Minutes

July 1, 1998

Delegates Present Martha Barbour Linwood Blalock Connie Boyce
Mary Braxton Tommy Brickhouse Lucille Brooks Gwen Burston
Mitch Copeland Joyce Dalgleish Linda Drake Elizabeth Evans
Linwood Futrelle Betty Geer Phil Hearne Jennifer Henderson
Bettye Jones Steve Jones LaEula Joyner Ken Litowsky
Dee Dee Massey Eileen McGrath Lesa McPherson Jackie Overton
Frances Rountree Bob Schreiner Stephanie Stadler Jane Stine
Nancy Tannenbaum Terry Teer Ted Wright Laurie Charest
= Ex-Officio Delegates Absent Betty Averette Jeffery Beam
Pat Bigelow Denise Childress Jean Coble Martha Davidson
Sherry Graham William Grice Al Jeter Anne Montgomery
Barbara Prear Cheryl Stout Queen Tutt Dail White
Carol Worrell Alternates Present Jim Barnes Becky Eatmon
Connie Dean McPherson Guests Pete Andrews Jeanne Fugate
Michael Hooker Scott Ragland Jim Ramsey

 

 

Call to Order, Welcome to Guests

Chair Linwood Futrelle called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. The Chair asked members to sign in and to examine the routing file as it was passed around the room. He introduced Chancellor Michael Hooker to provide opening remarks to the Forum.

Opening Remarks

Hooker said he was happy to introduce his candidate for Vice Chancellor of Administration, Jim Ramsey. He had remarked to Ramsey many times his appreciation for the Forum’s support of the University and of his work as Chancellor. Hooker particularly appreciated the Forum’s statement of support for the staff components of the Carolina Computing Initiative (CCI) which was approved at the group’s June meeting. He had come to understand some community members’ staunch support of the Apple Macintosh computing platform, and felt that these concerns could be incorporated into the CCI. Nevertheless, he felt the University was on the right course with respect to the CCI and thanked the Forum for its statement of support.

Hooker introduced Ramsey as a man of great and varied experience who has served most notably as the Executive Vice Chancellor of Western Kentucky University and Budget Director for the State of Kentucky. Ramsey has also taught courses in public-sector economics and quantitative analysis at Western Kentucky and the University of Kentucky while continuing research in his field. Ramsey also served as special assistant to the Kentucky Council on Post-Secondary Education and interim president of the new Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS).

Ramsey said he was very excited to have the chance to work at the University, and felt that the Forum was key to providing quality academic programs to students. He said he had spent 44 of his 50 years in Kentucky, and had spent two years working to reform that state’s post-secondary education program. Ramsey recalled that it was Kentucky Governor Paul Patton’s long-term goal to build an institution of higher learning like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill within the Bluegrass State. He looked forward to working with Chancellor Hooker and the Forum on the many issues facing the University today and in the future. The Forum welcomed Ramsey with a warm round of applause.

Hooker offered to answer questions from the assembly. Bob Schreiner asked what part of former Executive Vice Chancellor Elson Floyd’s responsibilities Ramsey would assume as Vice Chancellor for Administration. Hooker said that this question had been on his mind also, as Floyd and his knowledge of the University would be almost impossible to replace. In response, Hooker would personally involve himself more deeply in areas in which Floyd had previously played a central role.

Regarding the General Assembly, Hooker noted that with the exception of salary issues, the University has made out very well in budget negotiations. However, he cautioned that talks were still in their early stages and so felt it would be inappropriate to draw final conclusions at this point. Typically, the Senate has presented a budget more beneficial to the University than the House, with the difference between the two resolved in conference committee. Hooker was optimistic about this year’s negotiations.

Among items featured in the Senate proposal is an increased expenditure to support University graduate students. This allocation is greatly needed as the University currently ranks last among the nation’s top 25 research universities in dollars allocated per graduate student. Hooker hoped that this budget item would be replicated in the House budget plan.

Hooker commented that the University looked to do well in its capital budget, but that signs were less certain with regard to State Employees’ salaries. A recent lawsuit, the Bailey case, which protested the taxing of State and federal employees’ benefits, was recently resolved in favor of the employees. This ruling compels the State of North Carolina to pay out a great sum of money to affected parties over the next two years, creating a budgetary constraint that planners had not anticipated. This settlement will in effect eat up an anticipated surplus in the State budget resultant from the strong economy.

As a result, in spite of the State’s strong economy, salary increases will not be as large as was hoped. However, Hooker thought it important that salary increases will continue to increase in comparison to the cost of living in the State. He noted that the Senate plan to provide a 3% recurring increase with a 1% bonus would boost salaries at twice the level of inflation, if approved. In comparison, pay raises of up to 5% in the 1970s were enacted in an era of 6-8% inflation, leading to a net loss for Employees. Hooker had hoped that the Legislature would have enacted greater increases, but encouraged the Forum to think in relative rather than absolute terms.

Hooker hoped that the Senate’s proposal would be preserved and not chiseled away in conference committee negotiations. However, he said his understanding of the situation was imperfect since he had not seen the final budget bill yet. He asked Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest to describe how the proposed increases would be administered for SPA, EPA non-faculty, and faculty Employees when final information became available. Once again, though, Hooker warned the Forum that the House budget had not yet been approved, and so the State was 5-6 weeks away at least from final confirmation on the subject of employee salaries.

Hooker took a moment to praise the Forum Vice Chair Jeffery Beam for the gripping presentation of his original poem, “The Song of the University Worker” at the May Board of Trustees meeting. He recalled that the poem spoke eloquently about the relationships between the University’s workers and the University’s history and mission. He knew that the Board was grateful for Beam’s offering and the Forum’s overall presentation.

Hooker announced that Kenan Stadium would host a July 4 fireworks display for the Chapel Hill community, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Music by the Nomads will precede the fireworks which will begin around 9:30 p.m. He invited all assembled to attend the celebration.

Bob Schreiner asked if Hooker could comment on what major committees Ramsey will chair. Hooker did not have an answer since he felt it would be unfair to assign Ramsey without obtaining a sense of what he wanted to do.

Elizabeth Evans asked whether Ramsey would be comfortable yelling “Go Heels!” in the Dean Smith Center. Ramsey, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Kentucky, tactfully replied that he looked forward to attending as many athletic contests as possible, and looked forward to the newly scheduled Tar Heel/Wildcat basketball games.

In the absence of further questions, Hooker and Ramsey took their leave and wished the Forum an enjoyable summer.

 

Special Presentations and Employee Presentations

There were no special presentations or Employee presentations.

Human Resources Update

Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest noted that the University would hold its 10th annual blood drive this summer culminating Wednesday, July 29 at the Dean Smith Center. The goal this year is to gather 1,000 pints; approximately 600 donors have already signed up for the drive. Potential donors can volunteer by calling 96-BLOOD or contact their departmental recruiters; interested volunteers can contact Bob Schreiner or Ann Hamner for more information. Time spent donating and volunteering is considered work time.

Human Resources strongly encouraged departments to establish their own Employee recognition programs. Programs awarding money or time off to Employees must be in writing. Human Resources will hold a workshop August 6 on the creation of departmental programs, and departments interested in attending the workshop can contact Employee Services at 962-1483.

The University Child Care Center is scheduled to open in early August. She noted that a notice had been posted on the Forum listserv with information on openings still available in the Center. These positions are still open, as some applicants have not confirmed by submitting their deposits. Those interested should contact Leigh Zaleon with Victory Village Day Care Center at 929-2662 or Employee Services at 962-1483 for help with the application process.

Charest hoped that Employees interested in the long-term care option had attended information sessions on the enrollment process held in June at the Friday Center. Employees should have received a letter with general information on the long-term care plan; those wanting additional information can mail back a card to receive a packet of materials. Employees can obtain additional information by contacting the Benefits Office at 962-3071. Enrollment in the program will continue through the end of August. Charest said that Employees would need to evaluate the program for themselves as the plan is rather complicated and allows great range and flexibility the type of plan offered. While formal information sessions on the program have already occurred, the Benefits Office is available to help obtain materials and deal with questions about the program.

Charest said that a transition team has worked for the past year to implement a partnership agreement between the Office of State Personnel and General Administration. The team has submitted its report to President Molly Corbett Broad. While Charest had not yet seen the report, she understood it dealt with the eventual establishment of a University of North Carolina Human Resources Advisory Board. The Board will be responsible for setting criteria on the delegation of certain responsibilities to different UNC System institutions. Charest emphasized that establishment of the Board would not remove the University from the State personnel system. If Broad approves the arrangement, Charest anticipated that the University would be delegated some new administrative functions.

The State Personnel Commission at its June meeting approved the University’s new recruitment and selection process. Human Resources will soon implement the policy and communicate the changes across campus. Charest reminded the Forum that the Legislature had established the changes in response to charges of political patronage in filling State positions. Charest said that the revisions would not present a major change for the University as it had always made a point to hire the most qualified applicants for positions.

However, the new process stipulates one change on the referral of applicants to soliciting departments. When fewer than five candidates apply for a particular position, Employment forwards all of these applicants to the department. If more than five applicants apply for a position, the department can ask either for Human Resources to forward all of the applicants or to determine the 5-10 best qualified applicants for consideration. The policy will also establish new terms with which Employees will need to familiarize themselves.

Other changes in the recruitment and selection process also allow a new basis for grievance appeal if an applicant believes they have not been hired due to political influence. In addition, now applicants must apply for specific vacancies rather than submitting general applications. This change should be incorporated along with the new Human Resources Information System soon.

Concerning the General Assembly, Charest said that a continuing budget resolution has ensured that the State will be able to continue functioning through August 15. Charest understood that the Senate budget proposal currently provides a 2% recurring cost of living increase, a 1% recurring career growth increase and a 1% non-recurring performance bonus for qualifying Employees. (Source: Office of State Personnel Home Page and Raleigh News & Observer) Charest did not have any information on EPA non-faculty or faculty increases.

Elizabeth Evans asked whether the calculation of retirement benefits is based on an Employee’s last four years of service or most lucrative four years. She observed that the University manual indicates one thing and State information sources say another. Charest said that benefits are calculated on the 48 consecutive months during which an Employee earns their greatest salary. For most Employees the last 48 months are the years of highest earnings. Evans said that Employees she had spoken with had received incorrect information from other sources.

Tommy Brickhouse asked about the status of the discussions between Human Resources and the Personnel Policies Committee concerning compensatory time for SPA exempt Employees. Martha Barbour said that she would pass minutes around describing the Committee’s last meeting.

Charest noted that she had been able to obtain much of the information in her report from web pages run by the State, and encouraged Employees with an interest to check these pages for more up-to-date information.

Approval of the Minutes

The Chair called for a motion to approve the June 3, 1998 Forum minutes. Tommy Brickhouse commented that he had not seen a reference to discussion on SPA exempt Employees’ leave policy in the Forum Personnel Policies Committee minutes. Ken Litowsky said that this point was misleading due to an error on page 9 of the June 1998 Forum minutes. The Personnel Policies Committee report should have read “…said that Peter Schledorn was scheduled to produce a draft on SPA exempt Employee compensatory time policy that week.”

In addition, Litowsky noted that the first sentence of the eighth paragraph on page 4 should read: “…currently, proposed job offers must undergo an equity analysis by the Employment Department. Following this step, the recruiter must contact the applicant….” Litowsky added that the name of the HRIS system should have been identified as “InPower.”

Elizabeth Evans noted that Andrew Barron’s name had been misspelled. In addition, she noted that the first sentence of page 9 should describe an “Employee computer lab,” and said that the second sentence of that page should read “Boyce replied that the Board would send a memo to relevant supervisors….”

In the absence of further comments, the Chair asked for a motion to accept the June minutes as amended. Joyce Dalgleish made this motion with Jackie Overton seconding. The Forum accepted the June minutes as amended.

Unfinished Business

The Chair revisited the resolution thanking the Faculty Council for its April 28 resolution endorsing the offering of courses as a staff benefit for second reading. He asked the Forum to raise questions and state its preference on the resolution.

Ken Litowsky noted that the faculty resolution did not speak to the issue of waiving summer tuition fees or the possibility of cross-referencing with the tuition waiver program. He thought that the Forum needed to make the University more aware of these types of issues so that more Employees will be encouraged to take these opportunities. He concluded that the resolution was not meant to be substantive but rather to voice support of the Faculty Council for acknowledging the importance of staff training.

Linda Drake moved that the Forum approve the resolution, with Betty Geer seconding. There was no further discussion, and the Forum approved the motion without opposition. The Chair would forward the resolution on to the Chair of the Faculty and the Chancellor.

New Business

There was no new business.

Chair’s Report

The Chair said that he would delay his report on the reconvening of the University Council until next month. He noted the salary resolution from the North Carolina State University Staff Senate, and noted the Senate’s mutual desire that the Legislature fund the comprehensive compensation plan.

The Chair directed members’ attention to Chancellor Hooker’s response to his letter on the parking and transportation study.

The Executive Committee will begin to examine the Guidelines and Committee structure at its July meeting. Members with comments should contact the Chair or the Forum Office.

The Chair reported that he had ventured to the North Carolina School of Science and Math to discuss the structure and role of the Forum at UNC-Chapel Hill. He noted that Western Carolina had also contacted the Forum Office for information on establishing a staff organization. The Chair felt that the Forum was being held up as a model for other campuses across the State, and felt that the increase in campus staff organizations was a necessary and good thing. He had not heard from General Administration on the creation of a System-wide Staff Assembly.

Committee Reports

Gwen Burston, Co-Chair of the Career Development Committee, noted minutes from the group’s last meeting were included in the July agenda packet. The Committee had divided its work remaining in the year into three sections: staff training policies & procedures, establishment of permanent funding for the University Career Counselor position, and computer literacy issues. Committee members will follow up on these areas through the rest of the year.

Concerning the New Careers Training Board, Connie Boyce noted that the University will hold a New Careers Fair August 5 from 10-2 p.m. at the Great Hall of the Student Union. Employees in salary grades 50-54 are invited to participate in this event designed to encourage career development within and without the University. Local community colleges have accepted invitations to set up booths for the Fair, and the University is also well represented: ATN will display a list of computer courses available to Employees, Human Resources will post job listings, and Training & Development will provide information on educational assistance, tuition waiver, and scholarship programs. All supervisors will receive a letter encouraging allowing their Employees to attend the Fair, and Employees in grades 50-54 will receive a invitational brochure on the event in their pay packets. The Chair was very encouraged to hear of the Board’s work.

Jennifer Henderson, Co-Chair of the Communications Committee, said that group had almost finished up its work on the Forum press release process. She asked members with questions or comments on the process to contact her directly. The next step associated with this process is the creation of a press release form for members’ use.

The committee’s next big project will be the creation of the Forum’s University Gazette insert. Henderson hoped that the insert would be ready for the Gazette’s first October issue. She asked members and others willing to write articles or provide suggestions to contact committee members.

Tommy Brickhouse, Chair of the Compensation & Benefits Committee, noted that the group’s minutes were included in the July agenda packet. The committee discussed the North Carolina Teachers’ and State Employees’ Comprehensive Major Medical Plan with Nora Robbins, Senior Director of Human Resources Services. Robbins presented a claims analysis of the health plan to the committee. Brickhouse said that the committee had elected to wait for an update of Robbins’ figures before boiling the analysis down to 4-5 separate bullets of critical information. The Chair thanked the committee for its work on this ongoing project.

Stephanie Stadler reported that the Employee Presentations Committee had not met since the community meeting June 9. At that meeting, Vice Chair Jeffery Beam gave a brief report on the activities of the Forum over the last six months. Scott Ragland spoke briefly on his goals and objectives for the University Gazette. Attendees were invited to raise any topic they wished with the several campus administrators present. Finally, Sue Robbins gave a very good presentation on the state of childcare in North Carolina. Stadler said that the committee was pleased with the meeting and the turnout. Evaluation forms on the meeting were included in the Forum routing file.

Lucille Brooks, Chair of the Nominating Committee, said that minutes were included in the July agenda packet. All University SPA and EPA non-faculty Employees should receive a nomination letter for Forum service around July 15. The committee will meet again in early August to verify nominees divisions and willingness to serve.

Nancy Tannenbaum, Chair of the Orientation Committee, reported that the group might not meet that month. She would contact members with further details in the next few days.

Martha Barbour, Chair of the Personnel Policies Committee, noted Chancellor Hooker’s response to the Forum’s proposal concerning quarterly departmental staff meetings for all Employees. She said that the committee was now working to finish its proposal concerning compensatory time policy for SPA exempt Employees. Barbour reiterated that the purpose of the paid leave provision is to maintain, not enhance, Employees’ paychecks. The Personnel Policies Committee planned to ask that Human Resources Facilitators communicate information about flextime and work at home options to departmental supervisors. In addition, the committee has continued its work on a proposal providing compensatory time and paid time off for exempt Employees under circumstances involving significant work in excess of 40 hours per week. Peter Schledorn has been working on a draft proposal based on a series of discussions between the Personnel Policies Committee and Human Resources officials.

Tommy Brickhouse asked if the proposal would provide paid time off for a certain number of hours over 40 hours a week. Ken Litowsky said that this is an option for additional compensation for wage-hour exempt Employees working beyond their schedule is paid time off calculated on an hour for hour basis. This provision differed from the time and a half given for hours worked overtime granted non-exempt SPA Employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Human Resources had done a survey a couple of years ago and did not find any department granting hour-for-hour leave to exempt Employees without excluding the first 5-10 hours above 40 hours a week worked. (The exempt Employee may have worked through lunch, for example.) Litowsky said that it was part of the concept of the “exempt Employee” in salary administration that the salary level is expected to be adequate to compensate for this additional time on the job. This assertion met with some muted dissent among the Forum’s membership.

Brickhouse said that the Forum was trying to change this situation. Litowsky replied that the University could not change the Fair Labor Standards Act. He said that the only remedy available would be to obtain salary range revisions into a higher employment category. Litowsky said that the University is not market competitive in hiring a range of computer-based and information technology jobs. Thus, it was necessary to await salary range revisions from the Office of State Personnel.

Litowsky said that it is a condition of employment for exempt Employees to work a certain number of hours over 40 hours a week. The question is at what point this amount becomes “significantly greater than” 40 hours a week. Some departments only allow the “significantly greater than” rule when working on large projects; some allow it only following the first hour worked after 50 hours a week; some use formulas providing compensation based on ratio anywhere from 3 hours extra worked: 1 hour compensated to 1 hour extra: 1 hour compensated. All the State specifies is that paid time off on an hour for hour basis for exempt Employees (as opposed to time and a half) is permissible. It does require a program, and some State agencies have formal policies and some do not. The goal of the discussions between Senior Director of Human Resources Administration Drake Maynard, Peter Schledorn, and the Personnel Policies Committee is to determine what proposal has a good chance of approval by University Administration. Litowsky doubted that the proposal eventually approved would provide compensation on an hour for hour basis for each hour worked over 40 hours a week, but he did not know what would be approved.

The Chair thought that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) did not specify that compensation must be provided to exempt Employees until the Employee works over 45 hours a week. Litowsky said that the FLSA specifies that a non-exempt Employee working over 40 hours a week must be compensated at time and a half. Up to a couple of years ago, this provision was interpreted to mean additional pay. Now, the University can compensate its non-exempt Employees for overtime work through paid time off, through compensatory time.

Litowsky said that the FLSA does not require additional compensation for exempt Employees at all. The University is looking for a way to extend these benefits to exempt Employees. The “hardball” definition of exempt employment status is that the exempt Employee must be available whenever management assigns work to be done.

There does exist a State provision that individual agencies can establish paid time off programs for these Employees. However, there are no guidelines established for structuring these programs aside from the fact that compensation can be allocated on an hour for hour basis, as opposed to hour for hour and a half. The State does not set standards or time frames for any potential program. Human Resources and the Personnel Policies Committee are attempting to incorporate the various issues under discussion into a program that helps Employees and managers while remaining compliant with State and federal law. Litowsky stated that Schledorn has a complicated task to fulfill in drafting this proposal. Brickhouse thanked Litowsky for his explanation.

Lesa McPherson reported that the Recognition & Awards Committee had not met in June but would soon begin work on planning the Staff Processional at University Day. Members recalled that University Day will be held on Monday, October 12 this year.

Steve Jones of the University Committee Assignments Committee reported that the group had essentially completed its list of existing campus committees. The group has identified some committees that should be considered defunct and has found others on which staff could profitably serve. Concerning committee searches, Jones recalled that the University Committee Assignments Committee had distributed a request for volunteers to serve on the Women’s Issues Advisory Board and various Carolina Computing Initiative implementation teams. The committee has worked with the University Gazette to place solicitations asking for volunteers, and Employees interested in serving should feel free to contact Anne Montgomery (962-3119 or anne_montgomery@unc.edu) or the Forum Office (962-3779 or forum_office@unc.edu.)

Task Force Reports

The Chair was pleased to announce that the Board of Trustees Presentation Task Force had completed its work May 28. The Employee Appreciation Fair Booth Task Force had also just finished distributing the door prizes awarded at the Fair. He thanked Tommy Brickhouse and University Mail Services for their work in delivering prizes to the recipients. He also thanked the Communications Committee for creating a brochure for the Fair on short notice. The Chair hoped to have a compilation of the Fair survey results ready for the next meeting.

Bob Schreiner reported that the Grievance Procedure Review Task Force had held three public meetings in June with a total attendance of between 20-30 people. Employees attending voiced encouragement for all non-grievance methods of dispute settlement. He reported Employee concern that the University Counseling Service consults with both sides in the grievance process. Some Employees preferred that lawyers be available to grievants at all points in the process while other Employees expressed concerns about frivolous grievances being used against supervisors. Employees also cited concerns about retaliation against those filing grievances. Brickhouse asked if retaliation meant the fear that Employees filing grievances feared being “blackballed” and harassed. Schreiner was glad that the Employees attending these meetings were brave enough to bring their experiences to the attention of the Task Force.

Elizabeth Evans reported that the Intellectual Climate Response Task Force had scheduled its next three meetings. The School Volunteerism Task Force had no report. The Transit & Parking Task Force had finished its work and a copy of its report was included in Delagates’ packets for members’ reference.

Bob Schreiner reported that there was no news from President Molly Corbett Broad concerning the proposed UNC System-wide Staff Assembly. He noted that Broad had set a May 1 deadline for System chancellors to respond to her request for information on the feasibility of such an organization. He anticipated that the Assembly membership would need to adapt a fallback position should a response not be received by the end of August. Nancy Tannenbaum asked what relation the North Carolina School of Science and Math had to the UNC System; the Chair responded that NCSSM is considered an associate member of the UNC System.

The Chair noted that the University Priorities and Budget Committee is busy designing a method on how to question deans and department heads on eventualities that would result if different budgetary policies are enacted. He said that meetings have been moved around to accommodate members’ summer schedules.

There was no report concerning the Faculty Council or its liaisons.

Announcements & Questions

The Chair thanked Forum Assistant Matt Banks for coming to the meeting for work during his World Cup vacation. He thanked Tommy Brickhouse, Abby McCaffrey, Angela Eubanks and Deborah Gwyn for their work in assembling distributing the Forum agenda packets in Banks’ absence. Finally, he thanked Scott Ragland for his fine coverage of the Forum in the most recent issue of the University Gazette.

In the absence of further discussion, the Chair called for a motion to adjourn. Terry Teer made this motion with Nancy Tannenbaum seconding. The meeting adjourned at 10:34 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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