May 5, 2004
Agenda — May 5, 2004
9:30 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks
- Provost Robert Shelton
IV. Special Presentations
V. Employee Presentations or Questions
VI. April 7, 2004 Minutes
VII. Old Business
VIII. New Business
· Resolution 04-02 Extending Best Wishes to Tommy Griffin in Future Endeavors to Serve the People of the State (First Reading)
IX. Stretch Time 6
X. Forum Committee Reports
· Employee Presentations: Katherine Graves
· Nominating: Patti Prentice
Þ Forum Elections
· Orientation: Meredith Clason
· Personnel Issues: Delita Wright
· University Assignments: Tom Arnel
· Career Development: Curtis Helfrich
· Communications: Brian White
Þ Forum Newsletter
· Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards: Dixie Bloom
XI. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Tommy Griffin
XII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
· Advisory Committee on Transportation—Tommy Griffin
· Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace—Tommy Griffin
· University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee—Tommy Griffin
· Carolina North Project—Tommy Griffin
XIV. “Go Around the Room”
P = Included in Agenda Packet
May 5, 2004 Forum Minutes (abridged)
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:34 a.m. He welcomed members of the press and representatives from Human Resources. He then welcomed Provost Robert Shelton to make opening remarks. Shelton noted that this week is Employee Appreciation week and he duly thanked campus Employees for their work at the University. He particularly noted the sparkling appearance of the campus grounds on the eve of graduation day.
Shelton said that State budget discussions have started to crystallize somewhat, with the Governor’s budget proposing a 2% salary increase for State Employees. These numbers will probably change as the Legislature continues its discussions through the summer. Shelton said that University officials have worked to make the case for increased staff salaries during discussions with State officials. He said that the University would probably see a 1-2% cut, which would be offset somewhat by enrollment increases. Shelton was pleased that the State would not impose midyear budget reductions this year.
Shelton noted that the new ombudsperson office would be set up on East Franklin Street. This office will have one full-time EPA staff person and one half-time faculty member to guide the office. All Employees are invited to apply for the position.
The Chair then asked Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest to provide the Human Resources update. Charest reported that Laurie Allison had joined the University as Employee Services director from Western Carolina University and Rob Kramer had received a permanent appointment as director of Training and Development. The search process continues for the Senior Director of Human Resources Administration.
Human Resources will provide information about North Carolina Health Choice, a free, low-cost health insurance program, to all Employees earning around the income limits, which are set by family size. Employees are encouraged to attend one of the 20 or so workplace meetings scheduled for the next month, and Charest asked Delegates to distribute information about the program in their departments. She said that the University hoped to enroll Employees in the program before it reaches its enrollment cap. Children enrolled have to be without health insurance for 60 days. Ernie Patterson suggested that Human Resources send an e-mail to all Employees to further spread the word.
Charest said that benefits statements would be distributed this month, somewhat earlier than in the past. She attributed this improvement to the additional staff hired for the State retirement office.
Katherine Graves distributed certificates praising Forum Delegates and alternates for their service to the University, in honor of Employee Appreciation week.
Ernie Patterson spoke on behalf of a three-pronged approach to encourage Employee communication with State legislators, developed by the Forum Executive Committee. First, the Forum would hold a major voter registration drive and get out the vote drive. In addition the Forum would endorse attending the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) rally in Raleigh Wednesday, May 26. Patterson urged as many Employees as possible to take a vacation day to attend the rally and speak with legislators. Attendees would take buses in from the State fairgrounds and bring picnic lunches. Syed Mustafa asked if the University Gazette would cover these initiatives.
Camilla Crampton noted that the State Employees Credit Union runs a get out the vote campaign that the Forum might want to take care not to duplicate. Patterson said that the Forum could still work to remind Employees in a multi-step process. Delita Wright favored the two voting drives but felt less certain about the SEANC rally. She noted that less than 10% of University Employees are SEANC members, and worried about a possible conflict of interest. She noted that Forum members had gone to the Legislature last year and she did not want to dilute this status. She asked if the Forum would again send a separate delegation. The Chair said that the Forum had already had sent a delegation this year.
Patterson noted that the one way to influence the Legislature is with numbers. He urged the Forum to approve this initiative and to use every tool possible on behalf of State Employees. Wright asked if other groups planned to attend the rally. Patterson said that the teachers’ association will also attend the meeting but, although SEANC had organized the event, it was designed as a State Employee appreciation rally. Dale Bailey suggested flying the Forum banner to identify the Forum as a separate organization.
Mustafa asked what would occur if 30 Employees all in one department decided to take vacation on May 26 for the rally. Patterson said that this would be a problem for managers to decide what to do. Charest noted that all vacation must be approved in advance, and added that it would be a bad statement if the University is able to function without 10,000 Employees.
Katherine Graves asked if Forum members would go as SEANC representatives. She thought that Forum members should represent themselves only and work to register voters in the Forum’s own way. Patterson asked for a show of hands interested in the three initiatives, and received a majority of Delegates in favor of all three. He said that the Forum would need to work hard to have a significant number of Employees at the May 26 event.
Forum members said that the Forum should consult with Legal Counsel on what it could and could not do on work time with regard to these initiatives. Katherine Graves moved that the Forum attend the rally on May 26 and encourage other Employees to participate. Chuck Brink hoped that other UNC System staff organizations would also attend as the Forum in one body. Syed Mustafa seconded the motion. A question arose as to whether one could use community leave for voter registration, and Charest said that such service must be connected to a 501c3 organization (not including religious activities, although work connected with a church is OK.) The motion was approved 23-4.
Ernie Patterson moved that the Forum ask the Executive Committee to develop committee plans for voter registration and get out the vote drives. Dale Bailey and Cynthia Cowan volunteered to help with these initiatives. The motions were approved by acclamation.
The Forum approved the April 7 minutes by acclamation.
Katherine Graves spoke on current news from Raleigh and the need to vote and speak with the citizens of the state. At this point, the Forum took a ten minute break.
Katherine Graves, chair of the Employee Presentations committee, said that the group would send out an e-mail at the end of the week asking what the Forum would like to discuss at its upcoming community meeting.
Delita Wright, chair of the Personnel Issues committee, said that group’s work on benefits, grievances and InTouch articles continues. Tom Arnel, chair of the University Assignments committee, said that group had met April 29 to discuss possibly merging with the Nominating committee, as well as updating the Forum website on University committees.
Curtis Helfrich, chair of the Career Development committee, said that the group had discussed training on the web portal environment, placing five bulletin boards across campus, obtaining five new computer areas for Employee self-training, publicize help.unc.edu as a source of computer based training, and establish mentorships between staff and students. Katherine Graves said that the mentorship program was already part of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace recommendations, and suggested that the committee’s ideas be forwarded on to them.
Brian White, chair of the Communications committee, said that the group had discussed the recent issue of InTouch and plans for the University Gazette insert, which was now postponed until July. He encouraged Delagates and Employees to submit opinion pieces for the newsletter.
Dixie Bloom, chair of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee, said that group had selected 25 nominees for the Shining Heels award. Five winners agreed to interviews which would be published in the May 19 University Gazette.
The Chair said that the Executive Committee had met with General Counsel Leslie Strom and Laurie Charest to discuss rules and regulations governing the Forum. The Executive Committee also discussed expanding the number of Forum officers and the responsibilities of the Forum Assistant position.
The Advisory Committee on Transportation has established a new lower permit increase tier for those earning less than $25,000 a year. The Chair noted that because of construction many parking places were disappearing and would not return.
The Chair said that the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace implementation subcommittee had moved along in its work. He particularly noted that student committee members would change due to this month’s graduation. He said that the Chancellor’s refused bonus would fund the Task Force’s computer loan program.
Amy Gorely said that she, Penny Ward, Mack Rich and Don Marsh will serve on the search committee for the new University ombudsperson. She encouraged Employees to forward possible items for discussion to the committee.
The Chair opened up discussion to “go around the room.” Brian White praised the decision to attend the May 26 rally. Chuck Brink expressed concern about the Chair’s decision to run for the State Senate while serving as Forum Chair. The Chair said that he would not sacrifice his duties to the University or the Forum to campaign for State Senate. David Brannigan recalled that the Chair had said that he did not plan to run when he spoke with him in April. He raised concerns that the Chair might not be able to represent the Forum as efficiently as he might otherwise, given that he might need to go for political contributions to members of the University administration, Board of Trustees and Board of Governors. He noted that the Board of Governors had contributed just under a half a million dollars to political campaigns in 2002. Brannigan thought this raised a red flag, given that the Chair would need to solicit funds from somewhere for his Senate campaign. The Chair said that individuals make these contributions, not the Board itself. Curtis Helfrich thought that the Chair would carry out his professional responsibilities with due attention to possible conflicts of interest. Brannigan said he did not want to cast aspersions on the Chair’s financial integrity, but rather was more concerned with the situation itself. Camilla Crampton thought that the Forum did not need to address this question until a specific example arose.
Dale Bailey pointed out that all Forum representatives are politicians in a sense and so must guard against similar conflicts of interest. The Chair said that he would immediately retire if elected to the State Senate. Bailey asked if Employees classified as Information Technology personnel would always retain this designation under the new career banding system. Charest said that a few positions might be classified out of the designation. She offered to speak further with Bailey.
Tom Arnel asked about the increasing number of Forum representatives and worried that the number might eventually grow too unwieldy. Katherine Graves noted that the number of Delegates per division is based on the number of Employees in that division.
Mack Rich said that a 2% raise is not acceptable this year and thought that Employees should stand up to make this point. Bradley Bone asked a question about the timing and distribution of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace implementation report.
Brian White thought that the Forum might be spending too much time on special presentations. He enjoyed the relatively lighter schedule of the May meeting, particularly the chance to “go around the room.” The Chair agreed, but also recalled the importance of two-way communication with various University departments and committees.
Jeanne Hiesel asked the program for the Employee appreciation rally May 26. She suggested that the state impose a 5% alcohol and tobacco tax to fund needed initiatives and salary increases, noting that North Carolina’s 20-cent tax on cigarettes is the lowest in the nation. The Chair noted political obstacles facing this idea. Camilla Crampton encouraged Employees to bring banners and posters to the May 26 event, and Tom Arnel encouraged Employees to carpool.
The Chair reported that several legislators have voiced their support of the Forum’s call for a flat $2000 raise for Employees. He said that most of the other 16 staff organizations had approved similar resolutions. Delita Wright asked that the Forum webpage link directly to the State Legislature’s page.
Katherine Graves noted that prices for a Dell laptop had gone down to less than $300, but only for a limited time. Graves also noted that Forum computer initiative computers are not compatible with CCI machines or tech support.
The Chair reminded Delegates of the meeting with Provost Shelton, Vice Chancellor Suttenfield and Associate Vice Chancellor Laurie Charest on May 6, from 11-noon.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:24 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary