Agenda — May 6, 1998

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

I. Call to Order

II. Welcome Guests, Members of the Press, New Delegate Jane Stine

III. Opening Remarks

* Executive Vice Chancellor Elson Floyd

IV. Special Presentations

* Janet Tice on Changes in the Travel Management Program

V. Employee Presentations

VI. Human Resources Update

* Laurie Charest, Associate Vice Chancellor, Human Resources

VII. Approval of Minutes of the April 1, 1998 meeting

VIII. Unfinished Business

* Discussion: Departmental Staff Meetings?

IX. New Business

* Sign-Up Schedule for Employee Fair Booth May 29

X. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Linwood Futrelle

* June Presentation from Kay Straughn Concerning Human Resources Information System

* Draft Program for Training for Faculty in Supervisory Resources Positions

* Question about Administration of Educational Assistance Program

* Letter on Parking and Transit Issues to Chancellor from Executive Committee

* Diversity Training Resolution Forwarded to Chancellor, Pat Fischer

* Chair Selected to Serve on Executive Steering Team for Updating Master Plan for Central Campus

XI. Stretch Time

XII. Committee Reports:

* Career Development—Gwen Burston/Bob Schreiner

=> Update: Proposed Resolution from Faculty Council Liaison Ron Strauss

=> Update: Implementation Progress of Computer Literacy Resolution

=> Evaluation Instruments for Audio/Video Training Library, Career Counselor Position

* Communications—Jennifer Henderson/Jim Barnes

=> Meeting with University Gazette Editor Scott Ragland

=> Revision of Forum Web Page

=> Forum Public Relations Plan

* Compensation and Benefits—Tommy Brickhouse

=> Sample Letter & Guidelines About Contacting Legislators

=> New Members: Michael Brady, Betty Mehan-Black

* Employee Presentations—Jeffery Beam

=> Spring Community Meeting June 9: Child Care Issues

=> Sylvia Buckner to Make Employee Presentation in June

* Nominating—Lucille Brooks

=> Request to Bruce Runberg for Help in Maintaining Division 2, 3 Forum Participation

=> New Member: Jane Stine

* Orientation—Nancy Tannenbaum

=> Buddy System Revisions

* Personnel Policies—Martha Barbour

=> Meeting with Senior Director of Human Resources Administration Drake Maynard

* Recognition and Awards—Joyce Dalgleish

=> Recognition of “Unseen” Contributors to Forum?

* University Committee Assignments—Anne Montgomery

=> Update on Committee Searches

XIII. Task Force Reports

* Board of Trustees Presentation Task Force—Linwood Futrelle

=> Presentation Thursday, 1 p.m. May 28

* Employee Appreciation Fair Booth Task Force—-Linwood Futrelle

=> Request that Forum Committees Produce Handout for Fair Booth

=> Friday Morning May 29

* Grievance Procedure Task Force—Bob Schreiner

=> Community Meeting Friday June 12

* Intellectual Climate Task Force—Libby Evans

=> Progress Report

=> Forum Response

* Outsourcing Team Representatives—Bennie Griffin/Ann Hamner

* School Volunteerism Task Force—Libby Evans

* Transit and Parking Task Force Representative—Libby Evans/Gwen Burston

=> Community Meeting April 8

=> Concerns: Budget Accountability? Sliding Fee Scale? Allocation Process for Permits?

* UNC System Staff Assembly—Bob Schreiner/Terry Teer

=> Positive Response from Chancellor Hooker on UNC Staff Assembly

* University Priorities & Budget Committee—Linwood Futrelle

* Faculty Council Liaisons

 

XVI. Announcements/Questions

 

XV. Adjournment

MINUTES

 

Minutes

May 6, 1998

Delegates Present Jeffery Beam Pat Bigelow
Linwood Blalock Connie Boyce Mary Braxton
Tommy Brickhouse Lucille Brooks Gwen Burston
Denise Childress Mitch Copeland Joyce Dalgleish
Martha Davidson Elizabeth Evans Linwood Futrelle
Betty Geer Sherry Graham William Grice
Jennifer Henderson Al Jeter Bettye Jones
LaEula Joyner Ken Litowsky Dee Dee Massey
Lesa McPherson Anne Montgomery Jackie Overton
Barbara Prear Frances Rountree Bob Schreiner
Stephanie Stadler Jane Stine Nancy Tannenbaum
Terry Teer Dail White Carol Worrell
Laurie Charest = Ex-Officio Delegates Absent
Betty Averette Martha Barbour Jean Coble
Linda Drake Steve Jones Phil Hearne
Eileen McGrath Cheryl Stout Queen Tutt
Ted Wright Alternates Present Jim Barnes
Connie McPherson Cindy Stone Guests
Pete Andrews Ann Dodd Elson Floyd
Jeanne Fugate Michael Hooker Mitch Kokai
Scott Ragland Nora Robbins Andi Sobbe
Janet Tice

 

 

 

Call to Order, Welcome to Guests

Chair Linwood Futrelle called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. The Chair asked members to sign in and to examine the routing file as it was passed around the room. He also asked members to turn their nametags around so that other members could identify them. He welcomed assembled guests and newly promoted delegate Jane Stine.

Opening Remarks

The Chair introduced Chancellor Michael Hooker. Hooker began by stating how much he appreciated the work of departing Executive Vice Chancellor Elson Floyd, who would soon assume the head position at Western Michigan University. Hook er particularly praised Floyd’s work in improving the relationship between the top echelon of University administration and the rest of campus. He said Floyd had done a phenomenal job in representing Employee issues and concerns in top-level negotiations. Floyd has also been a tireless advocate for the Employee Forum and the issues with which it concerns itself and will be very difficult to replace in this role.

As it happens, Hooker was prepared to recommend to the Board of Trustees a candidate for Vice Chancellor of Administration. Hooker recalled that Floyd had in fact carried out the work of the Executive Vice Chancellor and the Vice Chancellor of Administration. He was happy to have settled on a candidate who will be presented to the Board of Trustees then the Board of Governors.

For this position, Hooker will present Dr. James Ramsey, the budget director for the state of Kentucky. For a number of years, Ramsey was the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration at Western Kentucky University. Ramsey is a Kentucky native and holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Kentucky and an undergraduate degree from Western Kentucky.

Hooker said that Ramsey’s references were the finest he had ever seen and was very optimistic that the Forum would like him, and that he would hit the ground running to do a superb job. If Ramsey is approved, he would begin his tenure following the July 4 weekend. Happily, there will be substantial overlap between the end of Floyd’s term and the beginning of Ramsey’s. Hooker looked forward to introducing Jim Ramsey to the Forum as soon as possible following his arrival.

Recently, Molly Corbett Broad was inaugurated as UNC System President in a publicly televised ceremony. Hooker thought that the University community should be pleased with the themes that Broad touched on in her inaugural address. For example, she raised the goals of keeping tuition low and guaranteeing open affordable access to the University. Broad emphasized the important role that technology will play in the University’s future, and the role the University will play in improving the State’s public schools. Overall, Hooker was heartened by Broad’s address and themes.

The Board of Trustees has this year met firsthand with various constituencies in order to get a handle on the issues important to these constituencies. At the May 28 Board meeting, Forum Chair Linwood Futrelle will make a presentation on behalf of the Employee Forum focusing on staff issues. Hooker noted Board Chair Richard Stevens’ diligence in following up on issues raised by various constituencies in these meetings, and suspected there will be substantial follow-up on items that the Chair will present in May. Hooker encouraged Forum Delegates and other Employees to attend the meeting which will be held in Wilson Library Assembly Room at 1 p.m. May 28.

Finally, Hooker raised the subject of the current session of the General Assembly. He had made it a practice never to grow too excited about budget discussions until a bill is presented in conference committee. The real political maneuvering begins only after a bill is entered in conference committee. However, the temptation to make predictions and draw conclusions about the University budget is irresistible because so much of the future welfare of this institution hinges on the Legislature& #146;s eventual decisions. Nonetheless, one can focus on the fact that the State’s economy is very healthy, as healthy as it has been in years. As a result, the State is facing a very large revenue surplus.

For this reason, Hooker was heartened that the University will do well in all aspects of its budget proposal. The administration has put forward a very ambitious capital budget proposal which Hooker thought would find success. He also thought the University would do well with regard to salaries and its operating budget. Hooker was encouraged by these signs, but refused to draw any definite conclusions about legislative discussions until the session had moved much further along.

Hooker offered to respond to questions from the Forum. Bob Schreiner asked if Hooker had any thoughts on the future role of the new Vice Chancellor for Administration. Hooker replied that he had so enjoyed relying on Floyd’s assistance he h ad at first not wanted to acknowledge the reality of his departure. He said it will be a daunting task to replace Floyd in the multiple roles he plays for the University. Nonetheless, it will be a great relief to have him available to acclimate the new Vice Chancellor for Administration.

The Chair asked if there were plans to follow up on the Transit and Parking Task Force’s recommendations, particularly to introduce levels of accountability into the department. Hooker said that he was determined to see some measure progress on the parking issue before the end of the year. Hooker noted that seemingly every campus in the country experiences parking difficulties, but he thought that Carolina could do better than it has to this point. He hoped that the University could be more creative in dealing with this problem in the future. The Chair said that the Forum would help in any way that it could, and Hooker said that the Forum had already been very helpful.

Tommy Brickhouse noted feedback from the Legislature regarding full funding of the comprehensive pay plan for State employees. Generally, legislators have been unwilling to commit to long-term full funding of the pay plan. Brickhouse asked if Hooker had any thoughts on this line of reasoning. Hooker reported that he had spoken with legislators about a program similar to the California plan which installs a multi-year schedule of salary increases for university employees. He granted that the Legislature cannot confidentially speak for the future, but noted that it can affirm its current principles. The comprehensive pay plan commits the Legislature to a formula for funding State employee raises over a series of years. For this reason, he would no t be dissuaded from lobbying the Legislature on this subject.

Hooker understood that the Governor’s budget will move the State towards funding the comprehensive pay plan. Hooker said that the Governor has been friendly to this concept and felt that his budget moved the State closer to this goal. However, Hooker cautioned not to place too much hope in the Governor’s budget as the Legislature has not closely followed his recommendations in the past.

In the absence of further questions, the Chair thanked Hooker for his remarks.

Special Presentation

The Chair introduced Janet Tice to make a presentation on changes in the University Travel Management program. Tice thanked the Forum for the opportunity to speak. She said that the main purpose of travel management is to secure travel services from agencies, to maximize departmental savings, and to save money for the University.

Tice said that obtaining data about University travel practices is vital to obtaining group programs, discounts or preferred savings plans. For this reason, the travel program depends on its preferred agencies to help collect this data and to administer current contracts. The University’s preferred vendors are the airlines Midway, USAir, and TWA; the rental car agencies Alamo and National; and Enterprise for local car rentals. As a result of these agreements, the University is able to obtain deals in travel to Washington, New York and Philadelphia. For example, a trip to Washington scheduled without a Saturday night layover normally costs $6-800, but costs only $375 through the preferred contracts with USAir and Midway.

Tice noted that the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is listed as one of the top ten most expensive car rental markets in the nation. Mid-sized cars rented in mid-week cost $69/day in the Triangle area, but under the University contract cost only $3 9/day. Statistics show that the University saved just over $500,000 in fiscal year 1996-97 through its travel program just on airline travel alone with a potential for greater savings. Tice said that a goal of the travel management office is to arrive at solutions that will work well for the customer, the department, the agency and the University.

Tice observed that there have been more changes in the travel industry in the last six months than in the 20 years previous since the airlines were deregulated in the late 1970s. A great deal of confusion and anxiety has accompanied these changes. Last fall, when the airlines instituted their commission cuts for travel agencies, the University’s preferred agents in Chapel Hill were forced to initiate service fees in order to remain profitable. As a public institution, it is very difficult f or the University to justify paying these fees when other agencies are willing to provide their service without these increases. Last fall, the University put its agency contract out to bid, seeking agencies with high levels of service, no service fees, a nd the ability to delay collection. The University has settled on seven Triangle-area agencies fulfilling these criteria.

There are a number of changes to come in the travel program. The travel systems implementation team has recently finished work on the on-line travel system which composes part of the departmental accounting system (DAS). Implementation will begin soon in conjunction with the DAS.

Tice’s office is working with the University’s preferred agencies to establish internet services that will allow customers to make reservations on-line. Tice noted that many Employees prefer to make their own reservations via the internet or by contacting the airlines directly. By channeling reservations through the University, the travel office can capture relevant data plus obtain feedback on optional travel plans and flights

Another future advance will be the ability to bill centrally airline tickets in conjunction with the University’s corporate charge card program. The travel office has been working for some time on this improvement, and Tice was enthusiastic about the fruition of this effort. The office hopes to have a pilot program ready by June or July with an official debut to come in August or September. Employees taking a trip for business will merely need to call an authorized agent with the travel authorization number and the account number to which the trip will be charged; the agent will obtain authorization automatically, issue the ticket, and bill the department without further ado. This system will preclude Employees paying for tickets beforehand out of their own pockets or arranging delivery of advance funds to agents. Tice hoped that the new system will speed up these procedures a great deal.

Sherry Graham asked when the program will be officially established. Tice hoped that the program will be ready by the fall. Nancy Tannenbaum asked if the office has published a web page listing the University’s new list of preferred agencies; Tice replied that this list is available at http://www.adp.unc.edu/msd/travel. She hoped to have the information moved to a more prominent address in the future. Agencies are now listed by name and phone number, but Tice hoped to soon add a short profile of each agency.

Tice noted the eagerness of the newly added agencies to work with University departments in meeting their travel needs. Agents will visit departments and make presentations. Tice encouraged Employees to speak with different agencies to discover whi ch best fits their needs. Gwen Burston asked if units are required to go through the travel office when planning their travel. Tice said that her office did not book tickets or make recommendations on preferred flight times, but rather provided adv ice to units in their dealings with agencies. The University has a non-mandated program which does not require its units to do a great deal of paperwork in arranging travel. However, the University does strongly encourage units to utilize the preferred agencies mentioned for the reasons explained earlier. These agencies are the only ones with access to University contracts and are known to provide good savings, good service, no service fees, free ticket delivery, and the ability to void tickets. This l atter feature allows the University to save up to $125 if an Employee changes their mind after purchasing a ticket.

Ken Litowsky sought to clarify a situation recently encountered by one of his staff. This Employee ordered tickets for a conference which was subsequently cancelled. The ticket was non-refundable, but $75 would make the ticket “open” during which one could use it at any time. The Employee would rather have her money than a travel IOU. Litowsky was uncertain what agency the Employee conducted this transaction, or whether the Employee dealt directly with the airline. He asked what advice the t ravel office had for this non-traveler. Tice asked whether Litowsky meant simply to remedy this amount, and Litowsky asked if Employees should stay away from non-refundable tickets entirely.

Tice responded that non-refundable tickets sometimes create very large savings for the University, and so are sometimes preferred. She noted that the $75 change fee comes directly from the airline and so is in fact non-negotiable; internationally, this fee may rise as high as $150, in addition to the $25 some agencies now charge to process changes and cancellations. Tice said the best solution would be for units to utilize the University’s authorized agencies. In the University’s agreement with these agencies, between a Monday of ticket purchase and the next Monday, if there are changes to a ticket or a ticket is cancelled, the ticket from the agency can be voided without penalty.

Elizabeth Evans asked if the University will pay for the $75 change fee. Tice thought that the University would indeed pay for this fee. Litowsky noted a complicating circumstance: the Employee had planned to take their family along to the cancelled conference in question as it was located in a desirable vacation area. Litowsky thought that the Employee and possibly the University should request that the cancelled conference should absorb the family’s ticket change fees based on the good faith promise of the conference organizers. He did not think that this request would meet much success, but thought the University should wage this battle on behalf of its Employees.

Litowsky asked if this situation would differ significantly if the Employee purchased their tickets through one of the University’s preferred agencies. Tice said that the tickets could be voided without penalty if the agency is informed wit hin a week of purchase. Litowsky said that in this case the delay had been somewhat longer than one week.

William Grice asked if Tice had a general estimate of what the University has spent on travel last year. Tice replied that through FRS system records indicate the University spent $18 million on travel of which around $6 million was spent on air travel. It is more difficult to differentiate expenses for ground travel which includes mileage, taxes and insurance for rental cars. Other travel expenses, for instance for high-level employment candidates, consultants and visiting professors, are typically not factored into this estimate. Departments planning meetings also typically do very little and so miss out on airline and hotel discounts that could account for the cost of the conference. Employees planning these meetings should contact Tice in order to find the best rates.

Evans asked if Employees choose to use a non-preferred agency, are they liable for service fees incurred. Tice said that the University Travel Committee has recommended this course of action, and this decision now lies with the University Executive Council which will make a decision in the next week. She observed that it is very difficult for the University as a public institution to justify absorbing fees up to $250,000 or more when alternatives are available. Employees using non-preferred agencies also assume responsibility for the airline change fee.

Evans said that she had received excellent service from an agency not on the list. Tice said that, as a travel agent of 20 years, she understood the loyalty that grows between traveler and agent. On the other hand, Tice said that she had received an equal number of kudos and complaints about often the same agencies. This trend seemed to indicate that service provided depends greatly on these individual relationships.

Evans asked how often agencies on the preferred list will be evaluated for continuance and when excluded agencies will have an attempt to rebid their services. Tice said that the original request for proposals (RFP) set a period of three years, but she thought the travel office would reexamine the plan in another six months to see how the agreement has functioned for the University and the agencies. Tice thought that other agencies meeting the University’s criteria and expressing interest i n this service should also have a chance to bid for these contracts.

Pete Andrews asked if in effect local agencies are blocked from University fares. Tice said this conclusion was inaccurate; all local agencies were given a chance to present a bid under the RFP process. The University wanted these agencies in the program, but the agencies decided that they could not provide the service without charging service fees. Tice said that the University had given the agencies several options to remain part of the preferred agency program.

Tice recalled that when the University began the preferred agency program three years ago, the program was rather arbitrary—Chapel Hill agencies willing to provide the University with data were considered preferred agents. Evans asked if agent s not on the preferred provider list are eligible for the University’s discount programs, and Tice said that they are not since obtaining these discounts depends on restricting services to a fairly limited number of agents. Benefits such as the use of University discounts, the ability to bill centrally, and the ability to book orders on-line are restricted to authorized agencies.

Nancy Tannenbaum asked if Employees can obtain better ticket deals through preferred agencies or through the internet. Tice said that this question has been the subject of much discussion. The International Business Travelers’ Association (IBTA) did a study of this question and found that agencies beat the internet in scheduling special trips. She thought that the internet was a very good source for travelers searching for last minute deals, but that agencies may do better for business travel. Preferred agencies should have an equally expensive or less expensive fare than the internet, particularly if preferred carriers Midway, USAir, or TWA are used. This fact holds since the University enjoys an average 10% discount on flights on preferred airline carriers.

Tannenbaum asked if the University will issue a memo to Employees detailing what should be done to realize the benefits offered by the travel office. Tice said that memo will go out to deans, directors and department heads, but Tannenbaum was uncertain that the information would filter down to the people involved. At Evans’ suggestion, Tice offered to work with Scott Ragland of the University Gazette to vet an article on the topic.

Sherry Graham suggested contacting individuals directly as so many people make their own travel arrangements. She had been the only person in her department to note the service fee increase on the part of local agencies. Tice said that she was eager fo r everyone on campus to be informed and understand changes in the University’s travel management programs. She suggested Employees contact her at travel@unc.edu with their concerns and suggestions.

Evans noted that Tice runs a mailing list called “Travel Talk” in which she informs subscribers of current travel developments such as fare wars and other updates. Employees interested in subscribing should contact Tice directly.

Graham asked if the travel web page could be updated to include information on Employees’ bonus miles, particularly if these miles were accumulated through a non-preferred carrier. Tice noted the existence of State regulations governing frequent flier miles and urged Employees to obtain more information on these regulations.

Tice thanked the Forum for the opportunity to speak. The Chair hoped that at some point the travel office would work on speeding the process through which Employees receive travel reimbursements. Tice said that the implementation of central billing for airline tickets should hopefully soon do away with the need for reimbursements in a great number of cases.

Employee Presentations

There were no Employee presentations.

Human Resources Update

The Chair introduced Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest to provide the Forum’s monthly Human Resources update. Charest referred Delegates to a copy of the Employee Recognition Program Handbook for members’ ; reference.

Charest noted that nominations for the Human Resources Facilitator of the Year Award would be due June 1. This award was established to thank Employees who aid Human Resources in getting the word out on developments and new policies. Human Resources Facilitators are available for Employees reference in every department on campus. Charest encouraged Employees to nominate an Human Resources Facilitator who has gone beyond the call in their duties.

The General Assembly has approved the Children’s Health Initiative Program (CHIP) which will provide free or reduced cost health care, including visual and dental care, for a large number of children in the State. The program must be approved by the Governor and then by the federal government since most of the money committed comes from federal sources. The program will provide health care to children of family incomes making up to twice the poverty level–up to approximately $32,000. The program also provides tax credits to families with incomes up to $100,000.

Thus, the CHIP program will affect many University Employees and their children. The University has no administrative role in this program, but if the program is approved the University will be working to get word out on program enrollment to affected Employees, particularly those who cannot now afford to insure their children.

Following this point, Charest had some developing news on the cost of health insurance for State Employees. She noted newspaper articles predicting a 70% increase in the cost of dependent health care over the next several years. These report s also noted that North Carolina is one of only three states that does not subsidize the cost of family health insurance coverage for its employees.

Charest had met recently with David Debreeze, the director of the State Health Plan. Debreeze has slightly different information about the status and cost of the State health plan. He says that there is no anticipated increase to occur before Oc tober 1999, but it is known that State health care costs are beginning to rise sharply.

The State has previously enjoyed a relatively stable pattern of low increases in its health plan over the last few years. There has been no premium increase in the program since 1991. However, Debreeze says that Employees should anticipate a 21- 25% increase in premiums for the 1999-2001 biennium. The State Health Plan has enjoyed a large surplus since the early 1990s, but this surplus is rapidly evaporating. The surplus has been used to subsidize the cost of HMOs, but this subsidy will soon dwin dle. Debreeze also stated that the cost of prescription drugs is the main driver in increasing health care costs, due to 1) the introduction of a number of new, relatively expensive drug treatments and 2) the popular advertising of drugs.

The cost of office visits is also rising, seemingly as a short-term effect resulting from adding the first dollar of wellness coverage. It is hoped that this move will pay off in the long run as Employees receive checkups and learn preventive me asures to take care of themselves. However, the program has currently led to a significant increase in the cost of office visits.

Charest distributed copies of Debreeze’s presentation which contained a range of explanatory numbers and charts. She offered to consult with the Forum’s Compensation & Benefits Committee to discuss these figures in more detail.

Debreeze also reported a significant movement on the part of Employees towards HMOs. The University has more people enrolled in HMOs than the State average; around 27% of State employees and retirees across North Carolina are enrolled in HMOs. I n general, younger and healthier people choose to enroll in HMOs, resulting in the State Health Plan containing a greater number of people with higher insurance needs.

The State is this year immersed in the process of taking bids from HMOs for coverage next year. Debreeze expects insurance rates to increase this year substantially, and a number of HMOs are expected to pull out of certain counties because they are not serving enough people there to make a profit. This contraction follow a period of rapid expansion by all HMOs.

Thus, there is not a lot of great news associated with health care insurance. The best news is that as Chancellor Hooker noted, the State’s economy is very strong and so possibly the increases are occurring at a good time to obtain help from the General Assembly. Charest will provide future reports when available

Finally, Charest mentioned the Governor’s budget proposal with the caveat that much of this proposal is subject to change in the coming legislative negotiations. The Governor did propose full funding of the comprehensive compensation plan for S PA Employees. This plan would award a 2% cost of living increase, a 2% career growth increase, and a 1% performance bonus. Charest noted the many times she had said that the provision of a performance bonus will underscore the importance of Employees’ WPPRs, and noted that the performance rating also plays a part in the other two increases as well.

For EPA non-faculty and non-teaching faculty, the Governor’s proposal is 4% merit pool and a 1% bonus. Faculty would receive a 4% merit pool and a 2% bonus.

Tommy Brickhouse asked whether it seemed likely that there will be a premium increase for Employees enrolled in the State Health Plan. Nora Robbins said that Employees in HMOs certainly will see the increases reflected in their plans. Brickhouse asked if it had been since 1991 when the State plan’s premiums increased. Charest reminded Brickhouse that State health plan premiums were doubled in 1986.

Gwen Burston asked if there was a plan in place to supplement HMO coverage now that the State plan’s surplus has dwindled so in recent years. Charest thought the General Assembly will have to face up to this question, probably in next year& #146;s biennium. This year, the State will take bids from HMOs which will likely reflect premium increases. She did not know what the State health plan will recommend to the Legislature concerning HMO coverage supplements.

Concerning performance management, Ken Litowsky said that Drake Maynard’s office will send out a letter reminding departments that WPPRs are to be completed by May 31. A separate communication from Connie Boyce will concern how performance ratings are entered into the University’s database. Departments will have the option of direct access to the material, use of a computer at 725 Airport Road, or reliance on records staff to enter an organized list of Employees’ ratings. These le tters should arrive in the next week. As a result, Charest said that Human Resources plans to be ready to implement the Legislature’s decision on salary increases when that information becomes available.

Bob Schreiner asked if Charest thought a champion would emerge to advocate extension of State health care subsidies to Employees’ families. Charest thought that the statistic Schreiner had in mind, that North Carolina is only one of three states that does not supplement its employees’ family health insurance, is offset by the fact that the state covers 100% of the employee cost. However, other states may carry only 85% of their employees’ premiums while subsidizing family insurance. There has been some talk within the State Legislature of moving to this system but it has never been approved.

Charest observed that there are a great number of effective advocates for State Employees in Raleigh. She also observed that the extension of CHIP coverage is causing legislators to reexamine the status of State employee insurance coverage. Thus, there has been some talk of extending benefits for children to include vision and dental similar to coverage offered under CHIP. She was uncertain what would happen in the long run, however.

Approval of the Minutes

Betty Jones noted that she, not Betty Geer, had made remarks under the Compensation & Benefits report on page 12 of the April 1, 1998 minutes. In addition, Jennifer Henderson was incorrectly listed as being absent in the April minutes. The Chair asked for a motion to approve the minutes as amended. Terry Teer made this motion with Anne Montgomery seconding. There was no further discussion, and the minutes were approved as amended.

Unfinished Business

The Chair noted that the Forum had decided to delay discussion of an idea advanced by the Personnel Policies Committee to encourage the initiation of regular staff meetings within all University departments. He noted that Martha Barb our, the chair of this committee, was unavailable to lead discussion and asked if the Forum wished to delay discussion further. Ken Litowsky noted Barbour’s wishes that if the subject did not garner further discussion, it should be retired as an action item by the Forum. He also observed that staff in some departments report feeling uninformed about internal developments and could greatly benefit from regular staff meetings.

Jeffery Beam asked if the Chair could outline the question at hand. The Chair said that the Forum is considering a proposal to encourage departments to hold regular, inclusive staff meetings to inform the department on current plans, priorities, and developments. The Chair granted that different departments have different information needs, but reported that in some departments the lack of information is appalling. This problem does not promote a healthy workplace.

The Forum would encourage departments to establish regularly scheduled inclusive staff meetings to inform Employees of departmental plans and developments. He granted that informing staff members can grow more difficult the bigger the department. Beam noted that the UNC Library staff meetings have been very productive with a large group of Employees. He thought that these meetings, which have been in place for over 20 years, have been very beneficial to the Library’s general operations. Beam also recalled that these staff meetings will provide the Forum an opportunity to inform Employees about issues facing the University community.

Anne Montgomery thought that this idea had won general consensus from the Forum, and she proposed that the Personnel Policies Committee draft a proposal to this effect. Litowsky noted that the Forum could only encourage, not require departments to hold these meetings. He hoped for a statement of good faith supporting the idea that these meetings can efficiently distribute information and improve unit operations. In addition, these meetings would allow for general announcements about life at the University.

Montgomery made a motion that the Forum support the idea of staff meetings generally and so requests that the Personnel Policies Committee develop a plan and method to communicate this idea to departments. Lucille Brooks seconded this motion. The Forum approved the motion unanimously.

New Business

The Chair referred members to a schedule list for the Employee Appreciation Fair Booth May 28. He urged members to sign up for a 30 minute period to work the Booth. Matt Banks recalled that in the past most every delegate has been strongly encouraged to work the Booth if they were able to attend the Fair.

Chair’s Report

The Executive Committee met April 21 and discussed the distribution of lobbying guidelines, the administration of the Educational Assistance Program, a proposed name change for the Forum, and parking and transit issues among other items. Scott Ragland, editor of the University Gazette, also met with the committee.

Kay Straughn is scheduled to make a presentation on the Human Resources Information System at the June 3 Forum meeting. This quick overview will take around 15-20 minutes.

Jerry Howerton of Training & Development has produced a draft proposal for faculty supervisory resource training. This draft was included in the routing file and is available at request from the Forum Office at forum_office@unc.edu. This proposal would entail a half day course for participating faculty.

There was a question about the administration of the Educational Assistance Program (EAP). The Chair said that he had consulted with Gwen Burston and the day-to-day administration of the EAP will remain with Human Resources.

The Chair will write a letter to the Chancellor expressing the viewpoints of the Executive Committee on University parking and transportation issues.

The Forum Office has forwarded the Forum’s resolution supporting continuation of the campus diversity training project to the Chancellor and is awaiting a response and final decision.

The Chair has been appointed to the executive steering team working on an update of the master plan for central campus.

The Forum took a moment to stretch.

Committee Reports

Gwen Burston, co-chair of the Career Development Committee, directed members to a copy of a report in the recent agenda packet. Members of the committee have worked to review information associated with a proposal authored by Faculty Council liaison Ron Strauss on the use of work time for staff classes.

Erika Phillips, University Career Counselor, met recently with Career Development to discuss distribution of assessment surveys to supervisors. These surveys would determine what skills supervisors most desire in making hiring decisions. Phillips will share the compiled results with the committee and with the University Managers’ Association.

Burston will meet later in the week with the Chair and Janet Tysinger to discuss possible avenues towards implementation of the Forum’s computer literacy resolution.

Burston said that Connie Boyce had been appointed Forum liaison to the New Careers Training Board and had put forth several proposals to the Board including establishing a career fair and creating closer ties with local community colleges.

Burston was uncertain about the agenda entry “evaluation instruments for the audio/video training library.” To provide perspective, Matt Banks recalled that the Chancellor had asked for some feedback on the effectiveness of these materials in skill retention.

Jennifer Henderson, co-chair of the Communications Committee, said the group had met with Scott Ragland to discuss ways to increase press coverage of the Employee Forum. In addition, the committee will work with the University Gazette to publicize the Forum’s biannual community meetings. The committee is also working out the logistics of the Forum’s press releases, and planned to meet with Forum Assistant Matt Banks to discuss formatting and distribution details.

Henderson has completed her revision of the Forum web site for the purposes of her internet design class. Anyone interested in the revisions should access http://ils.unc.edu/181s98/forum. She asked members to glance at the page and provide t heir feedback about what they do and do not like. She emphasized that the pages represented a proposal for revision of the site, but that the Forum could use these suggestions as it saw fit. Henderson looked forward to hearing from Employees.

Tommy Brickhouse, chair of the Compensation & Benefits Committee, noted that the May agenda packet contained copies of two letters providing examples on the best ways to contact one’s legislator. He thanked the Executive Committee for its input and asked Forum members to study the documents and suggest possible revisions. Brickhouse will meet with Scott Ragland of the University Gazette to discuss a possible article about these documents. One of the letters is a general guide to contacting one’s representative while the other specifically addresses proposals to fund the comprehensive compensation plan for State employees. The Forum urges any State employee writing their legislator to use their own time, equipment and stationary to do so.

Brickhouse was happy to welcome Michael Brady of the Institute of Government and Betty Meehan-Black of Davis Library as the Employee members of the Compensation & Benefits Committee. In addition, he thanked Lucille Brooks and Bettye Jones f or their efforts in preparing these letters. The Chair noted that members had printed these samples with private resources.

Jeffery Beam said that the Employee Presentations Committee had distributed at least five posters per member publicizing the spring community meeting. He asked that members post these posters in common areas to encourage coworkers to attend the meeting Tuesday, June 9, from 10-11:30 a.m. in the Hanes Art Center Auditorium. The main topic of the meeting will be child care issues facing Employees at the University and in their home communities. There will also be a presentation from Scott Ragland, editor of the University Gazette and a report from Beam on the activities of the Forum over the prior six months. In addition, Employees will have the chance to raise questions during an open mike session. Beam encouraged Employees to check with their supervisors to make time to attend, or at least to submit questions beforehand to the Forum Office.

On another topic, Sylvia Buckner of the Law Library will make a short Employee presentation on her experiences taking classes at the University. Beam said that other Employees will make similar presentations at meetings through the summer an d fall.

Lucille Brooks, chair of the Nominating Committee, said that there had been a delay in making the group’s minutes available for the May agenda packet. She would try to have these included in the June agenda packet. Committee vice -chair Linda Drake had written a letter on behalf of the committee to Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management Bruce Runberg requesting his assistance in communicating to supervisors the need to support Employees in Divisions 2 & 3 wishing to stand for election to the Forum. She noted that these Employees often work shifts that are not conducive to Forum meeting times. These Employees may be filling vacancies for other co-workers and their work load may not allow them to participate as actively as others in Forum committee meetings. All of these factors put these Employees in a position of needing understanding support from their supervisors.

The Nominating Committee also asked current Division 2 and 3 Delegates to write a letter with their impressions about the Forum to include in the solicitation for nominations letter to go out this summer. The committee has offered its services to transcribe or otherwise write the letter for Delegates uncomfortable with this prospect. No Delegates, however, are required to write the letter if they do not wish to do so. Brooks had received two letters already and the promise of a third. Nominating Committee members identified themselves and offered to help with the letters if requested. She hoped that Delegates who have not written their letter would use this window of opportunity to communicate with their colleagues in order to generate inter est in the Forum. Brooks hoped that the letters would be ready by May 19. She noted that it is often difficult to contact Employees in these two divisions as so many work outside a set office structure. The next meeting of the group will be Wednesday, May 20, at 11 a.m. in 202 Carr Building.

Nancy Tannenbaum, chair of the Orientation Committee, announced that Orientation for incoming Delegates will take place the morning of Friday, October 23, in the Toy Lounge of Dey Hall. The committee will hold a reception for incoming and outgoing Delegates before the December 2 Forum meeting. The committee has already made catering arrangements for these two events. In addition, the Forum’s annual retreat has been confirmed for January 15, 1999. Rosalyn Futrall will be the retreat’ ;s guest speaker. The Chair lauded the group’s efforts in lining up these events into the next year.

Ken Litowsky noted that the Personnel Policies Committee had met with Senior Director of Human Resources Administration Drake Maynard. Some of the issues discussed included wage-hour and leave administration and concerns about compensatory time policies. The committee had heard reports that some departments require their Employees to use leave hours for time taken off even when they have worked 40 hours during the work week, as the departments wanted their offices continually staffed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Maynard has said he will follow up with these departments to provide some enlightenment to correct their misunderstandings of current wage-hour policies.

In addition, there was discussion about positions in salary grades 60-69, some of which are considered wage-hour exempt while others are not. The committee hoped to work with Human Resources to effect a standard of classification by grade level. Litowsky would have more information on this topic when available.

Finally, the committee discussed the possibility of some type of compensatory time policy for positions from a possible range of salary grades 65-72. There are a number of positions in these grades considered non-exempt; some of these positions receive comp time while others of the same grade do not. Human Resources hopes to resolve this discrepancy. This question is also still under review. The Chair thanked Litowsky, Maynard and the Personnel Policies Committee for their good work in following through with these issues.

Joyce Dalgleish, chair of the Recognition & Awards Committee, reported the group had not met in April but would meet in May to discuss proposals forwarded from other University committees.

Anne Montgomery, chair of the University Committee Assignments Committee, said the group’s minutes were included in the group’s packet. The committee has sent forward the names of Rebecca Casey (Housing) and Michelle Parrish (Computer Systems, Davis Library) as nominations to serve on the Child Care Advisory Committee. The committee continues its review of existing University committees on campus as new ones are commissioned and old ones expire.

Task Force Reports

The Chair reported that the Forum’s Board of Trustees Presentation task force had completed a first draft and would begin to work on practice runs this month. The Chair and Jeffery Beam will be the Forum’s presenters, an d hope to have a public dry run for the Forum the week of the presentation. The pair will present to the Board Thursday, May 28, at 1 p.m. in the Wilson Library Assembly Room.

The Chair said that he and Linda Drake have made progress on the Employee Appreciation Fair Booth. He said that door prizes will be on offer and the annual survey of Employee concerns also will be continued.

Bob Schreiner reported that the Grievance Procedure Review task force will hold three different meetings to hear comments from the University community about the policy. A community meeting will take place on this subject June 12 from 10-noon in Hanes Art Center Auditorium (Room 121). The Chancellor has designated this meeting to be work time as long as Employees gain the cooperation of their supervisor. The task force hopes for a good turnout and will distribute copies to Human Resources Facilitators of a poster advertising the meeting in the following ten days. In addition, Schreiner said the group hopes to secure space for an article in the University Gazette.

There are also two smaller meetings at which Employees and others can offer comments. These will both take place from noon-1 p.m., the first Monday, June 8 in 104 Peabody and the second Wednesday, June 24 in 235 Rosenau.

Elizabeth Evans reported the Intellectual Climate task force was proceeding in its work. The group had received upwards of 1,200 survey responses, and more than half of these respondents were willing to be contacted about intellectual climate activities. Evans said the task force was in the process of tallying these surveys by hand and then would try to find a volunteer to create a simple Microsoft Access database for people willing to be contacted. Evans said the number of opportunities arising from this survey were very exciting; for example, a number of people have expressed interest in practicing their foreign language skills over lunchtime. Such activities offer faculty, staff, and students the chance to mix in an intellectually challenging environment. Other respondents expressed interest in sports-related activities that might be indirectly related to intellectual topics. She thought that all of these provided Employees an opportunity to be reconnected to the University in many way s.

Concerning the School Volunteerism task force, Evans thought that the intellectual climate surveys mentioned above could be a source of information and volunteers to work with the public school system.

Laurie Charest reported that the Outsourcing Steering Team had cancelled its May meeting.

Gwen Burston reported that a final copy of the Transit and Parking task force’s report had been sent out for all its members to review. She said that concerns raised at the task force’s recent community meetings have been considered in creating the final draft. Evans said that the recommendations would next go to the Board of Trustees. Commenting on the three community meetings, Evans said that they were held on the Academic Affairs and Health Affairs sides of campus with the third held in the evening in the Great Hall. She attended the evening meeting and heard reports from the other two meetings; she thought that the Great Hall and Academic Affairs meetings had gone very well with good questions and comments with participants feeling very receptive to the task force’s proposals. She understood that the meeting on the Health Affairs side of campus was packed with 200 people in a room meant for 150. Comments at that meeting were numerous and very vocal. At the evening meeting, there was a mix of students and staff. One of the students was a law student with a masters’ in urban planning; upon hearing the consultant’s summary of the proposals, this student said that the plan offered was the most sensible he had ever seen. Evans was happy to have heard this comment. She once again emphasized that the process was meant to address parking and transit issues, and said it was important that the University community keep both concerns in mind.

The Chair noted that there had been no meeting of the UNC System Staff Assembly this month. Bob Schreiner commented that he was glad to see Chancellor Hooker’s letter supporting the UNC-Chapel Hill group. System chancellors have been asked to respond to Roy Carroll’s letter of inquiry about the Staff Assembly by May 1. The Chair reported that he had received an inquiry from the School of Science and Math for advice on how to start a staff organization. The School is not a senior institution of the UNC System but does report to General Administration.

On another topic, Schreiner noticed that students, faculty, community colleges and virtually every prominent UNC group except State Employees made personal declarations of welcome to President Broad at her inauguration. He hoped that University employees will assume a great role in such ceremonial occasions in the future. Jeffery Beam asked if the Forum should send a letter to President Broad expressing regret that University employees were not included in the ceremony, but other members thought this would be a bad idea.

The Chair noted that the University Priorities and Budget Committee had issued its annual report which was included in the Forum’s monthly agenda packet. The committee has changed its meeting time slightly for the summer.

The Chair had not attended the Faculty Council meeting that month.

Announcements & Questions

Elizabeth Evans noted Chancellor Hooker’s invitation to Forum members to attend the Board of Trustees meeting. She also asked if the Forum were going to honor Executive Vice Chancellor Elson Floyd upon his departure. The Chair said tha t the Forum Office had created a resolution which will be introduced at the June 3 meeting which Floyd has scheduled to attend. Laurie Charest said that Employees are certainly encouraged to come to the May 28 meeting, and felt that this was the reason th at Board chair Richard Stevens had invited the Forum to speak in the first place. The meeting will be Thursday, May 28, at 1 p.m. in the Wilson Library Assembly Room.

Evans was disappointed that President Broad was unwilling to have her April 1 presentation recorded for the Forum’s web site. She noted that the reason for Broad’s unwillingness, the inability to include the slides that accompanied her pr esentation, could be overcome with today’s technology. She thought it a good idea to pass on to President Broad the information that such a proposal can indeed be synchronized on-line.

Connie McPherson announced the sad news that LaBron Reid was soon to leave the University to take a job in the private sector. Reid served two years as the Forum’s first Secretary and will be missed. Reid will take a job with McLauren Parking, a private contracting company that handles special events on campus.

In the absence of further discussion, the Chair called for a motion to adjourn. The Forum agreed by acclamation to adjourn at 11:04 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

 

 

 

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