Hello friends. Here we are in another new year at the University and a new session of the General Assembly. There are many new faces in Raleigh in the General Assembly, and we need to support them and get them started out in the right direction. That direction is to support pay raises, a living wage, affordable health care, benefits, retirement, and a good educational system that all citizens can take part in. As citizens and employees of the state we are still facing some of the same old problems that we have had to face year after year: We need improvements to our pay and our health insurance, and we need a living wage for all employees at the University and in our state.
It is time for a change, and this is the year for it to happen. We can no longer survive on our salaries and benefits. We are struggling to keep roofs over our heads, to keep food on the table, and to take care of our families, let alone having some kind of descent health care and a good education for our families. It is going to take all of us working together throughout the State to solve these problems. The Employee Forum, the Faculty Council, and the students on our campus have been working very hard to help get the message to our leaders here on campus and in Raleigh. Campus leaders are listening and helping get the word out, but we need everyone to jump in and help. Forum delegates have been working long hours and long days to get the job done, but we need the support of the entire campus now.
There are only 60 of us on the Forum, so we really need your help to get our message heard in Raleigh. We must get all of the UNC system campuses united, working for better pay and better benefits. There is some type of Employee Forum on every campus in the UNC system, and we all are working together to improve things for everybody. If you don’t know who your Forum delegates are, take time to visit the Forum web site and find out who they are. Take the time to volunteer to help, because we need you. Take time to write emails, make phone calls, and write cards and letters to the folks in the General Assembly and to Governor Easley, and let them know your thoughts on our pay and benefits.
Are you a UNC employee who began work on an undergraduate degree and then had to quit? A new program at UNC may help you return to school part-time as a degree-seeking candidate while continuing your employment.
An outgrowth of the Chancellor’s Task Force on a Better Workplace, the Part-Time Undergraduate Degree Program is a pilot project that will begin in the fall of 2005 and admit up to ten full-time UNC employees as transfer students each year for the next three years.
Employees will be admitted competitively on the same basis as other UNC transfer students and will be held to the same standards of performance. However, since they will also be maintaining their regular University employment for at least 30 hours per week, employee-students will be allowed to take a reduced course load each semester and will have an extended period of time to complete their degrees.
Employees in this pilot program will be able to take advantage of other educational benefits for employees at the same time, such as the Tuition Waiver program and the Employee and Dependent Scholarship Program. They will also be eligible to apply for some of the same financial assistance programs that are available to non-employee students.
The deadline for submitting an application is May 1st.
Information about the program and the application process can be obtained by calling the Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 966-3621 or by visiting the Employee Degree Program web site at http://admissions.unc.edu/applying/employees.htm General information about the program is also available from the Friday Center for Continuing Education at 962-1134.
Information Technology Services (ITS) has created a new group for IT training and education on campus. The group is offering face-to-face workshops in selected topics this spring and expects to increase the number of topics and add different formats (online courses, symposia, and others) over time. To view and enroll in current workshops, point your Web browser to http://help.unc.edu/tracs You can contact the training and education group by sending mail to LearnIT@unc.edu Activities sponsored by the training and education group are open to all faculty, staff, and students on our campus.
The University will hold a summer job fair, to let folks know about summer jobs available to employees’ dependents, on Tuesday, March 8 from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Friday Center. Campus departments that are offering summer employment will be at the fair, so you can find what sorts of jobs are available and so your kids (or other dependents) can get their applications in early and have a better chance of getting good summer jobs. Applicants must be at least 16 years old when they start working, or 18 if using dangerous equipment.
This is the second year the University has held a summer job fair. In response to surveys from last year’s fair, this one is earlier in the year and will last longer. The summer job fairs are among the proposals of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace.
The Summer Carolina Blood Drive will be June 7, from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. in the Smith Center. You can make appointments beginning May 3, but go ahead and mark it on your calendar.
While there are just two big blood drives on campus each year, there are lots of smaller blood drives, for those of you who would like to give blood more often. To sign up for one of these smaller blood drives, visit http://www.unc.givesblood.org to make your appointment on-line. Note that signups for the Summer Carolina Blood Drive will not be done through this website. Details for signing up for the Summer Carolina Blood Drive will be posted later.
Employee Forum Website Redesigned
This month, the Employee Forum launched its newly designed website (http://forum.unc.edu). The new website is designed to improve communication between the staff at UNC-CH and the Employee Forum. Information about the business of the Employee Forum is better organized on the new site, so anyone interested should have an easier time navigating the website and finding information.
The mission of the Employee Forum is to “address constructively the concerns of UNC-CH Employees.” The Employee Forum is aware of many (but not all) of the issues and concerns that affect the Employees at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. To aid us in learning and addressing your concerns, the new website has a link on our home page to the “Issues/Concern Submission Form” (http://forum.unc.edu/issueform.htm). Employees are encouraged to use this form when they have issues they would like the Employee Forum to address. This resource can help the Forum delegates be aware of issues that affect work at the University.
Please visit the new site and complete the visitor’s survey (http://forum.unc.edu/visitorsurvey.htm) if you have suggestions for improvements to the site. Many thanks to Bradley Bone and Susan Phillips for their design and implementation of the new website.
In the message from the Forum Chair above, Tommy Griffin asked each of you to contact your legislators to let them know how you feel as they make decisions on our state budget. How do you do that? It is simpler than you might think.
The NC General Assembly has a web page that quickly and easily gives you the email address and the postal address of your local legislators. Just go to http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/GIS/Representation/Who_Represents_Me/Who_Represents_Me.html. If you happen to know your congressional district (Who does?), you can look up your legislator by district. Better than that, you can look up your legislators by county, which everyone should know. You can also look it up by zip+4 code, but a lot of folks probably don’t know those last four digits. You then are shown a list of the state senate and house representatives for your county. Click on a representative’s name to get his or her postal address, email address, phone number, and links to lots of other facts about them.
Note that you should not contact your legislator on work time or using state resources. In addition, the UNC-CH Personal Use Policy states, “No employee may use University funds, vehicles, equipment, supplies, or other resources in connection with partisan political activities. This includes the use of University electronic resources.” In particular, don’t write your letter to a legislator on University stationary, and don’t use a University email account to send them email. Just mail them a message on your own paper, or get a free email account at www.yahoo.com (for example) and email them from that account.
The SEANC information on contacting legislators is exceptionally simple and intuitive to use. When they make it this easy, there really is no reason not to let your voice be heard. Try it!
The Carolina Women’s Center, established in 1997, serves the women of the Carolina community — faculty, staff, students and alumnae. The Carolina Women’s Center was founded to speak with a unified voice for the over 20,000 Carolina women on issues such as women students’ health, campus security, child care, professional development, spousal referrals/hires, pay equity, and the climate for women on campus.
While the center was formed in response to the needs of Carolina women, many of our programs are of interest to Carolina men, and the center encourages the participation of all men and women on campus. The Carolina Women’s Center is located downtown on Franklin Street, next to the Carolina Coffee Shop. All are welcome!
CWC hosts conferences and classes, brown bag discussion groups, a lending library, and referrals to local resources. They also organize an annual Women’s Week on campus; look for more information closer to that week, March 28-April 2.
Visit: 134 East Franklin St, Suite 21
Mail: Campus Box 3302 Chapel Hill, NC 27599-330
Office Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
To contact CWC with general questions, please e-mail email@example.com.
I like paying taxes. You can Increase my taxes, if you spend it on something I use and value. I cannot remember the last time I used a Cruise missile, but I remember feelings of immense pride as each year I watch a stadium full of undergraduates become graduates of this public university. It’s the notion of Carolina as a ‘public university’ the people’s university that moves me. There are, however, clouds building in the Carolina blue sky that threaten to dampen my Tar Heel pride.
Just as sometimes you can smell the rain coming, I think I detect the faintest whiff of something in the air. Just as one cloud does not make a summer storm so one policy doesn’t sell out the oldest public university, but how about two? Or three, policies, all seemingly disparate and distant, eventually coming together?
I take a system wide pride in UNC. I’m equally proud of our sister institutions but I think the ‘flagship’ is heading us all into a storm. Last election cycle the UNC-CH political action committee apparently raised and donated $362,000 to politicians. In contrast NC State donated a paltry $17,000… UNC-CH lobbies the BOG vigorously for an exemption to allow them to set their own separate tuition hikes, so much for sisterhood.
In the Forum how often have you heard ‘if we could only get out from under the Office of State Personnel’? Then of course there is the mooted Pilot Health Plan for the university system. Any thing would be better than the current plan but too bad for state employees outside the university system.
Imagine these policies and practices fully realized and implemented and you get the whiff of something in the air, and I suspect it is the policy that as yet dare not speak its name, privatization.
Dave Brannigan Division II Employee Forum Delegate.
This month the Forum voted to reaffirm last year’s resolution calling for affordable health care for employees. Unfortunately, it did not define “affordable”, leaving it up to the legislators to make that call. What is “affordable”? It depends on which option you are using and how much money you are making.
Employees who only need insurance for themselves have the best deal. They have to pay the same high copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance as everyone else, but the state picks up the rest. Those insuring just their children still pay a relatively small amount, $2139/year. To ensure your spouse, with or without children, costs over twice as much, at $5130 per year. As a result, married employees who insure their spouses subsidize the cost of insurance for everyone else.
Unfortunately, many state employees, including many housekeepers and grounds keepers at UNC-CH, are paid less than a living wage for the work they do here. That means they simply are not paid enough to cover rent, utilities, food, child care, transportation, health care, taxes, and clothing. Many of these people simply do without health insurance and either do without or go into debt when they have medical needs.
So what is “affordable”? The costs are already too high for employees making the lowest wages. In the short term, the General Assembly needs to figure out a way to continue to cover state employees without raising the cost (premiums, copayments, deductibles, and coinsurance). Since costs have gone up that means the state needs to pay a bigger share of the cost. The longer term solution will be the subject of a future editorial.
Opinions and editorials in the InTouch do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Forum as a whole. Is there something you would like to say to your fellow employees and others who read the InTouch? Are you happy with the prospect of a big increase in health care costs this July? Tell us what you think!