Hello, friends. Here we are at the beginning of summer again, and the temperatures have been proving it. I hope everyone is enjoying their time off and spending lots of time with their families and friends. We all need time off, and we need time to think about where our lives are headed and what our futures together may look like. As state employees, it is hard not to be thinking about what is happening in Raleigh with the General Assembly and everything that is taking place at the state level.
We hear more and more about the budget and the economic atmosphere in North Carolina and how it is affecting our daily lives. What we really want to hear is what the legislature is going to do for all state employees and all the citizens of North Carolina. We really need to hear about pay raises, health insurance, and retirement. I know the legislators think this is a never-ending story, and it is, because as long as we see budget cuts and low or no pay raises and no improvements in our health insurance and retirement we must continue to tell our story.
State employees have been carrying the biggest part of the burden of shortfalls in our State budget for several years now, but we cannot continue to carry it alone. Employees have stepped up and taken on more job responsibilities and more work. If it wasn’t for the love, pride, and dedication of state employees, our state that we all love so much would be in jeopardy.
I know that our leaders in Raleigh care about us and our state, but state employees need to be put first in the discussions on how to divide the budgets. I know we have been having an economic short fall in our state, but it has hit state employees the hardest. The Senate and the House have had some lengthy discussions on pay and insurance this year, but what we need is money. There is a time to pay, and there is a time to talk, and now is the time to pay up. So keep sending in those post cards, emails, and phone calls. I know its working, and I want to thank everyone for all their support in this effort.
Chancellor Moeser has forwarded the Forum’s resolution supporting UNC Health Plan Pilot (S741, H775) to the Senate and to the House with his strong support for both bills. I want to thank him for his support on this Resolution. If we all work together on issues like this, we can get them resolved.
However, there is good news: State employees continue to keep our state number one in our hearts and in our nation. The economy has started to take a slow rise. We all are still working together to help improve our quality of life. We care the most so we shall be successful at our goals. Keep up the good work and enjoy the summer.
Your friend, Tommy
At its monthly meeting on June 1st, the Employee Forum unanimously passed “A Resolution Endorsing the UNC System Pilot Health Plan” on its first reading. This circumvention of the two-readings rule was voted on and approved due to the immanent consideration of two important pieces of legislation by the NC House and Senate.
If passed, explained Forum Chair Tommy Griffin, the impending bills would make it possible for the University to try to develop an independent health care package that would improve benefits, extend coverage, and decrease costs for UNC-Chapel Hill employees and their families.
The resolution does not support any one of the plans that are currently under consideration, said Griffin. Rather, it is simply a way to let our legislators know that employees at UNC-Chapel Hill support the University’s initiative to provide better health care benefits for its workers.
The issue of consolidating the pay periods for all University employees has been laid to rest for the time being.
In an email dated May 20th, Associate Vice Chancellor for Finance Roger D. Patterson said that in light of the Payroll Consolidation Committee’s 11-page report, his office saw no need to pursue the question at this time.
Patterson indicated, however, that the issue is likely to come up again in two more years, when the University begins to consider upgrading its financial software systems. At that time, he promised, the Employee Forum will definitely be called upon to play a role in the evaluation process.
The final report of the Payroll Consolidation Committee declined to offer recommendations on what it called a “divisive issue.” Noting that there were “tangible business benefits to be achieved by moving to a monthly payroll for all employees,” the report also acknowledged that “the personal impact on employees is identified as an extremely grave consequence of a consolidated monthly payroll.”
Rather than making recommendations, the report simply allowed each committee member to explain the pros and cons of the proposed change from the perspective of the campus unit he or she represented.
These units were: The Employee Forum, ITS, Facilities Services, Human Resources, Sponsored Research, Payroll Services, the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research, the FPG Child Development Institute, the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Public Health, and the School of Medicine. The report ended with information from the controller’s offices at North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and Central Payroll about the impact that changing to monthly pay periods had on their organizations.
In October 2004, the University established an emergency loan program for employees. Under this program, an employee facing a severe financial hardship—such as an emergency car repair, medical bill, or threat of eviction—can apply for a loan of $50 to $500. The loan is repaid through payroll deduction, at 0% interest.
The program was recommended by the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace; they recognized the need for a financial “safety net” for staff. An anonymous donor provided $25,000 to fund the program, and at one point that entire amount had been lent out. In the first six months, employees received 102 loans, totaling almost $43,000.
For more information about the Emergency Loan Program, contact Employee Services (962-1483 or 962-8830). There is a Q&A about the program on the University Gazette website, http://gazette.unc.edu/archives/04nov03/morestories.html#8
The Forum’s University Assignments Committee needs volunteers to work and provide staff input on a variety of committees across campus. If you think you might be interested in serving on a committee, please go to the Forum’s webpage, forum.unc.edu, and click on “Sign up for a University committee” in the “What’s New” section. (Alternatively, just go directly to forum.unc.edu/committee_interest.htm).
At this web page, you can see a list of University committees and you can put your name on the list of folks we will contact when there are openings on committees in which you are interested. Working on a campus committee is a great way to serve Carolina, make valuable contacts, meet interesting people, and help provide a staff viewpoint to groups that make important decisions. You do not need to be an Employee Forum delegate to sign up for a committee.
UNC faculty, staff and students are welcome to utilize the lactation room that is now open at the Carolina Women’s Center. The room provides a private and comfortable atmosphere for females and their child. Women can call ahead to reserve a room if they prefer, but it is not required.
The hours for the room are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be a breast pump machine (Medela “Pump in Style”), disposable breast pads and baby wipes available for use. It should be noted that breast milk storage is not available at the center . The lactation room is located inside the Carolina Women’s Center at 134 E. Franklin St., to the right of Carolina Coffee Shop. For more information or to reserve a time, women should call the Carolina Women’s Center at 919-962-8305.
Mark your calendar for the 2005 Employee Appreciation Event, October 10-14. This year’s focus is on health and wellness, and there will be activities every day that week. Some of the events planned include an introduction to campus fitness centers, a cooking competition, and a campus walking tour. Look for more details as the date approaches.