Here’s an idea thrown out for consideration. First, let’s assume for a moment, permission has been granted to create a separate HR system for the UNC system.
Let us also assume employee rights are protected in accordance with the good intentions of President Ross and Employee Forum Resolution 11-03 (res1103final).
The Staff Assembly (SA) has collected information from campus staff organizations. UNC General Administration (GA) received the recommendations from the SA and other constituents, created a new HR system and submitted the proposal to the Board of Governors (BOG). After a review, the BOG approves the proposed HR system. We are off running in a separate UNC HR system.
Now what happens when revisions are proposed or grievances are escalated beyond individual campuses?
For example, let’s assume a year later, some modifications are recommended by the Employee Forum (I will use our organization as an example). Not an unrealistic assumption, since we have gone through a similar process with the State Personnel Commission (SPC). After months of discussion, the matter is approved as a resolution and passed onto the SA and GA for consideration. Information goes out to the individual campuses for their consideration in a similar manner as was done when the new HR system was first developed. More time goes by as SA reps dutifully collect information from their campuses and report back to the SA. A statement is generated, reviewed by SA membership and approved at a later meeting. GA now considers the measure, does its due diligence and reports its decision to the BOG.
How many years would this process take? And do members of the SA and staff organizations, where attendance and participation is limited by everyone’s job responsibilities in addition to general SA responsibilities, have the time to review HR policy recommendations in the detail required? If changes are considered only rarely to minimize impact on workloads, say every four years, are we comfortable with such a delay in addressing possible improvements to policy?
To remedy this inefficiency, consider a committee composed of stake holders from all campuses within the UNC system. Call it the UNC System Personnel Advisory Board. The UNC SPAB would serve as a review committee of HR policies and would report to the Board of Governors (BOG). It is imperative the committee is composed of sufficient staff representation to engender the trust needed for a successful, independent HR system. Therefore, let’s compose the UNC SPAB with a staff member and a faculty member from each campus, some staff from GA and a few members at large appointed by the BOG. All members serve alternating, multiple year terms. The committee would consider recommendations from all constituents and submit recommendations for BOG consideration.
The many issues related to any HR system are far too complex for an existing committee or board to address appropriately in addition to their exiting responsibilities. The sole purpose of the UNC SPAB is the sorting through of HR policy in the long term, without the added responsibilities of existing committees or boards.
A UNC SPAB would also fill another void created by the removal from State Personnel Commission oversight in grievance matters. Since a new HR system would apply to all campuses, the SPAB could serve as a grievance committee for issues not successfully resolved by grievance procedures on the individual campuses. The SPAB provides an independent, third party review panel in a similar way the current SPC provides an alternative review for SPA grievances.
The goal is to assist the BOG in the implementation of a separate HR system that builds upon the work of staff (and faculty) organizations, including the Staff Assembly, and General Administration to continue to strengthen the UNC System.
Note of intent: I do not wish to shine any doubt on the BOG abilities to administer an HR system. Nor is this meant as an indication of lack of faith in the Staff Assembly and its efforts. It is also not intended to question the sincerity and integrity of President Ross or his administration. I believe these stake holders will work collaboratively, should the state grant the UNC System the authority to create its own HR system.