May 18, 2021 Employee Forum 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, Haydée Marchese, Arlene Medder, Katie Musgrove, Natiaya Neal, Brooke O’Neal, Ayla Ocasio, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Robert Smith III, Antonio Squire, Tracy Wetherby-Williams, Jacob Womack, Charles Streeter (ex-officio)
Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:36 a.m. She asked for a motion to approve the April minutes of the group. Arlene Medder made this motion seconded by Keith Hines. The minutes were approved.
Ayla Ocasio and Matt Banks presented the Forum budget for May. Banks said that he had processed several professional development grants this month, which were depicted. He anticipated doing purchases for the June 8th blood drive as well. He noted that the Forum currently has a deficit of $400 or so, counting liabilities and items waiting for decision on spending. He said that the Forum’s budget could potentially go into the black this year, a particular achievement given recent large cuts to the Forum budget.
Under Old Business, the Chair pointed out that the current practice of providing staff and faculty vaccinations on campus was a goal of the Employee Forum. She was glad to see it come to fruition. There were questions as to whether the clinic in Student Stores would accommodate third-shift workers. The Chair pointed out that Campus Health employees gave second dose vaccinations to Housekeeping and Facilities staff this morning from 630-730 a.m. She would follow up with James Holman on any developments related to third-shift employees.
Matt Banks noted an announcement in a recent Human Resources staff meeting that that department will not consider alternate teleworking options until the New Year at the earliest. All decisions regarding teleworking or alternate arrangements in Human Resources would be made at the Dean or Vice Chancellor level given the business needs of certain units. A delegate relayed reports that the Governor will release return to workplace guidance for State employees, not University employees, in the next week or so. Many meetings are occurring on this topic. Another delegate understood that each UNC campus will work to determine their best approach to returning to campus. Members discussed whether supervisors would have final say over teleworking options in the future.
Robert Smith described the upcoming teleworking policy at the School of Medicine, which has been in the works for some time. Members thought that Chancellor Guskiewicz has not habitually supported a remote working policy. Members also discussed possible difficulties with the announced July 19th return date.
There was discussion as to whether to use the current UNC System guideline on flexible working to create a resolution detailing desired policy. Alternatively, the Forum could wait to see what occurs then respond. Phil Edwards asked if the Forum should spend resources determining employee sentiment and perhaps organizing responses about proposed changes. The Chair suggested holding a town hall on this and other questions. Discussion settled on a June 22nd Zoom meeting for the town hall.
The Chair moved to the next topic, the posting of Zoom video recordings online. Members spoke generally in favor of posting meetings with the warning to delegates and presenters that the meetings will be online. It was added that monthly general meetings should be public but not the Forum Executive Committee meetings.
The Chair noted that moving back to in-person meetings will depend on the decision of the next Forum Chair. She imagined the Forum would need a hybrid space that can hold in-person meetings while broadcasting via Zoom. Members discussed the pros and cons of various rooms around campus. There was a preference to use the Wilson Library Pleasants Family Assembly room although moving chairs and tables in that space would require assistance. The Pleasants Family Assembly room is free of charge otherwise.
The Chair said that David Rogers is scheduled to present during the first day of the Forum Retreat July 14th.
The Chair asked Jen DeNeal and Laura Pratt to discuss the process for electing Forum officers electronically via Zoom. The committee discussed the current process and possible alternatives. Charles Streeter offered to provide a Teams mock-up of a ballot for consideration. Matt Banks agreed to provide a list of delegates with email addresses.
The Chair would soon begin encouraging the Chancellor to compose a team for the Chancellor’s Cup golf tournament September 29th. She asked that this item go on the June agenda for discussion at the general meeting.
Shane Brogan reported that the Communications & Public Relations committee plans to meet and work out details for publishing InTouch soon.
Brooke O’Neal said that the Book Club will meet to discuss In Pursuit of 1,000 Skies by Rhoda Belleza May 20th at noon.
Jacob Womack reported that the Community Service committee is meeting soon to tie up loose ends as the Forum year concludes.
Jen DeNeal said that the Carolina Blood Drive is in full-on planning stages for the June 8th drive. She urged delegates to volunteer to work or donate at the drive.
Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Community Garden has extra food and is looking for appropriate recipients. The Chair said that she might mention this subject at the upcoming Board of Trustees meeting that Wednesday. A delegate suggested finding lower paid employees outside Facilities Services who could use this food also.
Antonio Squire of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee said that the alternative holiday subgroup met with Associate Vice Chancellor Linc Butler to talk about employees who must use vacation leave to celebrate their religious holidays. Squire said the group discussed the language of the University policy and possible ways to change it. Squire hoped to bring up this concern at the System level for the benefit of other University campuses at some point. The committee will work to develop talking points and will meet again with Butler soon.
L. E. Alexander said that the Education & Career Development committee is in the process of awarding professional development grants. The committee will begin to review Carolina Family Scholarship applications in June. Matt Banks reported that the Staff Development Fund provides $10,000 a year for professional development grants, which the committee decided to split equally between spring and fall application periods. Currently, estimates are that the Carolina Family Scholarship will have $15,000 to award winners this year.
There was no report from the Membership & Assignments committee.
Stephanie Forman of the Personnel Issues committee reported that the group had met to discuss various legislation, with another meeting to come. Phil Edwards added that the committee hoped to submit a second resolution on career development issues this year. It was reported that in at least one department, staff professional development funds were cut by 50% while faculty professional development was spared altogether.
Natiaya Neal of the Recognition & Awards committee thanked that group for reading the 206 peer recognition nominations for 2021. The committee chose 13 recipients for this year. Recipients have been notified and will receive their stipends in June. The Rebecca Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage will be discussed in early June, with presentation of that award occurring at University Day October 12th.
Kevin Robinson had no report from the Rules committee.
The Chair asked for a volunteer to replace Stephanie Brown who will soon roll off the University’s Policy Review committee. Kevin Robinson volunteered. Jen DeNeal outlined the University’s policy review process. She noted that policy liaisons are expected to share executive summaries from these meetings and to share employee feedback with the committee. Shane Brogan and Phil Edwards also expressed interest in this role or perhaps expanding Forum representation on the committee.
The Chair confirmed that her membership on the UNC System Staff Assembly would continue as she received a recent appointment as Assembly Vice Chair.
The Chair asked Matt Banks to confirm whether the Chancellor and the Provost will be able to speak at the Forum’s June meeting.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:32 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary