Employee Forum Agenda

February 1, 2012

9:15 a.m. —-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

I. Call to Order

II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III. Special Presentations

  • Jan Boxill, Chair of the Faculty
  • Terri Phoenix, Director of LGBTQ Center
  • Education Justice Alliance, Laurel Ashton

IV. Human Resources Update—Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone

V. Approval of January minutes

VI. Old Business

VII. New Business

VIII. Forum Committee Reports

  • Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Sarah Poteete
  • Communications and Public Relations: Jerry Waller
  • Education and Career Development: Gene Burns
  • Legislative Action: Ellen Donna Brooks
  • Membership & Assignments: Myra Quick
  • Recognition & Awards: Chris Meinecke
  • Staff Relations, Policies & Practices/Compensation & Benefits: James Holman/Dan Barmmer (January minutes)
  • UNC System Staff Assembly:  Danny Nguyen/John Gullo
  • Executive Committee: Jackie Overton (November minutes)

IX. Announcements/Questions

X. Adjournment

MINUTES

February 1, 2012 Employee Forum minutes

Attending:  Kittie Allen, Teri Augustine, Olga Baza, Dan Barmmer, Joshua Boone, Tim Burke, Peggy Cotton, Elizabeth Craig, Jill Crowder, Kenneth Davis, Odessa Davis, Brenda Denzler, David Fraley, John Gullo, Harold Hill, James Holman, Todd Hux, George James, Denise Mabe, Chris Meinecke, Danny Nguyen, Jessica O’Hara, Jackie Overton, Sarah Poteete, Myra Quick, David Schwartz, Renee Sherman, Charles Streeter, Marc ter Horst, Nihlei Tial, Clifton Webb, Aaron Williams

Excused Absences:  Carleta Long, Beverly Sizemore

Chair Jackie Overton called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  She introduced Chair of the Faculty Dr. Jan Boxill to make opening remarks.  Boxill mentioned that her job was very intense since her first meeting as faculty chair.  She was interested in how a group of social units comes to succeed.  She bemoaned the impact of budget cuts in this and in previous years.  She said that faculty and staff must work as partners and the University cannot succeed without everyone.  She said that the University must develop reciprocity, recalling an activity done by Women’s Basketball Coach Sylvia Hatchell with a group of sticks that cannot be broken as long as they remain a group.  She noted that some institutions now believe that the public has lost faith in higher education.  She said it is disheartening to have to defend higher education but the State must recognize what has been done and done well here.  Sarah Poteete asked what the Forum can do to increase collaboration and excellence.  Boxill said that faculty and staff need to support one another in respect to achieving mutual goals.  She credited the Chair for meeting with her often to find areas of mutual concern.  Brenda Denzler asked what the Faculty Council does to represent EPA adjunct teachers.  Boxill said that fixed term faculty are not tenured and represent the bottom of a two-tiered system.  She has served as a senior lecturer since 1985.  She said that the University does a good job retaining as many fixed-term faculty members as possible.  She said that fixed-term faculty suffer more during difficult economic times.  George James asked Boxill’s opinion on personnel flexibility and Senate Bill 575.  Boxill said that in dire times administrators can look for any option possible to produce change.  She said that these become turf issues in how policies are administered.  David Schwartz observed that tenure was once the norm but now 40% of campus faculty are non-tenured.  He asked about the viability of a two-tiered system.  Boxill said that she was lucky to work side-by-side with tenured and non-tenured faculty.  She fixed term faculty have recently become eligible for Teaching Awards, mentoring bonuses, travel bonuses and other benefits.  Boxill invited listeners to attend the upcoming UNC-Duke Women’s Basketball game which will benefit the Staff Assembly Have-A –Heart campaign.

The Chair said it was her pleasure to introduce Director of the LGBTQ Center Terri Phoenix.  Dr. Phoenix provided a brief overview of the Center’s work, noting that the center welcomes all sexual orientations, gender identifications, and gender expressions.  She noted that all people have these features.  The Center works to identify how identities play out in working relationships and policies.  The Center provides resources to people who wish to support those who come forward with these issues.  She referred listeners to the Center’s website, lgbtg.unc.edu.  She noted that the Center provides direct support and advocacy as well as peer support and discussion programs.  The Center has been responsible for non-gender specific bathrooms as well as the University’s aspirational non-discrimination statement.  Phoenix recalled the saying that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.  She said that the impending election regarding Amendment One would have a great effect upon her personally as her spouse, legally married to her in Massachusetts, cannot be added to her health insurance benefits, among other areas.  She invited listeners to a seminar on the implications of Amendment One to take place at the LGBTQ Center.  Brenda Denzler asked Phoenix to give some background on the word “queer.”  Phoenix gave a history of the word from its start as odd or unusual, through its use as a derogatory term for feminine men, to its use as a rallying point of pride for those who lived through the 1980’s HIV epidemic.  She says that there is a generational difference in feelings about the word.

Phoenix said that the Center released a campus climate survey that has found that the campus for students has become better.  The climate for staff requires much further work, with instances of harassment still commonplace.  She said that the University loses opportunities for partnership and productivity from these instances.  Peggy Cotton asked how a student accepted at UNC is acclimated to the campus.  Phoenix said that the University does not ask about issues of sexual orientation, gender identification, or gender expression.  She said that the Center writes a letter to undergraduates and graduates outlining its work and holds welcome and closing celebrations each semester.  The Center distributes brochures about its work.  She said that the Center had been integral to expanding housing access to legal domestic partnerships.  Renee Sherman asked where the Center holds Safe Zone training.  Phoenix said that these are held in the Student Union, campus classrooms and the Law School, among other locations.

Sarah Poteete asked if Phoenix could say more about Amendment One.  Phoenix said that State employees are prohibited from advocating for or against any issue on the ballot.  However, State employees can inform others about the implications of legislation without advocating a position.  She noted that Amendment One would change the State Constitution to recognize only marriages between one man and one woman.  She said that this amendment could add to problems with equitable treatment for other domestic partnerships in the areas of domestic violence.  The Amendment would also preclude legal recognition of these different relationships.  Phoenix noted that the Parr Center will hold a seminar on the religious and constitutional history of marriage on April 4 and 5.  She invited listeners to contact her for further information at tphoenix@email.unc.edu.  Phoenix noted that personally, if the Amendment passes, she might not be able to keep her child from foster care if her wife dies.  The Chair commented that she did not know that.  Phoenix was happy to discuss these issues further as an individual.

The Chair introduced student Laurel Ashton of the Education Justice Alliance (EJA).  Ashton noted that the Board of Governors will vote on a tuition increase February 10.  She said that the EJA have worked with Student Action with Workers (SAW), the Campus Y, the NAACP, and Students for a Democratic Society.  She said that the proposal would increase tuition 40% over four years.  She said that the reaction against the proposed increase had grown large and united across the State.  Ashton noted the difficulty that students have finding jobs in today’s economy and the large amount of debt that students graduate with typically today.  She said that the proposed $500 increase for in-state students represents a significant bite in students’ budgets in the struggle to pay rent and utilities.  Ashton said that the EJA will produce a list of demands for the UNC System on February 10.  The Alliance will ask the Board of Governors to democratize discussions and reaffirm a commitment to diversity in its membership.  She noted that Reverend William Barber would speak on behalf of students at an upcoming rally in the Pit.  Ashton said that there should be a country-wide movement to reduce tuition increases and redirect money from corporate loopholes and war expenditures.

The Chair introduced Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Malone said that the University will have an important change in its benefit program with the addition of Consite as the University’s Educational Assistance Program provider.  She noted questions about personnel flexibility and she welcomed the chance to have discussions on this topic.  She introduced Senior Director for Benefits Ashley Nicklis to speak on the new vendor Consite.  She said that the new vendor will provide confidential counseling sessions such as work-life balance and financial counseling.  UNC employees can obtain these services as well as thirty minutes of free legal counseling and a 25% discount on legal services.  Consite representatives will put together research on elder care resources and computer purchases, among other items.  Consite also can help UNC employees with moving resources, nutrition and weight loss information, and children’s counselors, among other things.  Consite will also expand the number of free visits from one to three per issue per year.  Chris Meinecke suggested that the University notify all of its employees of this service via formal notice.  Nicklis confirmed that visits are defined as face to face consultations with counselors.  She said that legal consultations with company attorneys in Chicago are free, but local legal consultations are 25% off.  Ellen Donna Brooks asked why there was a vendor change from Deer Oaks.  Nicklis said that Human Resources wanted to enhance the quality of the EAP services.  She said that the three visit model will have minimal impact on the University financially.  She said that Human Resources will hold a spring health and wellness expo on March 9 with invitations out to 200 vendors.

Danny Nguyen noted that the Staff Assembly had met January 24.  He said that the conflict of interest statement did find approval from the Assembly.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the minutes of the January meeting, noting amendments that the notary public class was to take place on February 17 and May 14.  She also noted that the Human Resources, Diversity, and Benefits committee had been misidentified.  She called for a motion to accept the minutes as amended.  Sarah Poteete made this motion seconded by Clifton Webb.  The motion was approved by acclamation with no votes against or abstentions.

Sarah Poteete said that the Carolina Campus Community Garden had several new ideas come out recently.  The Garden has a new logo designed by a housekeeper.  There was a flash mob at the Pit designed to get students to volunteer for the Garden.  Clifton Webb noted that the next on-site cooking demonstration would occur soon.  He said that the Garden had t-shirts to sell to raise money.  Webb said that the Housekeeping Department had written a card to thank Claire Lorch for her work on behalf of the Garden and housekeepers generally.  John Gullo confirmed that one can volunteer for the Garden from 3-5 on Sundays and one can use community leave for this purpose if the work occurs during an employee’s regularly scheduled shift.  The Chair noted that the printed version of InTouch had been published in the Daily Tar Heel.  The Education and Career Development and Legislative Action committees did not meet.  Brooks said that the Legislative Action committee will work on voter registration issues.  Myra Quick said the Membership & Assignments committee had nearly finished planning for the Forum’s 20th anniversary event on March 7.  She invited members and others to attend, asking that they RSVP to invitations.  Sarah Poteete noted that the first Forum chair, Kay Hovious, would present a keynote address on the first ten years of the Forum.  She encouraged attendees to sign the guest book.  Chris Meinecke of the Recognition & Awards committee said that group had met by e-mail to prepare for the Peer Recognition banquet on May 31 in Hyde Hall’s University Room.  James Holman said that the Staff Relations, Policies, and Practices committee and the Compensation & Benefits committee had met to discuss the Staff Assembly’s conflict of interest document.  The committees also finalized samples of the Forum handbook.  He thanked Joshua Boone for his fine work on the handbook.  Chuck Sockell noted that Student Stores could print copies of the handbook in plastic binders for delegate use.  Holman noted that the committees were working on another bylaw related to delegate attendance of Vice Chancellor/Provost meetings.  The committees are also working on a resolution related to job mobility which they would bring to the Executive Committee for further discussion.  Dan Barmmer said that the committees also planned to work on a salary resolution for the next Forum meeting.

The Chair noted that the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum had worked to set the pace at the UNC System Staff Assembly.  She thanked Danny Nguyen for his willingness and thoroughness in his work on the Assembly.  She noted that the Forum will co-host a food drive with the Faculty Council at the February 26 UNC-Duke Women’s Basketball game.  She said that Facilities Services will pick up the donated food and have it delivered to the local Interfaith Council.  The Chair noted that the Housekeeping director’s search had narrowed to three finalists.  She noted that delegate David Fraley serves on the Housekeepers’ Advisory committee.  She said that these candidates will meet with the Advisory committee but cannot meet with the three different housekeeping shifts.  David Schwartz suggested that candidates send back answers to submitted questions from Housekeeping employees.

Marc ter Horst said that the academic plan steering committee will solicit input from employees.  He invited employees to contact him with comments at terhorst@unc.edu.  The Chair said that the February notary public class will be reserved for Public Safety candidates who submitted their applications early on.  Sarah Poteete asked if the Forum should lend some support to students in their effort to oppose tuition increases.  Gullo noted that the Staff Assembly will have a professor on ethics come offer instruction on the conflict of interest policy.

The Chair reminded members about the 20th anniversary event.  She asked listeners to please RSVP.  She said that parking should be available in the Friday Center parking lot during spring break.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:33 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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