September 1, 2004
Agenda — September 1, 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
· Peter Reinhardt, Environmental Health & Safety
A Round Table Discussion will follow
V. Human Resources Update: Laurie Charest
VI. Employee Presentations or Questions
VII. July 7, August 4, 2004 Minutes P
VIII. Old Business
XI. New Business
· Resolution 04-03 Concerning Expansion of Educational Assistance Opportunities for UNC-Chapel Hill Employees (First Reading) P
X. Stretch Time 6
XI. Forum Committee Reports
· University Assignments: Tom Arnel
· Career Development: Curtis Helfrich
· Communications: Brian White
Þ Forum Newsletter
· Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards: Dixie Bloom
· Employee Presentations: Katherine Graves
· Nominating: Patti Prentice
Þ Forum Elections
· Orientation: Meredith Clason
· Personnel Issues: Delita Wright
XII. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Tommy Griffin
XIII. 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
XV. “Go Around the Room”
P = Included in Agenda Packet
September 1, 2004 Forum Minutes
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:34 a.m. He welcomed members of the press and Human Resources representatives Gina Carter, Naomi Bullock and Jennifer Adams, among others. He then introduced Provost Robert Shelton.
Shelton said that the University had done well with regard to the State budget, at least in comparison to prior years. The University will take a 1.5% reduction, approximately $5.5 million. A sales tax change accounts for approximately $1.1 million of this figure. The University may receive a $4.4 million in enrollment increase money. The University will receive $11.8 million from its campus-based tuition increase with these funds mainly to go to financial aid and salary increases for faculty. University Employees received a $1000 or 2.5% salary increase, whichever is greater, totaling around $8 million. All in all, the University will see a $6.6 million reduction offset by permanent increases of $24.5 million. Shelton cautioned that one year of good budget news has not lifted the University out the hole dug in previous years.
Shelton said that he, Vice Chancellor Nancy Suttenfield and Associate Vice Chancellor Laurie Charest have continued small monthly meetings with Forum Delagates. He said that these meetings have begun to reap specific results, most recently in the creation of a salary augmentation fund for UNC Library Employees. Shelton praised Charest’s work with Sarah McGullock and the Library leadership to form the new salary plan.
Library staff will receive a 3% salary increase above the State mandate and Employees falling below the 80th percentile for their position will receive increases bringing them up to the 80th percentile. Shelton praised the Forum and the Chair for their role in bringing this plan to fruition. He said that the move would greatly increase equity for Library Employees based on Human Resources salary data.
Shelton encouraged Employees to attend Chancellor Moeser’s State of the University Address, to take place September 29 in the Great Hall of the Student Union. The address will include results based on the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace and may also provide closure on the campus ombudsperson search.
Moving to child care, Shelton said that the University had found funds to satisfy some of the recommendations of a recent child care study, although it did not find $2.5 million for construction of a new center. The University will provide $72,000 for child care assistance matching funds, among other items.
The Chair then introduced Peter Reinhardt, Director of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) to make a few remarks and participate in a campus round table discussion. Reinhardt said his office had experienced a very busy year. He noted the increased feedback about construction sites, changes in pedestrian areas and construction management.
To begin, Reinhardt said that his office would work with Human Resources to offer flu shots to all Employees, hopefully in November. Employees can also find information about work site ergonomics, chemical waster pickup and training on the website, which the department has recently launched. (ehs.unc.edu) Reinhardt said that the University is very fortunate to have a full-time ergonomist on-staff at the Employee Occupational Health Clinic along with two fulltime nurses.
John Adams asked about problems with the new Administrative Office Building off Airport Road, noting concerns with drainage, site safety and smokers in breezeways. He hoped that Environment, Health and Safety could work with builders in the future to avoid these kinds of problems. Reinhardt said that his office would increase its involvement in construction details to avoid these problems. Sherrie Settle thanked Reinhardt for his office’s help to Employees to restore order in the wake of various construction projects.
Kirk McNaughton asked what steps EHS had taken to deal with the new mold in the Biomedical Research building, particularly as related to inadequate coating of pipes in ceilings. Reinhardt said he was less familiar with that building’s situation than others. He said that Ron Howell spends all of his time on indoor air quality issues. When Howell receives a contact regarding indoor air quality or mold, he investigates then prepares a report for the public. Then, his office works with Facilities Services to correct the situation. In some cases, Howell will give a presentation and answer other questions. Reinhardt asked McNaughton to send him an e-mail regarding the problem and he would respond detailing the project’s status.
Reinhardt said that mold at UNC-Chapel Hill is an old story, given the realities of life in the humid south. He said that the number of old HVAC systems on campus has been the source of a significant portion of reported problems.
David Brannigan asked if EHS was responsible for policies prohibiting smoking in State vehicles. Reinhardt said that the State sets some policies and noted that Risk Manager Steve Kenny deals with specific campus concerns. Billy Mitchell said that the campus fire marshall has the final say on these matters. Brannigan said that he sought a clarification on the University’s policy. Additionally, he also decried the amount of smoking near the Administrative Office Building, saying that smokers should stay at least one hundred feet away from buildings. Mitchell said that he had heard of plans to build a space particularly for smokers but that these plans were abandoned as too expensive.
Brannigan said he had checked on State policies and found that it is legal to smoke near any door that opens to outside air. He regretted that the State does not require smokers to stay a certain amount of distance away from buildings. He also decried the number of stairwells and elevators in the Administrative Office Building that open directly to the outside. Reinhardt said that corporations had paid for construction of these buildings under procedures not subject to State codes. This exception allowed builders to cut costs on interior stairwells and elevators, which unfortunately leads to more environmental problems. Tom Arnel asked if building occupants could set smoking policy. Reinhardt said that the campus had become more aggressive on smoking than State policies and advised occupants to determine their own policy with regard to smoking near doorways. He also said that smokers have access to campus resources for quitting smoking.
McNaughton advised that the University provide ashtrays for common smoking areas. Reinhardt said he had spoken with Kirk Pelland of Grounds about ashtrays and had found that the University rarely provides these for fire safety reasons. Mitchell said that building plans usually contain specifications about ashtray placement.
Ernie Patterson said that older facilities have problems with occupant exposure to formaldehyde and other chemicals. He said that the University must face the need for major work on indoor air quality in research buildings related to the long-term health effects of these chemicals. Reinhardt asked which buildings Patterson had in mind, and Patterson mentioned Fordham and Coker among others. Patterson hoped that EHS could do a study and improve the situation in these buildings by measuring exposure in work areas during different times of the day. Reinhardt said that Employees in these buildings should report any concerns about chemical smells or odors in these buildings.
Mary Johnson asked if EHS might sponsor a cigarette cessation program for Employees, perhaps two weeks a year. Reinhardt said that OSHA requires that the University maintain an occupational health clinic but has not become involved in Employee wellness issues to this point. His office had put together a proposal for the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace to expand the clinic’s role in increasing Employee wellness. However, no one has figured out how to make this link real to this point. He noted the new $150 wellness benefit and encouraged Employees to use this money to speak with their physician about a matter of concern. He said that EHS would include information about this subject on its website in cooperation with Human Resources.
Katherine Graves asked about the use of material safety data sheets at workstations using sanitary chemicals, such as for housekeepers. Reinhardt said that EHS conducts training classes and provides material safety sheets at all sites. He said that there have been no reports of nosebleeds, headaches or other adverse health symptoms related to cleaning products since last December. He said that the occupational clinic had seen possibly four people about a sensitivity issue related to cleaning chemicals and EHS had worked to provide substitutions in December. The State Department of Labor conducted a campus investigation in March and April and found that all was satisfactory with safety at housekeeper workstations as long as workers use the equipment made available to them. He would be happy to investigate any further complaints. He further noted that the Department of Labor made a specific point to interview line employees in a separate room from supervisors.
Bradley Bone asked if University Employees can file their flu shot costs against their $150 wellness benefit. Reinhardt said that office fees for this purpose are not part of the State plan. He asked if flu shots would be available for dependents and spouses. Charest said that the University had not undertaken this program last year due to the limited amount of vaccine available. She did not know how much vaccine would become available this year. She said that the University would like to provide shots for dependents and spouses, but the University would need to verify that these dependents and spouses are covered by the plan. Otherwise, the University would have to institute a charge. Much depends on the amount of vaccine available in November. Reinhardt thought that the University could resolve these concerns in the future.
Brannigan asked if Reinhardt were aware of the employment status of the person who brought the concerns with chemicals to the attention of OSHA and the Department of Labor. Reinhardt said that he did not know who brought these complaints as this was a confidential matter. Brannigan said that this person had been fired by the University. Reinhardt said that he had no way to know if this assertion was true as he did not know who made the complaint.
Cynthia Cowan asked how closely EHS works with Facilities Services on building renovations and notifications to departments about impending work. Reinhardt said that the two are separate departments but talk on a quarterly basis. Facilities Service personnel are smart and sensitive to safety issues, said Reinhardt, and often ask his office for advice on unusual situations. Often, Facilities Services will ask EHS to become involved in design reviews of larger projects and to provide presentations on safety issues such as how to handle lead paint or mold situations. The Chair noted that Facilities Services has a safety committee which communicates regularly with EHS. Cowan said that the Information Technology department on Manning Drive had seen changes made to its offices without prior notification. People experienced difficulties with blocked doorways, most notably those requiring wheelchair access. Patterson thought that EHS must do all it can to deliver flu shots for Employees. Reinhardt said that the demand for shots varies greatly from year to year.
Johnson noted problems at the Library with carpel tunnel syndrome and asked if these Employees could use their wellness benefit for this purpose. Reinhardt said that if the carpel tunnel syndrome occurred due to work demands, the Employee can visit the occupational health clinic and speak with a specialist.
The Chair welcomed Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest to present the Forum’s monthly Human Resources update. Charest outlined the schedule of visits of ombudsperson candidate open forums. Human Resources will communicate the dates of meetings before they occur.
Federal revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) took effect August 23. The University has reviewed positions that might have been affected by the legislative change and notified individuals affected personally. She said that any time position descriptions change Human Resources reviews possible changes in overtime status.
Information Technology career banding should be completed by Monday, September 6, although Human Resources is still chasing down summary assessment sheets from a few offices.
The University will host an Employee Appreciation event Friday, November 5 focusing on faculty and staff development opportunities.
In August, five Employees received the Chancellor’s Award and of these, Shawna Dee Williams received the Governor’s State Employee Award for Excellence. Williams will officially receive the award in October.
Concerning health insurance, Charest began by reporting a 11.9% health care premium increase for university health plans across the nation. Traditionally, every two years health care costs have risen 12%, meaning that this year the North Carolina State plan should see a similar increase if national trends hold. Charest said that given this trend of major increases, there is a similar trend of decline in benefits offered. She participates on a health insurance committee commissioned by the UNC Office of the President to develop a sound health plan to cover the entire UNC System and provide affordable coverage for depends within the same dollar amount of the State plan. Two faculty members from the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Public Health will serve on the committee along with a faculty member from the Sheps Center. The steering committee hopes to report by January.
Charest said that North Carolina pension fund investments had seen a 12% return up to $61 billion from $57 billion the year before.
Employees should receive materials about the North Carolina Flex program, and this year’s many changes, by the end of September. Enrollment will occur from October 11 to November 5. Pacific Dental has changed its rate structure into different categories depending on the number of children an enrollee has. The plan will see an increase in premiums and deductibles. Charest noted that the University offers an aftertax Fortis plan which will see less increases this year. The Fortis plan will waive its waiting period for enrollees and may cost less aftertax than the Pacific Dental pretax plan.
North Carolina Flex will offer a life insurance plan which will be pretax up to $50,000 in benefits. Benefits will be taxable to heirs, a fact that changes the amount of money passed forward. Charest noted that the University has an aftertax plan through MetLife with cheaper rates.
North Carolina will continue to offer a “credit card” convenience plan for $6/year. The card does not eliminate the need to file claims but does allow immediate access to dollars at some vendors. North Carolina Flex will offer a cancer plan through Allstate with a high and low option.
Charest reminded Employees that they cannot change the amount invested in flexible spending accounts during the year unless their family status (married/divorced/number of children) changes during the year. She also noted that the amount requested on the form is a monthly amount, meaning Employees should adjust their contributions if paid on a biweekly basis.
The State of North Carolina now offers a supplemental program through Tricare which covers all copayments and deductibles for active and retired military and families. The State now provides this supplement free for these families. Human Resources will try to advertise this program to University Employees and those who might be eligible should contact the Benefits office. Patti Prentice asked if reserve families are eligible and Charest said she did not know and advised Prentice to phone Benefits.
Chuck Brink thanked Charest for Human Resources’ input in reducing exposure to Employees’ social security number. Charest said that Facilities Services had done most of the work but Human Resources had helped with the address system. These forms now contain only the last four digits of Employees’ social security numbers.
John Adams thought that the letter that came with the North Carolina Flex convenience card said that enrollees would not need to submit paperwork for copayments and deductibles. Charest would ask but she thought that enrollees still had to submit paperwork.
Patterson asked if the University’s federal retirement system had been recalculated based on new federal standards. Charest said that this change has been in the works and statistics are now based on the new federal reporting requirements.
Michael McQuown asked whom an Employee should speak with to request a review of their duties and positions to determine if they are exempt or non-exempt. Charest said that regular reclassification reviews come from the department but if an Employee feels their duties have changed the department forwards the request to Human Resources, or to the School of Medicine’s Human Resources office or Facilities Services’ Human Resources office, respectively. Charest said that a review requires signatures of the department head and supervisor.
McQuown confirmed that faculty members of the Office of the President health care steering committee include Dr. Anita Ferrell, Dr. Loomer Goolus and Dr. Pam Silverman.
McNaughton noted that the University’s employment applications require social security numbers. These applications, once reviewed by the interviewing departments, return to Human Resources. Charest said that Human Resources must store any records related to an employment in a confidential place for three years.
Brannigan said he had experienced difficulties finding the disciplinary action section of the Employee handbook on the Human Resources website. Charest advised that Brannnigan search the “A-Z index”.
Brian Whitling commented that Disbursement Services uses a twelve character identification number, the middle ten characters of which are the subject’s social security number. This vendor identification number is used for University account, travel and purchase reimbursements. Charest advised that Whitling speak with the people who maintain the vendor ID number system. She said that one must have a social security number for outside vendors to complete their W-4 tax forms. Whitling said that he had had to give his social security number several times for checks and other forms.
Patterson said that in today’s society, the social security number is not a secure number, given its use on State health insurance and other information. He advised Employees to use diligence when providing the number for various uses.
Approval of Minutes
Charest noted that on the first page of the August minutes, a committee was looking at a longterm definition to make it easier for Employees to qualify. Brian White noted a typo in a sentence about State employer contribution, saying that the contribution will increase from 5.77 to 5.815%. Charest said that EPA Employees will receive an allocation equal to 2.5% of their salary to be granted in a lump sum to departments to divide up according to FD-119s. Katherine Graves noted that Claire Miller’s name was incorrectly spelled in the July minutes.
The Forum moved to approve as amended the July and August minutes.
The Chair read resolution 04-03 concerning an increase in funds available to Employees through the educational assistance program. Patterson moved to suspend the rules to move immediately to consideration of the resolution on second reading. The Forum voted 19-5 to suspend the rules, allowing immediate consideration of the resolution on second reading. Patterson thought that increasing money granted to Employees under the educational assistance program was always a good idea.
Chuck Brink thought that the resolution should contain language asking for a bigger benefit, saying that otherwise he did not see the point. He said that as long as an Employee must rely on the discretion of their supervisor to take classes the program had little value to some Employees. He said that no one at Facilities Services can take a free class unless they use leave time. The Chair recalled that some Employees go early or stay late to make up the time to attend these classes. Brink said that some Employees make these adjustments.
Brannigan favored Brink’s idea, saying that the University needed to work to expand educational opportunities in general. He thought that the resolution was skimpy in its approach to varying work situations. The Chair said that the resolution allows reimbursement at community colleges and elsewhere. The tuition waiver program, which is not addressed by the resolution, allows Employees to take two UNC System courses for free, but not on work time unless job related. This resolution does not address the tuition waiver program.
Instead, the resolution relates to the educational assistance program (EAP), originally designed by the Office of State Personnel. The educational assistance program currently reimburses job-related training at any accredited institution, be it community college, public or private institution. The University has a pot of funds which is limited to $250 per Employee per year. The Forum has set this limit, not the State, in order to make sure the money is available to all. However, in recent years, the University has not distributed all of the money available. Thus, the drive to increase the allocation to $350.
The educational assistance program draws on two pots of money. The University’s pot of money has gone to job-related activities. For the past four or five years, the Forum has recommended that proceeds from the staff development fund also go to the educational assistance program. The staff development fund was established by the Coca-Cola company during the University’s bicentennial campaign to support career development initiatives for staff, and has funded creation of a career training library and half of a career counselor position before its vestment in the educational assistance program.
Resolution 04-03 would allow use of the educational assistance program funds for non-job related educational activities. Since the Forum, as official administrator of the fund, has some flexibility that the University does not have in its program administration, it can support non-job related educational activities and help more people than it does now. Brannigan gathered that this idea has general support for training and development. Charest said that it drives her nuts not to allow people access to these funds. She said that Human Resources would love to allocate of these dollars and has tried to find ways to put money into the hands of Employees interested in educational opportunities.
Camilla Crampton asked about the proceeds of the staff development fund. Charest said that the Coca-Cola company contributed the original principal and others have donated smaller amounts through the years. Martha Fowler asked how much money the staff development fund generated each year. Charest said that the amount varies depending on how the market performs, but overall the program holds around $40,000 a year, with not all of this money spent the last several years. This leftover money has been pooled in the educational assistance program fund.
Brannigan suggested that the Forum approve the current resolution then move to clarify what other resources are available. Graves said that she wished the educational assistance program could support reimbursements for books, given that the cost for books is so high. Charest said that the State’s educational assistance program money cannot be used for books but Human Resources had supported using the staff development fund portion for books. However, the Forum had rejected this suggestion.
McNaughton said that the range of rules is confusing. He wondered if Human Resources or the Forum could clarify these choices. Charest agreed, saying that Human Resources must find money wherever it can and so must adapt to the restrictions imposed by fund donors. She said that the Forum had created a Career Development brochure detailing options and Human Resources had publicized other new development initiatives on their website and elsewhere.
Graves thought that the resolution should include funding for books and other materials. Arnel asked if the resolution passes, would the Chancellor accept the Forum’s recommendation for how to spend this money. Charest said that the Chancellor typically does not turn down these requests.
Patterson moved that the resolution include funding for educational materials and books. Graves recalled that she had made the same suggestion the last time the subject of the educational assistance program came up for discussion. She recalled that there were questions about whether the books would belong to the Employee or the University after the reimbursement. Eventually, the Forum decided not to include books and materials for fear that these expenses would deplete the program. She suggested that Employees bring documentation to show they had purchased the books for their class.
The Chair recalled that the program pays out only after the Employee has completed a course and received a grade. He did not think that the program could provide funds for books in advance of the class. He urged passage of the resolution given that it would increase disbursements to $350 and would allow disbursements for non-job related educational expenses.
Bradley Bone confirmed that the tuition waiver program does not depend on an Employee’s eventual grade. The Chair said this was true, but added that Employees must make a passing grade to receive reimbursement under the educational assistance program.
Brian White suggested that the Forum add the phrase “allow Forum funds for the educational assistance program…from proceeds of the Career Development committee” to the resolution. The Forum voted to approve the resolution with this amendment, but not to include the amendment including books and other materials. The Forum approved the resolution unanimously.
At this point, the Forum took a five minute stretch break.
Tom Arnel, chair of the University Assignments committee, said that group had met August 26 and come up with a slogan to encourage Employees to get involved with University committee service: “temporary commitment, permanent improvement.” The committee will also establish a presence at the November 5 Employee appreciation event.
The Chair said that the Career Development committee had discussed the educational assistance program resolution and the Employee appreciation event. He asked members to consider signing up for this group.
Brian White, chair of the Communications committee, said that InTouch should be published later that week. The committee will meet again September 2 at noon. He praised Bradley Bone for his work in beginning revisions to the Forum web page.
Cheryl Lytle of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee said that the committee would plan its “Prize Patrol” approaches this month.
Katherine Graves, chair of the Employee Presentations committee, said that the group will host a community meeting October 20 on health insurance issues. The meeting will feature legislative representatives as well as University administrators. She thanked Charest’s help in setting the agenda. Also, Soren Schmidt will speak about the living wage campaign at the Forum’s October meeting. Additionally, the University’s computer loan program for lower-paid Employees will take effect the second week of September. The program now has thirteen laptops to loan and Graves will work with the Career Development committee to determine administration of the borrowing system.
Patti Prentice, chair of the Nominating committee, said the group had started phoning nominees and should send out delegate ballots by the middle of the month. She asked Employees, particularly from the EPA non-faculty ranks, to stand for election. She confirmed that only full-time permanent Employees who have passed their probationary period can serve on the Forum. Brannigan said that the Forum must urgently work to increase supervisory support for Forum service.
Meredith Clason, chair of the Orientation committee, said that the group had met August 30 and had begun work on the October 22 new member orientation. She said that the committee would develop a new retreat agenda format this year emphasizing interactive discussions rather than lecturers. Delegates with ideas should contact her.
Chuck Brink reported that the Personnel Issues committee had discussed the grievance procedure and adverse weather plans at its last meeting. The committee invited Jim Alty to a future meeting to discuss the adverse weather procedure and proposed disciplinary policies.
The Chair said that the Executive Committee had met and established a subcommittee to discuss the Forum Guidelines. The University has recently approved a pilot part-time degree program for University Employees. Ten University Employees can enter as transfer students subject to admission standards. The pilot program will attempt to secure ten Employees a year entrance into the program. It was commented that this was a fine achievement given the University’s historic emphasis on educating traditional students.
The Chair thanked those who attended the grievance procedure open forums last week. He also reminded members about the Provost/Vice Chancellor meeting to take place Friday, September 3 at 11 a.m. in 307 South Building.
In the absence of further discussion the meeting adjourned at 11:38 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary