From the Chair, Tommy Griffin…
We Shall Win in the End Because We Care the Most
Hello friends. Here it is June and we are still waiting to hear from our leaders in Raleigh about our budget crisis. We all know that there are hard times happening all over the state, and it is affecting all of us in many ways. It has hit the campus very hard: we are losing very good programs and employees. This is very hard to understand and accept, but we have to deal with it the best we can. One of the best ways to handle these hard times is by working together. The folks here on campus have a long history of supporting each other and caring about what happens here. No matter how bad it gets because of the budget cuts, I know that we will get through this together. Now is the time to be making plans for the future. We must have plans in place and ready to go, so when new funds become available we can replace those lost programs. I know that it sounds like a pipe dream, but we must have dreams so that we will have a future together. What we do today will affect all the folks that will follow in our footsteps. We need to make sure that we make good logical plans that will work and be flexible enough to work successfully with changing times and benefit everyone here at the University.
With everything that is happening on campus and throughout the state, the Employee Forum needs your help and support. We need your thoughts, solutions and participation. I encourage you to get in touch with a Forum delegate and let them know how you feel about things and any suggestions that you may have to help us get through this crisis. If you have the opportunity to attend a Forum meeting, please come. We always set aside time for employee presentations. We meet the first Wednesday of the month in Wilson Library Assembly room at 9:30 a.m. Our next meeting will be July the ninth. Please come to the meeting and let us know what you think.
Just a friendly reminder: it’s time to make nominations for Forum Delegates, so if you know someone who will make a good delegate, nominate them. You can even nominate yourself.
Thanks for all the great work that you are doing and all your support. We shall win in the end because we all are winners and we care the most. Your friend always, Tommy.
In the June 4 Forum meeting, incoming Faculty Chair Judith Wegner spoke to the Forum about her desire to make changes to the health benefits available to UNC Employees. She said that her efforts would be aided considerably if she had some real life stories of UNC employees who have experienced significant problems with health care, such as not being able to afford benefits or not getting needed care from the system. If you have had problems with health benefits, please send your stories to email@example.com or via campus mail to Employee Forum, Campus Box 3488. Please indicate whether you want your story kept anonymous, whether we can publish it in InTouch, and whether our new Faculty Chair can use it in her efforts to improve health benefits for UNC Employees.
At the June 4 Forum meeting, Loretta Bohn, a H.E.E.L.S for Health member and an employee in Systems and Procedures, spoke out with some concrete suggestions on why and how UNC might keep H.E.E.L.S for Health. The following is her speech in its entirety.
Mr. Chairman, Forum Delegates, Distinguished Guests, and Fellow Employees,
Carolina prides itself on a threefold mission of teaching, research, and service. H.E.E.L.S for Health helps to fulfill all three: As employees who take responsibility for our own fitness, we teach by example the value of lifelong wellness. H.E.E.L.S provides a unique service to employees by offering not just information, but examples, encouragement, and expertise in applying what we know.
And then there’s the research. As a leading university, we perform solid research here and accept it when others publish it. In its January/February 2003 newsletter, the American Journal of Health Promotion, a peer-reviewed journal, published the results of a recent meta-analysis of 42 studies, going back 20 years, that sought to determine the economic benefit of multi-component worksite wellness programs such as H.E.E.L.S. “The evidence is very strong for average reductions in sick leave, health plan costs and workers’ compensation and disability costs of slightly more than 25%.” That’s a reduction in the employer’s costs. If anything, the benefits to employers are understated due to study designs; more recent, more rigorous evaluations show even greater cost savings. In more than a third of the cases, employers realized a 500% return on their investments in wellness programs.
This is “one heck of a best kept secret,” writes the newsletter editor. With the constant increase in State and employee expenses for health insurance, with a national epidemic of obesity, those of us who use H.E.E.L.S many services strongly request that the University reconsider its decision to eliminate the program. In just 2-1/2 weeks, we’ve collected signatures from nearly 1600 of our colleagues who agree.
A subcommittee of H.E.E.L.S members has proposed the following actions to the Chancellor: Place H.E.E.L.S in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science (Fred Mueller, Chair); grant a year of bridge funding ($150,000) from discretionary funds; use this year to identify alternative, non-State funding for H.E.E.L.S; and establish a task force to work with the principals (HEELS staff, Professor Mueller, Provost Shelton, advisory group) to help determine the future of the UNC employee wellness program. This would include a review of the unit’s form and function, programs, and other offerings, costs, needs, and non-State funding sources.
Employees have been repeatedly asked to invest in Carolina. We have done so without salary increases, while paying more and more for fewer and fewer health benefits. Yet our commitment has never wavered. We are now asking the Chancellor to make a small investment in us and give us a chance to succeed in saving this important employee benefit. We hope that the Forum will work with us in conveying our request to the Chancellor and in the coming year in establishing H.E.E.L.S on solid footing.
Forum Passes Resolution On H.E.E.L.S. for Health
Also at the Forum meeting on June 4, the Forum voted to a reaffirm a resolution that was originally approved on May 5, 1999, urging the continued and permanent funding of the H.E.E.L.S for Health Employee Wellness Program. The most notable modification to the 1999 resolution is the request to identify permanent funding in the Department of Exercise and Sports Science for the H.E.E.L.S program. Because of the timeliness of this issue, with the H.E.E.L.S program being terminated June 30, 2003, the Delegates voted to suspend its usual procedure, which requires two readings of a resolution before a vote. The Forum then passed the revised resolution on second reading.
This is the second in a series of articles on Forum committees. This month’s article was provided by Meredith Clason, chair of the Forum Orientation Committee.
The Orientation Committee’s charge is to familiarize newly elected Delagates and first alternates with the Employee Forum’s mission, procedures, and role in the grand scheme of the UNC-Chapel Hill universe. We strive to provide adequate information to enable Delagates and first alternates to function as fully contributing members of the Forum. The Orientation Committee typically organizes and conducts the new delegate/alternate orientation in October preceding the start of their term; a reception in December to welcome incoming members and to say thank you and farewell to outgoing members; and the annual January retreat. Our committee also helps with special events, such as the 10-year anniversary celebration, which took place in October, 2002. The new delegate/alternate orientation provides an opportunity to get everyone on the same page as far as who and what the Employee Forum is and to get people looking forward to their terms on the Forum. Each new delegate and first alternate receives a copy of the New Delegate Orientation Handbook, which our committee updates, prints, and distributes. The Forum’s annual retreat is our first opportunity to learn how to work together, to get organized into our committees, and to get our year started on a celebratory note.
The Orientation Committee meets on the second Monday of each month at 11:00 a.m. in the Employee Forum Office. Everyone is welcome to attend these meetings – bring your smiles and your good ideas. It is my great pleasure and privilege to work with a team of creative, hard-working and fun-loving individuals on this committee.
New Affordable Housing Available August 1
Chapel Ridge Apartments, a new 180-unit apartment community near the intersection of Homestead and Airport Roads, has 24 single-bedroom units available for local workers who are income qualified.
The brand-new apartments will rent for $643 to people making less than 80 percent of the area’s median income — approximately $39,550 for a single person. The apartments will be available to move into August 1. Rent includes water, electric, local phone, high speed Internet, cable, alarm, and a washer/dryer in each unit.
There will be a criminal/credit check and employment/rental verification. Floor plans are available.
For more information on renting one of Chapel Ridge’s affordable units, contact Mavis Gant or Robert Dowling at Orange Community Housing and Land Trust at 967-1545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays UNC employees from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, or sometimes it seems that way.
A big snow or sleet storm charges through North Carolina every few years. Public schools are closed. Roads are too slick for safe driving. UNC classes are cancelled. If we don’t make it to work, we have to make the time up or take vacation days.
Here’s some good news. The Office of State Personnel has drafted a change to the adverse weather policy and has presented it to the State Personnel Commission for approval. The revision states that in the event the University is officially closed, staff will not have to make up the time. The revision appears to have support although it has not passed yet.
Please note that the Forum decided at the June meeting to hold the July meeting on Wednesday, July 9, at the Wilson Library Assembly Room, not Wednesday July 2. The meeting will start at 9:30 a.m. as usual.
Please note also that the Employee Forum will have a four-page insert in the University Gazette on July 11. This will have a feature on Forum chair Tommy Griffin, an article on Forum resolutions over the last year, a focus on the Personnel Issues Committee, and a variety of staff- and Forum-related pictures. Be sure it read it! Also, please note that there will not be a July edition on InTouch since we are running the Gazette insert.
Finally, don’t forget to nominate a co-worker or yourself for the upcoming Forum delegate elections. More details here.
Summertime under the beautiful Carolina blue sky can be a dream, but the friendly sky of summer can also be a terrible foe. Comprising half of all new cancers, skin cancer is a very serious health risk, and its leading cause is exposure to the sun. Melanoma, a malignant form of skin cancer, kills one person every hour, yet it can be cured if found in its earliest stage of development. Dr. Beth Goldstein, adjunct clinical associate professor of dermatology, will present a program entitled, “Skin Cancer – Prevention and Early Detection,” on July 18, from 12-1 p.m., in Toy Lounge in Dey Hall. Discuss the risks, and identify ways to protect yourself and still enjoy the beauty of summer, at this program co-sponsored by the Carolina Women’s Center and the UNC Hospitals’ Women’s Health Information Center.