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Concerning the Elimination and Outsourcing of Dental School SPA Employee Technician Positions 




November 1, 2006

WHEREAS the Mission of the Employee Forum is to constructively address the concerns of the Employees of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, including the representation of staff concerns to University officials, the University of North Carolina General Administration, State Legislators and the citizenry of North Carolina; and

WHEREAS, those concerns may include any actions or decisions by any University Administrator that significantly affect employees’ work environments and situations, particularly when the actions result or may result in the elimination of full-time staff positions; and

WHEREAS, the Employee Forum of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill strongly opposes the dismissal of the dental technicians and outsourcing of those position as recently directed by the Dean of the School of Dentistry pending a full re-evaluation decision process and its results, to be conducted by a committee composed of representatives of all stakeholders, as well as representatives from the Forum and the Ombuds Office, which committee shall conduct its business in full and complete public view; and

WHEREAS, the State of North Carolina positively enjoins open meetings that include wide participation by and input from constituents, the late Chancellor Michael Hooker established an administrative tradition at UNC of open meetings and community involvement when dealing with similar issues, and Chancellor James Moeser has publicly declared that a spirit of co-governance, not covertness, should be the hallmark of his administration,  and

WHEREAS, the Dean of the School of Dentistry violated the spirit of the State’s open meeting regulations, the spirit of Carolina’s community-based decision-making legacy, and the current Chancellor’s stated co-governance approach at Carolina by failing to allow open community participation when making his decision, and by relying instead on a small, hand-picked group of men who effectively constituted a back-room advisory committee in this matter; and

WHEREAS, there are serious flaws with the Dental School outsourcing study and decision, notably including:

1. The investigative committee was “ad hoc” and not formally constituted, so Dental School Employees, students, and the majority of the faculty were neither aware of nor involved in the study or in the decision-making process;

2. Dental School Employees, students, and the majority of the faculty were not given alternate means or opportunities to provide input or opinions to the committee;

3. Employees remained essentially uninformed about the study until two months after the study committee had made its recommendations to the Dean;

4. The Dean appears to have prejudiced the committee’s decision before commissioning the study by making it known that the dental labs should be considered a “low priority”;

5. The committee met only four times, took only 11 weeks to reach its conclusions, produced a “report” that is extremely short and excessively vague in addressing important details that the committee should have considered in more depth for a decision of this magnitude, and fails to address numerous important issues at all.  Among those issues are:

(a) Supportive services provided by the labs were simply “omitted” from the study’s analysis and information about them was mentioned only as being not easily available;

(b) The cost of specific work already outsourced was never fully or adequately identified;

(c) The actual cost of proposed outsourcing was only “loosely” estimated;

(d) The analysis of costs included the salary of a retired employee, thereby “inflating” and creating a clearly misleading in-house cost estimate;

(e) The qualitative educational value of the labs to the students, graduates, and faculty was not assessed;

(f) The impact on the quality of patient care for North Carolinians vis-à-vis the potential for a change in the quality of patient care due to outsourcing was not addressed—either in the short term within the school, or in the long term for patients across North Carolina and beyond through the placement of graduates of the school;

6. Opportunities for staff training to update important skills with which the technicians could meet the needs of the Dental School in-house appear to have never been considered;

7. No evidence has been presented that shows that any bid process for outside services, as is usual and customary in University practice, has been instituted by the Dental School;

8. In the wake of the decision’s announcement, the pros and cons of continuing to provide an in-house venue for teaching, as expressed by numerous faculty, students, student organizations, and alumni, to faculty, students and alumni of continuing to provide skilled in-house technicians and lab services have been ignored;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Employee Forum of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill strongly counsels the Chancellor and his Administrators to reconsider the potential consequences of his decision to repudiate the University outsourcing protocols the late Chancellor Hooker endorsed in which such decisions were to be made only in the context of an open, inclusive and public forums;

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Employee Forum calls on the Chancellor to declare a twelve-month moratorium as requested by the dental technicians and the Forum; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Employee Forum of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill vigorously recommends that the Chancellor and his Administration support and convey the concept of this resolution and the position of the Employee Forum to the University System Office of General Administration and the Board of Governors.


Signed on Behalf of the Delegates of the Employee Forum,


Ernie Patterson, Chair

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