January 19, 2021 Employee Forum Executive Committee Minutes
Attending: L.E. Alexander, Shane Brogan, Tiffany Carver, Jen DeNeal, Shayla Evans-Hollingsworth, Stephanie Forman, Adrianne Gibilisco, Natasha Hanks, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, Haydée Marchese, Arlene Medder, Katie Musgrove, Brooke O’Neal, Ayla Ocasio, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Greg Smith, Robert Smith III, Antonio Squire, Jacob Womack
Excused Absence: James Holman
Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:32 a.m. Delegates related their experience obtaining COVID testing and vaccines. There was also discussion of the status of testing lines for students over the weekend.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the December minutes of the committee. Arlene Medder made this motion seconded by Katie Musgrove. The motion was approved by acclamation.
Ayla Ocasio and Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report. Banks noted that the budget was mostly unchanged. He said that the continuing printing costs and the monthly captioning costs were areas of expenditure in December. Banks noted that the Office of Human Resources budget does not yet contain its funds but said that Cheryl Gerringer and the HR Business Office had assured him that the funds would come through, as in previous years.
Laura Pratt confirmed that the professional development grant program should be untouched as far as Banks knew. Banks would follow up on the status of the peer recognition program which typically issues its awards in late spring.
The Chair referred to the first item on the agenda, the provision of translations of the weekly healthcare survey for Spanish, Burmese, and Karan speakers. She had found that kiosks have been set up for Housekeeping and Facilities employees. She hoped that the kiosks could address the language issue as well but was uncertain whether this was so. She said that finding someone to interpret the survey while they fill out the English version is difficult. She noted the difference between interpreting and translating, with the latter creating a different written document in a different language.
The Chair worried that the need for interpretation adds a barrier, particularly as the survey is required daily. She thought creating an actual standing translation of the survey in these employees’ native spoken language. She hoped to bring this issue to the upcoming Staff Advisory Committee meeting on the 27th. She thought that this question has needed attention for a while. Delegates reported varying degrees of compliance with the daily survey requirement among those who work on campus each day.
Katie Musgrove thought that the survey should list specific symptoms of COVID instead of asking respondents if they have any symptoms in general. The Chair thought to ask about this need in the upcoming Staff Advisory Committee also. Members discussed the possible distribution of cuts and possible ways to meet budgetary goals for departments. There was discussion of advocating cuts to senior administrative supplements in University-wide meetings.
The Chair also wondered about scheduling a town hall to discuss the budgetary decisions that will likely occur in the next three to four weeks. She noted budget cuts for COVID-related reasons versus other long-term structural budget reductions. She asked the actual amount of dollars to be saved in this exercise and hoped to obtain an estimate in a future meeting with the Chancellor.
Katie Musgrove asked about making the YouTube videos of the Staff Advisory Committee meetings publicly accessible. The Chair said that she understood these meetings are not subject to the Open Meetings law because representatives to that group are not elected. Musgrove hoped that in the interest of transparency both this committee and its faculty equivalent would make its videos public. The Chair noted concerns that some representatives may not feel as free to speak candidly in public meetings. Keith Hines wanted to know what representatives are saying that might affect his livelihood “behind that closed door.” Musgrove sought more detail on the structure of the Staff Advisory Committee, particularly corresponding to the Faculty Advisory Committee.
The Chair would soon meet with Human Resources officials to discuss the amount of added work employees are taking on given staffing shortfalls. Career banding works to pay for additional duties when these duties are of higher level, complexity, or scope. This system disproportionately impacts supervisors who end up managing vacancies but will not receive compensation for this work.
The Chair also noted that many employees in this situation are also processing overload payments for faculty. She thought that this inequity needs addressing. She recalled that the State had discussed moving to a different classification system. She thought that COVID has exacerbated the restrictive nature of the current career banding system.
The Chair thought that asking for formal evaluation of career banding was a reasonable request. She spoke on the recurring problems in keeping areas staffed in State-funded versus research-funded departments. She noted problems related to the 20% salary threshold for hiring University employees into new positions, with any salary higher than 20% requiring review by the Board of Governors.
The committee directed that the Forum invite Jen DeNeal, Assistant Director of Ethics and Policy, to present on the University’s Policy Review Committee at the February Forum meeting.
The Chair noted that the Chancellor’s Golf Tournament will now go forward [Wednesday, September 29th]. She clarified the rules regarding community service leave and work at the tournament.
The Communications and Public Relations committee will work to publish InTouch by the end of the month. Brooke O’Neal spoke on the upcoming plans for the Forum book club.
Jacob Womack spoke on the Community Service committee’s brainstorming for ideas to support the Carolina Community Garden.
Antonio Squire said that he had met with 12 different campus groups regarding the work of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee about areas for possible cooperation. The Chair asked that Squire forward possible names for Forum presentations to Matt Banks. Squire was pleased that Robert Smith III has started a subcommittee to work on the relationship with the University’s Diversity and Inclusion Office.
L.E. Alexander said that there was no report from the Education and Career Development committee.
Tiffany Carver of the Membership & Awards committee asked if the group needed help increasing attendance at committee meetings.
The Chair noted a conversation she held with the senior associate dean of Natural Sciences regarding a request that the Forum handle administration of an endowed scholarship in the name of a recently deceased staff employee. She asked the committee’s thoughts about this idea. After consideration, the committee agreed that the Education & Career Development committee would be the best group to take on administration of the scholarship. Matt Banks would bring up financing questions with Cheryl Gerringer at an upcoming meeting.
Keith Hines reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly plans to meet March 22-23rd, July 26-27th, and October 25-26th.
The Chair asked that Matt Banks put together a standing invitation to the Chancellor to attend the Forum’s monthly meetings. Arlene Medder reminded the group that the Carolina Community Garden requires sign-up for volunteer work. Twenty-five volunteers worked at the Garden this past week.
Members raised various concerns about recent parking enforcement practices. The Chair asked that Director of Transportation & Parking Cheryl Stout be invited to speak on this subject at the February 3rd general meeting.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:17 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary