Hello friends here it is we have had the chance to enjoy the holidays and our families and to begin a new year. I look forward to serving as Forum chair again for another year and trying to improve things here on campus for everyone. We had a tough year last year but we came through it as better folks because of all the trials and challenges that we overcame. I know that we have another tough year in front of us because of the poor economy in the state. So this means again we must stand united together.
This year we need to let our leaders in Raleigh know how we feel about the way that they are treating us and how they need to stand up and meet the challenges in front of them. They must find the money to give us a fair pay raise and find the funds to improve our health insurance. This is something they need to quit talking about and instead do something. They must do whatever it takes to find money for raises and benefits. All state employees must come first this year and be recognized for our true value. So now I am asking all employees to take the time to sit down and write a letter to your state leaders and legislators and to our Governor asking them to consider us first not last. We have been waiting very patiently for a fair pay raise for a long time but now is the time for action.
So please take the time to write these letters, every letter is a vote and they know that. 2004 is a general election year and we need to vote for the people who believe in education and in the employees that keep everything running in this state. Show me one thing that works in the state successfully and I will show you a state employee that is doing a great job. The only way that we can get out of this slow economy is through hard work and education. This state is known nationally and worldwide for supporting education and we are well known for our hard work and dedication. We must ask our leaders to step up and do the right thing, to find the money to support our needs and to find ways to create new jobs in our state. Our students today are our leaders for tomorrow and our future. So it is up to all of us to provide them with the best possible education that we can. The employees of this state are all ready willing to do whatever it takes to do this, all we need to do is get our leaders at Raleigh to think like we do and follow our example.
I want to say a special thanks to all of our outgoing Forum Delegates and our Committee Chairs for their hard work throughout their terms. Also, I want to thank everyone on campus for all there hard work and support. I also want to welcome all our new officers and new Delegates and alternates that have just started their new term., They have a lot of work and challenges in front of them to help improve things on campus. Without each other there is no way possible that that we could be as successful as we are here on campus. So let us stand united together and meet the new challenges of the new year. I look forward to working with everyone on campus this year.
—-Thanks a lot, your friend Tommy.
At the final meeting of the Tuition Advisory Task Force on December 19th, the committee voted 14-1 to endorse a plan calling for tuition increases of $350 a year for three years. The tuition hike would generate $23.9 million dollars, most of which would be used to supplement faculty, staff and teaching assistant salaries. After 40% of the income ($9.6 million) is taken off the top for financial aid, the remaining money would be distributed as follows:
$11.5 million (48%) for faculty salary increases
$1.9 million (8%) for increases in teaching assistant stipends
$0.9 million (4%) for SPA staff salary increases
Some task force members were hesitant to endorse the use of tuition money for staff salaries, maintaining that the General Assembly is responsible for funding pay raises for employees subject to the State Personnel Act. However, many felt that the time has come to take a stand on supporting the staff. Director of Scholarships and Student Aid Shirley Ort stated, “Sending any message that doesn’t make a positive statement for staff would be a mistake.” Classics Department Chairman William Race added, “This year, I found it absolutely embarrassing that we got a raise and they got nothing.”
Before the final vote, an amendment was added to the plan calling for a reduction in the tuition increase if the Legislature disallows using funds for staff salaries. All but one of the task force members endorsed the final proposal.
These recommendations now go to Chancellor Moeser and must be approved by both the Board of Trustees and the Board of Governors. One potential obstacle is an expected move by the BOG imposing a one-year freeze on any tuition increases for UNC system schools. However, the task force recommendations could still be implemented after the one-year period if they are accepted and approved by decision-makers.
Deadline for Tuition Waiver Form for Spring Classes
The deadline for turning your tuition waiver form into Training & Development for Spring 2003 is January 13, 2003. You can get more information on the Tuition Waiver program at http://www.ais.unc.edu/hr/spaman/section12/sec12-tuition.htm or by calling Jason Derrick at 962-2550.
Affordable Housing Options in Orange County
It is no secret that many Carolina staff members cannot afford to live in Chapel Hill, Carrboro or other local communities. The numbers speak for themselves: the average price of a home in Orange County (for the year 2000) stood at $230,695. For the same year, the average salary needed to afford a median priced home in Orange County was $100,000.
If you are interested in trying to find a more reasonably priced home in this area, the non-profit Orange Community Housing and Land Trust may be able to help you. Their mission is “to provide affordable housing for low and moderate income citizens working or living in Orange County and to keep this housing affordable in perpetuity via the Community Land Trust Model.” At the December Employee Forum meeting, OCHLT Executive Director Robert Dowling expressed his interest in reaching out to UNC staff members who are in need of local housing.
How does the program work? OCHLT acquires land trust properties, some with pre-existing homes and some needing new development. OCHLT markets and sells the homes while retaining ownership of the land, which is leased to the homeowner using a 99-year renewable ground lease. This lease arrangement requires that the home be resold at an affordable price while still allowing for full rights and use of the land as well as appreciation and tax advantages for the homeowner.
How do you know if you are eligible for an OCHLT home? To participate in this program, four things are required:
you must have a total family income at 80% or less than the area median income;
you must have lived or worked in Orange County for at least one year;
you must intend to occupy the home yourself (not as a rental);
you must be a first-time homebuyer or a displaced homemaker.
Some OCHLT homes are available now and others will be available soon! For more information, see the OCHLT web site or call 967-1545 or 960-0076. The Orange Community Housing and Land Trust also offers a series of free classes on all aspects of the home buying process.
This has been a very difficult year for both the University and for our staff here at Carolina. Ongoing state budget problems have taken their toll on all of us. The Employee Forum has worked hard this year to make sure the voice of our dedicated staff has been heard, lobbying for attention to your needs, concerns and struggles. It is important to know that this effort will continue unabated under the exceptional leadership of Forum chair Tommy Griffin.
As I wrap up my service as editor of InTouch, I’d like to thank all of the members of the Communications Committee for their hard work and creative energy. Our group aimed to keep you informed, not only about Forum news and events but also about general issues of interest. We tried to include useful information about career development and training opportunities, such as the tuition waiver and educational assistance programs and computer training classes and facilities. We highlighted environmental events and explained some limitations of the state health insurance plan. We also took a look at areas such as campus safety and affordable housing in our community. It is our hope that you found this information to be of value.
It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve on the Forum these past two years. I have had the pleasure of working with many fine individuals who continue to give their all under very trying circumstances. Best of luck to the new and returning Delegates – keep fighting the good fight!