February 18, 2014 Executive Committee minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Dan Barmmer, Tiffany Carver, Lois Douglass-Alston, Yvonne Dunlap, David Fraley, Jim Fuller, Michael Highland, James Holman, Shelby Long, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Charles Streeter

Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m.  He said that since the minutes had only gone out the previous day, he would postpone the vote to approve until March.

The Chair noted sign-up issues with the credit monitoring service that the University has relied on to help people whose data was exposed in the recent breach.  He noted that employees have until April to sign up.  Michael Highland said that employees can use the phone number in the letter to sign up for the service.  The Chair said that he had tried to make employees’ concerns clear at the recent Board of Trustees’ meeting.  He asked if the Forum should pursue creating a workshop on privacy.  James Holman asked what would occur if employees’ credit is affected following the breach.  Will the University help them then?  The Chair said that it was unknown what the credit monitoring service will offer.  He said that those freezing their credit scores may have to pay and unfreeze them when needed.  Michael Highland thought that a workshop on personal protection would be a good idea.  The Chair was uncertain what the Forum could otherwise do.  Matt McKirahan said that a workshop may not be as cost-effective as a PowerPoint or FAQs document on protection.  He said that the Forum’s website would be a good place to host this information.  This option would take a quarter of the time and none of the resources that creating a workshop would require.

Jim Fuller said that employees want some safeguard that the breach will not happen again.  The Chair said that revised ITS policies have set harsh penalties for non-compliance with directives on how to protect data.  Fuller commented that this step seemed reactive.  The Chair recommended that the Forum officially draft a resolution reflecting employee thoughts on the issue.  Dan Barmmer suggested that the University actively track employees use of credit monitoring via the call center it had commissioned in the wake of the problem.  Michael Highland thought that the University could implement this tracking when employees change their password.  Highland thought that this monitoring is the responsibility of Information Technology Services to get information out to employees in a timely manner.  The Chair said that he would work on the proposed resolution.

Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report.  He said that he would provide more details about some of the entries in the February report.  The Chair noted that the Forum had asked that $1,000 from the Staff Development fund go to the Carolina Campus Community Garden.  He also suggested that the Forum do something to mark Earth Day on April 22.  He asked that the group consider this idea in March.

Dan Barmmer noted that the proposed Bylaws changes will undergo a first reading at the March meeting.  Other changes to the Bylaws will be presented in April.

Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Campus Community Garden has studied options for a garden greenhouse.  The garden is also planning a “weed dating” event in combination with a faculty and Greek mixer.

Matt McKirahan said that the Education and Career Development committee had not met in January and had not discussed possible changes to the Professional Development grant applications.

The Chair welcomed students Tait Chandler, Jasmine Ruddy, Anurag Angara to make a presentation on the University’s Use of Coal.  The group sought a sign of support from the Forum for divestment from the “Filthy 15” energy companies.  Tait Chandler said that there is a moral and economic claim for divestment.  He noted that nine universities and 22 major cities have divested from coal companies.  He noted that the UNC-Chapel Hill student body had voted 77% in favor to divest from coal.  He noted that the Campus Y, the RHA and an almost unanimous vote of the UNC-Chapel Hill Student Congress all supported divestment.  Jasmine Ruddy noted that the coal industry costs the nation $300-500 million health care costs.  She noted that coal creates more CO2 than other energy sources and so accelerates climate change.  Anurag Angara said that coal extraction is destructive to the landscape and does not today create more jobs as extraction is more automated.  He noted that UNC has recognized that mountaintop removal of coal as detrimental to the environment.  He also noted that 120 of 520 plants have been shut down in the last 2.5 years, making the University’s investment in coal a poor future bet that has a higher value now than it will in the future.  He noted that the University is a leader in sustainability and has committed itself to converting to biomass by 2020.  Chandler noted that divestment is a powerful tool to change the public discourse and has been endorsed by the chief of the World Bank.  He said that the University will likely have statistically insignificant impact on its bottom line and could likely see positive attention leading to more alumni donations.

The Chair said that the Executive Committee would not act by itself but rather would direct the students to seek the approval of the full Forum.  Jim Fuller noted that UNC has the 13th cleanest coal-burning plant in the United States.  He said that the University will still need power to heat and cool its buildings without the coal plant.  Matt McKirahan asked if UNC would be the most nationally known institution to divest under this proposal.  Jasmine Ruddy said that San Francisco State University is the only other public university to have divested so far.  She said that UNC-Chapel Hill’s endowment is much larger than any of the other universities which have divested.  Michael Highland asked how much of the University’s endowment would be divested.  It was estimated that around $100 million would be redistributed throughout the University’s energy portfolio.

Yvonne Dunlap asked how many employees would be affected in the coal plant.  It was noted that the coal plant will not be shut down in 2020, but rather will be converted to burn wood pellets.  Michael Highland asked if the strategy is to divest immediately.  Tait Chandler said that the coalition would work out a schedule with the University, perhaps first halting new investment then divesting over five years or so.  Highland worried about the University’s relations with Duke Energy and the hypocrisy of accepting power from a company from which the University has divested.  Highland also asked how the University would deal with the backlash from any source.  Anurag Angara said that the University will likely see positive feedback from such a decision.  The Chair asked when the coalition had discussed its ideas with the Faculty Council, and Angara said that they have not done this yet.  He also asked if the coalition had presented its ideas to Chancellor Folt, and the coalition said that they have not done this yet either.

The Chair noted that the Membership & Assignments committee was working on Forum elections and the March social.

Yvonne Dunlap said that the Personnel Issues committee had met to discuss the 24-month probationary period.  The committee considered writing a resolution not supporting the change.  Gena Carter confirmed that the committee knows that the legislation is mandated.  James Holman said that he had submitted his resignation as the chair of the committee.

Michael Highland reported that the Recognition & Awards committee had met the previous week.  The peer recognition event has moved to May 26 to accommodate the notary public class scheduled for May 20.  The Chair noted the new Office of State Human Resources service recognition program.  Highland proposed that the Forum find out if employees can retroactively get one of the gifts on offer.

The Chair noted that the Staff Assembly will have a videoconference on February 25.  James Holman said that the Human Resources, Diversity, and Benefits (HRDB) committee had held a conference call to discuss the 24-month probationary period and the possibility of a pay raise resolution.

The Chair reported that the Executive Committee will likely receive a technology update in March regarding creation of a home directory for the Forum.  He said that he and other Forum delegates are running out of room on their personal computers to place Forum photos and other items.  He noted that the Vice Chancellor/Provost meeting will likely cover the adverse weather and data breach subjects.  He noted that the Forum will hear a presentation from representatives of the campus blood drive, Vice Chancellor Chris Kielt, and other speakers.  He said that he would ask Cheryl Stout to reschedule her presentation until May.

Jim Fuller noted that Facilities Services employees have received a $20 increase in their voucher for safety shoes.  He said that the Forum should thank the University for this act.  James Holman said that the shoes Facilities Services employees need still cost more than the voucher is worth.

The Chair called for a vote on the Coalition Beyond Coal proposal to present to the Forum at a future meeting.  Tiffany Carver made this motion seconded by Arlene Medder.  Jim Fuller said that he knows people who work at the plant who might have their job cut eventually.  Carver said that the coal plan is being converted, not abandoned.  She said that employees’ jobs are not on the line.  Fuller said that the alternatives to coal cost twice as much to perform the same function.  Carver noted the number of deaths attributed to coal use.

Matt McKirahan noted the political ramifications of the Forum refusing to do anything on this issue.  Michael Highland wanted a clear statement on what the Coalition wants the Forum to endorse.  McKirahan said that it was clear what the Coalition had requested:  the divestment of University investments from the ‘Filthy 15’ companies.  Divestment should have nothing to do with employee jobs.

Jim Fuller wanted to know what was better than coal for providing energy.  Lois Douglass-Alston wanted assurances that this divestment will not affect employees’ jobs, or, in general, an assessment of the divestment’s potential impact on employees.  The Chair said that he was willing to have the Coalition tailor its topics to the Forum audience but did not want to have the Coalition change its campaign.  The Chair said that the Coalition should know that the Forum will not likely take a vote on the question that day.  Michael Highland wanted information from all viewpoints.

Dan Barmmer wanted to know if the Coalition has worked with conservative groups.  Tiffany Carver noted the support of the Student Congress and 77% of all students voting in a recent referendum.  The Chair called for a vote on the motion.  The motion was approved with nine in favor, two abstentions, and one opposing.  The Chair said that he would e-mail the group to ask them to speak to the Forum in April.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 1:04 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

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