October 18, 2017 Executive Committee minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Clare Counihan, Mariel Eaves, Lori Haight, Naquan Hill, Shayna Hill, James Holman, Angenette McAdoo, Arlene Medder, Alan Moran, Katie Musgrove, Kathy Ramsey, Ricky Roach, Kewana Smith, K.D. Welsh

Excused Absences:  Bryan Andregg, Jacquelyn Copeland, Greg Smith

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:35 a.m.  The Chair noted that the Forum budget has not changed but that she has asked for access to Forum accounts.  She would plan to submit what it has available while spending to meet needs as deemed appropriate.  She said that it is difficult to make judgements about budget use without knowing exactly what goes in and out of the budget.  The Chair commented that the Forum has been led to expect administration assistance with renovating the Forum Office.

The Chair welcomed Kim Allen, Program Officer from the Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS), to speak on the work of that organization.  Allen praised the work of Katie Musgrove and Ricky Roach on the Carolina Blood Drive and on Center Disaster Relief efforts.  She noted that this week is the first anniversary of Hurricane Matthew.  The Center continues to organize relief trips and coordinate donation drives.  Unfortunately, additional disasters around the country have added to this burden.  She said that the Center has had faculty, staff and students ask how to help.  One effort involves creating a climate of care and support for those connected to the various disaster areas.  The Center sponsored an open meeting to this effect with students on September 28th.  Allen said that the meeting resulted in a statement issued from senior leadership pledging to support and help these people.  Allen asked the Forum for a similar statement of support.

Angenette McAdoo asked if the statement should come from the Forum or from a higher level administratively or from the Chancellor herself.  Allen said that the initial idea was to approach the Chancellor but instead Center leadership thought that mutual statements from campus governance bodies would have wright.  Clare Counihan confirmed that the process would resemble the one related to the Center for Civil Rights controversy.  Counihan said that the statement Allen presented did not recognize the connection between adverse weather and climate change as a compounding factor in unnatural political and environmental structures such as the zoning practices in Houston.  She said that statements of support are lovely but she thought the moment demands manifestations of support from institutional actors.

Allen said that the Forum could draft a sentence or phrase to this effect in its version of the statement.  She noted that the campus student Bucket Brigade will work to assemble 5-gallon bucket kits of disaster supplies on November 10th.  She said that these buckets will go to a church in Goldsboro for delivery to disaster areas in Puerto Rico and Houston.  Allen said that various student organizations will participate in that effort.  Counihan asked if the disaster relief needs these buckets or financial donations more.  Allen said that initially, money is most needed but supplies for clean-up are more needed soon afterwards.  Allen noted different instances of cooperation between student organizations and local entities seeking to help disaster areas.  She noted the UNC Adopt a Home effort for which University community members will work to raise money and provide labor to assist a home in Lumberton affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Katie Musgrove noted that the Habitat for Humanity effort of last year had shifted its efforts to focus on Adopt a Home efforts.  She hoped that the University and the Forum could partner on other efforts.  She recalled that Community Service Leave (CSL) disaster relief time is available for this purpose.  Clare Counihan asked if CCPS could schedule relief efforts during the University’s winter break period to encourage employees to use CSL for this purpose.  Musgrove said that the Forum’s Community Service committee attempted to convince administrators last year to allow CSL for this purpose.  She said that this year employees may use CSL on the University closed day under the condition that the activity is approved in advance by one’s supervisor.

Clare Counihan thought that other organizations would love to contribute to this effort.  Katie Musgrove thought that much depends on obtaining an agreement for CCPS to organize these efforts, particularly the financial details of invoicing for materials.  Kim Allen noted that CCPS had worked with University Counsel to finalize the Adopt a Home agreement to assist the woman in Lumberton.  Musgrove noted that employees can use CSL for this effort under the Disaster Relief, Option A tab in TIM.

Musgrove said that the Community Service committee has worked with CCPS and Human Resources Benefits to conduct a publicity campaign to encourage the use of community service leave among employees.  This effort mirrors the one first done at UNC-Wilmington.  Musgrove hoped that this effort will increase CSL participation beyond last year’s levels.  Angenette McAdoo noted that use of the Disaster Relief, Option A tab requires oversight by the Red Cross.

The Chair asked what Allen wants from the Forum in affirming the Center agreement.  Kim Allen said that a statement from the Forum would prove very helpful in convincing campus decision-makers to make the University’s commitment to assist these areas manifest in concrete ways.  Alan Moran suggested that the statement call on University clarify and promote CSL usage in efforts not overseen by the Red Cross.  He also suggested that this initiative extend to the other 16 campuses of the University System.  Angenette McAdoo said that University CSL activities must be governed by 501(c)(3) organizations.  The Chair lamented that the different conversations were occurring about this topic.

Alan Moran thought that University policy is that an employee may not use CSL, Disaster Relief, Option A unless that family member is directly affected by the disaster.  McAdoo said that is the case unless the employee wishes to request leave without pay.  Musgrove asked if the Red Cross must be involved.  James Holman noted that supervisors have pushed back against possible use of CSL to the detriment of employees.  Musgrove offered to distribute the UNC-Wilmington information on the use of CSL.

Kathy Ramsey said that General Administration is looking to revamp the use of CSL, meaning that this could be a good time to take the issue forward.  The Chair observed that the issue also fits in with UNC’s strategic emphasis on the use of human capital at the University.  She asked the proper procedure to decide on a statement of support for the Center.  The Chair asked for a motion to create a supplementary draft with the stipulation that committee members will have the chance to make suggested edits.  Katie Musgrove made this motion, seconded by Alan Moran.  The motion was approved by acclamation.  Clare Counihan asked that committee members submit their suggestions as soon as possible.

Tiffany Carver said that the Membership & Assignments committee needs to pin down its budget for the Forum’s 25th anniversary event.  She said that it is difficult to know how to craft an event without a set budget.  [Subsequently, the Forum received approval from the Chancellor for its event planning.]  Carver said that the event should host around 150 people.  She noted that the Carolina Club will likely charge around $8/person for food, perhaps more depending on the menu.  Matt Banks suggested that the Forum invite guests via the Paperless Post method.  The Chair urged committee members to step up planning given the rapidly approaching date of the event (December 6th, 2017).  She asked that Matt Banks send out an Outlook calendar event change to inform delegates and others of the new time and location for the December Forum meeting (11-2 p.m., Carolina Club, Room A).  Invitations should go to previous Forum delegates and University administrators.

The Chair confirmed that the Forum had placed Blood Drive expenses as a permanent line item in its trust fund budget.  She said that the Ropes Course will now move to March 7, 2018.  Matt Banks asked about the need for liability waiver for course participants.  Katie Turner said that these waivers are commonly used.  Alan Moran confirmed that delegates are not forced to participate in this activity.

Katie Musgrove reported that the Community Service committee had kicked off the Food for All drive at the Employee Appreciation Fair October 20th.  She said that the committee plans to distribute bins for the effort throughout campus.  The committee will also participate in the November 18, 2017 Tar Heel Town festivities to raise food and money for the drive.  Forum delegates will have the opportunity to attend and walk on the field at the football game that day against Western Carolina University.

Musgrove said that the Adopt a House effort would begin for the committee in the spring.  The committee will also undertake a December Toy Drive for the UNC Children’s Hospital.  Delegates recalled that the Forum distributed tickets last year for the football game via the Will Call window at Kenan Stadium.  Matt Banks offered to set up a Qualtrics form asking delegates if they plan to attend and how many guests they would like to bring.

The question arose as to the distribution of the Forum’s Twitter account password.  The committee agreed to limit the password’s distribution to the Chair and the Communications and Public Relations committee chairs.  The Chair noted that duplicate Twitter accounts pose a real danger to Forum publicity efforts. Katie Turner recalled fake accounts that create controversy for users who do not pay attention when using Twitter.  Mariel Eaves suggested the use of Hootsuite as an application to handle Twitter usage.

Kathy Ramsey asked about the prospects of publishing InTouch more than once a month.  The Chair noted that the current publication of the newsletter demands a lot of work from Forum delegates.  Ramsey wanted to find ways to place the Forum at the front and center of people’s thinking.  Clare Counihan noted that the Forum’s social media channels present alternative methods of reaching employees interested in the organization’s work.  Mariel Eaves suggested working with Matt Banks on ways to upgrade the Forum’s application suites to deal with these and other questions.

Clare Counihan said that the Education and Career Development committee’s Carolina Family Scholarship subcommittee had contacted the Development Office to request CFS listings.  The committee also requested that the Carolina Family Scholarship be placed as a target for Development to raise funds.  She thanked Natiaya Neal for her work in this area.

The Chair said that committee work has typically leaned upon 2-3 people per group to carry out work.  She asked if the Forum needs to confer with its membership via Sakai or some other method.  Mariel Eaves said that project management software is available for this purpose, as well as task assignment and completion.  Tiffany Carver noted difficulties with obtaining participation on certain issues among the Forum membership.  Eaves said that the Trello software can be very effective once it reaches critical mass.  The Chair said she was super-eager to learn about these new methods.  She proposed that the Executive Committee serve as a pilot group for this new effort.  Clare Counihan relayed that Trello is said to be easier than Sharepoint, the University’s preferred method for project management.  Katie Turner noted worries about uploading confidential information in competing software packages.  The Chair requested a walk-through of project management software.

Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Campus Community Garden had received $5,000 from a donor for non-personnel purposes.  Members discussed the amount of land used by the Garden and runoff from the Garden.

Ricky Roach did not have a report from the Blood Drive committee.  He said he would try to get students to help with publicity for the December drive.  Katie Musgrove said that the new giving campaign should have an area listing the Employee Forum for donors to use.  The Chair said that she would ask about this question in the upcoming Vice Chancellor representatives’ meeting.

Tiffany Carver had no further report from the Membership & Assignments committee.

James Holman reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly has asked each System institution to comment on tuition waiver for UNC employees’ family members.  He said that a question has gone to the Office of Human Resources asking the number of tuition waivers used in the last five years.  Clare Counihan noted the difficulty in finding the number of employees with dependents as not all are insured through the University.  She observed that a similar difficulty with data collection might exist.  The Chair said that the UNC System Staff Assembly’s charge to advise the UNC System President parallels the Forum’s work for the Chancellor, and presents an opportunity to bring issues forward.

The Chair said that extending tuition waivers to the families of UNC employees would go to offset perceived shrinking salaries and benefits.  She noted the difficult time that departments have attracting and retaining people.  Katie Musgrove said that allowing online submission of tuition waiver materials would make the process more appealing.  The Chair said that there have been issues related to dependent waivers as University tuition is not structured for full-time students.

James Holman asked about employees donating tuition waiver to family members.  Ricky Roach said that the University has waited too long to make these improvements.  He said that as the economy has improved employees are leaving for the private sector due to benefits costs and other private-sector advantages.  Clare Counihan noted the strategic value of cuts to the UNC System not associated with the fiscal status of the State.  She noted that the State had a $400 million surplus last year and yet still imposed cuts on the UNC System.

The Chair said that the Staff Assembly has asked about obtaining up-to-date market rate figures for University positions.  Typically, NC State and UNC state that they are paying within 98-100% market rate (???).  However, data show that these institutions are paying 11.8% below market rate.  The Chair commented that she would like to see all positions receive a raise to bring them to this market rate.  Angenette McAdoo noted the total compensation package that employees receive.  Ricky Roach said that he will pay more than $700/month for health insurance for his family this coming year.

Katie Turner suggested that the Forum refine her submitted resolution regarding the rise in health care costs.  She proposed to ask for feedback from the committee prior to the November meeting.  Arlene Medder suggested that an ad hoc committee check on submitted data.  Turner said that she needs the Office of Human Resources to check over data in the resolution on raises.  Angenette McAdoo asked the basis for comparison.  The Chair said that the Forum would entertain this resolution on first reading in November.  She asked that the resolution be distributed via the Executive Committee’s listserv for member comments and edits.

The Chair noted a draft policy on free speech that the UNC Board of Governors has asked UNC System Staff Assembly members for comments.  She said that the revisions would outline a process to follow for disciplinary actions related to this policy.  She noted attempts to define “disruptive” language or conduct in the draft policy.  The Board seems particularly concerned about the “Heckler’s Veto” that has interrupted Board meetings.

Clare Counihan asked if this policy would extend to faculty teaching rights.  The Chair said that the extent of her concern was the effect the policy would have on staff employees.  Mariel Eaves asked about the effect on protestors.  The Chair said that Staff Assembly members were asked to look at the proposed language by Board of Governor Judge William Webb had asked for comments and feedback.  Katie Turner said that the legislative draft of the policy adapted language straight from current statutes.  She said that the faculty saw the reporting requirement in the draft policy as very micromanaging and invasive.  This requirement says that University must take time and personnel to administer.  She thought that the Board wants to centralize certain departments on campus.

Clare Counihan thought that the Forum should push back on this policy.  She worried about selective enforcement.  She noted that freedom of speech requirements involve hearing counter-protests.  However, she thought that the policy as written was unconstitutional.  Katie Turner asked how the policy would affect the Forum and staff employees.  She said that the policy seemed contrary to principles of shared governance.

The Chair said that the Board of Governors will likely vote in December on this question.  She said that the Staff Assembly could to provide intelligent and united feedback.  Kathy Ramsey noted the number of disturbing things that have occurred recently.  She said that individuals must decide how much they will be willing to accept.

James Holman asked if the committee should limit consideration to the Executive Committee or the full Forum.  The Chair said that the item must go on the full agenda in November.  Katie Turner said that the Faculty Assembly would meet Friday to discuss this question.  She suggested that the Staff Assembly attempt to coordinate on strategy.

Arlene Medder asked if there were a consensus on this question on other UNC System campuses.  Kathy Ramsey said that some other campuses have asked UNC-Chapel Hill Staff Assembly representatives for advice.  The Chair commented that she felt guided through this process with the expectation that the policy will be approved.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 2:01 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

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