November 4, 2020
UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum
Zoom Remote Meeting: Connection Details Below
NOTE: This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without notice.
I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks: Chair Shayna Hill (9:15 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.)
- Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press
- “Resume Normal Activities” Following Alert Carolina Notice
II. Special Presentation (9:20 a.m. – 9:55 a.m.)
- Cheryl Stout and Mya Nguyen, Transportation & Parking Spring Planning
III. Human Resources Update (9:55 a.m. – 10:25 a.m.)
- Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, Equal Opportunity & Compliance Becci Menghini
- Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler
IV. Consent Agenda (10:25 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.)
- October Minutes (to be sent separately to delegates)
- Forum Committees
- Communications and Public Relations: Shane Brogan
- Book Club: Brooke O’Neal
- InTouch: Greg Smith, Editor
- Community Service: Jacob Womack
- Carolina Blood Drive: Jen DeNeal
- Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Antonio Squire
- Education and Career Development: L.E. Alexander/Laura Pratt
- Carolina Family Scholarship: L.E. Alexander/Laura Pratt
- Professional Development Grants: L.E. Alexander/Laura Pratt
- Membership & Assignments: Tiffany Carver
- Personnel Issues: Phillip Edwards/Stephanie Forman
- Recognition & Awards: Natiaya Neal
- UNC System Staff Assembly: Shayna Hill/Keith Hines/James Holman/Laura Pratt
- University Committee Representatives
- Advisory Committee on Transportation & Parking: Laura Pratt
- Buildings & Grounds: James Stamey
- Student Stores Advisory Committee: Keith Hines
- Executive Committee: Shayna Hill
- Communications and Public Relations: Shane Brogan
V. Old Business (10:40 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)
- Employee Forum Survey Update and Possible Town Hall
VI. New Business (11:00 a.m.-11:20 a.m.)
- Proposed Bylaws Revisions (Second Reading)
VII. Announcements/Questions (11:20-11:30 p.m.)
November 4, 2020 Employee Forum minutes
Delegates Attending: Darren Abrecht, L.E. Alexander, Lauren Anderson, Jo-Ann Blake, Jessye Bongiovanni, Randall Borror, Rich Brandenburg, Alicia Brandt, Shane Brogan, Stephanie Brown, Sarah Carrier, Valerie Cartagena, Tiffany Carver, Allison Constance, Adrienne Cromwell, Jen DeNeal, Morgan Douglas, Elizabeth Dubose, Phillip Edwards, Adrianne Gibilisco, Chrissie Greenberg, Natasha Hanks, Leah Hefner, Jessi Hill, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, James Holman, Quintara Jernigan, Mary King, Haydèe Marchese, Evan Marsh, Arlene Medder, Mandy Melton, Kadejah Murray, Katie Musgrove, Joe Ormond, Le’Quisha Person, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson , Kelly Scurlock-Cross, Theresa Silsby, Greg Smith, Robert Smith III, Sarah Smith, Antonio Squire, Jake Stallard, James Stamey, Matthew Teal, Rose Thorp, Sarah Wackerhagen, Tracy Wetherby Williams
Excused Absences: Tiffany Carver, James Holman, Ayla Ocasio, Jacob Womack
Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:20 a.m. She welcomed guests and members of the press. She then introduced Cheryl Stout, Director of Transportation & Parking, to speak about the department’s spring plans. Stout recalled that the Forum Chair and the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT) had been good partners through the years. She noted the department had done a lot of outreach recently given the new post-pandemic reality.
Stout said that pricing changes require approval by the Chancellor. She said that the department has implemented a 50% reduction in the cost of semester permits for commuter students. The department will honor weeknight parking permits starting at 4 p.m. in the evening. Pricing is reduced for teleworking employees who report to campus less than three days a week. Additional parking is now available to students and employees reporting for job duties, along with other short-term and daily permit options. Student permits have been extended through December 31st, as have employee waiting list releases. First-year undergraduates are now allowed to park on campus since the University has reduced its housing population due to the pandemic.
Stout said that ACT and departmental officials have reached out to units and schools to consult about these plans. Stout said that Point to Point services have been reduced to on-demand service only due to low ridership. The department will decide whether to continue with this option or offer Point to Point Express and Baity Hill shuttle services to serve the increased student population in the spring.
Chapel Hill Transit is considering two scenarios for its service in the spring. The first will continue social distancing with reduced number of routes. The second will consider continuing these routes along with resuming the G, J, and T routes that run 11:30 – 2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.
GoTriangle Regional Transit will probably resume collecting fees in the spring. UNC-Chapel Hill employees should receive Go passes to ride as usual. PART Transit has continued normal operations with social distancing. Chatham County transit services will likely continue to be suspended in the spring semester.
Adrianne Gibilisco asked whether changes will affect employees needing accommodations. Stout thought that the department will likely renew waiting list releases in the summer. Information about this step will go out in the next couple of weeks. Gibilisco asked if the process for applying for accessibility parking for employees will change. Will these employees be able to renew and will they have to resubmit documentation? Stout offered that individual employees should contact her office to inquire about specific cases.
The Chair thanked Stout for her remarks. She welcomed Becci Menghini, Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance to provide the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Menghini encouraged employees to take care of themselves given the uncertainty likely facing the nation with the election and the pandemic.
Menghini congratulated the Employee Forum for its recent scavenger hunt during the Employee Appreciation ceremonies on Friday. She thanked all for what they do in support of everything at Carolina. She noted that around 1300 employees made it through the line for the thank-you breakfast sandwiches last week. She was glad to see many familiar faces then.
Menghini said that much remains unknown about plans for the spring. She noted a much more conscious effort to include more voices in discussions about spring plans. She thanked the Chair for her leadership of the Campus and Community Advisory Committee that is helping to guide decision-making for the spring.
Menghini said that the University is leaning towards PCR-based saliva testing for students, but much remains to be determined regarding efficacy and availability of testing, among other things. Conversation continues about timing of testing and enforcement of standards on- and off-campus. Menghini emphasized that while the main attention has been on students, any plans moving forward also focus on employees in campus testing protocols. Menghini added that the University has not made a declaration about staffing needs for departments given the many unknowns facing campus.
Menghini reiterated that the University is fully committed to trying to ensure that everyone who has a full-time schedule gets to work a full-time schedule and regular hours. Whether on-site or remotely depends on the nature of an employee’s work. She thought that the broader emphasis will be less on trying to get everyone back to campus and more on who needs to be back and keeping them safe. In turn, the University must work to manage those who can effectively work remotely to help them continue this practice, given the judgments of their supervisors.
Menghini said that many unknowns remain. The University will await further guidance from the UNC Board of Governors and System Office on their expectations for campus. She asked employees with questions to contact her office for clarification.
Menghini recalled that the University is considering making some of the closed days over the winter holiday optional workdays for employees with lower leave bank levels, with the consent of their supervisors. This policy has not yet received formal approval but Menghini wanted to provide the Forum notification about this possible change. She encouraged employees to take their holiday breaks as much as possible to recharge given the stressful semester, however.
Regarding additional mental health days for employees, State Government determines how and when the University can provide leave. The University has made requests of the System Office about possibly working with the State to find ways to provide these mental well-being days but as of now there is no authority for this change.
Menghini added that she would discuss the Forum’s Covid-19 report with the Chair the next day.
Associate Vice Chancellor Linc Butler noted that the proposed holiday closed day change would provide an optional workday given that the employee coordinates with their supervisor to obtain prior approval to work. He hoped that the change would indeed take place.
Butler reported that donations to the Covid leave bank now total 6,357 hours, with four employees applying for and receiving at least 80 hours of leave each. An additional eight applicants are under review. Eligible applicants must have exhausted all their personal leave balances to receive banked leave.
Butler was pleased with the amount donated. He thanked TIM and Benefits administrators for their coordinated work to implement these changes. Laura Pratt confirmed that employees can take advantage of Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave before having to use their personal leave. Butler encouraged employees with questions to talk with their leave consultant.
Work/Life and Wellness Program Manager Jessica Pyjas reminded employees to continue their preventative health screenings, including routine blood work and age-appropriate cancer screenings. She noted the importance of healthy eating and daily moderate exercise.
Pyjas noted that the Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes classes will be offered again starting November 16th. Registration is due by Friday, November 13th but is refundable with good attendance.
Wellness Wednesdays will also return November 11th from noon to 1 p.m. Pyjas noted the new discount offer for Juggle, a safer, smarter, simpler child-care application at whyjuggle.com. Similarly, the Work Well newsletter features significant discounts on Bivvy pet insurance. Laura Pratt praised the Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less program.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the October minutes. Arlene Medder made this motion, seconded by Katie Musgrove. The motion was approved by acclamation.
Shane Brogan of the Communications and Public Relations committee thanked all for their help with the Scavenger Hunt effort. He noted a good response to questions. The committee will do prize drawings later in the week. Greg Smith reported that the InTouch newsletter would go out soon.
Jen DeNeal reported that the Winter Carolina Blood Drive will occur Thursday, November 19th. She encouraged donors and volunteers to visit carolinablooddrive.unc.edu to sign up. A delegate asked if the Community Service committee plans to hold a toy drive this year. Katie Musgrove said that the committee must coordinate with UNC Hospitals to see if they are accepting anything now. Rich Brandenburg said that his contacts with UNC Hospitals have revealed that this year’s drive will focus more on monetary contributions due to UNC Hospital’s limitations on accepting deliveries of donations during the pandemic.
Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Community Garden now has limited appointments available for volunteers. The garden is accepting compost donations. Medder suggested that employees leave their jack-o-lanterns at the compost bin outside the garden.
Jessye Bongiovanni reported that the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee has worked on an introductory letter to centers and directors. The committee’s email address is email@example.com.
L.E. Alexander said that the Professional Development Grant applications will remain open until November 8th. She encouraged listeners to encourage their co-workers to apply. Laura Pratt reiterated that these grants cannot be used to travel again this semester in accordance with University policy.
There was no report from the Membership & Assignments committee.
Phil Edwards reported that the Personnel Issues committee had a light month, waiting to hear the administration response on the Covid-19 report to determine next steps.
There was no report from the Recognition & Awards committee.
Keith Hines reported that the UNC Staff Assembly met last week to elect new officers. The Assembly heard a report on the Engagement Survey which saw an increase in response rate but a decrease in overall positive rating. Hines said that UNC-Chapel Hill had the second-lowest participation percentage of all 17 System institutions. The next survey will take place in 2022.
Hines said that there are no changes to the State budget as of now because the General Assembly does not meet until the New Year. It was reported that the UNC System does not have independent authority to implement an early retirement program. The Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament is rescheduled to May 19th, 2021.
The Chair opened discussion on the proposed community conversation on the Covid-19 report findings. She echoed feedback that the last community meeting featuring Treasurer Dale Folwell seemed to have gone well. The date of the meeting will be Monday, November 23rd, from [12:15 – 1:45 p.m.]. Delegates discussed the format of the meeting and requested that the focus remain on staff employees. Delegates also asked if Ombuds Dawn Osborne-Adams would be willing to moderate the meeting. Osborne-Adams looked forward to consulting with the planning group. Delegates suggested other panel members to hopefully join Chancellor Guskiewicz and Provost Blouin.
There was a general sense that delegates want to hear what will occur next semester to protect not just students and faculty, but also staff. The Chair asked for volunteers to help plan the meeting.
Moving on to New Business, Kevin Robinson presented the second reading of proposed Bylaws revisions. He noted that the new document contains interactive links. There were changes to language moving away from use of gendered pronouns. The Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance replaced a previous name for this position in the Bylaws. Robinson said that design changes align with the brand guide for the University. Other changes to committee descriptions followed suggestions by the relevant committees.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the second reading of the Bylaws revisions. Arlene Medder made this motion seconded by Katie Musgrove. The Forum voted accordingly:
Darren Abrecht YEA, L.E. Alexander YEA, Lauren Anderson YEA, Jo-Ann Blake YEA, Jessye Bongiovanni YEA, Randall Borror YEA, Rich Brandenburg YEA, Shane Brogan YEA, Valerie Cartagena YEA, Allison Constance YEA, Adrienne Cromwell YEA, Jen DeNeal YEA, Morgan Douglas YEA, Elizabeth Dubose YEA, Phillip Edwards YEA, Adrianne Gibilisco YEA, Chrissie Greenberg YEA, Natasha Hanks YEA, Leah Hefner YEA, Jessi Hill YEA, Shayna Hill YEA, Keith Hines YEA, James Holman YEA, Quintara Jernigan YEA, Mary King YEA, Haydèe Marchese YEA, Arlene Medder YEA, Mandy Melton YEA, Katie Musgrove YEA, Joe Ormond YEA, Le’Quisha Person YEA, Laura Pratt YEA, Kevin Robinson YEA, Kelly Scurlock-Cross YEA, Theresa Silsby YEA, Greg Smith YEA, Robert Smith III YEA, Sarah Smith YEA, Jake Stallard YEA, James Stamey YEA, Matthew Teal YEA, Rose Thorp YEA, Sarah Wackerhagen YEA, Tracy Wetherby Williams YEA.
This vote was unanimously in favor of approving the Bylaws revisions. The document will now go to the Chancellor. The Chair thanked Robinson and his group for their work on these new revisions.
The Chair took a moment to relate her experience during the active shooter situation on Friday, October 30th. She had sheltered in fear under her desk for over an hour. Katie Musgrove said she had run to her car from walking on campus, with the sight of students running everywhere and the sound of sirens wailing.
Musgrove said that communications from the University following the event were less than desirable. The Chair recalled feedback she received, first stating “All Clear” but was afraid to move because of the possibility of a second assailant. She received many emails from employees stating how hollow the “all clear, resume normal activities” notification seemed to be with no clarification regarding the incident or the possible threat to campus.
Musgrove said that the situation was not helped by any of the vague communications sent out by the University, as there were contradictory narratives from university administrators on social media about what happened, which created confusion and uncertainty. Some accounts described a man with a gun while other updates contradicted that. She found this response inadequate and tone deaf, a concern she said has arisen repeatedly with Alert Carolina.
The Chair recalled hearing from a friend in Washington D.C. that the situation was a false alarm, which contradicted her understanding of “all clear” that the shooter had been captured. The lack of further details in this message or in following communications left her feeling uncertain and did not make things clear.
Laura Pratt recalled her first impulse was to access Twitter and WRAL for up-to-date information, not unc.edu. Mandy Melton was “really distraught” with the lack of information at the Alert Carolina website. Kevin Robinson related his brother’s experience at Virginia Tech during the 2007 shooting there and lamented that he had not received anything at all from UNC-Chapel Hill since the “all clear” Friday. He found the situation infuriating and unacceptable.
Delegates agreed to invite University officials in charge of the Alert Carolina response to speak on these questions at a future Forum meeting. Robert Smith III recalled receiving a very informative email from the medical director of outpatient clinics Dr. Tommy Koontz explaining the false alarm. Smith thought that the entire campus had received a similar email. Theresa Silsby noted the lack of a building contact for these situations.
The Chair also noted a heightened awareness of threats of violence around the national elections. She recalled the need for staff to take care of one another as well as care for students and faculty.
Tracy Williams noted a type of “toxic positivity” in messages from Administration that she cannot share. Keith Hines observed that empathy is a limited resource that requires others to reciprocate. He noted that staff employees have gone two years without a raise and have dealt with health insurance premium increases in the years prior. He thought that empathy and compassion from staff towards students and faculty is running close to empty because of a lack of successful reciprocal advocacy.
Other employees added that work situations within departments lack equity, even from one office to another. Hines said that a lack of mutual empathy creates conditions for apathy which undercuts worker morale and initiative.
The Chair shared feedback from a delegate who wished to remain anonymous that the situation feels like an abusive relationship or gaslighting, as leaders act “like we are overreacting to their mistakes.” The anonymous delegate also voiced frustration that leaders expect positivity despite bad behavior and a lack of transparency and said that employees are not unreasonable for having expectations or requiring accountability. Further, the delegate was feeling numbness given these multiple shocks. Another delegate observed that the encouragement to “take care of ourselves” does not reduce the pace of deadlines and work. Haydèe Marchese did not feel confident in taking a day off work given the uncertainty around upcoming budget cuts. Theresa Silsby related her great psychological fatigue resulting from pandemic isolation.
The Chair urged delegates to contact her or other delegates if they are experiencing mental health concerns. Delegates expressed a similar sentiment towards the Chair.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:35 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary