historians.  She pointed out             
 that most of the funding from the Department of Fish and Game comes           
 from permits and licensees.  The five percent cut would be very               
 Number 236                                                                    
 PAT MOSS, testified via teleconference that she had been employed             
 with the state since 1989.  She is a 21 year Alaska resident.  She            
 said when she went to work for the state, she took a 50 percent pay           
 cut from her private sector job.  That job, due to automation, was            
 done away with.  She reiterated that low range employees would be             
 very much affected by this.  There hasn't been any cost of living             
 decrease.  She observed that in talking with many of her                      
 co-workers, they were willing to accept a wage freeze, but they are           
 not willing to take a reduction.  What concerns them is the                   
 continued addition of legislative mandates for more work, longer              
 hours with no additional pay and now this five percent decrease in            
 salary.  She said the Department of Labor, Unemployment and Job               
 Placement Division, has experienced a 33 percent staffing                     
 attrition.  Another office within the Department of Labor, has lost           
 more than 50 percent in the past two years, yet are asked to do the           
 same job.  She pointed out that the legislature had said they                 
 intended to reduce all government spending, yet the teachers just             
 negotiated a contract.  The way education handles decreases in                
 money is that they don't decrease salaries of teachers or                     
 administrators, they decrease programs.  She commented that the               
 University of Alaska, Fairbanks campus, is a mess.  The buildings             
 are dilapidated with paint peeling, water dripping and yet, they              
 build a huge new home for the chancellor.                                     
 Number 280                                                                    
 CHAIRMAN KOTT appreciated that state employees are doing more with            
 Number 295                                                                    
 EMPLOYEES LOCAL 52, reemphasized the previous testimony of members            
 of his union.  He stated that they are a 8,600 member bargaining              
 unit currently in the middle of bargaining contracts.  The                    
 Administration is doing a very good job negotiating that contract             
 to be in the best interest of the state of Alaska.  The offers put            
 across the table are evidence that the legislature is getting a               
 good bargaining position from the state.  He said that they haven't           
 had a pay raise since 1992, the cost of living has gone up, their             
 pay has stayed level.  The purchasing power of the dollar has been            
 reduced.  He said that they are not opposed to a pay freeze, but              
 most of these people are range 10 and below.  They qualify for                
 public assistance.  There are state employees that are on public              
 assistance.  If you ask them to take an additional five percent               
 cut, the number of people opting for welfare assistance will                  
 increase.  He stated that this isn't something they want to see               
 happen, and they go on record as opposed to a pay reduction.  He              
 said that it should be left to collective bargaining to allow them            
 to negotiate a reasonable salary for all state employees.                     
 Number 319                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JERRY SANDERS asked if the $526.50 received by the             
 lady who testified previously, if this was gross or net.                      
 MR. PUTNAM thought this would be her gross salary.  He said that              
 people on public assistance would have to make over $11 an hour to            
 make it reasonable to come off public assistance.  He said that               
 there are state employees making less than that.                              
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there was anyone else wishing to testify on            
 HB 236.  Hearing none he stated that they would hold HB 236 over              
 until the next committee meeting.                                             

Document Name Date/Time Subjects