March 1, 2006
Employee Forum Agenda — March 1, 2006
8:30 a.m.—-Reception for Supervisors of Forum Delegates: Wilson Library Lobby
- Chancellor James Moeser is scheduled to attend between 8:30 and 9 a.m.
9:30 a.m.—Meeting: Wilson Library Lobby Pleasants Family Assembly Room
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks
- Provost Robert Shelton
IV. Special Presentations
- Updated Presentation on University Pay and Benefits Compared with Peer Institutions and Surrounding Southeastern States from Associate Vice Chancellor Laurie Charest
- Aon Survey Response Presentation (Mike McQuown)
V. Human Resources Update—Laurie Charest
VI. Stretch Time
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
- Resolution 06-01, Concerning Salary Increases for State of North Carolina Employees
- Resolution 06-02, Concerning Implementation of Flexible Working Schedules
- Draft Policy Report on Teleworking
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 (minutes)
- Compensation and Wages: Alan Moran
- Education and Career Development: Chuck Brink (minutes)
- Health Benefits: Greg Alvord (minutes)
- 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
XV. “Go Around the Room”: A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds
March 1, 2006 Minutes
Chair Ernie Patterson called the meeting to order at 9:34 a.m. He welcomed Provost Robert Shelton to make opening remarks. Referring to his acceptance of the presidency of the University of Arizona, Shelton said that he was sorry to be leaving when the State of North Carolina’s budget situation was turning around.
Shelton said that he could not imagine encountering a more substantive group than the Forum here at UNC-Chapel Hill. Since arriving at Carolina five years ago, Shelton said that it had been a pleasure and a stimulant working with the Forum. He said that leaders and members of the forum are invested in the University enough to develop creative and positive solutions. He said that the Forum is a jewel beyond measure.
Shelton invited supervisors to work for the betterment of UNC and he urged supervisors not to forget the importance of the Forum. He also noted that there is no job more important and difficult than to hold a supervisory role. He hoped that supervisors would embrace their responsibility to nurture those working with them. He thanked supervisors of Forum delegates for coming to the meeting today.
Shelton looked forward to learning about the new and dramatically different environment at the University of Arizona. He noted that he has a daughter in school at UNC-Chapel Hill and so would be returning to visit regularly. He also hoped that anyone interested in taking a vacation in Arizona would visit or perhaps stay with him there, giving him a chance to catch up on events at Carolina.
Shelton said that the 06-07 budgetary year would see a strong budget proposal from General Administration, emphasizing the need to keep and reward the best people working in the University System. He said that this budget would allow the University to do more of that. He advised the Forum to stick to its work and remain candid about what needs improvement.
Noting Chancellor Moeser’s leadership in the areas of global education, sustainability, the Carolina Covenant and other developments, John Heuer asked what other university leaders Shelton saw worthy of note to shape future society. Shelton said that he admired Pete Lichens at the University of Arizona as setting a tone for compassionate ethical and moral leadership. He praised Mary Sue Coleman, the head of the University of Michigan for demonstrating wisdom, courage and leadership in pursuing the Supreme Court case with regard to affirmative action. He also noted the chancellor at the University of California at Riverside, Francis Cordoba, one of seven sisters who has been a voice for inclusion, access and affordability in higher education.
Shelton said that he had not cited any private education leaders, but felt that Nan Keohane, the former president of Duke University, had been an extraordinary leader in every sense of the word. He wished that she would assume the leadership of Harvard University instead of merely leading the search for that new position.
David Brannigan asked if Shelton had any thoughts on the manner of appointment of President Erskine Bowles and Provost-designate Bernadette Gray-Little. He asked what message it sent that these two major appointments were made so quickly. Shelton thought that the two appointments have different characteristics. Bowles’ candidacy was supported widely in academic and political arenas early on. This early publicity put expectations and constraints on the process. The Board of Governors was still able to generate a number of viable candidates for the job, but given the importance placed on North Carolina connections, it would be hard to out-compete Bowles for the job. He could not speak to the legal issues regarding the open meetings law but thought that the search went as well as could be expected.
Locally, concerning Provost-designate Gray-Little, Shelton said that Moeser was very careful to test the idea with a number of groups including vice chancellors, deans, and the Chancellor’s advisory committee to get a sense of how the search would play out. When it became clear that, no matter how the search was conducted, Gray-Little’s selection was the overwhelmingly likely outcome, combined with the need for continuity, led to one decision. Shelton also thought it was the right decision to conduct a national search for Gray-Little’s successor as Dean of Arts and Sciences. He said that if the University continued to fill positions without public searches, this practice would raise a larger series of questions. Shelton said that high-level searches are unique each time and would be difficult to set one optimal practice in all cases.
Brenda Denzler asked how Shelton felt about the need to have all stakeholders at the table when a search is conducted. Shelton said that broad participation from all stakeholders is essential for current leadership but also for the person coming into the position. Shelton recalled his 90 minute interview for Provost as satisfying, providing him with a chance to learn about the University as the University learned about him.
Jackie Kylander asked if any president of a university system such as the UNC system should hold positions on the boards of multiple corporations. Shelton said that this depends completely on the individual. He said that Bowles already had so much information in his head about the University System that he was already prepared. He said that if any chief officer were spending a week a month on corporate boards there would be a different inference. He saw no reason to worry about Bowles.
Kylander said that she was not directing her question specifically at Bowles but thought that the issue of split loyalties was a legitimate question. Shelton said that if an officer chooses boards properly that person can gain an insight into management and gain opportunities to influence circumstances beyond the UNC System in ways that prove beneficial for higher education.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest presented a revised report on the status of campus benefits as compared to peer institutions. That report is available at ????????????
Brenda Denzler asked what the Forum could do about this problem of lagging benefits and erosion of take-home pay. Charest said that she had made a series of presentations to the Board of Trustees, an influential group of people in the public world who have the ear of legislators. She and her colleagues have presented the report at least 100 times to different groups on campus. Vice Chancellor Nancy Suttenfield has taken the presentation on the road to the Board of Visitors. Charest has worked on the UNC System’s pilot health care task force, which has made a real attempt to solve the health insurance issue for System employees.
Charest said that the retirement contribution has been a big issue, with a need to reduce the contribution almost more important than the need for pay increases. Reducing the contribution by 2% would strongly improve the lives of many employees, Charest said.
Marshall Dietz commented that those earning $25,000 a year in Charest’s model appear to have lost 10% of their gross pay over time as opposed to 3.5% for those earning $75,000 a year. He asked if increasing the participation in health coverage would help lower paid employees. Charest said that the pilot task force had tried to get a sliding scale of contributions to address that issue as well. She noted that retirement contributions function as a percentage of income whereas health insurance requires a flat dollar contribution.
David Brannigan praised Charest’s report, but asked if there was a similar update for other southeastern states. Charest said that there was little change from the last report concerning these states, but if there was an indication that this would make a difference, she would do one. Brannigan asked if legislators would rather use other southeastern states as a benchmark. Charest said that the University had taken the previous data comparing southeastern states to the Legislature but the University remained where it is.
Greg Alvord asked what argument legislators have used against making improvements. Charest said that legislators face a challenge to balance their budgets and have heard from employees a preference for increased pay rather than reducing the cost of benefits. The other problem is that State employee benefits look good in comparison to those working in or running a small or family business. To many legislators, complaints that benefits are not good enough sound more like whining than reality.
Kylander said that there are significant differences in the cost of living between Cullowhee and Raleigh. Charest said that she had tried to communicate this fact but that the difference does not hold as much weight with legislators from Cullowhee. She thought the argument was rational and appropriate but difficult to get across.
David Harrison asked how to compare state employee benefits to the Legislature. Charest said that the Legislature also participates in the State health plan. She said that legislative staff have a more generous longevity structure. They participate in the same retirement system but have different contribution requirements.
Brannigan asked about the salary supplements given to museum staff state employees. Martha Fowler asked if legislative staff are considered different than other state employees and so eligible to receive salary supplements. Charest said that there are different rules for these employees. Ramona Kellam noted the large salary supplements given to secretarial staff with local school systems. Katherine Graves said that Alamance County school system staff receive a better supplement than UNC employees for longevity pay.
Charest noted that the recruitment web interface had completed its final part of the process. She said that Human Resources had eliminated time delays and was scheduled to go live March 10. The interface had been a working pilot in one-third of the campus to this point. Human Resources will continue training through March 2. She was excited about the hiring efficiencies that will result from the new system.
Charest said that Aon Consulting had contacted Human Resources concerning issues with the NC Flex program. She said that Aon had purchased upgraded technology to address problems with receiving faxed receipts. Aon feels that once this new technology is in place, problems should decline in this area substantially.
Aon has hired additional staff and temporaries to deal with high call volumes and long hold times for subscribers. The company says that call volumes have doubled from this time last year. Aon expects the call hold time to decline within the next two to three weeks.
The convenience card issuance delay has come about due to a delay in the new spending account software platform. As the rollout was delayed, issuance of the new cards was also delayed, longer than anticipated. Aon says that employees should use their previous cards until they receive new ones.
Charest said that the State Health plan has announced an additional health insurance option, to take effect Octobe r 1. This preferred provider option will enable three different levels of coverage aside from the current State indemnity plan option. She would provide further details as they become available.
Charest was pleased that the new State plan reforms incorporate a number of proposals from the UNC health insurance task force. She did not yet know the rates of the new plan but said that the plan would create separate options for employee-spouse, and family coverage. She said that another option will likely cost less but have a different payment coverage structure. She hoped that this option would not provide significantly less coverage.
The new State plan hopes to move to a calendar year. The preferred provider option network should be very robust, with subscribers paying less for coverage when choosing a doctor in the network. Charest said that Human Resources will update its website when more information is available.
Chuck Brink asked if the new preferred provider option will include vision and dental. Charest said that the State plan must still address that question. Katherine Graves said that the roundtable group convened by the State health plan were aware of the need for a vision and dental option. She also noted that the remnants of Jack Walker’s group had largely left or been cleared out in the changeover. She thought that this new group had developed a good relationship with the Legislature.
Lucy Lewis asked if there was a process to share this information with other Employees. Charest said that delegates should feel free to share this information with anyone. She only asked to make sure that delegates provide a context for the data. She proposed that the Forum post the presentation on its website.
Brannigan asked how the recruitment web process would affect those not so computer literate applying for jobs. Jill Hartman had said that the figures used were not accurate and were perhaps the result of a double-count of those dropping out and re-applying for positions. Charest thought that this position had changed. Clair Miller said that applications had risen 34% over the last twelve months.
Cheryl Blake asked if subscribers could use the preferred provider option when leaving the state of North Carolina. Charest said that this issue has been brought to the State health plan’s attention and she hoped that it would make appropriate provisions. She said that coverage out of state will probably never be as good as coverage in state. Given the mobile nature of today’s population, given traveling for work, vacation and retirement, the State plan needs good coverage out of state. At this point, she thought that the preferred provider option did not provide good enough coverage out of state compared with the indemnity plan. The Chair commented that Dan Souper was very concerned about providing equivalent coverage for those traveling out of state.
At this point, the Forum took a five minute break. He thanked delegate supervisors for attending the meeting and invited them to stay if possible.
Mike McQuown presented a report on a fact-finding all campus e-mail concerning Aon Consulting’s administration of the NC Flex system. Employees reported over 100 complaints ranging from excessive hold times to lost receipts to improperly withheld benefits. McQuown had shared these results with the Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee and Human Resources.
Alan Moran introduced resolution 06-01 concerning staff salary increases. Chuck Brink formally made a motion that the resolution be introduced on first reading, seconded by Frederick Moore. Moran thanked Chuck Brink, Martha Fowler, David Brannigan and Estzer Karvazy of the Compensation and Wages committee for their help with the draft resolution. The resolution would be heard on second reading in April, after further work on its wording. Camilla Crampton suggested that the resolution change the phrase “Office of the President” to “General Administration” to reflect current usage. Moran asked delegates and others to forward comments to him.
David Brannigan introduced resolution 06-02 concerning implementation of flexible working schedules. John Heuer formally moved that the resolution be introduced on first reading, seconded by Anthony Eubanks. Brannigan said that the resolution sought to increase consultation with the forum with regard to the new draft telework policy. He hoped to begin study of telecommuting in different divisions.
Jonathan Zerulik suggested that Dan Reed’s name be removed from the resolution to avoid a direct implication of fault or blame. The Chair said that he assumed the committee had done the appropriate research on the issue. Brannigan said that Employees have reported that the telework option in Information Technology Services has been eliminated. All arguments in favor of the policy were disregarded in ITS town hall style meetings on the subject. Reportedly, the decision on the policy has been decided simply on the basis that one person does not like the telework option.
The Chair was pleased to see these resolutions and hoped that that they would lead to positive solutions to these problems.
Camilla Crampton, chair of the Legislative Affairs committee, said that group would hold a voter registration drive in the Pit on March 28 and 29 from 10-2 p.m. The committee had held discussions with other campuses on the content of their drives. The committee will also meet March 15 from noon-1 p.m. in Sitterson Hall. Crampton praised Antoinette Satterfield’s fantastic work in compiling a list of representatives and counties represented by Employees on campus. This webpage will provide Employees with the identity and contact information of their particular legislator. The page will not make judgments but will give information on how legislators have voted on issues of importance to State Employees. She noted that a great legislator may have voted against State Employee interests.
Crampton said that the committee will send out postcards to legislators following the registration drive. She said that the committee will publicize the registration drive via WCHL radio, the University Gazette, other radio stations and possibly via an all-campus e-mail.
Chuck Brink, chair of the Education and Career Development committee, said that the group continues to work on finding ways to use staff development fund. The committee had invited Charest to attend its next meeting to discuss possible uses of the fund. In April, Felecia Perry will attend a committee meeting to discuss a draft proposal of an internship program.
On another topic, Sue Field noted that Erskine Bowles had responded within minutes to a message she had copied him on regarding the future of the graduate Portuguese program. Surprisingly, Bowles himself responded via Blackberry within minutes. The chair noted that Blackberry use can sometimes be a curse to its owners as it creates an expectation of constant contact and response.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary