September 3, 2014
Employee Forum Agenda
I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Charles Streeter
- Open call for announcements and questions for the end of the meeting
II. Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press
III. Special Presentation
- Jennifer Scott, Title IX Coordinator on HAVEN and Title IX
Jenn Scott supports students through the reporting process and coordinates programs, outreach and education to further Title IX and the broader nondiscrimination goals of the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office.
IV. Human Resources Update—Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington
VII. New Business
- Night Parking Discussion
- Appointment of New Staff Assembly Alternate
- How to Write a Resolution
VIII. Forum Committees
- Carolina Blood Drive: Todd Hux
- Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder (June minutes)
- Communications and Public Relations: Katie Turner
- Education and Career Development: Andy Eaker
- Membership & Assignments: Angela Combs
- Recognition & Awards:
- Personnel Issues: Yvonne Dunlap (July minutes)
- Compensation & Benefits: Chrissie Greenberg/Kelli Raker
- Legislative Action: Kirk Montgomery
- Staff Relations, Policies & Practices: Everett Deloney/Rocky Riviella
- UNC System Staff Assembly: Michael Highland/James Holman/Charles Streeter
- Executive Committee: Charles Streeter
- State Employee Appreciation Day September 10
IX. Open Forum: Announcements/Questions/Issues
September 3, 2014 Employee Forum minutes
Attending (those who signed in): Jo-Ann Blake, Bonita Brown, Ronald Campbell, Jackie Copeland, Tammy Cox, Lois Douglass-Alston, Yvonne Dunlap, Andy Eaker, Teresa Etscovitz, Josh Ferrari, Oscar Fleming, Paula Goodman, Christine Greenberg, Shane Hale, Victoria Hammett, Michael Highland, Karen Jenkins-Cheek, Rona Manuel, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Whitney Mohr, Kirk Montgomery, Jackie Overton, Stacey Owen, Shamecia Powers, Kelli Raker, Kathy Ramsey, Samara Reynolds, Christina Rodriguez, Renee Sherman, Tara Smith, Charles Streeter, NIhlei Tial, Katie Turner, Ben Triplett
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. He welcomed new delegates Ben Triplett, Shamecia Powers, and Josh Ferrari. He then led the room in a round of introductions. He noted that the Forum’s recent twitter-based scavenger hunt had been a great success, gaining 300 new followers. He recognized student Evan Adair with a certificate of appreciation for his help on the scavenger hunt. He also recognized grand prize winner Ashton Madison, who won a Kindle Paperwhite. The Chair said that the Forum had worked to open up lines of communication with staff via divisional listservs, Twitter, the Forum web page, and other means of obtaining feedback. He hoped that the Forum would plan another scavenger hunt next year.
The Chair said that Alexis Barlow, the Assistant Sports Marketing Director, will speak at the October Forum meeting on efforts of Athletics to reach out to faculty and staff. He said that Athletics will offer tickets to UNC home games to Forum delegates this year. He asked delegates to submit their names for a raffle to distribute the tickets at the end of the meeting. The Chair said that he would invite employees from Division 6 to attend the October Forum meeting.
The Chair introduced Jennifer Scott from the Equal Opportunity/ADA Office to discuss the University’s HAVEN training. Scott said that the HAVEN Program (Helping Advocates for Violence Ending Now) is a collaboration between the Equal Opportunity & Compliance, The Carolina Women’s Center, The Office of the Dean of Students, and Student Wellness. It is intended to provide students, faculty or staff with tools and skills to be an ally to someone who has experienced sexual or interpersonal (relationship) violence or stalking. The 3 hour training emphasizes the importance of listening, responding compassionately, and connecting survivors to resources on campus and in the community. She said that dates for the training are available on the SAFE website at safe.unc.edu. The next training is available Friday, September 12 from 9-noon in the Carolina Union. Other dates are Friday September 26th and Friday October 17, each from 9am-12pm. Interested employees should sign up via the safe.unc.edu website. Scott said that training would be expanded if demand increases.
Tammy Cox asked how much new material will be presented in these sessions. Scott said that there are a series of refresher trainings which will also take place in September, October, and November. Christine Greenberg said that she was interested in the training, but could not commit to anything before November due to the oncoming implementation of ConnectCarolina. Scott offered to set up a special training for Forum delegates if desired. The Chair asked Scott to work with the Forum to set up a training. He thought that Forum delegates should work to inform themselves through different campus activities about relevant topics. Samara Reynolds asked how many students have been trained through HAVEN. Scott said that around 300 people have received training already this fall. The Chair noted that staff employees are often the first point of contact for students in their dealings with the University. Scott emphasized that staff can also use the resources of the HAVEN training should they require them.
The Chair welcomed Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Matt Brody. Brody asked Senior Director for Benefits Ashely Nicklis to speak on health insurance and other items. Nicklis noted that enrollment for the State Health Plan and NC Flex will take place from October 1-31. She did not expect any changes in costs this year as changes are expected for 2015. She said that employees will be allowed to stay with their current health plan but those enrolled in the 80/20 plan must complete their health assessment, tobacco cessation statement and primary physician designation as before. Nicklis noted that employees have two paid benefits through NC Flex: paid coverage of Accidental Death & Dismemberment, and a vision plan for the employee only. These plans do not require reenrollment but those not enrolled must designate their enrollment this year.
Nicklis said that the forty hours of bonus leave approved by the Legislature became available September 1. This leave has no expiration date and, if not used, will be paid on retirement or separation from service. The TIM time management system will be updated to reflect these increased hours for employees. Lois Douglass-Alston asked if employees must use these hours first. Nicklis said that there is no stipulation that employees must use these hours first or before a certain date. She said that employees whose hire date falls on September 1, 2014 or before receive the leave.
Nicklis said that the NC Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System (TSERS) has changed the vestment requirement from ten years’ service to five years’ service. She noted that employees who selected the UNC Optional Retirement Program (ORP) during previous ten year vestment requirement do not have the option of switching over to TSERS. She said that she would give feedback to Raleigh advocating this possibility. Christine Greenberg surmised that employees must leave the State entirely then return to service to switch from ORP to TSERS. Nicklis said that an employee desiring to switch over must cash out entirely and start over with no years of service. She said that there is a reciprocal relationship between TSERS and ORP in leave accumulated between the two systems in the case of promotion, for example.
Senior Program Specialist Chris Chiron spoke on the new performance management forms. He said that his office had conducted 86 training sessions on the new forms in units around campus. Chiron said that there will be two general training sessions on the forms next week. He said that the forms have been converted into on-line modules, a necessary innovation. Christine Greenberg asked about a rumor that the forms will not require job descriptions until later this year. Chiron said that updates to the forms will ask for this information in this fiscal year.
Matt Brody noted that October 1 is the scheduled live date for ConnectCarolina. He noted that hundreds of people have worked on testing and fine-tuning the new system. He said that given the thousands of moving parts, there will be bumps in implementation. He asked for employees’ understanding and patience as the University implements this very complex piece of software.
Brody noted that SPA employees should have seen their legislative pay increases in their most recent paychecks, retroactive to July 1. This increase is pro-rated for part-time employees. He noted that guidance from General Administration on EPA raises has not been finalized yet. He anticipated that department heads will retain flexibility on distribution matters. The EPA raises will likely become effective in November, retroactive again to July 1.
Senior Director for Classification and Compensation Jessica Moore spoke on career banding at the University. Moore noted that initiatives to implement career banding must be initiated by the Legislature. Studies to justify market adjustments cost a great deal of money, perhaps millions of dollars. The State has largely pulled away from commissioning these studies given recent budget difficulties. She said that the legislative salary increases have recognized cost of living needs a bit this year. She said that the University’s market-based system is only good if the University can keep its salary ranges within the market. She said that the SPA personnel bill would give the University more authority to manage its own career banding and salary administration. On the whole, Moore said, the University continues to fall behind but also continues to work as it can.
Christine Greenberg asked if the University could go above the market rate for a particular position in the absence of a market study. Jessica Moore said that this course might be available but budget restrictions are the first rule for State organizations now. Once these restrictions are lifted, there may be room for these kinds of increases. She said that the State’s budget is 40% pay and benefits, meaning that these areas are closely monitored. Matt Brody said that research universities are very different than other State agencies, particularly in the use of research dollars to fund positions and programs. He said that the rules in place from the Office of State Human Resources and the Legislature do not provide the University the administrative flexibility it needs.
Moore said that the University is waiting for guidelines from the Board of Governors on salary administration. Lois Douglass-Alston asked if departmental managers are free to give raises or must they wait for guidelines. Moore said that all increases are subject to State policy first. Kirk Montgomery noted the equity issue for employees who do not have access to research dollars to support their salaries. Moore said that equity questions are usually resolved on a case-by-case basis, with many factors involved. Brody said that when the State reclassifies or adds duties to a particular position, these are situations in which increases can occur. The University cannot tell departments that they cannot implement increases because other departments do not have the resources to implement their own increases. Some units have the flexibility to provide such increases. Brody said that University officials have expressed their frustration about this situation in conversations with General Administration.
An employee asked about the perceived 10% cap on University salary increases. Brody said that 10% and higher salary increases must be approved by General Administration after a series of lengthy approvals. Moore emphasized that there is no absolute gap. A 9.9% increase requires the approval of the employee’s school, dean and vice president. A 12% increase requires the approval of the school, dean, Human Resources, Vice Chancellor Felicia Washington, the Chancellor, General Administration, and the Board of Governors. Thus, the 9.9% increase has more of a chance to be approved given the less lengthy process of approval.
Kelli Raker asked Jessica Moore’s advice to a hypothetical employee who was hired to do technical support work, but has evolved into higher level work that has not been rewarded due to budget reasons. This employee loves their current position, but perceives that they must seek opportunities elsewhere. Eaker noted that the employee has served several years in their current position, and the department wants the employee to continue. Moore said that this situation presents a conundrum. Without proper budgetary support, how can the department recognize the employee and insure that the employee continues to grow. Matt Brody said that the employee needs to hold a conversation with the department stating that the employee feels capable of doing higher responsibility work. The employee should candidly ask if the opportunity to grow exists. If this opportunity does not exist, Brody advised the employee to do professional development and seek other opportunities at the University. He placed the responsibility to manage one’s career on the individual employee.
The Chair asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the August meeting. He noted that Angela Combs, Forum Secretary, is leaving the University to seek other opportunities. Arlene Medder moved that the minutes be approved, seconded by Matt McKirahan. The motion was approved with four abstentions.
The Chair opened a discussion on night parking. He noted that he had parked on campus and paid into the parking system for 24 years, since he was a sophomore in college. He displayed some of the many parking permits he had used over the years. Jackie Overton noted that in 1994, her parking permit cost $198, whereas today it costs $791. The Chair noted that the University was scheduled to have night parking. The plan had gone to the Board of Trustees for approval and the student fee was implemented. Then, the decision was made to delay the program. Already some commuters had seen charges deducted from their paychecks.
The Chair said that when night parking was postponed, he thought that most employees would be happy. However, upon writing employees to obtain their feedback, he found the reaction decidedly mixed. He noted that night parking is not part of UNC-Chapel Hill’s culture. From the sixty-one pages of employee feedback, the Chair said that the Forum needs to hold a discussion on this matter and to adapt a stance on the matter.
Arlene Medder said that she wondered from the beginning why the program was delayed. The Chair said that safety concerns were the main reason cited. He said that employees who responded to his call for feedback did not appreciate that the program was postponed at the last minute. These employees felt that the decision did not reflect positively on the University. Kelli Raker noted that students have received a reimbursement of the student fees charged for night parking. The Chair noted that the University will not delay the 2% increase for daytime parkers.
Tammy Cox asked the percentage of comments in favor of the delay. The Chair said that he would let the Forum know the percentage. He said that there have been a wide gamut of responses. Michael Highland raised the larger issue of parking sustainability, of which night parking is but one step. Yvonne Dunlap said that staff and professors were frustrated with the inconsistency of leadership in this area. Christine Greenberg said that many employees in her area were angered by this decision. She said that she had been a good soldier to ask employees in her area to get on board with the night parking program. To have the program delayed at the last second seemed to be the last straw given the lack of pay increases over the last 5-6 years. She noted the perception that University employees are lazy at their jobs. She said that since her return from pregnancy, she had seen every employee on campus doing more with less, and she rarely interacts with employees who do not take their job seriously. Matt McKirahan said that the overall sentiment in his area was not in favor of night parking but there was some agitation about the decision to pull back. Ronda Manuel asked about the timeline for implementation of night parking. The Chair said that the Forum needs a point of conversation now for what will probably be a review for 2016 about whether to finally implement the plan.
James Holman commented that every time University employees receive a raise, their parking goes up as well. The Chair said that parking is a question of supply and demand. He noted that parking decks used during the day are often used for free at night by the Town of Chapel Hill. Holman thought that everyone should pay instead of simply the first shift of workers to support the system. Christine Greenberg said that there is a potential safety issue for students not parking on campus. The Chair noted that all students eligible to park would have received night parking permits for their $10.40 student fee. Greenberg said that the program would directly affect her decision whether to pay or park in the street adjacent to her office at night.
Matt McKirahan noted that housekeepers working second and third shift have no park and ride options. He asked if something negative were to happen who would be to blame. He thought it important that the Forum advocate a transparent process in which employees are heard. The Chair said that the parking infrastructure must be supported somehow. He asked if day-time parkers and park and ride commuters must absorb the entire burden of increases. He recalled that in 1994 commuters had to pay to ride the bus. However, student fees have been adapted which are given on the condition that the bus system remain free. He said that Town of Chapel Hill and Carrboro taxpayers also pay to support the bus system. James Holman asked how much Athletics pays to support the parking deck infrastructure. Jackie Overton said that the Town, the University, and Athletics all contribute to the system. Oscar Fleming said that the Forum should not search for a bad guy in the issue. Instead, it would be better to help insure all stakeholders are heard. He said that the Forum would be more effective helping to change the dialogue rather than identify a bad guy. The Chair noted concern of how the system is supported and who pays their fair share. He said that it is part of the responsibility of the Chair to provide advice to the Chancellor on staff feedback and concerns. He said that the Forum needs to draft a letter to the Chancellor outlining these concerns.
An employee who responded to the Chair’s call for feedback thanked the Forum for representing employees in this matter. This employee, a graduate of the University in 2013, mentors a number of student organizations. These students all seem to feel that the worst part of Carolina is the parking situation. She wanted to give voice to peers who feel that night parking limits the community from which Carolina can draw. Lois Douglass-Alston summed up that there is not a great deal of opposition to night parking fees among employees, given the need for equity in funding the system. Rather, a large part of the frustration has grown from the overall inequities facing employees. Katie Turner proposed that the University look into supplying incentives to employees giving up their permits, perhaps setting up automatic deposits for saved permit and gas costs. The Chair noted the cultural inclination among southerners to drive a car. He said that using mass transit represents a large paradigm shift for many here. Kelli Raker said that many staff do not live in Orange County and must drive from farther away. She noted the frustrations of park and ride use for these employees. She personally would love to walk to work but said that this is not feasible.
The Chair noted that many faculty cannot afford to live in Chapel Hill also. James Holman said that he wished that mass transit started earlier for the benefit of second and third-shift employees. Christine Greenberg worried about getting home from work in case of emergency if using TTA or Transit service. Karen Jenkins-Cheek said that emergency pick-up service is available from these organizations.
The Chair noted that the Forum now has the capacity to do live streaming from the Pleasants Family Assembly room via the new media system. He summed up that the Forum would set out advice in a letter to the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration and the Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement. This letter would advocate for continued conversation and transparency around night parking. The letter would further press for safety measures and other resources to make sure that implementation is fair and equitable. He said that it is not the position or role of the Forum to determine the fee structure for parking, but that these discussions should include staff concerns. He said that the Forum should work to become a factor in discussions before a final decision is made in 2015. Katie Turner spoke in favor of adding a section in favor of an award structure for those giving up their parking permits.
Ben Triplett said that many employees were unaware of the night parking plan until they received the Chair’s request for feedback. The Chair said that this lack of knowledge is part of the world in which we live. He said that the Forum can help with this problem through its communications on critical issues. Triplett said that Public Safety had not met with the right people to get the night parking plan approved. Jackie Overton thought that the decision to delay had come about because the administration is new. She did not think that blaming Public Safety is fair. The Chair commented that information sessions for commuter and night parking were poorly attended.
Paula Goodman spoke in favor of carpooling, noting the significant savings she’s enjoyed since starting with this practice two years ago. Michael Highland asked whether the University has a site to help prospective carpoolers meet. Jackie Overton noted the various options available at http://www.dps.unc.edu/Transit/campustransit/busroutes/busroutes.cfm . The Chair commented that the University needs a marketing campaign to increase employee carpooling.
Matt McKirahan suggested that the Forum letter on night parking be vetted by the Executive Committee. Jacquelyn Copeland said that employees will usually ignore an issue until it is about to affect their pocketbooks. Katie Turner noted a Twitter comment that an employee would use transit options more if gym membership and shower facilities were better subsidized. Yvonne Dunlap was convinced that everyone should pay something into the parking system here. She commented that she greatly enjoys her transits via TTA, which seems to move faster than any car on I-40. Karen Jenkins-Cheek said that Public Safety officials and TTA representatives are available to visit departments directly to provide advice if asked to attend. Jackie Overton noted that the University’s commuter alternative program manager Amanda Simmons could possibly speak at a future Forum meeting.
Arlene Medder said that the University should give employees the flexibility to deal with the vagaries of mass transit commuting. Teresa Etscovitz commented that riding the mass transit system has worked for her to save money. Tammy Cox noted that these different ways of reducing costs will also reduce revenues going into the system. Katie Turner said that the University should benefit from fewer expenses in running the parking decks if demand decreases.
Kelli Raker said that the University must find a sustainable solution as it continues to grow. She proposed that the Forum appoint an explicit committee to oversee parking concerns. The Chair noted that the Forum has representation on the Advisory Committee for Transportation (ACT). He said that the Forum could form a separate committee or pass issues onto the Personnel Issues committee.
The Chair asked for volunteers to replace Shane Hale as the Forum’s alternate on the UNC System Staff Assembly. He would send out the information about this position again to delegates.
The Chair noted that the Forum packet includes information about how to write resolutions for non-profit organizations. He asked that delegates submit proposed resolutions a week before each Forum meeting.
Arlene Medder reported that the Carolina Campus Community Garden had received approval from the Town of Chapel Hill for its new toolshed. The Garden has established a one-hundred student strong listserv of volunteers. The Garden will work to obtain a year-round part-time gardening assistant to help Clair Lorch with her work. The Chair said that he wanted the Forum to do a day in the Garden with campus administrators.
Katie Turner said that the Communications and Public Relations committee had held the campus scavenger hunt the previous week. She thanked Evan Turner for his hard work collecting prizes for the scavenger hunt. She noted that the committee had also published InTouch recently. The Forum book club will hold its next event on September 26, featuring The Roundhouse. Tammy Cox commented that six people had attended the August book club. Turner said that the committee plans to organize an hour-long Twitter course with Professor Andy Bechtel of the School of Journalism.
Andy Eaker reported that the Education and Career Development committee has begun brainstorming its work for the coming year. Shane Hale has suggested that the committee organize an office information sharing session. The committee will also look into ways to recognize campus mentorship efforts.
The Chair said that the Recognition & Awards committee needs a new chair. The committee will need to select a 3-Legged Stool award winner for October.
Yvonne Dunlap said that the Personnel Issues committee had heard from Jessica Moore on career banding developments at the University. The committee will seek to meet with Director of State Relations Jennifer Willis to discuss legislative procedures and the University. She invited employees to attend committee meetings on the fourth Tuesday of the month in the Forum Office.
The Chair said that the UNC System Staff Assembly will meet October 19 and 20. He would attend the Faculty Assembly on Friday.
The Chair noted that next week is the State of North Carolina’s Employee Appreciation week. He planned to send out an e-mail thanking employees for their services.
The Chair organized drawings for the football tickets mentioned earlier in the meeting. Winners were Karen Jenkins-Cheek, Kelli Raker, Tara Smith, Yvonne Dunlap, Matt McKirahan, and Tammy Cox.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:35 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary