Agenda — August 4, 2004

9:30 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

I.          Call to Order

II.         Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III.            Opening Remarks

IV.       Special Presentations

· Chief Derek Poarch, on University Security

V.        Employee Presentations or Questions

VI.       July 7, 2004 Minutes

VII.      Old Business

VIII.     New Business

IX.        Stretch Time 6

X.         Forum Committee Reports

· Personnel Issues: Delita Wright

· University Assignments:  Tom Arnel

· Career Development: Curtis Helfrich

· Communications: Brian White

Þ    Forum Newsletter

· Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards: Dixie Bloom

· Employee Presentations:  Katherine Graves

· Nominating: Patti Prentice

Þ    Forum Elections

· Orientation:  Meredith Clason

XI.        Chair’s Report (Executive Committee):  Tommy Griffin

XII.       Task Force/University Committee Reports

· Advisory Committee on Transportation—Tommy Griffin

· Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace—Tommy Griffin

· University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee—Tommy Griffin

· Carolina North Project—Tommy Griffin

XIII.      Announcements/Questions

XIV.     “Go Around the Room”

XV.      Adjournment

P = Included in Agenda Packet

MINUTES

August 4, 2004 Employee Forum Minutes

The Chair called the meeting to order at 9:31 a.m.  Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest gave the Human Resources report, particularly noting the pay raises recently agreed upon.  SPA Employees will receive either $1000 raise or a 2.5% raise, whichever the greater, effective July 1.  This Friday’s paycheck will include the retroactive account.  EPA Employees will receive an allocation equal to 2.5% of their salary distributed through the BD-119 process, out in the September paycheck and retroactive to July 1.  State employer contribution to the SPA retirement program will increase from 5.77% to 5.185%and to the optional retirement program from 10.45% to 10.58%.

Study committees looking at the State Personnel Commission plan to report February 15.  The committee may make a recommendation to implement a unified leave policy, combining vacation and sick leave into one grouping.  The committee will submit an interim report on SPA issues in 2005 and a full report in 2006.  So, nothing regarding changes with the Office of State Personnel should occur for 2 years or so.  The committee will also amend the definition of disability, making it more difficult to qualify for short-term disability.  The committee will look at definitions related to long-term disability.

Terry Brady asked how the State would treat accumulated sick leave that would normally turn over to retirement leave under a combined leave policy.  Charest said that she did not know what the State would do, but she noted that the Health Care System had resolved the question by establishing a short-term bank for leave.  Other questions will arise about holiday and community service leave under a combined system.  Kirk McNaughton said that the State will particularly need to allay concerns about cashing in vacation bonus leave under the new system.

McNaughton asked about the rate of teachers’ salaries.  Charest did not recall, but she thought that teachers received a 2.5% increase.  Mary Johnson asked about possible changes in the long-term disability program for children.  Charest said that this information would soon be posted onto the Human Resources website.

Concerning the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace, Charest said that the task force had received proposals for all 34 recommendations that it had all forwarded to the University Budget Committee.  The budget committee will make allocations for these proposals within the overall University budget, but had not made funding decisions yet.  Some proposals will not require funding, while others already have dedicated funding, such as the ombudsperson’s office.

The ombudsperson’s office will support one full-time EPA non-faculty employee and one full-time SPA support person.  The first round of applications interviewed 230 candidates.  Employees will meet some of the finalist candidates once the number is cut down.

The Forum proposal for a computer loan program has led to the purchase of ten laptops that should be ready for check-out by September 1.  Human Resources plans to communicate with eligible Employees about the North Carolina Health Choice program.  The University has held a summer work fair for faculty and staff.  The grievance procedure review committee is now receiving recommendations and should report by September 15.  The University is working on final details for its emergency loan program (Employees earning $25,000 or less are eligible).  The University will host an Employee appreciation event October 15 focusing on career and professional development.  The University will also expand the number of Massey awards presented each year.  All of these accomplishments precede funding approval for others programs by the budget committee.

With regard to health insurance, next year looks to be a difficult time given projected 12% increases in plan costs.  Employees will have the chance to enroll spouses and children during the current enrollment period.  Any changes to Employees’ coverage plans must be submitted to Human Resources by August 23 for SPA Employees and September 15 for EPA Employees.

North Carolina Flex plan enrollment will take place in October through November 5.  Pacific Insurance plans rate increases in its dental plan as well as changes in its rate structure.  The new rate structure will charge an Employee rate, an Employee plus spouse rate, an Employee plus child and children rate, and an Employee plus spouse and children rate.  These will be significant increases.  Employees might want to look at the University’s Fortis dental insurance program, which will also see a modest price increase.  Individuals may find the Fortis plan cheaper but lacking the Flex plan’s tax savings.  Employees can also use the flexible health care spending account to cover dental costs.

The North Carolina Flex plan will add a cancer insurance option as well as a pretax life insurance option.  Currently the University offers an aftertax life insurance option.  Life insurance purchased on a pretax basis is taxable on pay out, so Employees should consider their options carefully.  North Carolina Flex has implemented a discount plan for enrollees that applies when shopping at certain stores.  Additionally, enrollees can choose a credit card option instead of filing reimbursements for a $6 a year fee.

Concerning Information Technology career banding, Charest said that Human Resources had received information on 792 of 794 positions.  Human Resources has forwarded all received positions to the Office of State Personnel (OSP), which has reviewed the vast majority submitted and asked for additional information on only 59.  Human Resources will communicate with departments about any further questions and position placements by the end of August.  Joanne Kucharski clarified a point about acceptance of departmental position placements and the Office of State Personnel’s approval process.  Charest said that departments which have not heard from Human Resources concerning their submittals should assume by now that OSP has approved them.

Chuck Brink asked about the enforced submittal of social security numbers and PID numbers in Facilities Services shops.  These lists of numbers are left out in the open for anyone to see.  He recalled that earlier Employees had to submit only the last four digits of their social security number.  Charest said that she could not directly answer this question but would take the issue to payroll.  She said that social security numbers should not be left in the open.  She would ask about the need for the full social security number on each timesheet submitted.

The Chair introduced Chief Derek Poarch to make a special presentation on building security and parking issues.  Poarch said that the University secures buildings through alarms, key access, card access, automatic door locks, and permanent and part-time security guards.  Security guards lock some buildings daily while other buildings are locked each afternoon to prevent further unauthorized entry.  Public Safety bases its orders on each building upon the kind of building occupants.  Generally, Public Safety unlocks buildings at 7-7:45 a.m. and locks them again at 10 p.m. on weekends.  From 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., a permanent security guard locks buildings while from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays, two security guards lock other buildings.  Housekeeping staff unlock buildings during the evenings.  Buildings will sometimes contract a part-time security guard to work evenings and weekends.  Each building decides what it wants its guard to do, and the tasks vary from building to building.  Tasks include walking rounds on the exterior of the building or on certain floors.

Each police officer is charged to walk two hours of a twelve hour shift on foot patrol, usually monitoring the exterior of buildings in their assigned area.

Katherine Graves asked why the University had not finished the card entry system across campus.  Poarch said that each building manager makes the decision about card entry systems.  The Chair asked if Public Safety had seen an increase in calls regarding locked buildings.  Poarch said that his officers spend a great deal of time checking on tampered equipment.  He said that the amount of campus construction had not increased these calls to this point.

David Brannigan asked what police do for the other ten hours of their twelve hour shifts.  Poarch said that officers answers calls and fire alarms, work wrecks, answer alarms in buildings among other tasks.  Kirk McNaughton asked how many officers work each shift.  Poarch said that eight officers work a full shift, but the average on duty is a little more than six.  If the number falls below five officers consult with the division commander for backup.  Cheryl Lytle and Graves praised the courtesy and professionalism of the officers.

Brannnigan asked if police officers deal with parking enforcement.  Poarch said that Public Safety operates as separate branch from Parking and Transportation, and so police officers work on these questions only when parking control officers are off duty during nights and weekends.  Usually, police are responsible for parking questions from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. as well as weekends.

Poarch praised the Chair’s service on the Advisory Committee for Transportation as an advocate for Forum and Employee needs.  He granted that Employees are not happy about the parking situation on campus and the difficulty finding spaces for service vehicles.  He said that parking availability will only decrease in future years and parking costs will only increase.  These facts stem from institutional decisions made in the 1990s driven by the amount and availability of parking.  The Department of Public Safety administers its parking program as established by University administrators and the Board of Trustees.  Public Safety does not set policy but rather implements policies established.  Poarch and his staff understand parking difficulties and must purchase parking permits.  However, he must administer institutional policies with no apologies, and he asked Employees to understand campus policies in light of recent history.

During the University’s planning process, there emerged a long discussion about moving departments to the Carolina North tract.  No department or unit wanted to make this move, so the University decided to build “infill” on campus grounds rather than expanding outward to Carolina North.  Thus, the University removed twenty acres of surface parking lots, dedicating ten acres to new buildings and ten acres to green space.  The master plan thus chose green space over parking space as an institutional priority.  Adding five million square feet of campus floor space, the master plan would remove much proximate parking to underground and park and ride lots.  The University would then develop its version of the master plan with the Town of Chapel Hill.

The University found itself limited to rebuilding parking spaces given air quality standards and federal limits on pollution and traffic.  The University planned to replace surface lots with underground decks or decks of one or two stories topped with grass.  Parking deck spaces cost more to build and maintain than surface lots.

Additionally, the bond package specifies when buildings and parking decks are built.  All of this means that the University will be at critical mass concerning parking for the next 2-3 years.  There will be 893 fewer parking permits this year than last year.  Based on the master plan, the development plan and the amount of space available, the University decided to move its transit strategy away from single-occupancy vehicles to shift to fare-free transit, park and ride lots and other commuter alternatives such as the zip car program.

Poarch noted that John Adams had done a quick summary of various websites to compare campus parking rates to those at comparable institutions.  He noted that this summary had used the lowest surface rate price from each institution, compared to the tiered cost.  Poarch had asked his staff to study the cost of remote parking spaces at these institutions,  noting that at UNC-Chapel Hill the remote lots are free.  Secondly, out of the fifteen institutions that were studied, UNC-Chapel Hill ranked eighth, with a ranking of $413 a year.  The University of Virginia ranked highest with a $504 per year charge.  These discrepancies were based on parking deck styles and costs.  Poarch said that unless an institutional change occurs, the campus will not see a change in the cost structure for permanent parking on campus.

On the positive side, Public Safety has publicly committed to reducing the percentage of imposed increases for parking permits if the University wins its lawsuit with the North Carolina School Board over the percentage of parking fines due to local schools.  The University has won its suit in Wake County and will now go to the Court of Appeals.

Additionally, Facilities Services and the UNC Health Care System have reached an agreement with the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT) that future construction will incorporate parking around building sites and will not reduce surface parking for laydown if it can at all be avoided.  The University will also increase surface spots in places around campus.

Poarch noted that the University will cut 307 service permits this year.  The University will expand park and ride lots, adding 300 spaces near the Hendrick building and 600 spaces near the Orange-Chatham county line.  The new zip car system will begin and Public Safety will do all it can to hold down the cost of parking deck construction.  Public Safety will also add a tier to the parking permit system, increasing permit costs only 2.5% for Employees earning less than $25,000 a year.

In the next several years, the parking situation should improve after new decks and improvements come on-line.  However, the next two years will be tough as the University works to hold costs down while fulfilling the imperatives of the master plan and development plan.

Cheryl Lytle asked Poarch about statistics that show the University to be the fourth most expensive in the southeast and ranking thirteenth of thirteen in overall pay and benefits.  She asked how Employees could be expected to pay more for parking and health care while receiving relatively small salary increases.  Patti Prentice asked why the University had to reduce its number of parking spaces because of pollution.  Poarch said that in order to build on campus, the Town insisted on a reduction in parking spaces.  Prentice asked about building under the new construction.  Poarch said that the University plans to build a deck under the School of Education building but has had to modify other plans because of cost.

Chuck Brink asked about vendor permits that park in State vehicle spaces.  He said that he writes down flagrant violators’ numbers when possible.  Poarch said that Public Safety will cut vendor permits this year also.  He noted that departments receive service permits for Employees who must travel across campus from meeting to meeting.  Public Safety has asked departments to submit justification for permits and have cut permit numbers across the board.  Brink asked if the University might increase its fees for temporary parking, given a similar measure by UNC Health Care System.  Poarch said that the University had raised its day rates from $.75 to $1/hour and would study parking meters as well.

Cynthia Cowan asked who oversees the number and location of disabled spaces.  Do departments assign these spaces?  Poarch said that Public Safety manages these spaces as a priority established by law.  Applicants for disability spaces must apply and receive medical certification for their condition.  There are two types of disability permits, the hang tags with the blue wheelchair issued by the State and the University disability permits issued on short- and long-term basis.  Cowan recalled a disabled staff member who would have a hard time riding the bus but who could be driven to campus by a fellow Employee.  She asked if this fellow Employee who is not disabled might receive a disability permit for this purpose.  She said that this Employee did not want to drop the disabled Employee off at work then drive back to the park and ride lot.  Poarch said that the University tries to do all it can to accommodate disabled Employees.  He asked Cowan to send him an e-mail with particulars.

Bradley Bone asked if the University might work to increase the van pool subsidy as van pools have the capacity to serve more rural areas than bus routes.  Poarch said that the University TTA subsidy is paid for by permit holders, through the Department of Public Safety.  He said that the University will continue the subsidy if it can avoid raising the permit price to Employees to do so.

Amy Gorely asked what data show about the number of Employees who use fare free transit to get to work.  Poarch said that the University authorized a survey on this subject last year but had not yet received the final results.  Gorely said that many Employees cannot afford to live along bus routes.  Poarch said this fact was the reason that the University continues to build park and ride lots and to press for expanded morning hours.

Camilla Crampton asked about the S1 gated lots that bar non-permit holders at 7 a.m. though the sign at the gate says a permit is required from 7:30-5 p.m.  Poarch said that the gate closes early to prevent non-permit holders from entering and staying in the gated lot past the 7:30 deadline.

Cowan asked what Poarch would tell service vehicles who cannot find a legal space near their work site:  risk a ticket or return to their home department until later in the day?  Poarch said that service permit holders should leave early enough to find a space near their work site.  He said that service permits not finding a space should look at other alternatives such as double-parking behind another State vehicle.  He recalled that Public Safety had completed a working agreement with Facilities Services whereby parking officers would contact Facilities Services in an attempt to find the vehicle’s driver before ticketing or towing.  This understanding will not apply to vehicles parked in fire lanes or disabled spaces.

An Employee said that a parking permit seemed to grant only a hunting license.  He said that Employees must fight to find spaces with State vehicles everyday.  Poarch said that as soon as new parking spaces are built at Hedrick and 15/501 and security is increased at the Eubanks lot, Public Safety will separate State vehicles from paid parking permit spaces.

Katherine Graves said that one of the worst situations for vendors is around the McGavarn-Greenburg buildings.  She noted that the Staples vendor had been told not to park near the Carolina Inn anymore.  This vendor must deliver over 75 boxes of materials some days.  Poarch said that many other vendors deal with such restrictions everyday.  Secondly, Public Safety will review tickets on a case by case basis.  Supervisors should get in touch with Public Safety if they anticipate a problem.

Dixie Bloom asked if the University must establish a certain number of State vehicle spaces in each lot.  Poarch said that Public Safety tries to make these numbers consistent but the University is required to have a certain number of disabled spaces.  Disabled spaces change according to the number of people with permanent disability assigned to different departments.  He said that the University tries to fill as many spaces as possible.

Brannigan noted a proposed moratorium on ticketing Facilities Services workers such as electricians who must park on campus to do their work.  Poarch had been asked to put together a committee to develop the current policy.  State service vehicles may not under any circumstances park in disabled or fire lane spaces; they will be ticketed if they park in these spaces.  State vehicles double-parked behind other State vehicles or on campus sidewalks will trigger parking officers to call the customer service number for Facilities Services allowing administrators time to call the vehicle’s operator and the opportunity for the operator to move the vehicle before it is ticketed or towed.  Additionally, Public Safety will study Sate vehicle tickets on a case by case basis.

McNaughton asked how payments are made to cover State vehicle tickets.  Poarch said that State Employees make these payments out of pocket, although many Employees are able to appeal and have their tickets reduced or discarded.  He could not offer a moratorium on tickets because some people will always abuse a free ride.  Branningan proposed fining the department for tickets rather than the individual Employee.  Poarch said that he hoped to find a way not to impose sanctions at all.  He said that other alternatives are available and the fact that a State vehicle operator received a ticket does not necessarily mean that the operator must pay a fine.

Anthony Eubanks said that the moving crew had pulled into a fire lane and had received a $100 fine.  However, the crew had received specific instructions from their manager not to park on the sidewalk, the usual alternative.  Poarch recalled that the there had been some question about parking in disability spaces near the Law School.  He said that if the moving crew will leave a person with the vehicle so that it can be moved quickly, the crew should be able to avoid a ticket.  Eubanks asked what the crew should do about the $100 fire lane ticket.  Poarch said that the crew should appeal the ticket telling their circumstances.  In the future, someone should stay with the vehicle when it is parked in illegal spots.  In these cases, the crew should not receive a ticket and if so, it should bring the ticket directly to Poarch’s attention.

Eubanks asked about parking on sidewalks or other places to unload furniture.  Poarch said that service spaces or leaving an Employee with the vehicle is preferable.  Eubanks recalled that the crew had been told not to park on the sidewalk near the School of Public Health and could not park near the loading dock.  Poarch understood that the crew had blocked in another truck near the loading dock and thus had incurred a ticket.  He encouraged Eubanks to seek an appeal.

Penny Ward asked about the number of disabled spaces near each building.  She asked about removing a D11 disabled space that no longer was needed as the Employee in question had given up their D11 permit.  Poarch said that he would follow up on this question and send his answer back through the Chair or Laurie Charest.

Poarch said that he was sorry that he could not bring better news but that he could not make promises without being sure of delivery.  The Chair thanked Poarch for his service and asked Employees to keep in mind the 50-70 year span of the campus master plan.

 

The Forum moved to consider the July 7 meeting minutes at its September meeting.  At this point the Forum took a five minute break.

 

David Brannigan reported that the Personnel Issues grievance subcommittee had tried to have a resolution prepared on the grievance procedure review process by this meeting but had been unable to reach a conclusion for today’s meeting.

Tom Arnel, chair of the University Assignments committee, said that group would work on a campaign for volunteers to serve on University committees at its August meeting.

Curtis Helfrich, chair of the Career Development committee, said that the group had discussed hiring work-study students to assist the Forum office as well as help on other technology issues related to the Forum.  Helfrich also noted that the Chancellor had sent a letter to campus supervisors reiterating support for the University’s GED program, which was flourishing in its new location in the Cheek-Clark building.  He praised Laurie Charest’s help in bringing this idea to fruition.  He also asked that members consider service on the committee as it had recently lost a member.

Brian White, chair of the Communications committee, said that the group had met to discuss web site issues as it had already prepared its July edition for the University Gazette insert.  Bradley Bone had volunteered to lend his considerable web expertise to the group in revamping the page as well as creating a Forum web policy.  The deadline for submissions to the August InTouch is August 19.

Dixie Bloom, chair of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee, said that she had received 700 ballots for staff recognition awards.  The committee will soon determine winners and begin award distribution in October.

Katherine Graves, chair of the Employee Presentations committee, said that Pete Reinhardt is scheduled to make a special presentation on environmental health in September.  She hoped to consult with Judith Wegner on scheduling a community meeting in October.

Patti Prentice, chair of the Nominating committee, said the group had sent letters to all outgoing Delegates asking them to consider running for a second term.  In addition, she noted that the Forum will need to fill 22 delegate and 50 alternate seats this year.  Delegates so interested should respond to Prentice or contact her directly.  Katherine Graves noted the distribution of Delegates for each division this year, based on the proportion of the University’s 7700 Employees in each of the nine electoral divisions, which are based on federal employment categories.

David Brannigan asked when nominations would likely go out, and Graves said that they should go out next week.  Graves raised the possibility of a Forum Guidelines revision to allow the 50 Forum alternates to vote, given the importance of the alternate position.

Meredith Clason, chair of the Orientation committee, said that the group would finish its preparation of delegate handbooks for the October orientation program.

Amy Gorely noted that the fifth annual volunteer fair would take place September 25 from 10:30-1:30 p.m.  She hoped that the Forum could include details in its upcoming InTouch issue.

The Chair noted that the Forum will hold its monthly meeting with high-level administrators Friday, August 6 from 11-noon in 307 South Building.  He then read a list of Delegates whose turn it was to attend the meeting.  He encouraged all to bring issues for discussion.  The Chair praised the Communications committee for their work on the University Gazette insert.

The Chair noted that the Forum should soon post for a work-study student to help with record keeping and communication questions.  He hoped that a number of students will apply.  Grievance training for panel members and chairs began last Friday.  He urged Employees to volunteer if possible.

The Chair had met vice presidents from the Office of the President and SEANC to discuss health insurance issues.  He hoped that the University could eventually offer a pilot cafeteria plan to find a way to pay for dependant coverage.  The Office of the President will soon appoint a health care committee with doctors, insurance and benefits specialists, University administrators and one SEANC member to serve.  He hoped that all 16 campuses will eventually appoint a representative to the committee.

The Chair noted that SEANC had supported a 5% increase for all Employees.  He agreed with this proposal, but noted that any increase below 5% would not equal the $1000 raise given to Employees making $20,000 or less a year.  He encouraged Employees to write their legislators to make their feelings known on pay increases next year.  He said that the $1000 or 2.5% increase will move all Employees up together and really help lower paid Employees.

The Chair reported that Jack Walker of the State Health plan had said that dependent care coverage will rise to $900/month by 2010.  He said that finding a solution to this problem is only becoming more urgent as the years go by.

The Chair said that the task force on a better workplace monitoring committee had finished a portion of its work a week ago.  He said that two new students will serve on the committee this year as it continues work on medium- and long-term priorities.  He hoped that the budget committee would find it possible to fund every task force initiative this year if possible.

The Chair said that Linwood Futrelle had e-mailed him about a grassroots campaign to fund Employee dependent scholarships by giving $2-4 a pay period.  He asked Employees to consider this option to help their co-workers.  The Chair said that enrollment numbers in the GED program are growing greatly and he said that there are tentative plans to start a part-time degree program for University Employees in Fall 2005.

The Chair said that the advisory committee on transit, the budget committee and the Carolina North task force had not carried out work this year.  He praised the institution of the Carolina Covenant, which will allow lower-income students working twelve hours a week to attend UNC tuition-free.  Two-hundred-fifty-three students attending UNC this year have enrolled under the covenant.

The Chair noted that Vice Chancellor Nancy Suttenfield had discussed the five-year plan to raise all Employees to the mid-range of their salaries as it continues.  He said that the University had dedicated itself to finding funds for this initiative.

Cynthia Cowan confirmed the difference between the health insurance committee on this campus and the one originating from the Office of the President.  The Chair noted that Leslie Winters of the Office of the President and Kitty McCollum of State Benefits will head the latter committee.

In the absence of further discussion the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:34 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

Print Friendly