Employee Forum Agenda — September 6 , 2006

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

I.            Call to Order

II.           Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III.         Opening Remarks

  • Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little
  • Interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration David Perry

IV.      Special Presentations

V.          Human Resources Update—Laurie Charest

VI.         Stretch Time

VII.        Minutes

VIII.       Old Business

IX.         New Business

  • Resolution 06-08 Concerning the Comprehensive Compensation System for State Employees (First Reading)

X.           Employee Presentations or Questions

XI.         Forum Committee Reports

  • Communications and Public Relations: John Heuer
    • Forum Newsletter
  • Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Cathy Rogers
  • Compensation and Wages:  Alan Moran
  • Education and Career Development: Chuck Brink (minutes)
  • Health Benefits:  Greg Alvord
  • Legislative Action:  Camilla Crampton
  • Membership and Assignments:  Gloria Farrar
  • Staff Relations, Policies and Practices: David Brannigan

XII.        Chair’s Report (Executive Committee):  Ernie Patterson

XIII.       Task Force/University Committee Reports

  • Board of Trustees Finance Committee—Ernie Patterson
  • University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee—Ernie Patterson

XIV.       Announcements/Questions

XV.        “Go Around the Room”:  A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds

XIV.       Adjournment

MINUTES

September 6, 2006 Minutes

 

Chair Ernie Patterson called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  He welcomed members of the press, ombudspeople Wayne Blair and Laurie Mesibov, Human Resources officers, and others.  He reminded listeners that Chancellor Moeser would give his state of the university address at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall of the Student Union.

The Chair welcomed Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little to address the Forum.  Gray-Little thanked the Forum for inviting her and recalled her time as Dean of Arts and Sciences and Associate Provost.  She said that the Forum and its representatives are an important mechanism to communicate the views of staff.  She noted the educational opportunities available to staff and shared the view that the University should do all it can to provide training and education.  She also noted that enrollment in the part-time undergraduate degree program had dropped from eleven last year to one this year.  She would work to insure additional opportunities for participation.

Gray-Little praised the work of the ombudsoffice as an important resource.  She said that many employees had already availed themselves of its services and she believed that it had resolved a number of areas of conflict.

Gray-Little recalled that this summer’s Board of Trustees retreat had had visitors from the University of Virginia.  Leonard Sandridge and Edward Aires described the management agreement between the State of Virginia and the Universities of Virginia, in which the State agreed to give the Universities a very high level of flexibility in human resources and purchasing matters.  In exchange, the Universities participating would be accountable for reporting budgetary and procedural matters.  All state universities in Virginia are eligible to participate.

A recent newspaper story reported that UNC-Chapel Hill was getting out of the University System.  Gray-Little said this was not the case.  Instead, UNC-Chapel Hill was studying the experiences of a nearby state institution to see how it had successfully obtained flexibility in purchasing and human resources matters.

In addition, the growth of the student body has led to an associated increase in the faculty and staff of Carolina.   What level of growth can UNC-Chapel Hill truly sustain given its current resources?  Gray-Little noted the pressure to accept more students as the number graduating from high school increases.  The University wants to make sure that it has the physical capacity to accommodate any increased number of new arrivals.

Finally, Gray-Little noted the emergence of the enterprise resource planning project (ERP).  This process will study all of the software and business processes in Human Resources, Finances and Student Information systems.  The process will take a number of years to change things but will touch everyone on campus.  ERP will require employees to work collaboratively in a focused way over a period of years.

David Brannigan asked about the continuation of the Forum’s Provost/Vice Chancellor meetings.  Gray-Little said that these meetings had already been scheduled and her office had sent out an e-mail this morning.

The Chair welcomed interim Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration David Perry.  Perry noted his fairly long history at the University, all of it spent at the School of Medicine as Associate Dean for Administration.  He was honored to accept the assignment as interim Vice Chancellor from Chancellor Moeser.  He noted his responsibility for human resources concerns that the Forum often addresses in its agendas.  He said that the search committee to fill his position permanently hopes to produce a short list of candidates to bring to campus by the end of October.  The search process is very unpredictable and could take as long as a year.

Perry said that he would continue periodic regular meetings with the Employee Forum and said that his office would handle the logistics of scheduling these meetings.  He wanted to invite input from the Forum about the replacement of administrative systems that support the University.  This will truly be a huge undertaking, in many ways comparable to the capital construction campaign.  The impact on lives in the future will be profound and very positive.  The purpose is to enable the University to meet its mission in a way that is supportive of campus, students, faculty, and staff.

UNC-Chapel Hill is one of the only remaining universities in the nation that have not made this conversion.  Now, current systems at Carolina are so old and difficult to maintain that many core missions are in peril without the replacement of these systems.  There is no alternative but to go forward, Perry said, with this huge project that will take years to accomplish with the ultimate payoff not evident for 5-10 years.  The first segment of the project is student information systems, as this area is suffering the grave risk of falling out of compliance with federal regulations.  These could have consequences for the reputation of the University.  Following student information systems will come human resources then financial systems.

Perry said that the University will invite Employee Forum participation and consideration of these issues, working jointly to construct an agenda that meets the needs of the University and the Forum.  He said that these session be structured to cover issues of a broad scope, instead of individual concerns.  He said that there are many other mechanisms to deal with individual cases, including the ombudsoffice.  These meetings can focus on broad issues that affect a large component of the employee population.

Perry said that he would devote his best effort to the job during his time in office.  Greg Alvord asked about the funding commitment to the ERP process.  Perry said that the urgency of the student information system matter had overtaken financial planning.  He said that most institutions had invested substantial sums of money.  The purchase from vendors will be perhaps the smallest amount, perhaps $2-3 million.  Beyond that, most institutions have relied on consultations which generally charge a great deal more.

Perry said that the University is also backfilling positions, trying to identify content expertise among existing staff and possibly requiring individuals to work full time on a project.  A substantial time commitment will be necessary to bring the product to a successful conclusion.  From what he had learned, other institutions had experienced difficulty when dedicated inadequate amounts of resources.  The potential for major expenses is very great but the goal is to accomplish the project in an efficient, timely, and economical way.

Camilla Crampton asked why the project was allowed to wait so long.  Perry had no answer but noted the inherent complexity of undertaking a project like this one.  He said that the corporate culture of the University is very decentralized, which is a great strength but also a weakness in these broader matters.  He said that Information Technology Services had changed with the addition of Dan Reed and his lieutenants.  Perry said the University had done a great job of holding together these archaic systems but must now work to put in place systems that are more nimble.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest provided the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  She announced the appointment of Dave Turner, the previous director of the Human Resources Information Systems, to lead the University’s Human Resources Planning and Systems department.

Charest noted that plans are underway for Employee Appreciation Day, about which more information would become available soon.

 

Old Business

The Forum moved to consider resolution 06-07 concerning repeal of North Carolina General Statute 95-98.  There were two versions submitted, version A and version B.  Marshall Dietz moved that references to the HOPE Coalition should be removed.  David Brannigan pointed out that the reference to the HOPE Coalition was insert to ally with teachers, firefighters, police officers and other who have formed the HOPE Coalition with one aim to repeal 95-98.  He noted that the Forum has a history of collaborating with local organizations, such as its history of supporting food drives.  The HOPE Coalition is calling only for the repeal of the law, with a legislative vote to decide to do next.

Camilla Crampton asked if it makes the resolution stronger to include the HOPE Coalition.  Brannigan thought that the inclusion is mutually  beneficial to the Forum and to the HOPE Coalition.  He said that collective bargaining is a civil rights issue and the Forum’s endorsement expands civil rights solidarity.  The Forum also benefits by its association with fellow state employees such as teachers and firefighters.

Antoinette Satterfield preferred to leave the figures out as much as possible.  She proposed that it might be better to separate from the HOPE Coalition to maintain an air of authority.  Mike Hawkins noted that collective bargaining by state employees is punishable as a misdemeanor.  Marshall Dietz proposed that this resolution be sent to the UNC System Staff Assembly for their consideration.

Chuck Brink said that the amount of supporting information for the resolution vastly increased its strength.

Steve Hutton said that keeping the HOPE Coalition reference was important to represent the employees and citizens of the state.  He said that the lack of collective bargaining rights had led to bad management problems in state and county governments.  The lack of collective bargaining had also prevented managers from having good communications with employees, creating additional overhead costs.  Hutton had attended four meeting with UE-150 as part of a worker justice campaign and had heard reports of racial discrimination, intimidation, and humiliation.  One instance involved a noose hung in the workplace.  He urged the Forum to take a broader view of its work by having an impact on the entire state by unifying with the HOPE Coalition.

Hutton estimated that half of employees are afraid to use the grievance process for fear of retaliation.  Out in the rest of the state, he estimated things are much worse.  He praised the University for instituting the ombudsoffice program and thought this technique should be used more broadly.

Hutton also noted the interstate competition for workers.  He had met with a high-level administrator in the Nursing School who said that North Carolina does not have collective bargaining, nurses will not come to work here.  There is a trade deficit in the number of nurses in the School, meaning the University must hire more faculty and staff to make up for the deficits in nursing and teachers.  He said that this resolution offered the Forum a chance to really do something about what he saw as one of the worst labor laws in the country.

Brannigan offered to remove the numbers from Version A to make a stronger resolution.  Beth Graves said that her first reaction to the resolution was that it was too narrowly focused and it should rather make a point of focusing on civil rights.  She thought the issue was too important to leave it so narrowly focused.

Alan Moran said that the resolution was not about forming a union.  He said that most employees will have no clue about this law.  The goal is to educate employees about their lack of rights.  He supported the resolution and thought that the Forum had reached a crossroads with the creation of the UNC System Staff Assembly in bringing concerns to the Legislature.

The Forum voted to reject the substitute motion with one vote in favor. Crampton moved to remove clauses two and three, seconded by Brannigan.

Antoinette Satterfield suggested that the reference to the HOPE Coalition occur in only one place in the resolution, instead of two places.

The Forum voted to approve the resolution with one vote opposed and one abstention.

Keith Fogleman praised the Forum for the high level of discussion during the debate.

Mike Hawkins noted that SEANC had worked hard on this issue previously.  He held no delusions that the Legislature would immediately repeal 95-98, but he hoped that the Forum had laid the groundwork for future efforts.  Brannigan appreciated the work done in passing the resolution and introduced guest Al McSurely, a nationally recognized civil rights lawyer.  McSurely said that the repeal of 95-98 was one of several demands the NAACP would make of the Legislature next year.  He invited people to attend “50k on J Day,” a lobbying effort to bring people from across the state to support the NAACP.  He thanked the Forum for its diligence today, saying the discussions made his heart sing.

Sascha from Student Action Workers spoke in favor of the resolution, saying that group supported the Forum’s effort.  Sarah from Student Action Workers said that the group could discuss this resolution with housekeepers.

 

New Business

Alan Moran introduced resolution 06-08, concerning the comprehensive compensation system, on first reading.  Chuck Brink moved to accept the resolution on first reading, seconded by Camilla Crampton.

 

Committee Reports

The Community Affairs and Recognition and Awards committee had over 50 awards delivered in the Shining Heels awards.  The Chair suggested that the Provost’s office increase the budget for this effort to provide 125 $40 cash awards, perhaps awarded in two $20 pieces in the fall and spring semesters.

Chuck Brink, chair of the Education and Career Development committee, said that group had met with Dr. Willis Brooks, the acting president of Project Literacy, and Alice Dennison, director of the Orange County literacy program.  The committee met to discuss ways to enhance GED and project literacy efforts on campus.  The committee will continue to meet the fourth Wednesday of the month.

A delegate observed that it was a shame to have such a drop-off in the number of enrollees in the part-time undergraduate degree program.  The delegate suggested that the program expand its offerings to employees already having one undergraduate degree.

The Health Benefits committee will wrap up its survey and make a report very shortly.

Camilla Crampton, chair of the Legislative Action committee, will have a list of the candidates  known to be friendly to state employees, with some suggestions on non-incumbents.

David Brannigan, chair of the Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee, said the committee had made progress on the flexible scheduling survey that should go out to employees soon.  The committee would give feedback to Chris Chiron and Human Resources after analyzing the data.  The committee is also interested in providing translation services during orientation for Asian employees.

 

Chair’s Report

The Chair had invited Ran Coble, the author of a recent report on the cost of education in North Carolina, to speak at the October meeting.

The Chair reported that he had contacted Senator John Edwards about presiding during the Forum’s fall community meeting.  Vice Chair David Brannigan will set up the meeting.  Brannigan hoped to tie the meeting to living wage and collective bargaining education efforts.

The Chair had presented to the Board of Governors his initial views on the repeal of 95-98 and hoped to obtain their support.

UNC System Staff Assembly members will meet at UNC General Administration October 19 and 20.

 

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:19 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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