EF Delegate Addresses Staff Needs at 5-Year Forum

November 2, 2012

As the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions plots the future of the university, an informal group of faculty, staff, and students organized a campus-wide event calling for greater diversity and additional representation in the planning process.

On October 23rd, the “Five Year Forum on the Future of UNC” featured speakers representing the voices of constituencies who have felt marginalized in the planning process. Student organizers distributed handouts highlighting the fact that staff have been allotted one representative, Charles Brink, for 31,850 constituents.

Employee Forum delegate Anna Schwab spoke on behalf of staff across the university. Schwab, Program Manager in the Center for the Study of Natural Hazards and Disasters, explained her investment in Carolina as an alum who has worked at the university since she was 14 years old, holding positions as varied as bicycle messenger, lab assistant, and program manager. She humorously illustrated how the university nurtured her early career as a student and allowed her to develop into her position now as a full-time EPA Non-faculty employee.

She emphasized the importance of a university that allows staff to bring new skills into the workplace, and argued in favor of encouraging staff retention to preserve institutional memory.

Schwab underscored staff concerns about the reduction of benefits, the removal of SPA staff from the protections offered by the State Personnel Act, and the attainment of a living wage for all university workers. She expressed concern about minorities clustered in low-paid positions in the Housekeeping department and the increased demands on those workers to achieve higher levels of efficiency with fewer staff as a result of recent layoffs.

Art Pope, a member of the UNC Advisory Committee on Strategic Directions and President of the John William Pope Foundation, attended the forum but was denied the opportunity to speak or respond to the concerns of the panelists. Several of the panelists had alluded to concerns about his presence on the Strategic Directions Committee and questioned his commitment to the public funding of higher education.

Despite requests for more direct representation of staff, students, and faculty on the committee, President Ross has instead appointed a 12-member Faculty Advisory Council to be responsible for providing input and communicating outward to faculty in all the system schools. Requests for more staff and student input have not been addressed to date.

The committee is expected to have a report drafted in January of next year, prior to the new legislative session.


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Jackie Overton’s University Day Speech

October 12, 2012

University Day 2012 Speech


To Chancellor Thorp, President Ross, Chairman Hargrove, Platform guests, Campus community.

In my quest to want my speech to fit in, I was going to deal with the water theme. My original speech was entitled: “Water, water everywhere: Water, water, why should we care?” I am sure our speaker for today will sufficiently address that topic because, from all indications, that is his passion.

My passion is people. Especially downtrodden people, people who feel invisible, people who feel they don’t have a voice. So I will stick with who and what I know.

The Employee Forum celebrated its 20th anniversary in March at the fabulous Friday Center. The event featured remarks from the four living Chancellors—Hardin, McCoy, Moeser and Thorp—with the keynote address by Kay Wijnberg Hovious, chief organizer and first Forum chair. We also had a featured presentation by retired employee Jeffery Beam. In 1998 Jeffery wrote a poem entitled “Song of the University Worker”. In 2008 the Forum adopted it as our official poem.

The poem begins with a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

The poem goes on to highlight many occupations that university workers do (cutting grass, scrubbing floors, typing letters, pushing papers, designing systems, managing processes, directing traffic). In the heat, in the cold, in the hurricane, in the snow. The constant refrain in the poem is: Behind you before you beside you with you. It is a continual reminder that although sometimes overlooked, the staff’s presence is both incalculable and invaluable to the successful running of this great university.

So to the students we say: Behind you before you beside you with you

The staff at Carolina will keep the halls, labs, grounds and classrooms clean and safe and functional to help provide you with the ideal learning environment. We will protect you, nurture you, serve you. That’s what we do. That’s who we are.

To the faculty, we say: Behind you before you beside you with you.

The staff at Carolina will keep this University running and clean and safe, even during severe economic conditions. Or inclement weather conditions. We will do everything to help you flourish because when you succeed, we succeed. That’s what we do. That’s who we are.

To the Board of Governors, Trustees, Alumni, and the Administration we say: Behind you before you beside you with you

The staff at Carolina will continue to give you our best until UNC is the BEST. Scandals don’t rock us, storms don’t shock us, allegations don’t stop us because we know that fundamentally-at our core-we are better than what we’ve experienced the past few years. We know that we are one of the premier learning institutions in the world and we will do our part to keep it that way. That’s what we do. That’s who we are.

Let me conclude my remarks by being a little non-traditional. This is one of the few events where faculty, staff and students convene together, so I am going to ask my friend and colleague, Jan Boxill, and the student leaders–Will and Michael–to come and join me as we salute our Chancellor.

To our beloved and beleaguered Chancellor, Holden Thorp, we say that for the next 8 months: Behind you before you beside you with you.

You have been a true champion to us and have given us unprecedented access to you, your office and your resources. Your commitment has been unfaltering and your support has been unwavering. You will always have our commitment and support in return. That’s what we do. That who we are.

Behind you before you beside you with you.

We are the University of North Carolina and we are Tar Heels.

Thank you,

Jackie Overton, Chair

Employee Forum

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Revised Teleworking Policy Now in Effect

October 12, 2012

The Office of Human Resources (OHR) has revised the current teleworking policy. A new review process for teleworking arrangements lasting longer than 90 days must be reviewed and pre-approved by the OHR. Employees must sign a Supplemental Conditions of Employment form and the employees department must submit a Teleworking Request Form. Questions about the new policy should be directed to the Office of Human Resources.

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AWFP Invites Staff to Join Organization

October 12, 2012

UNC-CH’s Association for Women Faculty and Professionals invites women staff to become official members. AWFP offers women faculty and professionals opportunities for fun, networking and learning through social activities, seminars, discussion groups and other events. Its diverse membership includes faculty, researchers, administrators, librarians, communicators, fundraisers, medical and legal professionals, and other UNC faculty and staff.

Its goals are to create a hospitable environment for women on this campus by promoting intellectual and social discourse, disseminating information concerning opportunities for women, and initiating programs that serve the interests of the members and benefit the university community.

If you are interested in becoming a member, please contact Cookie Newsom at newsom@email.unc.edu or go to awfp.web.unc.edu for more information.

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Reduction-in-force Change Reduces Protections

October 12, 2012

Recent changes to the Reduction-In-Force Policy diminishes the protections offered by priority status in hiring and makes it harder for laid off staff to maintain their pay rate and appointment status. The Office of State Personnel has amended its Reduction-in-Force (RIF) Policy to reflect new legislation written in House Bill 22 (Technical Corrections Act), passed in July of 2011. The RIF Policy specifies the rights and responsibilities of state employees regarding rehiring priority and state employers regarding hiring candidates with RIF-priority status.

The new policy affects state employees laid off on or after July 1, 2011. Staff laid off prior to July 1, 2011, are still subject to the previous Office of State Personnel Reduction-in-Force (RIF) Policy. The key changes to the policy are:

  • An RIF-priority candidate no longer retains priority status if they refuse an interview or job offer for a position whose pay rate or appointment status is below that of their previous position or if their new workplace is greater than 35 miles from their previous workplace.
  • Candidates that have “substantially equal qualifications” to any other candidate (internal or external to state government) must be offered the job.
  • Candidates that are hired at a lower pay rate than that of their previous position are no longer paid at their previous rate (or the nearest rate that the new grade maximum allows).
  • Employees notified of reduction-in-force prior to July 1, 2011, and whose priority had not lapsed before July 1, 2011, receive an additional twelve months of priority status.

Changes regarding the priority status when interviewing and accepting permanent positions is crucial. Under the previous policy, the RIF-priority candidate would retain priority status until that candidate is “returned to whole,” that is, when the candidate is returned to the same position level, salary grade, and appointment status as that of their previous position. But for those subject to the new policy, RIF priority ends when the candidate accepts any permanent position (whether full- or part-time) regardless of the new pay rate, position level, or appointment status. Additionally, the RIF-eligible applicant will lose RIF priority even if they refuse a job offer or a job interview for any permanent position for which they have applied.

Another important change regards compensation. Under the previous policy, employees that accepted permanent positions at pay rates lower than those of their previous positions were paid at their previous pay rates (or, at least, the maximum of the new grade). The new policy will not require pay to be equal or as near as possible to the previous pay rate.

The new policy also includes changes to priority qualification having to do with distance of the new workplace from the former one. Under the previous policy, an RIF-eligible employee would lose priority status only if that employee refused an interview or offer for a position within 35 miles of the employee’s original workplace and if the position was at a salary grade (or equivalent banded classification), salary rate, and appointment status equal or greater than the position from which they were laid off. This is no longer the case under the new policy. Under the new policy, an employee can lose priority status if he or she declines placement in a permanent position 35 miles or less from their original workplace after the initial 30-day notification of reduction but prior to separation.

Other important changes include: RIF candidates have priority over all other applicants to a position, not just external candidates; candidates notified of a layoff prior to July 1, 2011, and whose priority period has not ended, receive an extra twelve months of priority status; employees with at least twelve months of cumulative state service are afforded twelve months of coverage under the State Health Plan if they were covered by the plan at the time of separation; employees whose work hours are reduced due to loss of funds or work are no longer eligible for reduction-in-force priority and severance if they choose not to remain in the reduced position; and an employee can now appeal an RIF notification if that employee believes that the layoff was due to discrimination and not simply due to retaliation for opposition to discrimination.

–Lawrence Giffin, Chair of the Legislative Action Committee

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Forum Chair Jackie Overton’s Remarks at Sept. 21 Thorp Rally

September 24, 2012

Good afternoon. My name is Jackie Overton and I am the Chair of the Employee Forum. The Forum is an elected body of 60 delegates who are chosen to represent the needs of the almost 12000 staff employees to the Chancellor and his administration.

Usually when the Carolina family come together like this is it is when something tragic has happened—untimely death of a Chancellor (Hooker) in 1999, the events of September 11th 2001, the sudden death of SBP Eve Carson in 2008. We gather like this–in our hallowed Polk Place–to grieve, to find support, and to search for answers. Indeed this week has been no different, as our beloved and beleaguered Chancellor announced his resignation from this place that he loves. He loves Carolina so much that he feels it is in Carolina’s best interest for him to step aside so that Carolina can continue to shine without the negative spotlight from the past couple of years. That may be his logic (and it sounds good on paper especially to those who don’t know him), but that perspective is NOT shared by those of us gathered here today. So that is why we are here now: to share our sorrow at losing one of the best Chancellors that Carolina has ever had (and I am speaking from a 37 year lens); to show our remorse for not stepping up sooner to help shoulder more of his burdens nor to help deflect some of the negativity; and to solidify support for how we are going to move forward.

When I think of Chancellor Holden Thorp, this quote by John Wesley comes to mind:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Indeed he has done good for the staff of Carolina and for the students and for the faculty. That’s why we are here today. To show our love and support and especially our appreciation for him, no matter what his final decision is.

Thank you.

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Brenda Denzler’s Remarks at Sept. 21 Thorp Rally

September 24, 2012


I was highly skeptical about Holden Thorp’s selection as chancellor way back when. It seemed to me that he was awfully young for the post, and I suspected that he may have been chosen not just because he is bright and capable and energetic, but because it was believed that he would be malleable.

However, one of his first decisions as chancellor impressed me greatly (the one about the airport relocation) and began to make me wonder if I had misjudged him. What I quickly came to realize about Holden Thorp is that he is also a very principled man, with a great deal of integrity, a strong sense of fair play, and an unshakable commitment to openness and honesty.

Best of all, he truly wants to help. I know that Thorp has provided staff employees more access to his office and shown more active interest in staff concerns than we have seen in a long time. From the most humble levels of this university, to the most elevated, he wants to help people do their work here in the best way they can.

When “the best way they can” goes awry, under Thorp’s leadership the University has not tried to ignore or cover up the problems. Instead, he has helped our community to stand up with dignity and honor to accept responsibility —something that not all leaders would have countenanced—and then he has tried to do something about it.

While I have not agreed with everything Holden Thorp has done, and while I remain firmly opposed to his stance on one or two important staff issues, I also feel that the University could not have had a better leader for the last four years.

Throughout a time that has been difficult for us on so many levels, he has nevertheless made us a Triple-A institution:

Acclaimed in Academics…and
Awesome in Athletics…


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Assembly in Support of Chancellor Holden Thorp

September 20, 2012

You are invited to a Peaceful Assembly in Support of Chancellor Holden Thorp from noon-1 p.m. Friday, September 21.

Petitions available from 10-5 p.m. in the Pit, the Wilson Library Steps, and South Building Steps.

Flyer for Friday’s Assembly for Chancellor Thorp
Letter of Support from the Forum Executive Committee to Board of Governors Chair Peter Hans
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Authorized Work Time Allowances for Forum Delegates and Officers August 2012

August 22, 2012

Authorized Work Time Allowances Forum Delegates And Officers August 2012

Forum delegates are authorized to attend certain Forum activities and designate that time as work time in accordance with the following guidelines:

The following activities may be considered work time:

  •  One monthly meeting
  • One monthly executive committee meeting
  •  One monthly committee meeting
  • Two community meetings/year

Delegates are required to request and obtain approval in advance from their supervisors to attend the Forum activities specified above using the approval process already in place in their assigned work unit. Supervisors are encouraged to approve such requests when they do not unduly interfere with the activities of the organizational unit.

The maximum work time for the activities described above depends upon the role on the Forum. The Chair, Vice Chair, and other Executive Committee members are allocated additional time in recognition of the increased responsibilities and time requirements of these roles. Managers should anticipate the following maximum work time allowance:

  • Up to eight hours/month for delegates
  • Up to ten hours/month for Executive Committee members, Vice Chair, Secretary, Treasurer and Parliamentarian
  • Up to twenty hours/month for Chair

Work time spent attending Forum activities must be recorded as such in the Time Information Management (TIM) System. Instructions will be forwarded separately.

These guidelines will be communicated regularly to Forum delegates in Forum meetings and/or in new delegate orientation.

Click here to download a .pdf version of this policy.

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