Skip to main content

InTouch:  UNC Employee Forum News
Volume 6, Number 2 March 2005

From the Chair, Tommy Griffin…
Quality of Life

Hello, friends. Every month when I sit down at the computer to write my article for the InTouch, I think about what is the most important thing that I can share with everyone that month. There are usually a hundred things that I would like to share, but only so much room and so much time to write. So this month I want to share with you one of the most important issues that I think there is for all of us, and that is having a good quality of life for us and our families. Well, then we must ask the question, “What is a good quality of life?” Is it a roof over heads, food on the table, good health care when we need it, money to pay our bills with a little left over to save for that rainy day or education for our children and maybe a little for our retirement, not having to work two jobs to survive, time to spend with our families, and some time to work in our. It is all of the above and more. So you say, “How do we accomplish such a task?” Well, we must start at the beginning. We start by treating everyone fairly and by sharing all the resources that are available in our state and nation. No one should have to go without. Everyone’s daily needs should be met. We need to share as much as we can with each other. That is why it is so important for us to support each other now during these hard economic times. One day we hear that the economy is on the rise, and then the next day we hear that we are $1.3 billion behind on revenue. So what do we believe? I don’t know the answers to all of our issues, but I do know where to get them. We get them from each other, by sharing information and by working and communicating with each other.

Recently I have seen more support from across the state for University employees than I ever have ever seen before. We have always had good support from the University’s Chancellors and all their staffs, from all 16 boards of Trustees, from the Board of Governors, and from the Office of the President, and this support continues to grow. Support for University employees is growing daily on each campus, throughout the state, and in Raleigh. This is happening because we all care and are working together. We just had a statewide conference for all 16 Employee Forums. We are working together to achieve our common goals, and we are finding new ways to get answers for our issues. Keep writing those letters and emails to your legislators. Don’t forget to write to the Governor, too. The more we continue to provide information to our leaders in Raleigh, the more we insure our futures together. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication to our University and our state. Your friend, Tommy

Monthly Paychecks Considered

A payroll issue that was raised and then laid to rest in 1999 has been resurrected again at UNC-Chapel Hill. On Wednesday, March 16th an unpublicized meeting was quietly held to discuss whether the bi-weekly payroll schedule for most SPA staff, students, and temp employees should be dropped and a monthly payroll set up in its place. When Employee Forum Chair Tommy Griffin found out about this meeting and discovered that no staff representative had been invited to be a member of the group, he asked for and received permission to join.

The resulting thirteen members of the administration and staff met for an hour and a half to discuss possible alternatives to instituting a monthly payroll and the impacts that such a move would have on university financial affairs and procedures. The committee also briefly raised the issue of how to address the generally negative staff perceptions about monthly payrolls.

News of this meeting was greeted by Employee Forum members with a vigorous on-line discussion about the impact such a change to the payroll system would have upon the lives of employees. Some Forum members conducted straw polls among their co-workers to gauge staff opinions. While a few expressed support for the change, most were very much against it, citing the fact that many employees live from paycheck to paycheck. A monthly rather than bi-weekly pay period, they said, would require a good deal of re-budgeting and shifting of their own financial affairs and procedures. The necessary adjustments could be particularly difficult for lower-paid employees whose modest incomes give them very little financial “wiggle room.”

Those on the committee who are campaigning for the change suggested that it would cut expenses for the university and streamline what are currently rather cumbersome financial procedures. Other committee members disagreed, saying that there is not that much difference in the number of personnel and the amount of paperwork required to generate a monthly rather a bi-weekly payroll. If the procedures involved are cumbersome, suggested one committee member, then it would make more sense to fix the procedures rather than try to change the entire payroll system. Jim Alty, Director of Facilities Services, and Griffin advocated seeking staff input, since staff are the ones who would be directly affected by such a change.

Over the weekend, Roger Patterson, Associate Vice-Chancellor of Finance, spoke with Griffin and assured him that the proposed payroll schedule change will not be enacted unless there is 100% agreement of the committee.

Those on the committee are: John Adams (Financial Planning & Budgets), Tammy McHale (College of Arts & Sciences), Jim Alty (Facilities Services), Jim Peterson (Office of Sponsored Research), Matt Brody (Human Resources), Tommy Griffin (Employee Forum), Michele Phillips (School of Medicine), Dennis Press (Controller’s Office), George Guthrie (FPG Child Development Center), Steve Seaton (ITS), Nancy Jenkins (Sheps Center), Betsi Snipes (Payroll Services), and Rebecca Mabe (School of Public Health).

Resolution for UNC System Staff Assembly

In its March 2 meeting, the Employee Forum passed a resolution authorizing Forum officers to negotiate with officers of staff organizations from the other 15 campuses of the UNC System to create a UNC System Staff Assembly, a single body to voice the opinions of the staffs of all the UNC campuses. There are system-wide bodies for faculty and for students, and this resolution urges the creation of such a body for staff.

A similar proposal eight years ago was turned down by UNC System President Molly Broad, because at that time not all campuses had their own representative groups. Since that is no longer the case, the Forum is again pushing for the system-wide group. The UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum voted to suspend its rules and pass this resolution on the first reading so the proposal could be presented at this month’s meeting of system forums in Winston-Salem.

The resolution is available on-line at

Basic Clerical Skills Program Offered Again

In 1994, Bobby Lesane was a housekeeping supervisor at UNC-Chapel Hill. Then she joined a special clerical skills program at the University that helped employees learn office and computer skills. By 1998, Lesane had been promoted twice and was working as an office assistant. Today she works as an administrative assistant for the Medical Foundation at UNC.

Unfortunately, after helping 100 employees like Lesane to improve their employment prospects, the Basic Clerical Skills program became a casualty of the state-wide budget cuts and was canceled in 2001.

But it was a popular and valuable program. The Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace ranked it as their third most important short-term priority. So starting this summer, Basic Clerical Skills will be offered again for up to 20 university employees each year in pay grades 50-54.

Basic Clerical Skills is an educational program designed for employees who have had minimal or no training in an office environment and would like to gain basic clerical skills. Its goal is to teach the skills needed for an office support staff career within the University while allowing employees to continue to work full-time in their current jobs. Graduates will meet the one year experience requirement for an Office/Processing Assistant III position. A program coordinator tracks employees’ progress through the program and also serves as a job coach and mentor.

The Clerical Skills program is a collaborative effort between the University, local community colleges, and various campus and community resources. Employees can complete the program requirements by taking a combination of clerical skills courses at local community colleges and self-paced courses online. The Cheek Clark computing lab can provide the necessary Internet connectivity, and the fee-based community college courses are reimbursable through the University’s Educational Assistance Program.

Applications for this year’s program will be available starting March 31st in the Training and Development Office and will be accepted from April 4th through the 25th. The application process requires employees to write an essay outlining their career goals and what they want to accomplish in the program.

Prospective students must have either a high school diploma or a GED. The University has a GED program that employees can access, and classes are also available through the Orange County Literacy Council.

More information about the Basic Clerical Skills program and other affordable educational resources are available from Felecia Perry in the Office of Training and Development at 962-9681.

Family Scholarship Fund Debuts

A new program is being put together which will provide scholarships for children of UNC-CH employees. Unlike other scholarship programs, this one will help pay for expenses at any post-secondary public institution in the State of North Carolina.

Bruce Egan of ITS has launched the effort to establish and fund the Family Scholarship program. Bruce says that in addition to the goal of providing scholarships, a secondary goal is to “create a sense of community among UNC-Chapel Hill faculty, staff, and the campus administration by working toward a common goal: furthering the education of employees’ children.”

Look for information later this spring about how to apply for scholarships. In the meantime, you can get involved by making a contribution to the scholarship fund. You can give as little as $1 per paycheck through payroll deduction. For more information on the program and how to help, check the March 9 issue of the University Gazette, or visit

New Family Support Resource Available
A family support counselor from Child Care Services Association (CCSA) is now on site for employees and students eight hours each week. A counselor is available at the Administrative Office Building, 104 Airport Drive, in Room 1703, on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to noon and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. No appointment is required to visit the counselor.

The family support counselor can provide referrals and resources for the following child care services: day and evening child care, summer care, before- and after-school programs, preschools, emergency/sick child care, child care subsidy and scholarship information, and child care tax credit information.

All employees and students can also access the family support counselors by calling CCSA directly at 403-6950, or by contacting Aimee Krans, Work/Life Manager, at 962-6008.

Are You Using Your Library Benefits?

Did you know that University employees can check out books and other materials from the campus libraries? This includes not only books, but videotapes, DVDs, and CDs. Each library has its own rules regarding how long materials can be checked out, but generally books can be checked out for 30 days, and movies for 3 days. Visit the library web site, to search the catalog and to get more information on library locations, hours, and policies.

HR Applicant Web Gets More Applications

In response to questions from the Forum at a previous Forum meeting, Associate Vice Chancellor Laurie Charest provided some statistics on use of Applicant Web, HR’s new automated job application process. Forum members were concerned that there might be fewer applications for low-wage positions, particularly Housekeeper and Grounds Worker positions, because folks applying for these jobs might not have access to the web or might find the process daunting. However, Charest found that, for a set of eight lower level Facilities Services positions for which applications were received both before and after Applicant Web, the University got significantly more applications in all but one case through Applicant Web. It would thus appear that Applicant Web helps many apply and hinders few.

The Employment office provides computer kiosks with trained assistants to help folks who need it in submitting applications. After you have applied once, it is much simpler the second time, since you can save the information you entered.

University Managers’ Association Awards

Recognize a great manager by nominating him or her for the UMA Manager
of the Year 2005 Award. The winner will be announced at the April UMA
Program on April 28.

Active UMA members are eligible. For a nomination form, please go to the
UMA website at or contact Maura Murphy at 962-5172.

Policy on Opinions & Editorials

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? Tell us what you think!