February 4, 2009
Employee Forum Agenda — February 4, 2009
9:15 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
V. Human Resources Update—Brenda Malone
VI. Employee Presentations or Questions
VII. January Minutes
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
X. Stretch Time
XI. Forum Committee Reports
- Communications and Public Relations: Brenda Denzler
- Forum Newsletter
- Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Beth Bridger
- Compensation & Benefits: Alan Moran
- Education and Career Development: Liz Cahoon/Cate Cunningham
- Legislative Action: Mike Hawkins
- Membership & Assignments: Aluoch Ooro
- Staff Relations, Policies & Practices: Mike McQuown
XII. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Tommy Griffin
XIII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
XV. “Go Around the Room”: A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds
February 4, 2009 Employee Forum Minutes
The Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. He welcomed members of the press and guests. He also urged employees to work together during these difficult times and to conduct disagreements on a friendly basis.
There were no employees scheduled to address the Forum, and no old or new business. Lucy Lewis pointed out that the subject of budget cuts should be on the agenda. She also suggested a meeting be established to discuss RIF (Reduction in Force) policy. Brenda Denzler, vice chair of the Forum, noted that the Forum had tentatively scheduled a community meeting to discuss these topics. Beth Bridger and Pam Roberts reported that the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee had not met. Liz Cahoon reported that the Education and Career Development committee had met at the School of Government with Rob Kramer to discuss the basic clerical skills program.
Mike Hawkins of the Legislative Affairs committee reported that members had met with Representative Verla Insko to discuss increasing community leave time and to allow sick time to be used as shared leave time. He said that budget personnel from the Legislature had grilled the committee members on how much these reforms would cost the State. Committee members agreed to provide these personnel more information on augmenting the program. Hawkins also encouraged delegates to attend the SEANC event February 10. Todd Hux asked why the budget personnel were reluctant to agree to these changes. Hawkins said that there was a general reluctance to increase costs to the State and that these budget office representatives had made clear that such leave was “not your time.” Hux pointed out that this leave was already paid for by the State. Hawkins pointed out that the budget representatives objected to new methods of taking sick leave and turning it into pay. He noted that sick leave is applied upon an employee’s retirement.
Debbie Dehart asked how much more community service leave would be available. Hawkins said that a week extra would be available for disaster relief. Human Resources Policy Director Chris Chiron said that the current level of disaster relief supported is designated by the Red Cross as Level 3. Hawkins said that the committee wanted to expand the list of recognized relief organizations. Chiron noted that there is a new subcomponent for military leave.
Aluoch Ooro of the Membership and Assignments committee reported that the committee had met to discuss the upcoming elections. Nomination letters will go out at the end of February and ballots will go out at the end of March. The committee plans to make some changes to the orientation and retreat plans for this spring. She noted that divisions 1, 7, and 8, the EPA non-faculty, technical and professional divisions, typically have trouble recruiting new delegates. The Chair noted that of the 53 permanent delegates listed on the website, the Forum presently had 26 in attendance. He noted that a number of these absences were due to work- or family-related excuses. Debbie Dehart noted that some delegates cannot attend all of the scheduled meetings because they do not want to make their supervisors unhappy. She said that one needs to be in a job in which one can obtain the cooperation of their supervisor in order to serve effectively as a delegate. Mike McQuown suggested that the Forum use its upcoming events, such as the community meeting, to encourage employees to stand for election as Forum delegates. Lucy Lewis said that delegates are initially asked to attend the monthly Forum meeting and one Forum committee meeting, a commitment of 4-6 hours a month. Chair Tommy Griffin commented that he works up to 30 hours a week for the Forum after hours and via donated time to the University. He said that the Forum must help those in jeopardy and stand up for folks who cannot help themselves. He praised volunteer efforts in Louisiana or in Siler City building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
Mike McQuown of the Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee said that the committee had dealt with the question of permits required of employees parking in the patient parking deck near the UNC Hospitals. Mark Duncan pointed out that the discussion on the Forum listserv had exploded since the issue had been raised. Marshall Dietz, treasurer of the Forum, related the story of a dental school employee visitor who had received a warning on one visit and a $50 ticket on a second visit, in spite of removing their employee parking sticker. Public Safety had said that the employee could apply to have the ticket overturned. Dietz thought that this situation was unacceptable and thought that a policy change was required. He was unable to find a reference to the policy in his research on the Public Safety website. He thought that an unwritten policy means nothing and that the policy of finding all employees guilty until proven innocent was wrong.
Brenda Denzler pointed out that staff at the Hospital had told her to park in the deck, an example of bad information which might trap some people. He thought that asking a heart patient to keep track of his car or finding it towed was ludicrous. Mary Campbell said that the attitude of workers there had left some employees feeling threatened and singled out. She said that patients do not need that stress at that time of their lives and that if the University expects good customer service, it needs its employees to deliver services with some humanity.
Jackie Overton asked delegates to remember that Public Safety employees are not the enemy and that they are State employees as well. She noted an incredible amount of fraud on the part of employees and students who take their permit down and put their stickers up who do not pay and leave quickly at 2:30 p.m. when the flow of traffic out is expedited. Mike Hawkins said that the University should not judge one innocent person wrong when others are wrong. Aluoch Ooro noted the towing situation related to Athletic Association parking lots. Brenda Denzler said tha the Forum should ask Public Safety to address the problem. Marshall Dietz criticized a secret ordinance enforced by the illegible sign on the front of the patients’ parking deck. Todd Hux moved to return the issue to committee, seconded by Marc ter Horst. There was no discussion, and the motion was approved.
Lucy Lewis asked that the Forum take a look at the grievance process given that the budget crisis could lead to some layoffs. She said that the Staff Relations committee had asked Human Resources for a list of grievances, the response to which had been broken down by division and school but not by department.
Chair Tommy Griffin asked the Forum to give the Advisory Committee on Transportation a chance to work on the parking deck issue. He said that the UNC Health Care System (HCS) was driving the enforcement as much as anyone. Griffin recognized members of the ombudsoffice. Brenda Denzler announced plans for the Forum’s March 2 community meeting, to cover University budgets 101 as well as talk about layoffs and furloughs. The Forum voted to invite President Bowles and Chancellor Thorp to the meeting, with four abstentions.
The Chair noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly would hold its spring meeting via video conference on February 5. Lucy Lewis advocated that the University look at other spending cuts before undergoing furloughs or staff layoffs. Brenda Denzler asked if there were interest in a community meeting on grievance policies and procedures.
The Chair asked delegates to commit to attending the Provost/Vice Chancellor “Trinity” meeting on February 12. He then asked delegates to raise issues of concern. Jackie Overton noted that employees who park in a lot with a number, like the “S-11” lot, should know that the Education Foundation owns that lot and has granted employees permission to park only from 7:30-5 p.m. Aluoch Ooro asked the percentage of University employees funded by state dollars as opposed to federally funded grants. Zanetta Bailey asked if an employee is close to retirement whether the state could use those dollars to save others who might be laid off. Wayne Blair said that many employees are stressed out, anxious and so were overreacting to inaccurate information. He advised employees to get information in writing before reacting to rumors. Bailey said that she was not talking about a rumor. Blair said that layoff decisions were long-term decisions and he did not want employees to self-destruct. It was noted that management can consult Human Resources and the ombudsoffice to get advise through what is appropriate to be done. These conversations are confidential.
Todd Hux asked that the University allow employees to designate Veterans’ Day as a paid holiday. Chris Chiron said that this is not technically a paid holiday but could occur with the discretion of the University. An employee asked if Human Resources could link to the State policy on credible state service. Chiron advised this employee to do a search for the page “Service Dates.” The Chair noted that Linda Coleman had been appointed head of the Office of State Personnel. He noted that Coleman was a former State employee and should be a friend to employees in her new position.
Lucy Lewis moved that the Forum adjourn. The Forum approved this motion without opposition at 11:20 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary