July 1, 2009
Employee Forum Agenda — July 1, 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
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
X. Stretch Time
XI. Forum Committee Reports
- Communications and Public Relations: Ashley Fogle/Carrie Goldsmith
- Forum Newsletter
- Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Beth Bridger
- Compensation & Benefits: Gina Platz
- Education and Career Development: Cate Cunningham/Koyah Rivera
- Legislative Action: Jonathan Stephenson
- Membership & Assignments: Aluoch Ooro
- Staff Relations, Policies & Practices: Marc ter Horst
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
July 1, 2009 Employee Forum minutes
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:22 a.m. He welcomed guests and members of the press. He also asked members to observe a moment’s silence in honor of Kenneth Morris, who passed away the previous Friday. He noted that Brenda Denzler was also undergoing health problems.
Gina Carter of Human Resources said that there was no Human Resources update for that day’s meeting. Jackie Overton praised the new system of Human Resources updates as distributed through the Human Resources facilitators system. Carter said that employees should encourage their facilitators to distribute these updates. Clifton Webb asked about the decision to cancel the University Managers’ Development Program (UMDP). Carter characterized this as more of a postponement to allow for retuning of the program. The Chair stressed the importance of the basic clerical skills program to employees. The Chair said that the Executive Committee had held a very good meeting at which it was decided that the Forum Office would produce minutes within 5 days after meetings. He asked delegates to send in one good idea that they would like the Forum to accomplish this year.
The Chair noted that North Carolina was not in as bad a shape as other states are given the budget crisis. Ruth Novacek noted talk about eliminating or reducing tuition waivers for employees this year. The Chair did not know what would happen with the budget this year.
There were no employee presentations or questions. Alan Moran noted that the May set of minutes should have portrayed passage of a second resolution. Mark Duncan said that his move to table that resolution also should have been included in the May minutes. With these additions, the Forum moved to accept the May and June minutes.
The Chair asked if there were any old business. Alan Moran asked if there had been any citations by the Department of Public Safety for violations of the campus smoking ban. Gina Carter said that a campus smoking cessation advisory team was in place. She said that the group had cancelled a meeting originally scheduled for July. Matt Brody said that employees who are caught smoking and refuse to stop are subject to disciplinary action. Mark Duncan confirmed that if managers do not care if their employee is smoking, the ban has no teeth. He called for the issuance of citations for violations of the policy, given that people will not obey the policy otherwise. The Chair asked Duncan to write a letter in support of the ban on behalf of the Forum. Debbie Dehart called on the University to make sure that people who are already going to smoke off campus have provisions made for their safety when walking into an unsafe area to get outside the campus no-smoking limit.
The Chair introduced new delegate Harold Hill, who would take Kenneth Morris’ place. He asked delegates to join a committee of their choice if they have not already done so. He also said that he had asked the administration for a delegate position on the Provost search committee to replace Bernadette Gray-Little. Jackie Overton said that she had agreed to serve if called.
Carrie Goldsmith of the Communications and Public Relations committee said that the print edition of InTouch had recently gone out. The committee planned to follow a bimonthly schedule, skipping the month of July. The committee can use more members and more art. Alan Moran said that by printing in the Daily Tar Heel, the InTouch faced a burden of fact checking if it purported to a journalistic role instead of advocacy, as administrators and others will pay closer attention to the paper. The Chair thought to leave this balance up to the co-chairs of the committee to determine as they see fit. He noted the wide range of people who read the InTouch in the Daily Tar Heel.
Debbie Dehart said that the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee was working to differentiate between award nominations written in long-winded fashion and shorter versions. She asked if the Forum wanted to participate in the Employee Appreciation Fair this year. Gina Platz reported that the Compensation & Benefits committee had held its first meeting two weeks ago. Bonni Baird of the Education and Career Development committee reported that group would hold a meeting in July. Jonathan Stephenson of the Legislative Affairs committee reported that House Bill 750 and Senate Bill 427 sought to restore contract rights to State and local governments dealing with their employees, a repudiation of Senate Bill 95-98. These bills might be attached to appropriations bills. Charles Streeter of the Membership and Assignments committee reported that group had not met. James Holman of the Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee reported that group had discussed items from the previous year, including the University’s grievance policy.
The Chair thanked Bonni Baird for her work on the Executive Committee minutes. He had met with the Board of Trustees Finance and Administration committee and asked that group to try to find ways to save employees’ jobs. He asked delegates to take a copy of the Forum photograph.
The Chair asked delegates to share the issue most on their minds as they went around the room. Amy Preble noted that recycling trainings would take place on July 16 at Toy Lounge and August 12 at Bondurant Hall. Robert Humphreys asked how much the University would have to shut itself down after the most recent rounds of budget cuts. Jonathan Stephenson asked how many people each Forum delegate represents. Ruth Novacek worried about the impact of the budget cuts on people left behind, particularly the effect on productivity. David Fraley worried about job security and the managerial impulse to assign fewer and fewer people to compete a task. Odessa Davis and James Holman echoed this worry. Ashley Fogle announced HAVEN training to assist survivors of sexual violence and assault for August. Carrie Goldsmith noted that her department had been running out of paper. Bonni Baird said that she had been laid off more than once and said that all in all higher education was a good place to be in these times of economic uncertainty. Mark Duncan shared this sentiment.
Harold Hill noted that he serves on the University’s energy conservation committee, which does strategic planning in this area. He said that State buildings would soon return to State mandates of 76-78 degrees. He said that the committee was working to measure water and electrical use in buildings by week in an attempt to save money. Mark Duncan pointed out that the State saves money by these measures but the University does not. Hill agreed, but said that the rest of the world follows what the University does. He said that UNC-Chapel Hill’s proactive approach placed it far ahead of other institutions. Duncan lamented that most of the University’s computers and copiers do not turn themselves off automatically.
Todd Hux pointed out that the State health plan was put out under a no bid contract, with only three people, Senator Tony Rand, Senator Hugh Holland, and State Health Plan Director Jack Walker authorized to see the contract in full. Jonathan Stephenson noted a proposal to switch the plan to the executive branch to promote greater stewardship. He said that the plan could currently write off anything in the overhead of the contract. The Chair said that SEANC had considered filing a lawsuit to obtain information about the plan. Alan Moran said that the feeling of nervousness was similar at other UNC System institutions. He worried about losing the best and brightest of the University’s work force. Gina Platz understood that some departments in her area might lose 2-3 staff workers.
Marc ter Horst noted that he had taken over as Staff Relations, Policies & Practices committee chair and that group would meet the last Wednesday of the month from 1-2:30 p.m. The committee had followed up on break rooms, computer access, and grievances, among other items. Charles Streeter noted questions from employees about how to make up money lost during furloughs. Danny Nguyen worried that the State Legislature might reduce or remove the tuition waiver program. Faith Thompson said that donors are less likely to give in the current economic climate. She said that the Forum still has a duty to stand up for employees in instances of possible abuse. Koyah Rivera said that restrictions on the travel budget had changed her job immensely. Renee Sherman said that as a worker in the registrar’s office, she was concerned with the possible cancellation of classes. Myra Quick worried about the possible confluence of money and health issues. Jackie Overton made a joke, but still said that the current situation leads bad managers to exacerbate their worst traits. Ingrid Camacho said that America can survive these difficult times as the best nation in the world. Debbie Dehart wondered if the Forum could organize a kind of swap shop to help departments like Carrie Goldsmith’s that cannot afford to buy paper. She proposed to call such a swap shop the “Rams’ List,” after the famous Craig’s List.
A housekeeper spoke in favor of the new administration, particularly Assistant Director of Housekeeping Tonya Sell, whom she said had singlehandedly turned around the department. Sell had been a champion of housekeeping, meeting quickly to resolve questions of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace. This housekeeper spoke of her complete and total faith in Sell, saying that she had hope where none had been there before. The Forum applauded this positive news. The Chair asked delegates to go back to their departments with positive news.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary