Employee Forum Agenda — July 5, 2006

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

I.            Call to Order

II.           Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III.         Opening Remarks

    • Kevin Fitzgerald, Director, Center for Public Technology, School of Government

IV.      Special Presentations

    • Jerry Jailall, Ed.D., on Collective Bargaining and the HOPE Coalition

V.          Human Resources Update—Laurie Charest

VI.         Stretch Time

VII.        Minutes

VIII.       Old Business

  • Revised Resolution 06-04Concerning the Implementation of a Textbook Assistance Program for UNC-Chapel Hill Employees (Second Reading)
    • Old Resolution 06-04 Concerning the Implementation of a Textbook Assistance Program for UNC-Chapel Hill Employees
  • Resolution 06-05 Concerning the Employee Forum Supporting Implementation of a Clerical Skills Internship Program (Second Reading)

IX.         New Business

  • Proposed UNC System Staff Assembly Charter and Bylaws (PDF files)

X.           Employee Presentations or Questions

XI.         Forum Committee Reports

  • Communications and Public Relations: John Heuer
    • Forum Newsletter
  • Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Cathy Rogers
  • Compensation and Wages:  Alan Moran
  • Education and Career Development: Chuck Brink
  • Health Benefits:  Greg Alvord
  • Legislative Action:  Camilla Crampton
  • Membership and Assignments:  Gloria Farrar
  • Staff Relations, Policies and Practices: David Brannigan

XII.        Chair’s Report (Executive Committee):  Ernie Patterson

XIII.       Task Force/University Committee Reports

  • Board of Trustees Finance Committee—Ernie Patterson
  • University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee—Ernie Patterson

XIV.       Announcements/Questions

XV.        “Go Around the Room”:  A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds

XIV.       Adjournment

MINUTES

July 5, 2006 Minutes

 

Chair Ernie Patterson called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  He welcomed Corrie Parker, Dana Richens, Cliff Turner, Jessica Moore, Tammy Sopp, Felecia Perry, and Chris Chiron, among others.   He then welcomed Kevin Fitzgerald to provide opening remarks.

Fitzgerald noted his work as special assistant to the Chancellor in charge of state relations.  He said that his recent time on the job had been very busy as the State worked on its budget.  The University had done very well in this year’s budget, as had State employees.  The University System added $126 million in terms of resources.  The new president of the UNC System, Erskine Bowles, has framed a whole different process in terms of campus priorities.

Fitzgerald outlined the budgetary approval process.  The Governor produces a budget that the Legislature receives and adjusts.  This year, the Senate had first crack at the budget, followed by the House.  The two bodies address differences in conference committee, then send the budget back to each house for a final vote.  After final approval from the House and Senate, the budget goes to the Governor for his signature.

Fitzgerald noted that while the State has been through a difficult time recently, the Legislature has taken pains to maintain the level of investment in higher education.

SPA employees this year will receive a 5.5% raise with no bonus in the budget.  In addition, State employees will be able to receive tuition waivers for three classes a year as opposed to two, previously.  EPA and EPA non-faculty receive a 6% bonus in their budgetary pool.  Teachers and community college professors receive an 8% raise.  Compared to previous years this has been a very important set of increases.

The University will receive a $79 million enrollment increase to accommodate the increased number of students enrolling in System campuses.  UNC-Chapel Hill will receive $7 million of this money for its own enrollment growth.  Fitzgerald noted that classification of the enrollment increase money has changed to add this money automatically, a significant victory for the UNC System.

Estzer Karvazy asked if next year’s budget will match this year’s.  Fitzgerald said that there are too many variables to be able to predict next year’s budget with any certainty.  He said that President Bowles had placed a priority on education, nursing, and health expenditures.  UNC-Chapel Hill will establish a new AHEC to Elizabeth City State University.  The state will also seek to recruit psychiatrists in underserved areas of the state.

Fitzgerald stated that the Legislature had established or enhanced programs such as the nutrition-based Kannapolis Center, the judicial college at the School of Government, TEAACH, Family House.  With regard to capital improvements, UNC-Chapel Hill had sought construction on three top priorities:  Genomic Science, Biology and the School of Dentistry.  In all three projects the University had received seed money to begin planning this construction.  He said that the University should develop a good capital plan with Dentistry and Genomic Sciences the top priorities.  The University also needs more repair and renovation money to address problems that have resulted from the campus’ aging infrastructure.

Fitzgerald said that he had enjoyed working with Forum Chairs Tommy Griffin and Ernie Patterson and appreciated the chance to speak.  Greg Alvord asked what impact Project Pace will have on the new budget year.  Fitzgerald did not know, but he had heard that Bowles would let campuses direct their efforts to a great degree.  He thought it would be a very helpful effort.  Alvord recalled the difficulties related to the reorganization and information technology on campus.  Fitzgerald said that it is difficult to ride herd on such a diverse organization as the UNC campus.  He thought that Project Pace would be important to life up regulations and simplify work processes.

David Brannigan said that he did not feel included in the presentation about University priorities.  He thought that a 5.5% raise did not mean he had done very well given the very low salary increases of previous years.  He cited figures that University employees would not have returned to parity over the last five years, given inflation.  He asked how to get the Chancellor to push harder for a flat salary increase that would benefit the lowest paid employees.  Fitzgerald noted the deterioration of benefits and small salary raises that have occurred over the last 20 years.  He said that the Board of Governors has not accepted a flat rate as its legislative goal.  Instead, the Board pushed for a 4% increase that was more than met by the eventual 5.5% increase.  Fitzgerald said that the Chancellor works with the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors to set priorities.  He said that this was not a perfect budget but a betterment.

Brannigan said that this year’s increase did not represent a pay raise given where employees stood five years ago.  He asked why the Governor asked for only 4% for state employees.  Fitzgerald said that this was a product of the political environment.  He noted that state employees have not received a 5.5% increase since 1984.

Brenda Denzler asked the best way to pursue salary increases that will allow state employees to reach parity with five years ago.  Fitzgerald said that a number of vectors are pushing various interests.  SEANC was one of those groups.  He said that state employees’ interests arise in the context of other sets of interests.  He thought the University had been smart about building bridges with other campuses, General Administration and the Legislature.

Alvord asked if Fitzgerald would comment on the new liability for retirement.  Fitzgerald said that North Carolina has a fairly well-funded retirement system compared to other states.  The proposed rules were seen as a way of dealing with possible overruns by requiring enrollees to have 20 years instead of five years’ service.

Jackie Kylander asked how this effort would replace monies taken from the retirement system.  Fitzgerald though that the monies have been completely repaid this session.

The Chair observed that employees may need to focus their effort on the Board of Governors and Board of Trustees to adopt positions such as a flat raise for employees.

 

Steve Hutton introduced Ari Jailall, Director of School Improvement for the Department of Public Instruction, a member of SEANC District 44, communications vice chair and SEANC’s co-chair of its collective bargaiing committee.  Jailall recognized those in the room with whom he had previously worked with on SEANC issues.

Jailall congratulated the Forum for putting collective bargaining on its agenda.  He said that the current system is a benevolent, paternalistic system that does not reflect America’s democratic values.  He compared the American experience with the powerful unions in Guyana.  In Guyana, public employees have received raises in excess of 20% for a number of years.

Jailall noted that the HOPE Coalition includes as core members the American Federation of Teachers, the State Employees’ Association (SEANC), the Teamsters, UE 150 and the AFL-CIO as its core members.  Various farm labor organizing committees, faith-based, human and civil rights organizations have also added to the groups.

Jailaill noted the span of North Carolina public sector workers and the strong turnover rate among younger workers.  His presentation outlined the types of work that State employees do.

He also noted that North Carolina is one of only two states in the nation that do not allow collective bargaining for its state employees.  He said that this law is a clear violation of the UNC Declaration of Human Rights and puts North Carolina in company with some very bad countries.

Jailall said that it is not illegal to join a union, but it is against the law for a group of public employees to collectively bargain with the State about salaries or working conditions.  This law was passed in 1959 in response to the Teamsters organizing Charlotte police.  Other right to work laws were approved in the wake of bus driver and textile industry strikes.  Governor Luther Hodges sent in the National Guard to deal with strife arising from the Charlotte organization efforts.  Some aspects of these laws were overturned in 1969 but some still stand.

Jailall said that studies have found that public sector collective bargaining does not lead to more expensive, less efficient government.  Data from NC State University has found that states with stronger government unions have fewer workers for compensation size.  He also said that unionized workers do not strike much more than non-unionized workers in the U.S.  He observed that in Guyana, strikes occur at the drop of a hat.  Jailall noted that many employees feel that it is illegal to strike.

In addition, in states where there is a higher percentage of union members, there is lower turnover among state government workers.  Jailall recalled the work of Malcolm Baldridge who found that people closest to the problem best understand how to solve problems in business.  Baldridge took his business theories to Japan and helped make that country a world economic power.

Jailall said that the North Carolina’s 8.27% turnover rate for state employees would drop to 5% or less with collective bargaining rights.  Jailall said that studies have also shown that there is no relation between union strength and corruption.  Jailall said that the nation needs a new form of civil service reform for the 21st century.

Jailall noted the perception that unions constrain administrative discretion.  He said that studies have shown there to be very little effect.  Additionally, he said that there is a $6,000 difference between union and non-union workplaces and that retirement benefits are stronger over time for union workplaces.

Mike McQuown asked if copies of Jailall’s presentation could be distributed via the Forum listserv.  Jane Majors asked why the data did not include EPA employees.  Jailall said that he went with the most current data.

Jackie Kylander noted that the USA is a democratic republic, not a democracy.  She cautioned that she did not want to lose jobs to provide pay raises to unionized employees.  Jailall said that the general efficiency principle would lead to the number of employees being used in better ways in a sort of streamlining function.

Keith Fogleman said that his wife had not received the full 8% raise that the General Assembly granted, but only a portion above that already established in her step increase.  Brannigan noted that with collective bargaining, employees would have legally enforceable contracts with the State about such pay issues.  Jailall said that currently groups cannot negotiate a binding contract on employees’ behalf.

 

Human Resources Update

Associate Vice Chancellor Laurie Charest presented the Forum’s customary update.  She noted that tuition waivers will increase from two to three courses a year.  She explained that the convoluted language with regard to the retirement changes has to do with the timing of ten-month teaching faculty and others.

Charest also noted a provision in the appropriations bill that suspends career banding for State employees while another one allows it to continue under regulations approved by the State Personnel Commission if initiated before June 2006.  She did not know the fate of career banding at this point.

Charest said that the increase in SPA staff salaries should appear in paychecks either in the July 21 paycheck or the first one in August.  EPA paychecks will not receive the increases until the end of September, retroactive to July 1.

The State Health plan has extended the deadline for applications or waivers until July 7.  Human Resources has adjusted to meet this new deadline and will continue to take applications.  As of July 3, Human Resources has processed 7,394 applications, 76% of which were dedicated to the PPO option.

Training and Development will accept applications for the University Managers’ Development Program through September 1.  Applications are available through the Human Resources website or from Holly Tieman at 2-9682.

Camilla Crampton asked what prompted the rift to suspend career banding.  Charest did not know but an influential person had inserted the change.  At UNC-Chapel Hill, law enforcement and information technology are the only two employment areas that have undergone career banding.  Many other areas are slated to begin the career banding process but the new legislation represents a big roadblock.

Brannigan asked  how much the University has spent on career banding.  Charest said that the process has cost in staff time and funds.  She did not know if that figure has been captured in any way.  She did not know if it would be a good decision to pull back from career banding at this point given the time and effort expended so far.

 

At this point, the Forum took a five minute stretch break.

 

Chuck Brink read a policy statement from the Education and Career Development committee outlining the need for a strong commitment to campus environment, learning, and professional growth.  He said that educational opportunities are fundamental to staff morale and retention and that the University should take responsibility to create a supportive institutional climate for these efforts.

Brink noted questions raised about creating taxable income for employees with the textbook resolution.  He said that the University Counsel should have an answer to this question later in the week.

Brink introduced resolution 06-05 concerning a campus internship program for graduates of the clerical skills program.  Brenda Denzler moved that the resolution be adopted and Alan Moran seconded.  The Forum approved the resolution unanimously.

 

New Business

The Chair reported that the process to establish a UNC System Staff Assembly had recently finished.  All sixteen UNC System institutions along with General Administration will send delegates to the Staff Assembly’s first meeting October 16.  The Chair thanked John Heuer, Linwood Futrelle, Tommy Griffin, and all of the other people who had worked so hard to bring this idea to fruition.  He said that the Staff Assembly will meet twice a year formally and will report directly to President Bowles.  The membership of the Assembly will compose over 60,000 SPA and EPA non-faculty employees.  Copies of the charter and bylaws were included with the July agenda packet.

Alan Moran confirmed how delegates will be selected for the Assembly.  The Chair said that the Forum will select delegates at its August meeting.  He said that there are no rules about concurrent terms as the Forum and the Assembly are separate organizations.

John Heuer, chair of the Communications committee, reported that the committee had published the June InTouch and would soon finish its annual University Gazette insert featuring the perspectives of non-US born delegates and employees.

Greg Alvord of the Health Benefits committee reported that the group had received 35 responses to its recent survey.  The Chair urged the committee to work to get this data into shape for discussion with leaders of the UNC Health Care System.

Camilla Crampton, chair of the Legislative Affairs committee, reported that group will begin work on an evaluation of legislative candidates related to State employee concerns.

Liz Crowley said that the OS1 study committee would give a status report to the Forum next month.  The committee still has two or three meetings with housekeepers to come in July.

 

Chair’s Report

The Chair stated that he had began a month-long experiment using Chapel Hill Transit.  He invited comments on his speech to the Board of Trustees Finance committee.  Camilla Crampton confirmed that Board meetings are indeed open except for when they go into closed session.  Laurie Charest said that meeting times and agendas are posted on the Board’s website.

The Chair reported that John Heuer’s mother had passed on earlier in June.  Heuer said that his parents had been married longer than 65 years and his mother continued to inspire his family and himself.

Ramona Kellam said that the responsibilities that vanpool drivers assume should earn some compensation from the University.  Forum members discussed transit issues with regard to bus service from Alamance County.  Mike McQuown hoped that someone could spin off the bus service provided for the Robertson Scholars program between Durham and Chapel Hill into Alamance County.

 

In the absence of further discussion the meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

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