Agenda —March 1, 1995

9:30 a.m.—Meeting, Assembly Room of Wilson Library

 

I.          Call to Order

 

II.         Welcome Guests

 

III.       Opening Remarks

  • Chancellor Paul Hardin
  • Laurie Charest, Human Resources Update

 

IV.       Special Presentation

  • Joe Totten, Director of Counseling Services, Human Resources

 

V.        Introduction of Matt Banks, Temporary Forum Assistant

 

VI.       Approval of Minutes

  • February Meeting

 

VII.      Employee Presentations

 

VIII.     Chairperson’s Report:  Rachel Windham

 

IX.       Committee/Task Force Reports

  • Career Development—Sharon Bowers
  • Orientation—Debi Schledorn
  • Personnel Policies—Pat Staley
  • Compensation and Benefits—Dottie Baker
  • Public Affairs—Delores Bayless
  • Recognition and Awards—Ann Hamner
  • University Committee Assignments—Libby Chenault
  • Salary Task Force— Delores Bayless/Trish Brockman
  • Employee Fair Booth Task Force—Marshall Wade

 

X.        Unfinished Business

  • Chancellor’s Response to Request to Reexamine Rules by Which Pay Improvements Are Implemented
  • Final Committee Member Lists from Chairs
  • Minutes of October and December Meetings

 

XI.       New Business

  • Response to Governor’s Budget Proposal
  • Spring Community Meeting
  • Overview of John Fitch’s (Executive Director of SEANC) Legislative Update
  • Executive Committee Liaisons to Forum Committees
  • E-mail Lists
  • Scheduled Presentation by Susan Criscenzo – Employee Assistance Program – April 5 Meeting
  • Possible Presentation by Patty Smith, Program Manager – Employee Services, Human Resources – May 3 Meeting
  • Forum Office Relocation, Phone Number and Recruitment
  • System for Circulation Folders

 

XII.      Announcements/Questions

 

XIII.     Adjournment

MINUTES

March 1, 1995

 

Members Present

Nellie Baldwin

Peggy Barber

Brenda Barnes

Delores Bayless

Scott Blackwood

Lin Blalock

Sharon Bowers

Trish Brockman

Ned Brooks

Sharon Cheek

Libby Chenault

Linda Cook

Peggy Cotton

Mona Couts

Dianne Crabill

Lena Dean

Kathy Dutton

Laresia Farrington

Tommy Griffin

Leon Hamlett

Ann Hamner

Helen Iverson

Archie Lassiter

Vicki Lotz

Dee Marley

Sue Morand

Gary Pearce

Jennifer Pendergast

Sarah Rimmer

Dean Rimmer

Debi Schledorn

Pamela Shoaf

Kay Spivey

Cliff Stone

Jon Thomas

Marshall Wade

Cheryl Ward

Rachel Windham

Members Absent

Shava Averett

Dottie Baker

Malinda Marsh

Jeff McCracken

Cassaundra Minor

Pat Staley

Fran Ward

Alternates Present

Riley Carter

Tom Hocking

Wendy Mann

Alice Taylor

David Lanier

Ruby Massey

Sharon Windsor

Guests Present

Michael Klein

 

 

Call To Order

The meeting was called to order by Forum Chair Rachel Windham at 9:32 A.M.  She asked guests to introduce themselves.  None did, so she proceeded to further business.

 

Opening Remarks

Chancellor Paul Hardin opened the meeting.  He asked if press members were present, noting that at the Faculty Council he had expressed his outrage at the Governor’s budget publicly, but with the Forum  he wanted to have a conversation among friends.  He indicated he was in a somber mood, due to difficulties at the Federal level and the possibility that the General Assembly may “call and raise” the Governor on the issue of University budget cuts.  The Governor had gone farther on tax cuts and budget cuts than the Chancellor wanted. He added that the General Assembly was not likely to be more moderate.

The Chancellor said that private correspondence relying on key people in the General Assembly at this point would likely do more good than continuing public clamor. He noted the presence of three University Chancellors (Chancellor Monteith of North Carolina State, Chancellor Aiken of East Carolina and Chancellor Chambers of North Carolina Central) in the Legislature at that moment lobbying against the proposed cuts.

The greatest danger of these cuts, according to Chancellor Hardin, is to the research and graduate education programs at UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State.  How these changes will affect the Forum is mainly due to the change in Federal rules regarding research grants.  Starting this year with new grants and next year with renewals, no clerical or secretarial support can be built into grant applications.  This change, combined with a further decline in financial aid, hurts all universities in the state.  The proposed increases in out-of-state tuition, combined with no increase in tuition remission funds, will damage the graduate programs even more.

Hardin noted that he had been quoted on the issue of wages before, and he did not want to be quoted now. Yet he asserted that he had been assured by the Governor’s Office that he would be pleased with the Governor’s supplementary budget request.  The Chancellor hoped this request would not be too late, as he felt a 2% raise was not enough for faculty and staff.  Faculty at UNC and N.C. State would be hurt more than at other universities.  At these two institutions, faculty salaries were about to drop to the 4th quintile (from the 3rd) nationally, whereas they had once been in the first.

We live in the Research Triangle, not the “Instructional” Triangle or the “Teaching” Triangle, he said.  The Chancellor indicated that he would urge the General Assembly to remember that the difference is what brought the Triangle its current prosperity.  Even the Chancellors at other, non-research oriented universities felt the current budget was a significant problem, even though the cuts have the greatest impact at UNC and N.C. State.

Gary Pearce asked whether the Governor had responded to the Chancellor’s earlier statements to the Faculty Council.  Hardin replied that he had received a phone call at his home from Governor Hunt, reassuring him that all the news was not in and that he should be pleased by subsequent supplementary funding requests.  On the basis of this call and other reasons, Chancellor Hardin said he would continue to work through private channels.  If this approach did not seem to work, he said he would go back to the public arena.

In closing, Chancellor Hardin stated he had not yet given up on the Governor or the General Assembly, but that the news had not been encouraging.  Still, he hoped someone would listen because, he said, “the money is there.”

Human Resources Update

Laurie Charest gave the Human Resources update.  She said the initial University reaction to the possible budget cuts was to put in place  an additional level of review in the hiring process, rather than implementing a hiring freeze.  She said the Vice Chancellors must review and sign off on the filling of vacant positions before they can be recruited.  Laurie listed the negative aspects of a freeze as follows:  a freeze scares the recruiting community; it leaves the wrong jobs open; and it keeps good applicants out of the system.

On the subject of life insurance, Charest noted an increase in enrollment to 7000 Employees who had been able to register through the automated voice response phone system.  A form recording individual choices and benefits should have been received yesterday by each Employee; if not, one should check with one’s payroll representative.  If there is no information at that level Employees should check with the Benefits Office.

Those Employees who did not call but were on the old Prudential plan were defaulted to the one year’s salary benefit.  These people had the choice on the confirmation form of declining coverage or accepting coverage equal to one to five years’ salary (with corresponding deductions).  This change to automated enrollment, backed up by the confirmation form, was made simply to accommodate those who forgot to call.

Ms. Charest cited these figures about the enrollment, stating the increase in enrollment and benefit levels showed the program was meeting the needs of many employees.

 

 

Old Mandatory Plan

New Voluntary Plan

Overall Enrollment

7,573

7,696

Benefit Pool (In Millions)

$587.5

$782.8

Accidental Death/Dismem.

2,349

4,192

Benefit Pool (In Millions)

$270

$546.9

 

            Regarding the Compensation and Classification Study, the plans of the General Assembly were at this time not clear.  The Office of State Personnel has already begun certain pilots in selected pilot agencies.  By the end of the week, the General Assembly should have confirmed between 4 and 5 State agencies which will pilot the recommendations,  including at least one, and possibly two, universities.  They have established committees to look at (1) the recommended modification to the decision band methodology (2) finalizing labor market data and (3) looking at proceeding with pilot implementation.  OSP has started these activities, looking at implementation within the current system, with no action or financial support from the General Assembly.  As Charest understood it, some agencies might pilot the classification system and some might pilot the different compensation approaches.  She is uncertain if anything will happen in the General Assembly now and guessed that most people are not expecting a lot of action on this particuar study this year. Charest will watch this issue and keep the Forum updated.

Charest stated she had sent a copy of the full report to the Chair of the Compensation and Benefits Committee, and she agreed to send another copy for members’ perusal to the Forum Office.

In response to a question from Libby Chenault requesting a more detailed explanation of the additional hiring review. Charest replied that only hires after February 16 (the date when the notification was sent out) would be affected and that each organization and department, along with each Vice Chancellor, would have leeway to review positions individually.  Human Resources would take action on anything that came through its office approved by a Vice Chancellor.

Sue Morand asked whether reasonable time would be available for departments to react and plan for prospective budget cuts.  Charest said that when the General Assembly decides, then we would know.  She noted the Assembly had the goal to adjourn by June 1, but expressed doubt whether that happen.  She predicted the budget would likely be the last item settled by the Legislature, adding that there should be some advanced idea of what the budget will look like, but she could not say when or what the time frame would be.  One clue would come when tax receipts are totaled April 17.  Also, the supplementary requests the Chancellor alluded to earlier could help.

The Chair noted that Health Affairs had in the last week received some budget numbers to work towards.  People are putting together any number of scenarios to respond to the various proposals, yet no one knows what the final cut will mean.

Special Presentation

The Chair welcomed Joe Totten, Director of Counseling Services in the Department of Human Resources.  The Director started his talk by noting the creation of the Counseling Service in the Fall of 1990, when the University reorganized Personnel into Human Resources.  He stated that he reported to Drake Maynard, the Director of Personnel Administration.  The mission of Human Resources had moved away from a regulatory orientation to concentrate more on making Employee experiences positive from beginning to end.

The Counseling Service exists to listen to and support Employees and supervisors on a variety of work and non-work issues.  Susan Criscenzo, next month’s speaker, works closely with Employees on non-work issues, Totten noted.

In any counseling situation, the Service’s work is kept confidential and impartial.  In addition to these policies, to assure further confidentiality when dealing with Employees, the staff makes sure that each person is treated with dignity and respect.  Often Employees feel they are the low person on the totem pole–especially if they have problems–but if they walk into the Counseling Service, they are going to be treated like “kings and queens.”

The Counseling Service’s objectives are:

  • To encourage a working environment that recognizes the dignity, respect and value of the individual while meeting the needs of the University.
  • To promote effective communication at all levels.
  • To ensure that all Employees receive prompt, fair treatment and due process.
  • To encourage reconcilation of Employee versus Employee and Employee versus management differences or conflicts.

 

 

 

Vehicles to accomplish these objectives are:

  • Advising management on State personnel polices and practices with the ultimate goal of suggesting fair and humane treatment.
  • Serving as a sounding board for employees and providing guidance–guidance in terms of following proper procedures.
  • Mediating differences between supervisors and Employees with performance problems.  Encouraging the use of the mediation process.  Mediation is the future in terms of moving away from grievances, and it was noted that all staff are trained mediators.  The Office prefers to emphasize resolutions not grievances.  Totten stated that although he prefers to use mediation rather than the formal grievance process, that process is available if necessary.
  • Proactive outreach by the Service, making itself available for department meetings; training sessions, orientation programs, supervisor resource and training programs, among others.

Totten listed his staff:  Pat Brown, Administrative Support (procedures); Robin Coleman, Counselor, has been at the University for 6 years and the Counseling Service for 14 months; and Shirl Davis, Counselor, who has experience at North Carolina A&T and at the Office of State Personnel.

On the effectiveness of the service, Totten said that of the 47 grievances filed in 1994, 38 were handled internally.  Of these 38, 15 were found for management, 10 for employees (with two dismissals reversed), 4 referred to mediation, 3 were split decisions and 6 were withdrawn or abandoned.  Considering that 47 grievances represents less than 1% of the SPA population (5800+),  Totten felt this represented an outstanding record by the managers and Employees of the University.  Particularly since Human Resources has made the grievance process so available to everyone through materials and personal service.

Of these 47, most grievances involved disciplinary action of some sort.  Fifteen cases dealt with disciplinary action (oral, written or final), 7 involved dismissals, 6 involved failure to promote, 5 were cases of harassment by management, 4 regarded materials in personnel file and 3 involved hiring process and policies.

Totten spoke about the difference between the grievance system at the University and other universities.  He said that here most any issue is grievable, whereas, elsewhere only contested cases involving lack of just cause, disciplinary action, discrimination, materials in personnel files, preference and promotion are grievable.

He noted that of the one year (1992) when 42% of grievances went to Step 4, most of these went directly to Step 4 without the opportunity for mediation.  He wished that the Counseling Service had had the chance to bring some of these cases to mediation.

Totten also lauded the Step 3 of the formal grievance process, a hearing before a panel solely made up of SPA Employees.  He said this panel was not a rubber-stamp group, working very hard to make sure that Employees and management had an opportunity for a fair hearing.  Panels had heard four cases, referring the rest to mediation or acting as mediators themselves.

Debi Schledorn expressed some skepticism about Totten’s figures, saying that the fact that things are resolved at a lower level does not necessarily mean that everyone goes away happy. It could mean that people may feel that it is not worth pursuing or that it is too difficult for them to pursue.  Totten replied that he liked to be an optimistic.  Scheldorn again inquired whether people were not pursuing grievances because they were being shut out of the system or daunted because of its complexity.  She also wondered about the 1% figure being so low, asking whether people were polled to find out if they were happy or whether this was just an assumption.  Totten granted that more than 1% of the Employee population had come through his office, but that he was happy that the office had been able to resolve so many differences.  Schledorn wanted to be sure that this 1% figure accurately represented the number of real grievances and that Employees were not daunted by the grievance process.

Peggy Barber asked whether the Service had looked at exit interviews for Employees leaving the University, particularly at how many people would rather leave their employment than go through a grievance.  Totten said that this situation probably exists, but that the current exit interview forms do not obtain such information.  He said the Service had revised the form and would be automating the forms soon to collect information on missed issues.  He said current exit interview data indicates that the majority of Employees leave for other employment, to return to school or to follow their spouse to other employment.  Schledorn pointed out that when the data says that someone has left for other employment, it does not explain why they looked for other employment.  She felt it important to know why they looked in the first place.  Totten said to the best of his recollection pay and benefits were the first two items noted on the exit interview forms as reasons for leaving.  After these, dissatisfaction with parking, co-workers and supervisors came to mind, but there is a wide spectrum of issues.  Totten said the new form would include a section asking whether people would like someone from the Counseling Service to contact them by phone.

The Chair encouraged those who felt the grievance procedure was not user friendly to provide feedback to Totten’s office.

Introduction of Forum Assistant

The Chair introduced Matt Banks, the temporary Forum Office Assistant.

Approval of Minutes

The Chair called for motions to approve the February minutes.  Trish Brockman made that motion with Laresia Farrington seconding.  There was no discussion, and the motion passed unanimously.

Employee Presentations

The Chair called on Scott Blackwood to present employees for presentations.  Blackwood introduced Pat Bigelow, Chair of the State Employees Association of North Carolina, District 25.  Bigelow asked the Forum’s support in SEANC’s legislative activities.  She reminded the Forum that budget cuts being considered by the General Assembly are of serious concern to all State employees. At UNC-Chapel Hill, the combination of fewer appropriated dollars and higher tuition will hit doubly hard.  Though we know firsthand how the proposed cuts, if enacted, would hamper our ability to provide service to the citizens of North Carolina, the legislators do not.  They need to hear from us, especially those new to the Assembly. SEANC lobbyists Ed Lowell and John Fitch are currently presenting our point of view to the General Assembly.

In a year like this one, we would be most effective if we pull together on shared issues.   A few ways to help include:

  • get to know your elected representatives and contact them by letters, phone calls and visits
  • join seanc
  • participate in SEANC Legislative Day on april 6
  • follow seanc activities by calling SEANC hotline (1-800-222-2758)
  • attend the brown bag lunch on March 23 at noon, in the Pit or another centrally located place.  The event is being organized in response to Hunt’s budget proposal and would be a public opportunity to express concerns about the direction our Governor and Legislature are taking this year.
  • stay abreast of activites through e-mail listserve.  Interested parties should contact Tom Hocking to subscribe.

She recognized the Forum’s role advising the Chancellor on matters of concern to Employees.  Yet she believed that there is a larger role for each member as citizens and State employees.  She asked those assembled to make a difference for North Carolina by participating assertively in the legislative session.

SEANC meetings are open and held the second Tuesday of each month in the Friday Center, Bigelow announced. The next meeting is March 13 at 5:30 p.m.

Chair’s Report

The Chair noted Don Thomas’ issues on life insurance had been referred to the Compensation and Benefits Committee.  She said the Forum Assistant was attempting to make a list of all questions and passing them along to the Committee.  She said the Forum was recruiting a permanent employee for the Office Assistant position, hoping to possibly increase the position’s hours from half-time to three-quarter time.  The Chair announced Kathy Wong had resigned from Division 8.  She also asked that those wishing to suggest a successor to Darryl Russell on the Chancellor’s Awards Committee to see Libby Chenault, Chair of the University Committee Assignments Committee.

Committee Reports

Beginning the committee and task force reports, Sharon Bowers, Chair of Career Development, noted that her Committee had its first meeting and minutes of that meeting were available on the back table.

Debi Schledorn, Chair of the Orientation Committee, said her Committee would wait a couple of months before its first meeting, but said things would move very quickly for them once they had started.  She asked the assembly for ideas on training.

Cheryl Ward speaking for the Personnel Policies Committee said that Chair Pat Staley was sick and, therefore, absent.  Cheryl did not know of an initial meeting of the Committee.

Archie Lassiter, Co-chair of Compensation and Benefits, announced that the Committee had a meeting last month and that another meeting would occur on March 14 with Jack Stone and Dave Rubin of the Insurance Committee attending.  He asked that anyone interested in attending that meeting let him or Dottie Baker know so that they could know whether to reserve a larger room than the usual one.

Delores Bayless of Public Affairs announced the next meeting of her Committee would be Friday, March 24th, and that minutes from the last meeting had been distributed along with a survey of the Forum delegates.  She asked that members complete and return the survey to Trish Brockman at Campus Box #1830.   Delores said the Committee’s minutes were on the back table.  She said she had a sample letter and writing pack to be used in writing State Representatives about salary increases.  Rather than make copies of this material, however, the Committee would wait for feedback from the Forum about participation in a letter writing campaign.  Those interested should contact Trish for materials.

Reporting for the University Committee Assignments Committee, Libby Chenault noted her Committee’s minutes were on the back table and that the first meeting was strictly organizational.

Scott Blackwood, Chair of the Nominating Committee, announced May 9 at noon as the date for the organizational meeting for nominations of 1996 Forum delegates.  He also announced his Committee would meet routinely at noon on the 2nd Tuesday of the month.

Also reporting for the Employee Presentations Committee, Blackwood said his Committee would continue to solicit employees for presentations to the Forum.

Delores Bayless of the Salary Task Force noted the group would be in conference with Ira Gussiter regarding Duke and Research Triangle salary information.  Her Task Force would have something to report in the next two months.

Marshall Wade, Chair of the Employee Fair Booth Task Force, announced the group had met on February 9 and would meet again on March 9.  He said a booth had been scheduled for the Employee Appreciation Fair.  At this booth a computer will be set up so Employees can learn their division and Forum representatives.  Also, the UNC Ram mascot will be available for pictures.  Wade asked for volunteers to work at the Forum Booth.  He also said the Task Force hoped to have inexpensive bumper stickers and T-shirts ready for the Appreciation Fair.  He said he would have details and prices to present at the next meeting.  Finally, he said the Task Force would try to have a group photo of Delegates and Alternates in the Booth.

From the Recognition and Awards Committee, Ann Hamner said one meeting had taken place with nothing specific to report.

The Chair reminded members that each committee was required to produce an annual report and suggested that committees take minutes at every meeting as a means to this end.

Unfinished Business

Rachel noted the Chancellor’s response to the Forum’s request to the Administrative Council that it re-examine the method by which pay improvements were implemented.  The Chancellor shared that the Council deliberated a long time, but with the limited resources available and the impending budget cuts, felt they could not change the policy of the midpoint as the guiding factor for the implementation of these pay improvements.  The Chair said this statement may not be exactly what we wanted to hear, but given the current budget climate she was not sure that they could have done anything different.  Members indicated they had not had time to read the Chancellor’s statement and asked if the issue could be discussed at the next meeting.  The Forum agreed to delay discussion until the April meeting.

The Chair said that the final committee lists and October and December minutes were in process and would be ready for the April meeting.

New Business

Spring Community Meeting

Scott Blackwood said that planning for the Spring Community Meeting was under way, although the Committee had not met yet.  He asked members to send any ideas for topics and speakers to him over the next few weeks.

Executive Committee Liaisons to Forum Committees

The Chair announced that members of the Executive Committee had agreed to serve as liaisons to other Forum committees.  This arrangement would enable a feedback loop and is not intended to serve a watchdog role.  All assembled supported this action, and the liaison assignments were shared as follows:

 

University Committee Assignments–Mona Couts Nominating; Employee Presentations–Scott Blackwood
Personnel Policies–Jon Thomas Recognitions & Awards–Kay Spivey
Career Development–

Helen Iverson

Compensation & Benefits–

Dottie Baker

Orientation–

Trish Brockman

Public Affairs–Delores Bayless

 

Ann Hamner asked if committees should notify their liaisons of their meetings.  The Chair asked committees to provide this information to liaisons.

E-mail Lists

Regarding e-mail lists, Kay Wijnberg said she administers two lists: forum@unc.edu, which is public, and an advocates list, which is available only to the Delegates and First Alternates.  Delores said the past membership felt the “forum” title was a better title for a public list, whereas the “advocate” label was more appropriate for private discussions.  Dee Marley asked if there was also a newsgroup with a Forum list, and Kay replied that there was, accessible to anyone on-line.  Scott said he had heard from members who felt the “forum” address was misleading in the campus directory, since it implied correspondence with the Forum would be private.  Kay said that was exactly the reason the advocates address was confidential.  Members also expressed the concern that the private address was being leaked to outsiders because of confusion about the two addresses’ confidentiality.  The Chair proposed that she, Kay and Matt confer to find solutions to the problems related to e-mail lists and present them at a future meeting.

Scheduled and Possible Presentations for Future Meetings

The Chair announced that Susan Criscenzo would speak on the Employee Assistance Program at the April 5 meeting.  She also noted that Patty Smith, Program Manager in Employee Services, had been invited to speak at the May 3 meeting.

 

Forum Office Relocation, Phone Number and Recruitment

The Chair mentioned the move of the Forum Office from 210 North Pittsboro Street to Room 156E Brauer Hall in the School of Dentistry.  She said the Forum phone number would still be 962-3779, but that members would probably get a voice mail response until the phone lines had been moved.  Matt would attempt to respond to messages as soon as possible.  She said the Campus Box would continue to be #3488, but that members could also use CB#7450 to reach the Forum Office.

System for Circulation Folders

In response to the concerns of Gary Pearce, the Chair announced the creation of a third routing folder for members to read before and after Forum meetings.  Gary felt a third folder allowed him to concentrate on the file contents and not show disrespect to speakers by reading while they gave presentations.

Overview of John Fitch’s (Executive Director of SEANC) Legislative Update

The Chair shared that John Fitch, the Executive Director of SEANC, recently gave his overview of the Governor’s budget proposal.  He felt that there is a move afoot in the Legislature to ignore what the Governor did and create a Legislative budget proposal.  John’s sense is that the Governor attempted to “out-Republican the Republicans,” something they would not allow.  Fitch wanted the Forum to understand things have the potential to be worse than what the Governor suggested.  We cannot stand for what is going on. We need to take it as a personal responsibility to change things.  Rachel spoke up for approaching legislative representatives with positive logic.

Fitch said he suggested that the Legislature consider reversing the Governor’s proposed salary increases (2% for State employees and 5% for teachers) giving 5% to State workers and 2% to teachers.  The Chair reminded the Forum that when Anne Barnes and Joe Hackney were at the Forum earlier in the year, she raised the question about whether we could expect a differential salary increase this year, and they indicated it was likely.  She indicated that we have heard it and heard it and how we want to respond to is up to the Forum.  It is not likely that we will get any action in our favor if we do not let them know how discontented we are with their decisions.

The Chair agreed there was benefit in approaching in numbers yet, shared her own personal bias about the approach that the Forum should take.  She indicated that last year Anne Barnes, State Representative from Orange County, told the Forum in no uncertain terms that we should proceed with good manners.  She suggested that Employees make an approach that is personal.  Do not talk in general terms, she said.  She encouraged the group to tell their personal story, telling them how this budget decision is going to affect them personnally.  She advised members to tell them more than once and tell as many people who would listen.  Do not confine your discussions to your legislator.  If members know other representatives, they should take every advantage that they have to talk to people.  It is not a time to be shy about using contacts and connections.

The Chair then put forth the Executive Committee’s idea about developing a letter signed by all representatives of the Forum.  Peggy Barber said she agreed with a personal approach, but felt more concerned about working collectively as State employees to protect what we have been trying to protect such as longevity and pay increases.  She opined that individual cases “just do not seem to stick with people as much as working collectively as a group of State employees.”

Libby Chenault reminded the Forum of what the Chancellor raised as one of the things we should think about in terms of any strategy as a group.  It goes back to what the Forum is already working on in the Salary Task Force.  We are unique at Chapel Hill in that we can be hurt in ways that other campuses cannot.  People whom we draw here as employees have very specialized skills.  If we can differentiate ourselves in a positive way so that we are not just complaining but really showing the benefits that unique employees here bring, it would be advantageous.

Tom Hocking agreed with the sentiment that you get more with sugar than with vinegar, but also thought that although we need to be careful in treating our relationship in a positive manner and use positive logic, we need folks to know that enmass we are upset with these considerations especially since, as the Chancellor says, the money is there.  There is no reason that the Legislature and the Governor should be trying to “snatch defeat for the State from the jaws of victory.”  Tom suggested that the Forum do two things:  (1) proceed with the idea of a Forum signed letter to the Legislature and the Governor and (2) develop a resolution encouraging those Employees who are not a part of this body to take some kind of action whether it be the personal approach that the Chair advocates or active participation in whatever group they feel would do the best representing their interests.  Tom said that we should issue a clarion call that this is an important issue.  The Chair asked Tom to draft this resolution for consideration at the next meeting.

Sue Morand advocated that each representative take a copy of the Forum letter back to their department for their co-workers to sign.  This approach would include most of the Employees at the University, she figured.  In response, Dee Marley reminded the Forum about its role as advisory to the Chancellor, not as an advocacy group.  Helen Iverson said that by initiating the letter, the Forum was only taking the Chancellor’s advice.

Delores Bayless said that taking the Forum letter back to the departments created two dangers. First, the danger of individuals circulating the letter on State work time.  Secondly, the danger that department workers would feel they had been forced to sign the letter.  Either activity could be deemed improper, with the Forum perceived as acting outside its designated sphere and becoming involved in a personal, private issue.  The Chair agreed that the Forum should be careful about lobbying as a body.

Marshall Wade reiterated the Chancellor’s point about the Federal role in the budget crisis.  Any rule changes about how grants and universities are funded may supersede any action the State Legislature may take or want to take.

Announcements

The Chair called for other announcements.  To clarify an earlier point, Sue Morand said she meant that Forum members should talk to other employees, not lobby as a group.  She was in favor of the Forum petition.

Matt Banks announced that Divisions 6, 8 and 9 had distributed letters announcing their Delegates/Alternates as agreed at the January retreat.  He said that anyone wanting to see a sample of these letters should contact the Forum Office.  He also said that the minutes from the January retreat were in process and would be ready for the next meeting.

Trish Brockman asked everyone present to sign the roll on the back table, saying she would not call people to confirm their presence.

Mike Klein from the Transportation and Parking Committee introduced himself, saying that he would be available after the meeting to answer any questions.

Members asked that the Forum agenda be delivered by the Friday before each meeting.  Jon Thomas, Delores Bayless and Kay Spivey said they had not received agendas.

Peggy Barber made a motion for adjournment, which Kathy Dutton seconded.  The motion passed unanimously, and the meeting adjourned at 11:20 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

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