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InTouch:  UNC Employee Forum News
Volume 3, Number 5 June 2002

From the Chair, Tommy Griffin…
State Employees United Together

Hello friends here it is already June and time to talk again. I look forward to getting the chance to share all the information that I receive every day that concerns us all so very much, every day, week and month. There is not much positive news coming out of Raleigh right now. Hopefully we will hear some good news for State Employees any day now. No matter what happens we must stand United Together and take our concerns to our leaders in Raleigh. I believe we need to send them a truckload of hearing aids so they can hear what we are saying.

We need help with our pay, our benefits, and our retirement and we need it this year, right now not later. Our leaders in Raleigh need to put back the money that they withheld from our retirement system and they need to be hones with us about the budget crisis. They need to take a serious look at how valuable State employees are and how much income each employee brings into this State everyday. They can’t keep talking about doing something and do nothing. Its time for action they need to do their jobs just like we do ours. Its time we all write, email or phone our leaders in Raleigh and let them know exactly how we feel about the way we are being treated and mistreated by them. Take the time to let them know how you feel about what is going on in our State and how it’s affecting you and your family every day. It’s very important that we all take the time to do this.

Now I have some good news to share with all of you. On May 30th there was a meeting held in Boone N.C. at Appalachian State University where all the sixteen University employee forums were invited to attend. The Employee Forum officers and I attended this meeting and had the chance to meet other State employees from the mountains to the coast. It didn’t take us long to get to know one another since we all belong to that big family of State employees. We soon learned that we all had many of the same concerns about what is happening to our Great State and its employees. We all came to the same conclusion that we must stand United together to get through the budget crisis and help State employees be treated fairly throughout the entire State. Ron Penny was there from General Administration to give us an update on the budget and how things were going in Raleigh. Kitty McCollum was also there from General Administration to give us an update on State benefits. There were folks there from SEANC to let us know what they are doing in Raleigh to help State employees and from what I heard they are working very hard for us to help improve our salaries, benefits and retirement. They really need to be thanked for all their hard work and we all need to give them all the support we can. The Chancellor of Appalachian State arrived at the meeting at 2 p.m. just back from Raleigh with news from the Legislature and gave us an update on what he heard. We have all heard what is happening through the news so we must think positively so that we can get through these hard times together. I want to thank Peggy Ellis, the ASU Staff Council and all her staff who put this meeting together at Appalachian State University.


I want to thank all the State employees for their hard work so that we can continue to have a Great State and a Great University System. Thanks all, a lot, your Employee Forum chair Tommy Griffin.

InTouch Contest: Customer Service, Your Insights and Comments

Given understaffing, the difficult budget situation and recent layoffs, it can become hard to find the enthusiasm to provide an appreciable level of customer service. Rather, Employees rely on honor, pride and experience to do more with less, day after day.

One area in which the disconnect between inappropriate staffing and funding levels and the need to present the University’s best face is in the area of customer service. University staff serve students, faculty, outside visitors and each other. Oftentimes, campus Employees make the first impression that outsiders form of the campus, for good or ill.

Everyone can cite positive and negative examples of good customer service. However, neither finger-pointing or cheerleading do the rest of us good in carrying out our daily duties.

We would like you to relate instances of good and bad customer service, but also tell us what factors led to these situations. We know that people make up the heart of the University, but what makes one office work so much better than another? What processes seem to work in dealing with customers, and which do not? Which improvements really make life easier for you, the user, and which have made things more difficult? Why? (Again, please, no finger-pointing—try to provide real situations and solutions.)

Also, among those of you who directly serve the public, how do you do it and keep from going crazy? Some people are really fussy about being served; how do you provide the best level of service in a time of budget cuts and understaffing? Where do you find the spiritual or psychological strength to deal with rude customers? How have you or your supervisors worked out how to serve customers efficiently, again without going crazy?

Please keep responses to 150 words or less. We’ll publish winning responses in a future issue of InTouch, and present winners with a prize gift certificate from a local coffeehouse. You can send responses to CB# 3488 or to

UNC Sustainability Coalition: Introductions & Updates

The UNC Sustainability Coalition was formed in April of 1999 in response to two events. First, a student initiative to institutionalize green practices and make the University community more aware of environmental issues was presented to administrators. Second, an Executive Order, issued by then governor Jim Hunt, called on all state agencies to implement environmentally sustainable policies, reduce solid waste, and procure environmentally preferable products. The Coalition is composed of students, staff, administrators, and faculty representing many departments and services of the university.

Sustainability is defined as meeting “the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” The mission statement of the UNC Sustainability Coalition is to promote a strong environmental ethic and to cultivate sustainable policies, practices, and curriculum throughout the university.

The Coalition is comprised of eight task groups: Academics, Business Operations, Energy, Land & Buildings, Material Resources and Waste Reduction, Outreach, Transportation, and Water. Each task group is charged with evaluating where the University stands in its particular area of sustainability and with developing strategies for improvement.

The past year has seen many activities completed by each of the task groups mentioned. There have been great achievements in building design, storm water management, construction waste management, energy efficiency initiatives, recycling, transportation initiatives, academic programs, and the purchase of environmentally preferable products. For a detailed look at all of these issues, please read the 2001 – 2002 UNC Sustainability Coalition annual report.

In the report you will read details about site protection measures and high performance building practices adopted during this campus construction boom, academic programs being developed to assist students in learning about sustainability, Coalition outreach activities during the past year, and where you can buy shade grown coffee on campus.
Anyone in the UNC campus community is invited to participate. Sustainability Coalition meetings are held monthly, on the second Friday, from 11:00 am – 12:30 pm. Meeting locations change, but can be confirmed by contacting Cindy Shea, the Sustainability Coordinator.

University Committee Service Opportunities
Do you have an interest in serving on a University Committee? If you are a staff member and are willing to become involved with the campus community, please visit the Employee Forum web page and “Sign Up for a University Committee.”

You will find an easy to fill out form that will allow your Forum University Committee Assignments Committee to record your name and willingness to serve on a specific committee (if a seat becomes available) or any committee where staff representation is requested.
Concerned about the time commitment? Many committees meet once a month or maybe even once a year. Let us know you are interested – you’ll be glad you did!
Thank you,
The Forum University Committee Assignments Committee

Policy Response: Personnel Flexibility Committee Report

Recently, 2001 Forum Chair John Heuer took time to speak with us about the progress of the Univeristy’s personnel flexiblity study committee.

What was the Personnel Flexibility Committee supposed to accomplish, anyway?

Last year, the state legislature considered a proposal that would have allowed each UNC system school the right to create its own personnel system, rather then being governed (as we are now) by the rules of the Office of State Personnel. The proposal was not approved, but Chancellor Moeser decided to be proactive and form this committee. He charged the group with investigating what course of action Carolina might take if/when we are given this kind of flexibility and “to recommend to the Chancellor ‘characteristics’ that The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill should incorporate into its personnel system when it has the flexibility to develop its own system.”
After brainstorming, two sub-groups were formed – the Input Subcommittee and the Benchmarking Subcommittee. The first group devised ways to gather input from all parts of the University community. The second group selected 18 peer institutions and investigated their personnel policies in an effort to discover the best, most effective practices.

Who are the members of this group?

Members of the committee were selected to represent a broad spectrum of Carolina faculty and staff. The Employee Forum and the Faculty Council were each asked to appoint 3 members. Other members were selected to make sure there was representation from all major University areas and from all employment categories. If you want to see the list of committee members, it is online at:

How did the committee find out how our staff felt about these issues?

The Input Subcommittee realized they needed to do a number of different things to adequately reach staff members, with people working at different times, in different places and under a variety of circumstances. So the subcommittee sponsored five town meetings, two of which were held at night to reach second and third shift employees. In addition, the subcommittee designed and distributed a survey, sent to all permanent staff and faculty, asking for comments, concerns and interests about personnel flexibility. Also, a web site was created ( with phone and email contact information for committee members. The response to all of these efforts was impressive – over 3,400 people voiced their opinions on various issues!

How does the personnel system at Carolina compare with other state universities?

The Benchmarking Subcommittee found that in 32 of the 50 states, state university employees are separate from the state system, with 18 (including North Carolina) part of their state personnel systems. While comparisons were made in many areas, one important subcommittee finding involves collective bargaining. “It should be noted that we found that 13 of our peers are in states providing statutory authority for collective bargaining, and that 12 of those peers currently have collective bargaining agreements with 108 separate bargaining units. The agreements vary widely in the number and type of employees covered.” Currently, North Carolina state law (G.S. 95-98) prohibits public employees from engaging in collective bargaining.

What kinds of things did the committee recommend?
Five major areas were identified, with suggestions for changes and improvements: Pay, Benefits, Employee Relations/Working Conditions, Hiring (Recruitment and Selection) and Career/Employee Development. Of these, pay and compensation emerged as the most critical concerns, with the need to move to a competitive, market-based system. Benefits were seen as another prime area needing change, including more choices (like a cafeteria style plan) and more adequate health insurance coverage and retirement plan options. Another important recommendation is for the University to have a comprehensive employment plan with practices that encourage recruiting and retaining the best employees. Many other ideas are contained in the committee’s report, which will be posted on the web site soon.

What happens from here?
Until Carolina is granted authority to make substantive changes to our personnel practices, a number of suggested improvements in areas such as pay and benefits cannot be made. However, the Personnel Flexibility Committee report does include “recommended characteristics” that do not require legislative approval, especially in the areas of employee relations/working conditions and career/employee development.
The Personnel Flexibility Committee has delivered its report to the Chancellor. Chancellor Moeser has encouraged completion of this study in order that the University’s ideas might be included in any reviews that take place. Of particular interest, the North Carolina General Assembly appointed a study committee on these issues that is scheduled to report to the 2003 legislative session.
Other related initiatives are also in process. The Office of the President expects results by the end of this month from a separate study on increasing personnel administration flexibility within the entire University system.

Look to future issues of InTouch for any further developments.