February 7, 1996
Agenda — February 7, 1996
9:30 a.m.–Meeting, Assembly Room of Wilson Library
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests
III. Opening Remarks
* Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff Dr. Elson Floyd
IV. Employee Presentations—Kay Spivey
* Resolutions Honoring Deceased Employees
V. Special Presentation
* Barbara DeLon with John Cleese’s “More Meetings, Bloody Meetings”
VI. Approval of Minutes of the January 3, 1995 meeting
VII. Chair’s Report: Ann Hamner
* Forum Now On University Organization Chart; Thanks to Brenda Kirby
* Response from the Office of State Personnel Regarding Proposed Changes in Current RIF Statute; Thanks to Laurie Charest and Drake Maynard
* Welcome to Dr. Gerald Horne, New Director of Sonja H. Stone Black Cultural Center
* Peggy Cotton Appointed to University Staff Grievance Committee
* Nellie Baldwin Resigns from Forum; Lynn Ray Becomes Delegate from Division 7; Frank DiMauro Becomes First Alternate
* Tommy Brickhouse Volunteers to Forward E-Mail Correspondence to Those Without E-Mail; Possible Use of Fax/E-Mail Interface to Forward Messages
* Janet Tysinger Volunteers as Temporary Web Information Coordinator for Forum’s Upcoming Web Page
* Jane Brown Expresses Faculty Support to Staff’s Concerns about Snow Closure Day January 12
* Diversity Training Opportunity for Executive Committee with Faculty Council Occurred February 6
* Opportunity for Forum Presentation at Supervisory Resources Training Program March 14 and May 23
* Forum Highlights Page; Annual Report
* List of Forum Nominees Forwarded to Committee Chairs
VIII. Unfinished Business
* Ratify Elected Executive Committee Members
IX. New Business
* Consideration of Resolutions Honoring Those Who Battled Snow
* Need to Constitute Employee Fair Booth Task Force (Fair Scheduled May 17)
* Discussion of Adverse Weather Policy and Snow Days
* Addition of Employee Representatives to University Committee onto Monthly Agenda?
* Student Television Broadcast Monthly Forum Meetings?
* Suggestions for Reaching More Employees for Input, Presentations
* Suggestion to Allow 45 Minute Special Presentation by Roger Schwartz on “Ground Rules for Effective Groups”
X. Committee/Task Force Reports
* Nominating—Dianne Crabill
* Orientation—Leon Hamlett
* Personnel Policies—Peter Schledorn 4
* Compensation and Benefits—Tom Hocking
* Public Affairs—Helen Iverson
* Recognition and Awards—Nancy Klatt/Pamela Shoaf
* University Committee Assignments—Vicki Lotz/Jennifer Pendergast
* Career Development—Sharon Cheek
* Pan-University Task Force —Ned Brooks
* Salary Task Force
* Faculty Council Liaisons
* Partner Benefits—Linda Cook/Peter Schledorn
* Legislative Affairs—Laresia Farrington/Tom Hocking
* Land Use Planning—Ann Hamner
XI. Human Resources Update
* Laurie Charest, Vice Chancellor, Human Resources
= Included in Agenda Packet
4 = Annual Report Included in Agenda Packet
February 7, 1996
Tommy Griffin, Jr.
Archie Phillips, Jr.
Marshall Wade, Jr.
” = Ex-Officio
Carroll Swain, Jr.
Call to Order and Welcome to Guests
Chair Ann Hamner called the meeting to order at 9:34 a.m. The Chair welcomed previous Chair Rachel Windham, Joyce Comar, Beth Gardner, Glenn Haugh and Wendy Taylor, among others.
The Chair introduced Chief of Staff Dr. Elson Floyd. She thanked Dr. Floyd for making time to speak with the Forum, noting that he is due soon at General Administration for a meeting this morning. The Chair asked that members understand the reason if Dr. Floyd should give a short presentation.
Dr. Floyd bid hello to the group and said that it had been “absolute delight” working with the Forum. Dr. Floyd stated that the Forum serves a “very important role with the University” and that the Administration would work aggressively towards meeting Employee concerns. He recalled that it had been it his “absolute privilege and pleasure” to address the Forum during its annual retreat January 18, at which there had been a discussion of the Adverse Weather Policy. Dr. Floyd said he would recount that discussion and entertain any questions the group may have on that subject. Having come from the State of Washington, Dr. Floyd denied any responsibility for the recent bad weather!
Dr. Floyd noted that many Employees have been working overtime to deal with the effects of the snowstorm, while others have been struggling simply to catch up after recent days missed. He expressed the Administration’s appreciation for Employees’ “extra effort and commitment” shown over the past weeks.
Concerning the Adverse Weather Policy and the January 12 decision to cancel classes, Dr. Floyd noted that it is extremely difficult to predict accurately what will happen from one day to the next in inclement weather. The Administration will always try to keep the University open and not cancel classes unless absolutely necessary. On Friday, January 12, this seemed to be the case, with sheets of ice covering the snow and ice that had accumulated earlier in the week. Dr. Floyd noted that ice is perhaps the most difficult surface on which to maneuver, exceeding snow as a hazard for pedestrians and cars. Even four-wheel drive automobiles could not gain traction on the sheets of ice that developed that Friday.
Because of the decision to close the University completely on January 12, except for essential personnel, there was some confusion over the impact of the Adverse Weather Policy upon staff on whether they would have to make up the closed day. Dr. Floyd stated that the University does not have the authority to extend the credit of the State to give a free day. The Administration may wish that it could do this but it frankly cannot. The University cannot overrule a policy promulgated from Raleigh and the Governor’s Office.
Dr. Floyd proposed that much of the confusion arose from the abbreviated message communicated to Employees from staff and the media. Because of the limited space allocated to each organization posting information on possible delays or closures, the University cannot communicate as much of the message as it would like.
In the future, when the Adverse Weather policy is in effect, the University should be able to communicate more information through announcement of a specific code, e.g. Condition 1, 2, or 3. These Conditions would have very clear, pre-determined definitions. An announcement stating, “the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is operating under Adverse Weather Policy Condition 1” would allow Employees to know exactly their status under the agreed-upon, publicized definitions. Dr. Floyd stated that the Administration is working on language to accomplish this task. This information would be widely communicated to all Employees and included in Orientation information for new hires.
Another attempt to minimize confusion in future Adverse Weather situations will be to identify broadcast telephone numbers within the University. This bank of numbers will be available to Employees to call to find out the condition of the University or other specific information. Dr. Floyd said completion of this task has been more difficult. An initial idea to utilize Caroline, the automated registration telephonic service, for this purpose has proved unworkable because of system limitations. The Administration has engaged Telecommunications towards accessing some broadcast numbers. Dr. Floyd hoped that broadcast numbers would be available soon.
Between these two approaches, creation of a Code System denoting in short-hand University conditions and parallel establishment of phone lines that Employees may call for further information, Dr. Floyd hoped that the Administration could minimize confusion in future situations. Dr. Floyd also said that in light of criticism regarding the University’s decision to close January 12, the Administration has made a deliberate effort to circulate information detailing the reasons behind that decision in a University-wide memo.
Dr. Floyd expressed his appreciation to Employees and Forum members for their work in dealing with the effects of the weather. He wondered what the next two months would bring, inquiring laughingly what the Groundhog had predicted February 2. Dr. Floyd offered to take questions from the Forum regarding Adverse Weather or any other subject.
Rachel Windham felt that the code system was a good idea but cautioned that Forum members and Employees must read the materials given to them to make the system effective. If Employees had read the Adverse Weather Policy when it was circulated three weeks before the bad weather, they would have known that the policy expressly covered what would occur if the University were closed. She encouraged members to read the policies circulated.
In the absence of further questions, Dr. Floyd excused himself in order to attend his meeting at General Administration. The Chair thanked Dr. Floyd for making time in his busy day to meet with the Forum.
Kay Spivey, Vice Chair of the Forum and Chair of the Employee Presentations Committee made a special presentation honoring Cranine Kette Brinkhous of Printing Services:
This past September, the Employee Forum approved the Recognition & Awards Committee’s policy to recognize deceased University Employees in response to the jarring realization that fellow Employees had passed on almost unnoticed by the University community. Our recognition of deceased University Employees surely will strengthen us in our service to “this magic gulf stream in the life of North Carolina,” a phrase often used by Institute of Government founder and Law School professor Albert Coates during his lifetime to describe the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Printing Services lost a loved and valued Employee with the death of Cranine Kette Brinkhous on March 22, 1995, at the age of 51. Cranine grew up in Raleigh, attended Peace College, and graduated from this University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting and sculpture.
With her many talents, Cranine made a significant contribution to this University. Her posters and designs enhanced such events as Employee Day and the Blood Drive. Her drawings of campus buildings are a familiar sight. They adorn the walls of many offices, including Printing Services’ reception area, and appear on the covers of brochures and programs.
Cranine received many honors for her art work, including a Pica Award, four awards from the Society of Technical Communicators, and a Strathmore Graphics Gallery Award. In addition, her work has been placed in the collections of the Strathmore Museum and the Smithsonian Institution.
Printing Services Employees and customers miss not only Cranine’s artistic talent, but also her friendliness and generosity. It was common for Cranine to brighten a colleague’s day with a vase of flowers, an innovative gift handmade from unusual materials, or a holiday treat.
We extend our condolences to Cranine’s family and colleagues. Please join me in observing a moment of silence in memory of Cranine Brinkhous and her service “to widen and deepen [this] magic gulf stream and strengthen the flow of its current.”
The Forum observed this moment of silence.
Barbara DeLon, Personnel Officer for Davis Library, presented John Cleese’s videotape “More Meetings, Bloody Meetings” as a follow-up to the tape shown at the Forum’s January Retreat. The original tape, “Meetings, Bloody Meetings,” detailed the rules necessary to have productive and effective meetings. These rules were:
* Plan—give each meeting due preparation and forethought. What is the meeting intended to achieve? Is the meeting necessary? Who should be there, and why? Should some other individual or group resolve a particular issue?
* Inform—signal others of the intentions of the meeting. An agenda should be sent out beforehand and should serve as a brief, detailing the areas and terms of discussion regarding each item. What will be discussed? Why? What does one hope to achieve? The Chair should anticipate the people and information needed to pursue each item, and insure that they are present and prepared.
* Prepare—create logical connections between different items on the agenda. Does it make sense for one item to follow the next? Make sure to allocate time for discussion of more important items; do not become distracted by those that seem urgent.
* Structure and Control—maintain an order of discussion similar to that of a courtroom. State a proposition; consider the relevant evidence; hear arguments that interpret the evidence; reach a conclusion; determine and carry out pursuant action. The Chair should keep the evidence, interpretation and conclusion stages discrete to prevent muddling of ideas and intentions.
* Summarize and Record—assign someone to chronicle the discussion, particularly noting who is responsible for carrying out action determined, and by what deadline. This insures decisions are carried out, and provides an institutional history of why these decisions were reached.
Barbara provided the Forum in its February agenda packet a checklist for meeting planners which is available from the Forum Office. The second film, “Meetings, Bloody Meetings,” concentrated on the human side of meetings, notably group dynamics. She pointed out that there are many bad and good techniques to holding meetings and that, unfortunately, people who are bad at holding meetings only become worse with practice unless righted. From the first film, Barbara reiterated that badly planned meetings waste time, hurt morale and lead to bad decisions. She emphasized that using bad techniques to handle people in meetings will yield similar bitter fruit.
Barbara praised Delegate Norm Loewenthal’s preparation for meetings. He not only would make sure that an agenda is available beforehand but would poll meeting attendees to make sure they were ready to address relevant topics. This technique made meetings go much faster, she said. She also recounted when Norm had helped her manage a personal attack with a technique that allowed the group to go forward. Norm moved the focus back to the goals of the group, reminded the group that Barbara was appointed to help carry out the group’s mission, and stated that he would support her in any way that he could to overcome the new obstacles. Barbara praised Norm’s leadership, but she noted also that she had to make a personal decision to proceed past this attack and get on with the work. Barbara recalled other juvenile behavior by meeting participants and chairs that have occurred as a result of inattention to the human side of meetings.
In the Cleese film, there are three human imperatives to a good meeting:
* Unite the Group—control and tone down the level of aggression in the group. Let off steam. Do not take sides. Bring in others. Stick to facts. When individuals seem to have a problem, draw them out. Ask “combatants” for help in identifying and tackling the problem, not tackling each other. Bring in non-combatants for facts, not opinions.
* Focus the Group—do not allow deviation from the subject at hand. Stay alert for irrelevant digressions and steer the group back onto topic. Test comprehension of a particular point by rephrasing it. Check back to make sure that this paraphrase is what the speaker meant.
* Mobilize the Group—resist “solutionism”; do not force a decision—build one. The one with the loudest voice cannot dominate. Make sure that everyone who has something to say gets to say it. Protect the weak. Draw out the silent. Keep the strong under control. Check around the group and collect all possible contributions. Record suggestions to avoid losing good points. Build up ideas, do not knock them down. Every one should be encouraged to chip in; if one idea is weak it may spark off another, better idea from someone else. Build a solution.
Barbara DeLon stated in conclusion that holding meetings requires practice and feedback. Concentration will help one strengthen weaknesses. Barbara DeLon said that she personally has trouble with allowing a few to dominate the group and said that she was working on drawing out the silent in her meetings. She recalled that Norm often will approach group members afterward to solicit their suggestions.
The Chair and the Forum thanked Barbara for her informative presentation.
Approval of the Minutes of the January 3, 1996 Meeting
The Chair asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the January meeting. Janet Tysinger made this motion with Kathy Dutton seconding. Tommy Gunter offered the correction that the Director of the Black Cultural Center is Dr. Gerald Horne, not “Dr. Gerald Stone” as stated on page 2. There were no other corrections or additions to the minutes, and they were accepted unanimously as amended.
The Chair noted that in response to an earlier request, the Forum now is shown on the University’s Organization Chart, parallel with the Faculty Council. She thanked Brenda Kirby for insuring this acknowledgment of the Forum’s place in the University structure.
The Chair reported that Laurie Charest had forwarded to the Forum Office an initial response from the Office of State Personnel regarding proposed changes in current RIF statute. Drake Maynard indicated that he will help formulate revisions to the policy for consideration at the Office’s February meeting. (A fuller discussion of this issue is available in the Forum’s October 4, 1995 minutes.)
The Chair noted that she had sent a letter welcoming Dr. Gerald Horne, the new Director of Sonja H. Stone Black Cultural Center. She said that the Forum had offered its support to Dr. Horne as “a concrete measure of cooperation between the races on campus.”
Peggy Cotton has been appointed to the University Staff Grievance Committee, the Chair said.
Nellie Baldwin has resigned from Forum, replaced by Lynn Ray as a Delegate from Division 7 and Frank DiMauro became the First Alternate. The Chair welcomed Lynn and Frank to the assembly.
At the January Retreat, Tommy Brickhouse volunteered to insure that Forum members without direct access to e-mail will receive postings on Forum newsgroups. She noted also that Eddie Capel proposed using the Office of Information Technology’s e-mail/fax interface to send faxes of Forum postings directly to the offices of those members without e-mail. The Forum Office is currently working on this proposal with Kay Wijnberg.
The Chair gratefully acknowledged Janet Tysinger, who has volunteered as the temporary Web Information Coordinator for the Forum’s upcoming Web page, in addition to her previous commitment to post Forum minutes onto the University page.
The Chair noted that at the January 19 Faculty Council meeting Jane Brown expressed the faculty’s support of staff concerns about closing the University on January 12. The text of her remarks is available in the Faculty Council minutes.
A Diversity Training session was held for members of the Forum and Faculty Council Executive Committees and the Administrative Council on February 6. Three Forum Executive Committee members were able to attend. She felt there could be more of these sessions available for Forum members in the future.
The Forum Office was notified by Phyllis Daugherty of the opportunity to make a presentation at the Supervisory Resources Training Programs March 14 and May 23. This opportunity arose from a meeting at the Forum’s January 18 Retreat in which continuing Delegates discussed potential ways of increasing Employee awareness of the Forum.
Matt Banks stated that the Forum Highlights Page, its Annual Report and the Nominating and Executive Committee reports are being finalized and hoped that these will be ready for the March agenda packet.
The Chair reported that lists of Forum alternates and Employee nominees to the Forum had been forwarded to committee chairs. These might be good people to ask to serve on committees, the Chair suggested.
In addition, the Chair has heard from the Chair of the new Staff Council at N.C. State University, who suggested that the Executive Committees of both groups get together at some point. The Chair will present this item at the upcoming Forum Executive Committee meeting February 20 to arrange a time to meet.
Ratification of Elected Executive Committee Members
According to precedent set in previous years, the Forum must ratify the Executive Committee representatives from each division chosen at the January 18 Retreat. These representatives are Ann Hamner, Kay Spivey, Dianne Crabill, Mona Couts, Marshall Wade, Burke Riggsbee, Sue Morand, Tom Hocking and Delores Jarrell. Leon Hamlett moved that these names be accepted and Helen Iverson seconded the motion. There was no discussion and the motion was approved without opposition.
Consideration of Resolutions Honoring Those Who Battled Snow
The Chair referred members to the five resolutions contained in the February agenda packet honoring Employees of the Student Health Service, divisions of the Physical Plant, the co-generation plant, the Housing office and the Department Public Safety. The Chair asked if the Forum wished to consider these resolutions as a group or individually.
Eddie Capel asked if the resolutions could be expanded to include the Cashier’s office which made sure that students got their aid checks squared away and enabled the registration process to continue. Matt Banks asked if Eddie could write up a specific resolution regarding the Cashier’s office to be considered for action at the March meeting.
The Chair asked if there were other departments or offices that may have been missed. Burke Riggsbee noted that many other Physical Plant divisions aided the grounds division in clearing snow and ice. He said the Chilled Water division had been instrumental in providing water to the hospitals, a service he ventured that is as important to the hospitals as that provided by the co-generation plant. The HVAC department also had worked hard to insure continued heat and ventilation to University buildings. Overall, Burke said, there were many people involved who unfortunately were not mentioned in the resolutions under consideration.
The Chair asked if it was the feeling of the group that the resolutions be made more broad to include the contributions of the departments not mentioned in the considered resolutions. Matt Banks wondered if this task could be done by amending the resolutions in the order they are considered for approval.
The Chair asked for a motion to approve the resolution honoring the work of the Student Health Service during the snow and ice storms of January 7-12. Tommy Nixon made this motion, with Burke Riggsbee seconding. There was no further discussion, and the motion was approved unanimously.
The Chair then presented the resolution honoring “the Employees of the grounds division, and those from the maintenance and utility, housing support and housekeeping divisions, who worked together to dig the University out of the snow and ice storms of January 7-12, 1996.” Burke Riggsbee offered that there were a lot more people involved in the effort. The Chair said that the Forum did not want to leave anyone out. Burke felt that the Physical Plant as a whole played a large role in keeping operations going, by scraping snow, spreading sand, and repairing water leaks from broken pipes.
The Chair asked how Burke would like to see the resolution read and asked if there was a suggestion that would include everyone that we would like to cite in these resolutions. Burke said that he was speaking just for the Physical Plant but that he felt there were other Employees involved also. Sue Morand asked if “grounds, maintenance and utility, housing support and housekeeping” did not cover the Physical Plant.
The Chair offered that the second resolution could be amended to include the Physical Plant as a whole and asked for a motion from the floor to accept the resolution after which the Forum could consider any possible amendments.
Included in comments from the gallery was a proposal that the Forum prepare a broad resolution to include all Employees, since everyone who braved the weather to arrive at work helped keep the University going and added this resolution would cover all Employees who were not mentioned in the first five.
George Sharp asked if this suggestion would mean that certain specific groups will be mentioned but other groups would not. It was felt that if the Forum chose to name names it may unintentionally slight those who were left out. George thought that if the Forum mentioned specific groups, it should cite all those involved, and not give selective honors for work done by all.
The Forum was then asked about an amendment to the resolution under discussion which would mention the entire Physical Plant. Burke Riggsbee felt that would be a good idea but again said that he could speak only for the Physical Plant, but there were many other Employees and departments that did their own work to fight the snow. George Sharp pointed out that the Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine has to have people present every day to feed and care for the animals and felt that this contribution also was worthy of a resolution.
Rachel Windham proposed one, all-encompassing resolution honoring all the Employees of the University. This suggestion met with general agreement from the body.
George Sharp moved that the Forum submit one resolution praising all University Employees of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for services beyond the call of duty during the adverse weather of the winter of 1996. Pamela Shoaf seconded this motion. There was no further discussion and the motion was passed unanimously.
The Chair thanked the Forum for its perseverance in resolving this problem. She lauded the Forum for using its newly acquired meeting skills. Eddie Capel asked if there would be a subsequent motion to rescind the resolution honoring the Student Health Service. Sue Morand made a motion that the Forum rescind each of the resolutions presented in the February packet. Eddie Capel seconded this motion. There was no discussion, and the motion was approved without opposition.
Rachel Windham suggested that the Forum work to disseminate this resolution through the University Gazette and elsewhere. The Chair agreed that this was a good idea, and said she would pursue this path.
Need to Constitute Employee Appreciation Fair Booth Task Force (Fair Scheduled May 17)
The Chair called for volunteers to make up the Employee Fair Booth Task Force adding that last year, on the Task Force, she had a wonderful time. Peggy Cotton, Tommy Griffin, Sharon Cheek, Dianne Crabill, Laresia Farrington, Kay Spivey, Sue Morand and Marshall Wade agreed to work on the Task Force. The Chair asked Marshall Wade to convene the Task Force, a position he held last year also. She thanked the volunteers.
Discussion of Adverse Weather Policy and Snow Days
In the course of recent e-mail discussions, the Chair reported that she had received a faxed petition from Susan Albright regarding the University’s Adverse Weather Policy and the recent snow days. Ms. Albright is a faculty member, but wrote on behalf of Employees she had spoken with concerning “their disappointment and resentment that they must make up time missed from the day that the Chancellor officially closed the University—Friday, January 12.” The Chair noted that the Chair of the Personnel Policies Committee, Peter Schledorn, was not present so she asked the Forum for its views about the petition.
Burke Riggsbee asked what the problem is exactly with the Adverse Weather Policy in the first place. He wondered if the problem is that faculty will not have to make up the time missed while staff, being “hourly Employees,” must make up the time missed due to Adverse Weather. The Chair ventured this was indeed part of the problem.
Sue Morand averred that Employees may have thought they would get a free day because the University was declared closed, in a way similar to private businesses. Some Employees may be angry that they have to make the day up during a work week with less than forty hours, when they thought they would receive the day off for “free.” Sue felt that the major problem was communication, and since this problem was already being worked on, she did not feel it demanded definite action by the Forum at this time.
While not able to speak for all private companies in the Triangle, Burke Riggsbee advanced that many did not pay their employees for days missed for adverse weather. These private employees had to make their time up out of vacation or sick leave. Again, for salaried or hourly wage State Employees, he did not understand their problem with the policy.
Kay Spivey reiterated Rachel Windham’s point that it is important for Employees and Forum members to read the information that is transmitted to them. She posited that this could be a task that Forum members could undertake, to find more and better ways to insure that important information is transmitted and digested.
George Sharp asked if information was specifically sent out covering when the University is closed. The Chair replied that this situation is indeed covered under the Adverse Weather Policy, specifically that when the University is declared closed the Policy is in effect and Employees must make up the time off.
Leon Hamlett recalled that Dr. Floyd and Laurie Charest had made some points regarding why the University had been closed January 12 and why it was not closed the preceding Monday. He noted that this was the first time in many years that the University had closed because of adverse weather and that many extenuating circumstances contributed to this decision. Regarding Monday, January 8, the decision was made not to close the University because of concerns over canceling Monday seminar classes and because the bad weather had just begun. Conditions, of course, were much worse on January 12. He thought it was very important also for Employees to inform themselves about a particular policy before complaining about communication problems. Delagates should encourage Employees to avail themselves about existing policies.
Rachel Windham cautioned the Forum to pick its battles. The University Adverse Weather policy is very clear about what the rules are when the University is declared closed. The policy is reinforced by the State’s policy sent recently by the Governor, emphasizing that taxpayers will not pay for Employees’ “free days” in cases of adverse weather. She encouraged the Forum to do what it wished regarding the policy and the petition, but felt that the assembly should be wise in choosing its battles, especially regarding a policy that is already in place.
Donna Gerringer asked whether if the Forum had the flexibility of not taking action on the petition. Since communication problems surrounding the policy are being addressed, the Forum may not need to act on the petition. The Chair allowed that the Forum could choose this course of action, while allowing that Susan Albright may choose to continue with the petition on her own.
Norm Loewenthal thought that the sense of the group agreed with Donna’s suggestion, but felt that it is important that the Forum address the concerns stated in the petition.
Forum Assistant Matt Banks was called on to read the petition, which was also available on the back table and from the Forum Office:
You should not be penalized for the campus closing on January 12th!!
Sign up and be counted!!
On January 12, 1996, the Chancellor officially closed the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus due to the ice storm that had compounded the effects of the adverse weather occurring earlier in the week.
(Adverse Weather Policy Petition—Continued)
We Employees, both staff and faculty, are accustomed to the usual “Adverse weather” policy. We make a decision about coming to campus based on individual circumstances, and we know ahead of time that work-time missed must be made up or debited from annual leave. However, when the University was officially closed, many interpreted it to mean that we were prohibited from coming to work, regardless of individual ability. Most Employees equated the closing with a Holiday. Another analogy would be the rare event when the Employer (for our health and safety) closes the office, perhaps for several hours, due to a dangerous situation such as fire, chemical spill, or bomb threat. In these situation, the Employee is ready, willing and able to work, but is PROHIBITED FROM DOING SO BY THE EMPLOYER’S DECISION. This is what happened on January 12th.
We Employees contend that we are now being unfairly penalized by the Chancellor’s appropriate decision to close the campus, by having to make up the day, or use annual leave.
Sign this petition. Take a few pages to pass around the office at break-time, or post on your own bulletin board.
We Should not be Penalized for the Official University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus Closing on January 12th!!
We the Undersigned hereby certify that we are current University Employees and petition the North Carolina Office of State Personnel to both:
1. Change the Adverse Weather policy regarding University campus closings so that Employees don’t have to use leave time, or make up the time, by either:
a) clarifying that a campus closure is equivalent to a Holiday, or define a number of “Adverse Weather” days that an Employee can use during a year, separate from annual leave; or
b) state that a Chancellor cannot close a University campus regardless of local conditions.
2. Do not require that University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Employees make up time or leave time for January 12, 1996.
Name Date College/Department
When the page is full, please tear off and mail in attached envelope. Petitions will be compiled and presented to the Chancellor and the Office of State Personnel by way of the Employee Forum in 4-6 weeks. (End)
Sharon Cheek thought that the petition was well-written but agreed with Rachel’s point that the Adverse Weather policy was already in place. She felt that Employees and the Forum could better focus our energies elsewhere. Sharon noted that the Department of Human Resources had worked hard developing and communicating the policy. Furthermore, she wondered what the use would be of protesting a policy that represented the will of the State and the Office of State Personnel. She urged the Forum to move onto subjects in which it could make a difference.
The Chair asked if the feeling of the group is that while the Forum understands Employee concerns about the closure of the University January 12, Employees should have been aware that the Adverse Weather policy did cover the eventuality of the University closing. Eddie Capel and Kathy Dutton added that they did not endorse the petition. Ruth Lewter felt that the petition was somewhat presumptuous to infer support by the Forum. The Chair emphasized that the petition had not yet been circulated and had been forwarded to the Forum for comment and discussion.
Sue Morand suggested that the petition might be rewritten deleting reference to the January 12 closure, since this event had already occurred. If this revision was made, the petition might be effective as a means to change the Adverse Weather policy. The Chair asked if indeed the Forum did not want to endorse the petition at this time. This was the general consensus.
Donna Gerringer offered a motion that the Forum acknowledge receipt of the petition, but state that in the course of discussion it had choose not to take action on the petition since the issue was currently being handled by the Chancellor’s office. Jennifer Pendergast felt instead that the Forum should not support the petition.
Helen Iverson suggested referring the issue to the Public Affairs Committee to formulate a response to Susan Albright detailing why the Forum chose not to follow suggestions of the petition.
Peggy Cotton agreed with Helen’s idea, adding that the Forum should make every effort to be open to the suggestions of Employees or interest groups. While an issue may seem clear to the Forum, these Employees may have received erroneous information or may simply not understand the thinking behind an issue. She felt it important for the Forum to respond in detail why it may not agree with Employees’ feelings on a policy, so that it not seem to close the door on the issue. The Forum should hear the complaint, explain its stance to follow through or not and direct Employees to the appropriate channels through which they may pursue their complaint further, if they choose to do so.
Kay Spivey supported Helen’s suggestion, and felt that it important that the Forum not abruptly dismiss or even seem to abruptly dismiss these Employees’ concerns. If the issue is not adequately addressed, Employees may become reluctant to bring forth other items of concern.
The Chair asked if Donna Gerringer would accept a friendly amendment to her motion along the lines of Helen’s suggestion, that the Public Affairs Committee draft a response detailing the feelings of the Forum for review by the Executive Committee. This response would be transmitted in turn to Ms. Albright. Donna accepted this friendly amendment. There was no further discussion of the motion and the motion, as amended, passed without opposition. The Chair promised to inform Susan Albright about the Forum’s decision as well.
Addition of Employee Representatives to University Committees onto Monthly Agenda?
The Chair asked if Employee representatives to University committees should make monthly reports to the Forum, as liaisons to faculty committees currently do. These staff members would come to give a short presentation as to what has occurred on their committee. Janet Tysinger felt that hearing from one representative per monthly meeting would work best. Jennifer Pendergast noted that this was “part of the deal,” that Employee appointees are expected to report back to the Forum concerning these University committees. She offered that this task has not been done in the past but that it was the assignment of the Forum’s University Committee Assignments Committee. That Committee, Jennifer said, would work to formulate a reminder to Employee appointees inviting them to recount the activities of their committee at a Forum meeting.
Student Television Broadcast Monthly Forum Meetings?
The Chair asked what the opinion of the Forum would be concerning televising Forum meetings. Should the Forum pursue this possibility? George Sharp stated that he was skeptical about the idea, because new Forum members are just becoming accustomed to their roles. Also, he thought that the quality of much televised material was very poor. He did not think televising these meetings would do much to disseminate information or generate interest.
Eddie Capel joked that the idea would give student camera operators a grand opportunity to use their cameras, but did not think it would serve the Forum. He advanced that the Forum could videotape its meetings to create an archive to show new Employees how Forum meetings go. He did not know when the meetings would be broadcast on Student Television or even if anyone watched STV in the first place. Eddie worried that it may cause general disruption to have camera people present. Some members may play to the camera, in addition.
Rachel Windham proposed that the Forum initiate a quarterly or semi-annual broadcast with Forum officers reviewing the assembly’s actions.
Kay Spivey said that her concern about videotaping is that many members have far to go before they become as eloquent as the previous Chair of the Forum. She worried that televising meetings may inhibit Forum members from speaking freely. While there are members of the press at Forum meetings, there is something inherently different about having a camera in one’s face. Kay felt that the Forum struggled enough already to create a dialogue among its members. She felt that cameras could increase this reluctance.
Norm Loewenthal granted that he could understand the reluctance of members to speak on camera, saying that he felt some nervousness himself. Yet, he suggested that the Forum retain consideration of the idea. Norm advanced the example of televised Chapel Hill Town Council meetings. Citizens have the opportunity to watch and benefit from these meetings, not only the information conveyed but a greater understanding of the democratic process. The Forum is a representative body, Norm said, and holds open meetings. Many Employees cannot attend these meetings because of previous work commitments. Norm saw this idea as one further way of letting Employees know what the Forum does. Given the current feelings of the group, Norm urged the Forum to remain open to further consideration of the idea.
The Chair inferred that the Forum could begin with Rachel’s suggestion that interested members could participate in televised interviews, in particular Forum officers. There was no opposition to this suggestion.
Suggestions for Reaching More Employees for Input, Presentations
Kay Spivey, Vice Chair and Chair of the Employee Presentations Committee, presented suggestions created at the Annual Retreat to increase Employee input into Forum deliberations. These ideas included:
* Asking Supervisory Resources if they could include information about the Forum in training, and thereby providing supervisors with another management resource. This idea has already taken fruit in the Forum’s opportunity to make presentations at Training sessions March 14 and May 23, mentioned previously by the Chair.
* Ask that information about the Forum be included in the Orientation session for new hires to the University, or, to send a letter of introduction from the Forum to new Employees a month after their hiring.
* Ask that Human Resources facilitators receive a copy of the Forum’s Handbook or some form of communication regarding recent Forum activities so as to refer possible policy concerns to Forum members.
* Post solicitations for Employee input along with other Forum news on TOPS bulletin boards.
* Post similar solicitations (invitations to Employees to present issues, concerns and special items of interest) on the U-Bus and Point-to-Point vans, to gain Employees’ attention during these “down times.”
While the Employee Presentations Committee had not yet had the opportunity to brainstorm, she and the Executive Committee would appreciate members’ thoughts regarding these or any other ideas. The effectiveness of the group, Kay thought, depends largely upon the input received from Employees and what the Forum does with this input. She hoped this would begin an energetic process of getting this communication going. The Chair encouraged members and Employees to send their ideas to Kay or the Forum Office. We need to find ways, she said, to make Employees feel they can come to the Forum to say what is on their minds.
Rachel Windham offered that members could invite their fellow Employees to come and see what the Forum does in its meetings. The Chair recalled that at the Forum Retreat, it was suggested that members bring back information about what had occurred at meetings to fellow Employees. Donna Gerringer reminded the assembly that Forum meetings are not considered work time for most Employees, in response to which George Sharp wondered if this stipulation was subject to supervisor discretion. Rachel Windham offered while that the formal rules provide only for Delegates and First Alternates to attend Forum meetings on work time, some departments may see a benefit to their Employees attending on their behalf. The Chair felt that it would be up to individuals to clear their attendance with their departments, with the hope that departments would see the benefit of Employee attendance or participation at Forum meetings.
Suggestion to Allow 45 Minute Special Presentation by Roger Schwarz on “Ground Rules for Effective Groups”
The Chair noted that Kay Spivey had advanced the name of Roger Schwarz from the Institute of Government to give a special presentation on “Ground Rules for Effective Groups” at a Forum meeting. The Chair felt that Roger would give an effective presentation to the group, but there were some concerns because his presentation would have to run at least 45 minutes. Accordingly, she asked the full Forum whether it would like to hear a 45 minute presentation from Roger Schwarz. The Chair said also that Mr. Schwarz would be willing to present at next year’s Retreat , if necessary.
Kay Spivey jokingly said that she was not hear to promote solely the Institute of Government but that she did wish for the Forum to avail itself of whatever resources it could. Roger Schwarz is an Associate Professor of Public Management in Government and Assistant Director of the Institute. He is a teacher, writer and researcher who consults widely with groups in the public, non-profit and private sectors creating workshops on group facilitation. He has written a nationally noted book on groups called The Skilled Facilitator: Practical Wisdom for Developing Effective Groups and has created a guide entitled “Ground Rules for Effective Groups.” Kay felt that he would give the Forum information, skills and techniques that the group could use and take back into the workplace, taking what it had learned a step further.
Janet Tysinger wondered if 45 minutes would do the program justice and asked if it might be better to have Roger as a separate program similar to the Forum’s Retreat. She said that she would want for the group to have these skills but was not certain that a Forum meeting would be the appropriate place to acquire them. Kay Spivey said that 45 minutes was the absolute minimum that the program would run and that he would not do something if it would not be effective. She thought also that a longer period of time would be more effective.
Sharon Cheek asked if Roger would be available to give presentations at a departmental staff meeting. Kay Spivey responded that his time is very limited since he has been called on to present his programs nationally, so she did not think he could present on a department by department basis. However, he recognizes and is very supportive of the Employee Forum and would make a special effort to present to the assembly. Kay said that the Forum should decide if it needs additional training in this area.
Helen Iverson wondered if Roger could present at a Forum Community Meeting, working with the broader base of Employees. The Chair said this would be an idea worth considering. Ned Brooks thought that the Forum could start one of its meetings early in order to accommodate Roger, since his presentation seemed very much worth hearing. Ann Hamner asked if the Forum’s consensus was that the presentation would be very useful but should be referred to the Executive Committee for further discussion. The Forum agreed with this sentiment and course of action.
Committee/Task Force Reports
The Chair declined to ask for specific committee reports, as each Forum committee had been constituted only three weeks before.
Chair Jennifer Pendergast of the University Committee Assignments Committee said that while that group had not yet met physically, it had corresponded via phone and e-mail on a variety of topics. Firstly, Ann Hamner had resigned her position as the Forum Liaison to the University’s Long-Range Land-Use Planning Committee. Margaret Balcom has agreed to serve in her place.
Secondly, the Forum has been asked to provide a representative to take part in a group study being formed to seek a solution to the problem of integrating departmental accounting procedures into the campus system. This person should have an interest in departmental or University accounting and does not necessarily have to be working in a department. They may be EPA non-faculty or SPA. The time frame for the appointment is one year. The meetings will be intermittent during the day and appointees will spend some time in meetings and some time accumulating background. Forum members interested in the appointment or willing to suggest others should contact Jennifer or the Forum Office. Any Employee is eligible.
Human Resources Update
Laurie Charest noted that the two open meetings held to discuss discipline and dismissal had been cancelled due to the January snow. These meetings were rescheduled for February 13 at 1 p.m. in 1301 McGavran-Greenburg and February 21 at 10:30 a.m. in 1301 McGavran-Greenburg. These are open meetings and she encouraged the Forum to help get the word out about the new discipline and dismissal policy.
Training and Development is also running a training program on the discipline and dismissal policy February 15 at 1 p.m. at 725 Airport Road. Employees must register in advance with Training and Development for this session only.
Employees enrolled in the Prudential Life Insurance program should have received an individualized mailing indicating the availability of increased coverage without any proof of insurability. For those Employees wishing to increase their coverage, the forms are due back February 14. Otherwise, no response is necessary.
Regarding the Policy Task Force (at the State level), it did not meet in January and will meet Friday, February 9. The Reduction in Force changes are on the agenda for that meeting and Laurie hoped to have an update at the Forum’s March meeting.
Concerning OSSOG, Human Resources is expecting notification about 119 positions from the Office of State Personnel. Laurie hoped to have these determinations at the latest by February 15, after which Human Resources would move forward with implementation of OSSOG. George Sharp asked what the acronym “OSSOG” signifies. Laurie replied “Office Support Services Occupational Group, a State-wide study of clerical positions, basically.” The Forum Assistant noted that there had been a special Forum presentation on OSSOG in July of 1995. He said that he would be happy to send a copy of this presentation, and that it had been placed on the Forum’s Web page under “Items of Interest/Special Presentations.”
The Chair thanked Laurie Charest for her words.
Michael Klein of Transportation and Parking bid hello to the group and said that he would be available to answer questions from Forum members. George Sharp asked if Michael would be available after the meeting for questions. He said that he would.
Rachel Windham asked about the Forum Office’s on-line status and the Forum Assistant replied that the Office has its hardware, hub and software, but there remained a configuration problem. He hoped that this problem would be fixed soon. Further, he thanked the Office of Information Technology, Peter Schledorn, the Faculty Council and the Provost’s Office for their help in putting the office suite on-line. (This problem has since been resolved, thanks to Janet Tysinger. One may e-mail the Forum Assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Rachel inquired about the progress of adding new Forum members onto the Forum newsgroups. She said that she had heard from at least one Delegate that they have not been added to these groups. The Chair asked all members who have not received Forum e-mail to forward their names and addresses to the Forum Office. Eddie Capel noted that Kay Wijnberg offered to perform a test after adding the new Forum members to the forum and advocates newsgroups and that he had received this test message. The Chair directed members who had not received this test message to contact Kay Wijnberg directly, instead of the Forum Office.
As an additional message, the Forum Assistant noted that Kay was working on use of the e-mail/fax interface to send newsgroup bulletins to those members not on the broadband. The Chair thanked Kay for putting in this extra effort to insure that all Forum members have access to discussions on-line. In a similar vein, the Chair thanked Tommy Brickhouse and the University Mail Services for working to find ways to insure that all housekeepers receive their mail, including creation of a separate campus box, #1850.
Rachel Windham asked if there could be a clarification of which Forum newsgroup is for members only and which is open to the general public. She reminded members if they receive a message from either the email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org address they are responding to a large newsgroup, not just one or two people. Janet Tysinger stated that the advocates group is the internal one, for when members wish to speak only to other members. The forum group is the larger group which may be read by anyone on campus, though anyone may post to it. The Chair thanked Janet for her clarification.
Norm Loewenthal asked if the Delegate and Alternate lists would be updated. The Forum Assistant replied that he would try to make this update quarterly. He hoped that the Committee list in particular would be posted on-line, detailing Committee membership and meeting times.
George Sharp asked Kay Spivey what the procedure was for Employees to make an Employee presentation. Kay said that interested Employees should contact her at 966-4107, fax 962-2370 or e-mail email@example.com.
The Chair asked if there was a motion to adjourn. Burke Riggsbee made this motion, with Sue Morand seconding. There was no discussion, and the meeting was adjourned at 11:20 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary