April 20, 2021 Executive Committee minutes
Attending: L.E. Alexander, Rich Brandenburg, Shane Brogan, Tiffany Carver, Jen DeNeal, Phil Edwards Shayla Evans-Hollingsworth, Stephanie Forman, Adrianne Gibilisco, Natasha Hanks, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, James Holman, Donna James-Whidbee, Arlene Medder, Brooke O’Neal, Ayla Ocasio, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Robert Smith III, Antonio Squire, Tracy Wetherby-Williams, Jacob Womack, Charles Streeter (ex-officio)
Excused Absence: Katie Musgrove
Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:39 a.m. She welcomed Samantha Luu, Patrick Tang and Edwin Fisher to present Peer-to-Peer Ideas for staff employees. Patrick Tang said that the group’s vision is to promote and facilitate high quality peer support across campus, not leaving anyone to be isolated. Participants are trained to organize connections with others. In the School of Nursing pilot, “attendance was optional, but connection was obligatory.” Reasons for participation include job status and security, mental health problems, and community benefits from the common good.
Samantha Luu spoke on the pan-campus effort to increase peer support or mutual support. Employees can attend peer support related training and webinars and obtain printed resources related to grief and bereavement, for example. Luu invited all to attend the May meeting of the Carolina peer support collaborative. Members noted the use of departmental bulletin boards to connect. Donna James-Whidbee of Employee & Management Relations thought that creating a registry of work already in place would be useful.
Luu spoke on different ideas for peer-to-peer activity, including web pages of trained responders and friendship benches. Groups have formed around different roles, jobs at the University, affinity, and identity. Adrianne Gibilisco asked if the Forum planned to commemorate the death of George Floyd via counseling or a vigil of some kind. Members discussed the logistics of various plans and discussions. Luu hoped that the support pods would eventually become self-perpetuating.
Keith Hines commented that some days he would not appreciate being approached to speak at a friendship bench. He thought others might share this hesitancy. Hines recalled the “Ask Me Anything” series he originated at the Carolina Union which elicited some deep conversations. Regarding the benches, he advised prominent physical signage nearby identifying the purpose of the bench. He noted that some employee Zoom group events that discuss media and other items as perhaps a substitute friendship bench in a virtual space.
The Chair requested a motion for approval of the March minutes. Jen DeNeal made this motion, which was seconded by Arlene Medder. Medder had submitted amendments to typos prior to the meeting.
Ayla Ocasio and Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report. Banks had earlier submitted a request to OHR for use of Forum funds for the community garden.
The Chair was pleased that the University has opened vaccination clinics at Student Stores to staff employees. She was pleased that the advocacy from the Employee Forum had been successful at making this happen. Stephanie Forman inquired if supervisors could ask their employees their vaccination status. Others thought that supervisors could not ask for this information, although employees can volunteer it. Donna James-Whidbee said that she would consult with OHR for clarification and perhaps a broader communication to employees on this subject. Others wanted to ensure employees can be encouraged to go for vaccinations without pressure to disclose their vaccination status. James Holman commented that managers might seek this information to plan gatherings or other unit events. James-Whidbee suggested communicating with managers about protocol in this area. Robert Smith III noted the balance between public health concerns and personal concerns at the Hospital, which cannot now require its staff to become vaccinated. Once the vaccines become licensed for general use like the flu vaccine, then requirements to vaccinate could occur.
Phil Edwards spoke about the development of House Bill 243 and hoped to gain clarity from discussions with OHR officials. It was noted that the bill contains provisions for temporary use of furloughs, early retirement, and authority for RIFs (Reductions in Force).
The Chair introduced the next agenda item, the posting of recorded meetings to the Forum’s YouTube page. She said that there is no common practice regarding these recordings. The issue was tabled.
Matt Banks updated the committee regarding the 2021 delegate nominations and elections. New delegates will be announced this week and orientation will take place next Wednesday. New delegates will be sworn in at the May 5th general meeting. Laura Pratt noted the distribution of candidate biographies this week, an idea that Greg Smith proposed last year.
The committee decided to hold the June meeting on June 9th as had been previously announced. The retreat will take place July 14th and likely, July 15th to avoid holding an excessively long one-day meeting.
The Chair noted that the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament has been moved to September 29, 2021. Members interested in helping should make themselves known.
Shane Brogan said there was no report from the Communications & Public Relations committee.
Brooke O’Neal said that twenty-one people had registered and seven attended the March version of the book club. The next meeting will be April 22nd and will discuss Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s book.
Jacob Womack said there was no report from the Community Service committee. Jen DeNeal reported that the Carolina Blood Drive has recently met with Red Cross account managers to plan the June 8th drive. A question arose as to whether restrictions on donations from people identifying as LGBTQ have been lifted. DeNeal would report back.
Antonio Squire announced his recent appointment to the Diversity Council.
The Education & Career Development committee will accept professional development grant applications through April 30th. Carolina Family Scholarship applications are open until June 1st. L.E. Alexander called for faculty volunteers to serve as readers for the Carolina Family Scholarships.
Tiffany Carver said that the Membership & Assignments committee continues planning for the orientation of new delegates and the Forum retreat.
Phil Edwards said that the Personnel Issues committee is working to write a resolution regarding career banding. The committee is also concerned about the prospect of campus-level authority for layoffs in perpetuity.
It was noted that the Recognition & Awards committee has received over 100 nominations for the Peer Recognition event. Nominations close April 30th. The Chair directed that a reminder about these nominations, particularly the Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage, go out soon to campus. The Chair recognized Forum Chair Emeritus Charles Streeter for his contributions regarding video production and communications layout this month.
The Chair noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly Executive Committee will vote via email on a resolution in support of the BOG legislative priorities. Laura Pratt noted that the interchangeability of leave will continue through June 30th. The System will likely provide open guidance on flexible work schedules, leaving individual institutions and then supervisors to work out specifics. Keith Hines recalled a presentation at the Assembly from a Western Carolina University professor on salary and total compensation at System institutions across campus. The Chair would reach out to the professor to invite him to present at a general Forum meeting.
Jacob Womack noted a recent volunteer shortage at the Friday Center vaccination clinic. He encouraged employees to volunteer.
Kevin Robinson said that the Forum needs to quantify and make a record of the organization’s rules, smoothing the transition between parliamentarians and administrations. He thereby asked to reinstitute the standing Rules Committee and asked for volunteers to serve.
A delegate asked if the Forum could ask the Chancellor or make its own proclamation or resolution opposing anti-trans and anti-civil legislation in the State. The Chair noted alternatives for communicating via letter, proclamation, or resolution. Members interested in volunteering for this effort should contact Matt Banks.
It was noted that Shayla Evans-Hollingsworth will graduate May 8th from the MBA program in international business from Fayetteville State University. Members cheered Evans-Hollingsworth’s accomplishment.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:21 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary