Employee Forum Agenda

September 1 , 2010

9:15 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

I.            Call to Order

II.           Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III.         Special Presentations

IV.          Human Resources Update—Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone

V.          Approval of August Minutes

VI.       Old Business

VII.         New Business

    • Van Dobson, Executive Director and Chief Facilities Officer

VIII.         Forum Committee Reports

  • Communications and Public Relations: Carrie Goldsmith
  • Community Affairs and Outreach: Nadeera Salam
  • Compensation & Benefits: Chuck Brink
  • Education and Career Development: Cate Cunningham
  • Legislative Action: Danny Nguyen  August minutes
  • Membership & Assignments: Myra Quick
  • Recognition & Awards:  Chris Meinecke September minutes
  • Staff Relations, Policies & Practices: James Holman August minutes
  • Executive Committee: Jackie Overton  July minutes

 

IX.        Staff Assembly Updates/Reports

X.       Announcements/Questions

XI.        Executive Committee Executive Session

XII.        Adjournment

MINUTES

September 1, 2010 Employee Forum minutes

 

Chair Jackie Overton called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. She thanked members of the media and other guests for attending. She also thanked members of Human Resources and the Ombuds Office for their presence. The Chair emphasized that she would not let the day’s meeting degenerate into a dogfight. She introduced Executive Director for Information Security Stan Waddell.

Waddell noted the three characteristics of securing data: confidentiality, integrity, and availability. He said that his position reports to the Chief Information Officer and has been delegated the responsibility to keep the campus secure. He emphasized that employees should not store sensitive data on mobile devices such as laptops or cell phones. If there is a legitimate need for this data to be stored on these devices, these devices must be encrypted. The University’s vulnerability management policy requires that software should be patched and updated. Transmission of protected health information and identity information should be done using the “https” protocol or, better, the lock icon. One should follow links in a page rather than in an e-mail, and one should always beware of e-mails sent from people you do not know. One should not share one’s password or onyen at all; if it is compromised, it is best to change passwords immediately. One should make sure one’s operating system and applications are up to date as well. Avoid illegally downloading copyrighted material, which is often embedded with malware. Never open e-mail attachments from unknown senders or respond to solicitations for products or services.

Waddell said that his office is engaged in risk assessment, whole disk laptop encryption, creation of departmental firewalls, patch management, and antivirus application updates, among other projects. He emphasized that employees should be careful with their work and personal computers. Those with questions can contact Waddell or his office at security@unc.edu or 962-HELP. Employees with questions about acceptable use can contact postmaster@unc.edu. Waddell said that antivirus software is on shareware.unc.edu, but a different version is required for employees dealing with sensitive information.

Bruce Egan, Director of the ITS Response Center, spoke on the Carolina Family Scholarship. He had founded the Scholarship program in 2005 upon learning that some UNC employees cannot afford to send their children to college. He had met with Chancellor Emeritus Moeser who made a $230,000 commitment to the program. The program is need-based and helps 12-14 students at a time with four year scholarships as long as the student remains in good standing. This year six awards went to students attending UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Pembroke, UNC-Chapel Hill, Durham Tech, and Cape Fear Technical College. Chancellor Emeritus Moeser had instructed the Development and Scholarship Office to raise the program’s endowment to $1 million. Egan noted that Tammy Davis, UNC football coach Butch Davis’ wife, hosts a luncheon before each game to raise money for the scholarship program. He noted that faculty and even the Order of the Gimghoul have given to support the scholarship fund. He said that the program is not part of the State Employees’ Combined Campaign/Carolina Cares/ Carolina Shares program since the University is not considered a non-profit organization. Egan explained that two faculty and two staff convene each year to process applications. Egan confirmed that the committee considers 20-40 applications each year, with this number possibly rising to 80-120. The scholarship is worth $2000/year. Egan said that if the endowment reaches $1 million, the program could possibly provide scholarships to 20 students a year.

Chuck Sockell presented delegates with copies of Student Stores’ academic weekly. He noted that Student Stores is a not for profit enterprise that raises approximately $1 million/year for student scholarships. He noted that September 3 is college show your colors day, during which campus members can obtain 20% off clothing and gifts at Student Stores.

The Chair introduced Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Malone wished Executive Assistant for the Ombuds Office Victoria Dowd a happy birthday. She noted that the University’s Employee Appreciation Day will take place October 22 from 9-3 p.m. Human Resources will soon send out fliers about the event. Malone noted that State Health Plan enrollees must verify the eligibility of their enrolled dependents by October 15. The Secova corporation will administer verification. Enrollees who do not verify the eligibility of their dependents will lose the ability to enroll their dependents in the program for a year or more. Malone noted that the State Personnel Commission had delayed approval or disapproval of the grievance policy revisions until October. She noted that the University will collaborate with NC State University to provide temporary placement services via University Targeted Staffing (UTS). Malone said that UNC-Chapel Hill will benefit from UTS’ cost competitiveness and knowledge of the higher education environment. Sockell confirmed that local staffing agencies still remain an option for University departments.

The Chair introduced Executive Director for Facilities Services Van Dobson and Director of Housekeeping Services Bill Burston. She distributed a copy of the August 24 policy on unexcused breaks. She also provided backstory on her meeting with a number of groups. She noted that two Housekeeping and two Building Services employees had received suspensions for taking unexcused breaks. A memo was issued to address meal period, break period, and work hour policy. Dobson noted that in cases of unscheduled breaks, employees can call their bosses to let them know about the need to take such breaks. These would occur in cases of physical overexertion or other such instances.

Chuck Brink asked about the April 28 case of two Facilities Services employees who had a case similar to the rescinded suspensions mentioned earlier who had a grievance ruling in their favor overturned by the Chancellor. Dobson said that he was not aware that this case had been overturned. Chuck Sockell asked Dobson’s take on the recent Daily Tar Heel article. Dobson said that Assistant Director of Housekeeping Tonya Sell had used military language when discussing military matters in her previous career. She did not say that she would slap employees literally or figuratively. Dobson said that she had said that she did not discuss her relationship with Forum delegate James Holman with the Daily Tar Heel writer. Dobson said that it helps no one but the media to have any employee bash the Forum in the newspaper. He said that he had confidence Sell told the truth. He said that Sell and Holman should work out any misunderstandings privately.

The Chair said that some of the questions from the Daily Tar Heel writer were of a goading nature. She said that she would not tell the media anything negative about any delegate or employee. She said that if she experiences a problem she would speak directly with the cause of that problem. James Holman said that the Daily Tar Heel writer said that he took exact quotes from those cited in the article. Dobson said that he did not want to bash a student learning new skills working for the DTH. Chris Meinecke asked if supervisors must be physically present when employees take unscheduled breaks. He said that the policy seems incredibly harsh. Odessa Davis said that housekeepers want to take a rest, not a break. Dobson said that the University and State encourage allowing a fifteen minute break for every four hours of work. This break is not required by federal or State law unless the employee is using equipment that specifies such a requirement. He said that managerial discretion defines when the breaks should occur according to operational needs.

Sandra O’Buckley asked about non-English speakers making requests to take unscheduled break periods. Dobson said that bilingual staff usually share information back and forth. Marc ter Horst opined that the policy of suspending employees one week for a first time offense seems harsh. Dobson noted the difference between conduct violations, such as when an employee is not working fast enough, and performance issues, such as when an employee is using the wrong equipment. He noted that predisciplinary conferences can occur. He also asked that employees trust that he and Burston will apply the policy reasonably, fairly, and equitably. An employee can call their supervisor about the needed unscheduled break and then get back to work.

Sohrab Habibi asked about making housekeeping jobs project based instead of time-based. Malone said that the obligation of the employer is to fill up the time for work with work minus the break and lunch. The expectation is of course that the employee will work during their work time. If an employee is done with their work before their shift is finished, that employee is expected to help others. Dobson said that he had not heard of any staff saying that they do not have enough work to do. Ter Horst asked what process would occur if an employee faces suspension for an unscheduled break. He also encouraged Dobson to write a rebuttal to the DTH article to correct any misunderstandings created by that article. The Chair said that the Forum might invite Sell to a future meeting to discuss events. Dobson said that the supervisor would discuss the possible suspension with Dobson and a representative from Human Resources. If that employee had for example carried equipment up three flights of stairs and tried to call their supervisor before taking a break, there would be an expectation of leniency.

Chuck Brink said that he was distressed that the policy is not being implemented across the entire University. He noted that many employees take multiple smoke breaks during the day. Sarah Poteete asked about an employee’s ten minute trip to the bathroom. Dobson said that hygiene and bathroom breaks would certainly be allowed. Myra Quick said that she works hard enough in an office sitting at a desk all day. She said that if housekeepers or Facilities Services employees need to take an unscheduled break they should be able to take one. She said that these employees could be made to feel subhuman by this policy, given that they do the hardest work for the lowest pay on campus. She found the policy in general to be very harsh. Dobson said that if employees are asleep for 20 minutes, this should not count as an excused break. He noted that Facilities Services had rescinded several suspensions in the last month. Carleta Long thought that the policy seemed unfair given that it appeared to target one group. She thought that there should be training and management to deal with isolated cases such as those mentioned. Beverly Sizemore asked how closely supervisors manage employees in Facilities Services. Dobson said that supervisors stay in contact via radio. Sizemore said that sleeping should have severe consequences but the other behaviors mentioned should have lesser consequences. Dobson mentioned instances of employees playing Nintendo and cards as other examples. Sizemore thought that these should be spelled out more explicitly in the policy. Sizemore also thought that the DTH article needs an immediate rebuttal by Facilities Services, Sell, and the DTH reporter. Jonathan Pletzke thought that the University needs to try to find consistency in its implementation of organizational policies. Danny Nguyen thought that Sell represents senior management and so should be trained how to deal with the media. Dobson said that Facilities Services will have a media training session on October 19. The Chair recalled that University Relations had given her training in how to speak with the media.

Dan Barmmer asked how Facilities Services will measure whether the proposal will work. Dobson said that if there are no instances of unscheduled breaks, Facilities Services will consider the policy to work. Barmmer added that there should be employee satisfaction measures taken also. Jessica O’Hara asked what training measures are taking place in Facilities Services. Dobson said that the three tiers of management are undergoing training and leadership discussions. Dobson said that his office observes an open-door policy.

Miriam Thompson of the Orange County NAACP said that she was happy to see evidence of support for the housekeepers. She thought that Facilities Services needs a change in management culture so as to not infantilize its workers. She thought that the policy should be performance-based, not a conduct-based. She also criticized the military mindset of Sell as depicted in the DTH article.

Ann Sizer said that she worked as a housekeeper in Carmichael and had not had trouble calling her supervisor for a five-minute break. Beth Graves said that her department had found a third-shift employee who had made a bed during their shift. She asked why Facilities Services would not limit its punishments to those found guilty, instead of establishing a general unscheduled leave policy. James Holman asked if it was a common practice to handpick employees for interviews with the DTH. Dobson said that it was not. Holman said that two employees did not know why they had been called to interview with the DTH reporter. Chuck Brink said that Facilities Services needs 360 degree evaluations.

Malone said that all employees are subject to work rules discipline. She recalled that four suspensions had been rescinded following the Provost/Vice Chancellor meeting August 12 because these individuals were not fully aware that their behavior was not subject to discipline. She said that due process was served in these cases, and employees have been put on notice by the recent memorandum. She said that suspensions would not occur without appropriate facts and circumstances, noting that the policy specifies that suspensions “may” result, giving an opportunity for discernment of what has been done. A restroom break will not result in a week’s suspension, but sleeping or video games would likely do so. She said that the University hoped to find a balance in the framework it had put into place. She said that Facilities Services should enforce the policy in a fair and consistent manner and if it does not, employees have the opportunity to grieve their suspensions. She also said that the Office of Human Resources would pay close attention to the enforcement of this policy.

The Chair gave Dobson the final say in the discussion. Dobson said that he appreciated the opportunity for discussion and again noted his open-door policy. He said that he was engaged to try to get work done and to take care of his people. The Chair thanked all who participated in the discussion.

Sohrab Habibi, the Forum’s representative on the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT), asked delegates to contact him about upcoming plans to set the fee structure for parking over the next five years. He particularly asked delegates to give feedback as to whether park and ride works or not. The Chair noted that the Provost/Vice Chancellor meeting would take place September 9 and the Board of Trustees meeting would take place September 21. She said that she had invited Brenda Denzler to discuss breast cancer awareness month. Members of the Executive Committee and the Human Resources cabinet will attend a luncheon on Monday, October 4. The Executive Committee had voted to support Chuck Brink in his bid to be an at-large Staff Assembly Executive Committee delegate or chair-elect.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:34 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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