October 7, 2009
Employee Forum Agenda — October 7 , 2009
9:15 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks
IV. Special Presentations
- Chancellor Holden Thorp with Faculty Chair Joe Templeton
- Mary Beth Koza, Director, Environment, Health & Safety
- Ashley Fogle, Associate Director, Carolina Women’s Center
V. Human Resources Update with Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone
VI. Employee Presentations or Questions
VII. September Minutes
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
X. Stretch Time
XI. Forum Committee Reports
- Communications and Public Relations: Ashley Fogle/Carrie Goldsmith
- Forum Newsletter
- Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Teena Burton
- Compensation & Benefits: Gina Platz
- Education and Career Development: Cate Cunningham/Koyah Rivera
- Legislative Action: Jonathan Stephenson
- Membership & Assignments: Aluoch Ooro
- Staff Relations, Policies & Practices: Marc ter Horst
XII. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Tommy Griffin
XIII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
XV. “Go Around the Room”: A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds
October 7, 2009 Employee Forum Minutes
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:20 a.m. He welcomed Mike Hawkins to make a few remarks on behalf of Brenda Denzler, who is suffering breast cancer. Hawkins cited Denzler’s contributions to the Forum and asked members to donate shared leave time to enable her to achieve disability leave.
The Chair introduced Chancellor Holden Thorp. Thorp said that he was pleased to attend the meeting as he considered himself a member of the staff. He said that his administration had cut $60 million in the last year while keeping the same number of seats in classrooms. Thorp said that students have not mentioned any quality difference in the last year. Thorp praised the faculty’s extra work to maintain quality in light of the $60 million cuts. He was hoping that the University could go a few months without bad news. He said that unemployment should continue to raise across the state. Thorp hoped that there would be no more holdbacks and said that North Carolina had done better than other states.
Thorp invited attendees to University Day on Monday, October 12. He said that his address would go on-line as part of the University’s commitment to efficiency. He thought that the University should work to encourage the community’s entrepreneurial spirit in terms of an impact on the world.
Thorp introduced former faculty chair Joe Templeton as Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Planning and Initiatives who would lead the Bain implementation, known as the Carolina Counts initiative. Mike Patil of the Eschelman School of Pharmacy will also help lead the initiative. He said that typically private universities had been too optimistic about their endowments and public universities too optimistic about support from their state governments. He said that this was an opportune time for Carolina Counts to begin its work controlling costs.
Thorp thanked employees for their understanding and flexibility regarding the Thursday night football game. Alan Moran asked about the elimination of the third class tuition waiver. Thorp said that he had been completely surprised by the cut. He was sorry that the cut had occurred and he hoped that the waiver would be restored in the future.
Steve Hutton said that it appeared that a large number of employees laid off were not supervisors, contrary to the recommendations of the Bain report. Thorp said that the University had eliminated 29 senior academic and administrative officers and had committed to eliminate 20 more. The University had not committed to eliminate more front-line employees. At the end of the year, the University will have eliminated 50 out of 300 senior academic and administrative officers, or 20% of the total. In contrast, the University had eliminated less than 5% front-line employees. Lucy Lewis asked if these senior officers had been shifted or cut? Thorp said that 29 had left the University, some through the Reduction in Force (RIF) policy.
Faith Thompson asked how Thorp could show the value of the Employee Forum outside of the meeting room. Thorp said that he had committed to meet with the Forum twice a year. He had made Brenda Malone a full vice chancellor with the job to represent employees in the high-level Tuesday discussions. He also noted that the Forum’s chair speaks regularly at the Board of Trustees’ Audit & Finance committee. He was proud to be an honorary member of the Forum, as well.
Alan Moran asked if the feedback to the Bain study had been similar where it had been implemented at Cornell and the University of California at Berkeley. Thorp said that it had not been similar given that the other universities had to pay for Bain’s services. Berkeley paid $3 million for the study from its general fund. He noted that President Erskine Bowles has instructed other UNC System institutions to take the Bain report and map it onto their administrative functions. The Bain and PACE reports influence how the System manages its institutions now, Thorp said. Carolina is now ahead of the curve but every sector of the economy is wrestling how to do work more efficiently.
Chris Carideo asked whether employees would be offered the option of a buyout. Thorp doubted this would occur as the University looks to attrition as the primary way for savings. Lucy Lewis asked Thorp’s opinion on the health insurance reform debate, given the no-bid contracts, restrictive coverage and $4 million bonuses awarded to health insurance executives. Thorp said that all seemed to be on the same side of the table with regard to this question. He had heard from Bill Roper that the Senate Finance Committee’s proposal would probably win. He thought that whatever occurs would be the beginning of a series of reforms that should be good for UNC and its employees. Thorp thanked employees for their morale and support through these difficult times. The Chair then invited Joe Templeton to meet with the Forum’s Executive Committee.
Mary Beth Koza, director of Environment, Health and Safety, gave a presentation on the H1N1 virus and its implications. A version of this report is available at http://ehs.unc.edu/healthy/h1n1.shtml Koza said that the University had dealt with this threat since April and had done a phenomenal job in response. People with flu or flu-like symptoms should avoid contact with others, drink fluids, and stay home until their symptoms have subsided. Koza said that an August 7 report to President Obama estimated that 30% of all Americans will contract the virus. She said that the goal is minimize the impact to operations.
Koza said that in light of the death of a Cornell University student preparations for response have intensified. She said that Orange County currently has access to 28,000 regular flu vaccines and the UNC Health Care System another 300,000 vaccines. Koza outlined the University’s response levels, ranging from limited hazard to faculty students and staff (Level 1) to closing of the University (Level 3). Faith Thompson asked the difference between morbidity and mortality. Alan Moran said that morbidity is the percentage of those who catch a disease and mortality is the percentage of those who die from the disease. Moran asked what level of fever constitutes a flu-like symptom. Koza said that 100.3 degrees is the accepted level at which one would definitely know one is sick. Koza said that H1N1 vaccine shipments should arrive slowly, but should be available for all by December, with a first priority falling to health care students and workers.
Debbie Dehart wanted to confirm that the vaccine will not contain mercury. Moran asked whether people with asthma are recommended to take the vaccine. Koza deferred these questions to the CDC website. Koza said that those who contracted the flu in October should still get a flu shot. Employees should encourage their coworkers to take sick leave if sick. Dehart asked if the University could order more of the hand sanitizers for buildings. Wayne Blair cautioned employees about diagnosing their co-workers, given that some people suffer from allergies.
Ashley Fogle, Forum delegate and associate director of the Carolina Women’s Center, spoke on domestic violence. She said that one in four women have suffered domestic violence and that 5.3 million people are abused each year. Twelve hundred people are killed by their partner. Fogle said that violence is three times more likely to occur when couples are experiencing economic strain. Domestic violence results in health-related costs exceeding $5.8 billion and the Center for Disease Control estimates that lost productivity due to domestic violence equals $728 million.
Domestic violence victims lost 8 million days of paid work. Domestic violence is a workplace issue, with 74% of survivors reporting harassment at work by an abuser. Domestic violence is defined as the use or threat of violence to maintain power and control, or as a pattern of intentionally violence and/or controlling behavior. People can become strong informed allies against domestic violence by attending HAVEN trainings offered through the Carolina Women’s Center at womenscenter.unc.edu Alan Moran suggested that the Forum schedule training for its members. Fogle said that an increasing number of men have signed up for the training. She said the training lasts four hours and could be scheduled at the Forum’s convenience.
At this point the Forum took a ten minute break.
The Chair invited Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Malone said that the workplace literacy program had done well in its computer literacy piece, but not so well in its reading and writing program. She intends to ask the budget committee for funds to continue this project. Malone said that Gena Carter had spoken with Marc ter Horst about revisions to the SPA grievance policy, with plans to pursue an aggressive timeline for reform. Malone noted that due to federal regulation, employees must become “re-e-verified” and have their information updated soon.
Malone said that carpools and vanpools should run early before the October 22 football game. She said that no vendors would appear at the Employee Appreciation Day Friday October 23. She invited employees to take the opportunity to celebrate each of us and attend the event in the Great Hall and the Pit.
Malone said, following Thorp’s point, that she had never worked with a chancellor so in tune with the staff and faculty. She cited the minimum salary for employees and the provision of Lee Hecht Harrison placement services as real contributions to staff life. She noted also that layoffs have been lower than those estimated given the size of recent budget cuts.
Kathy Bryant gave the Forum a preview of upcoming design changes on the Human Resources website. Forum members were generally favorably impressed by the changes. Bryant said that Human Resources hopes to launch the new website by the first of the year.
Brian Usischon notified the Forum that the open enrollment period for NCFlex is now beginning. Usischon noted that the University cannot originate a health care plan that competes with the State Health Plan. He noted that the State Health Plan will eliminate vision coverage as of December 31. He also noted that the flexible spending account has increased its ceiling from $4200 to $5000. Finally, the United Concordia dental plan is waiving the waiting period for new subscribers. Subscribers can see a tax savings of 25-30%.
Jackie Overton moved that the Forum accept the September minutes, seconded by Bonni Baird. The motion was approved by acclamation.
There was no old business. Faith Thompson asked delegates with comments to send them to the listserv for the benefit of the UNC Staff Assembly. It was noted that the next issue of InTouch will be printed in the Daily Tar Heel just after Thanksgiving. Teena Burton of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee said that group would not have a table at the Employee Appreciation event but would have a table at the spring health and wellness event. She encouraged delegates to nominate others for the Heels Up awards. Koyah Rivera of the Education and Career Development committee said the group had talked about workplace literacy. The Chair said that Ray Doyle and Willis Brooks were scheduled to talk about workplace literacy next month. Alan Moran noted the support that the Chancellor has given the Forum by providing an office and a paid assistant, things that the other UNC System institutions do not have. Teena Burton noted that employees must donate their vacation/bonus time in four hour increments.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary