June 11, 2020 Vice Chancellor Representatives’ Meeting
Attending: Alicia Brandt, Linc Butler, Phil Edwards, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, Katie Musgrove, Arlene Medder, Jonathan Pruitt, James Stamey, Rose Thorp, Anna Wu
Shayna Hill called the Zoom meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. James Stamey asked if personal protective equipment (PPE) expenditures would be drawn from the Facilities Services budget. Anna Wu said that central finance will purchase all PPE for campus and will handle distribution as well. These expenses will not come from the Facilities budget.
Shayna Hill asked how many electrostatic machines that Housekeeping managers will receive to distribute across campus. Anna Wu said that originally four of these machines originated from Facilities, but central budget has funded twelve overall. The University has bid out for these contracts with responses due Friday. An update on delivery should occur next week.
Katie Musgrove asked who will pay for the provision of plexiglass for areas like the Law School. Jonathan Pruitt said that these items will be paid from a central fund from a federal or State grant.
Anna Wu said that the University relies on Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) for advice on construction of barriers. She said that prioritizing plexiglass placement will address high traffic and priority areas first. She observed that receptionists may have ways to mitigate their exposure that other areas may not have.
Shayna Hill understood that all employees will take Covid-19 training in-person or via computer. Lin Butler said that the EHS training module has not been made mandatory. Employees with feedback about this decision should communicate with Catherine Brennan’s office to obtain guidance on social distancing and other training plans.
Hill asked how training will happen for people without ready access to computers. Butler said this is a valid concern. He would make this point to the relevant parties. He noted the training for managers, supervisors, and deans, directors, and department heads which may help these parties talk with their employees about the need to return to work. Butler noted that many training options are in the works for front-line supervisors as well as faculty, staff, and students generally.
Katie Musgrove praised the Carolina Together page as a great resource for community members. She asked about the University’s provision of a more centralized place for workplace related resources. Butler recalled this conversation and noted the great amount of information being pushed out via the Office of Human Resources and Environment, Health and Safety webpages, among other areas. He was uncertain about the timing or eventual creation of a one-stop page for this information.
Musgrove asked about the plan to pay employees for work onsite through May 8th. Butler said that the provision of paid salary for time and a half earned during this time has already begun. Biweekly employees affected should have started to receive this extra pay as of the last biweekly paycheck, and monthly employees will receive their extra pay at the end of the month.
Phil Edwards noted concern that these employees may not have the opportunity to use all their own vacation leave. Would these considerations carryover? Butler said that obtaining this flexibility would require Office of State Human Resources or even legislative approval. He offered that the University could take this concern to the UNC System Office for consideration. However, any change would require special policy dispensation.
Shayna Hill raised a question related to administrative leave and TEAACH Autism Program employees. An employee wrote requesting the option to choose whether to have the flexibility to retain time and a half earned or to obtain a payout for this work. Butler said that the decision to provide pay out for all onsite employees was an institutional one. There would be no way to maintain balances at the option of each individual employee.
Rose Thorp thought that TEAACH employees would appreciate an offer of more direct communication from the Office of Human Resources, as employees have characterized their work there as being like “on an island.”
Meeting attendees explored the mechanics of administrative leave as a percentage of leave allowed each pay period. Arlene Medder and Rose Thorp offered suggestions to improve the TIM time management system’s processing of this benefit. Shayna Hill offered to follow up on this discussion with OHR officials to seek additional clarity for employees about this leave.
Katie Musgrove noted that many employees still work 40 hours/week. She asked if those employees without a large pool of personal leave might eventually suffer a pay cut given this policy. Butler said that employees might fall into a position of suffering a pay cut but there are other options available before that occurs. He noted that employees have the option to take advance leave if necessary. He said that the original policy was to allow this administrative leave only for a period of 30 days. The State has extended this flexibility much longer than expected.
Katie Musgrove asked about news regarding the State budget. Jonathan Pruitt recalled that the Legislature has authorized special funding for University housing and dining. He said that most University operations should be able to absorb the required budget reductions this year. He said that the situation would become clearer as students put down deposits for the fall. Pruitt noted that revisions of State revenue forecasts expect a shortfall, but he added that all the federal grant money related to the pandemic has not all been spent. He also recalled that the State has a $1.2 billion rainy day fund.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 10:58 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary