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InTouch:  UNC Employee Forum News
Volume 3, Number 9 November 2002

From the Chair, Tommy Griffin…
Special Thoughts

Hello friends, its that time of the year when we start to get those special thoughts about our families and friends and the holiday season. We really need to keep those thoughts in our hearts year round because we need to look out for each other every day. This has been a very trying year for all of us with the current economic condition of our state. Even though we have been tested many times this past year we have met the challenge and triumphed with great dignity, pride and distinguished service.

Sometimes it is even hard for me to talk about employees here on campus because I am so proud of each one of you and what you do to keep this a great University. Its not that I don’t want to talk about the employees here; its that my emotions overcome my ability to get the words to come out of my mouth. But I will continue to talk about the great job that you are doing and how much you care about each other. I will continue to seek fair pay, benefits and retirement security. There are not enough words or deeds or money to express how I feel about every employee here at the University. There is more value to an employee than just a paycheck. Some of it can be seen but most has it has to be heard though our words and actions.

For those of you who were not able to attend the Staff and Faculty Appreciation Reception on Friday, November 8th, I want to thank you and every employee on this campus for all your hard work and dedication and the daily sacrifices that you make to get the job done. We are fast approaching a new year so this means that we will have new challenges to meet and resolve. But I know that we will get the job done because we always have and always will. I look forward to the new year and being able to work together with each and every employee on this campus.
Happy Holidays.

Your friend and Employee Forum Chair Tommy Griffin.

Forum Endorses Use of Tuition Fund Increases for Staff Salaries

At the November 6th monthly meeting, Forum members voted 35-8 to approve a resolution calling for a share of the revenue from expected increases in student tuition rates for staff and faculty salaries. Forum members spent about an hour debating the issue, with some members reluctant to endorse the use of tuition money for staff salaries. Based on his experience as a member of the Tuition Task Force, Forum Chair Tommy Griffin argued that tuition charges were destined to rise. “Tuition is going up,” Tommy stated. “We can either ask for a piece of the pie or we do without.” Facing the deadline of a Tuition Task Force meeting on November 14th, the Forum passed the resolution requesting, “a portion of tuition increase revenues be devoted to staff and faculty salary increases.”

At its November 14th meeting, the Tuition Task Force delayed taking a final vote. There has been consensus on the necessity of a tuition increase to help maintain the quality of instruction at this University. Several target areas for funding have been discussed, including raising faculty salaries, increasing stipends for teaching assistants, lowering class size and raising staff salaries. For a variety of reasons, task force members did not all agree that tuition money should be used to provide financial help for the staff.

Based on decisions from recent campus-based tuition increases, the Tuition Task Force is likely to recommend setting aside 40% of the expected revenue for two areas: need-based financial aid (35% of the total) and teaching-assistant stipends (5% of the total). Where the remaining money will go is still very much open for debate. At the November 14th meeting, Provost Robert Shelton proposed different scenarios based on increases in the range of $200 per year to $600 per year.

Vice Chancellor and task force member Nancy Suttenfield first raised the issue of using new tuition money for staff salaries at the group’s October meeting. She reminded the committee that Carolina staff members received no pay increase at all this year and only a token $625 last year. Even if this plan is approved, tuition increases are not expected to be sufficient for addressing staff salary needs. It would take $18.32 million dollars over 3 years just to fund all of the in-range salary adjustments for eligible SPA employees. In addition, the UNC Board of Governors must approve any tuition plan suggested by the task force. The BOG rejected a similar plan proposed by Appalachian State University last year. The General Assembly will have the final say on any decision to increase tuition.

In spite of the many obstacles ahead, many of the staff feel that it is important for the Tuition Task Force and Carolina administrators to send the message that staff members are a valuable part of this community. The final decision and recommendations of the Tuition Task Force will be made at their last meeting on December 19th.

Annual Forum Retreat

The Forum Retreat will be held on Friday, January 17, 2003 at the Friday Center, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.. The keynote speaker will be Former Provost Dick Richardson, who will award two “must be present to win” door prizes. We have signed team basketballs from both the Women’s and Men’s Basketball teams, and there will be giveaways and other prizes.

New Delegates should remember to bring their New Delegate Orientation booklets with them. Those new Delegates who were unable to attend Orientation on October 25 will be provided Orientation booklets on site.

Career Banding

Career banding is a new position classification system that the Office of State Personnel is working on along with various human resources groups around the state, including here at UNC at Chapel Hill. The system involves collapsing together many current position classes into a smaller number of classes with wider pay ranges. Pay ranges are determined using market levels for the positions. Jerry Howerton, Director of Position Management in Human Resources, said “The University should have considerable input into setting the reference rates rather than the rates being set solely in Raleigh by the Office of State Personnel as the current salary grades and ranges are now through approval by the State Personnel Commission.” An employee’s pay within a band would depend “more on skill and competencies for pay level rather than the current classification and pay system that relies on years in the job.”

The University is participating in the statewide pilot programs and has already implemented an interim career banding plan for some Public Safety positions. UNC is also getting a pilot project underway for Information Technology positions. The Public Safety plan is about two years old now, and Howerton reports that it has worked quite well. “That project allowed us to move our Police Officers to market levels to stay competitive with local employers like the Town of Chapel Hill, especially at entry level.” Currently, HR professionals are receiving training in understanding and applying the new system, and further development of the program won’t happen until this training is completed.

Howerton hopes career banding will provide Carolina with a more competitive pay plan, with pay more in line with market conditions. An employee’s movement upward within a pay range would of course depend on availability of funds, but career banding should simplify the process.

Expanding Our Recycling Net

Special events at Carolina can number in the hundreds during any given year. From sporting events to festivals and conferences, they all create some measure of waste. While recycling at Carolina continues to operate routinely–collecting basic materials (bottles & cans, newspaper & magazines, office paper and cardboard) and other waste (animal bedding, food waste and construction debris) from all over campus – special events sometimes go unnoticed.

This year the UNC Office of Waste Reduction & Recycling (OWRR) organized “Event Recycling” for Fall Fest, the annual return-to-campus celebration for students hosted by the Carolina Union. The event is held on South Road and generally draws 10,000 – 12,000 people the Sunday before classes start in August.

OWRR set up event recycling stations throughout the festival area, in hopes of minimizing the amount of trash produced. At each station, bottles & cans, compostables (including food waste and paper products), and trash were collected. In addition to collecting material at the recycling stations, OWRR also collected material from the various participating vendors. Pizza boxes were collected for composting from the two pizza vendors. Doughnut boxes were composted as well (they did not have the plastic window – just a paper box). Coke served drinks in compostable waxed paper cups and handed out bottled water (2,500 bottles on hand – to give away for free). In addition Katie’s Pretzels, Panera, and Carolina Dining Services (CDS) were serving food.

Almost half the waste produced at Fall Fest was diverted from the landfill. A few vendors used Styrofoam plates and plastic cups that could not be recycled or composted. Changes will be made for Fall Fest 2003 to improve on our 2002 results. Some of these changes include limiting the number of trashcans without accompanying recycling stations, and confirming with vendors what types of products they will use to serve food and drink.

The biggest key to our success at Fall Fest was staffing each recycling station in order to provide proper instructions on disposal. Although OWRR organized the recycling for Fall Fest, the majority of the help required to staff recycling stations during the festival came from student volunteers.
The success of this recycling effort and the energy discovered through working with student volunteers may help create a new component to campus recycling. OWRR has been slowly organizing what it hopes to be a student-run special events recycling task group.

Over the past few months, momentum has been building to create such a group. During the month of November, student volunteers came together to collect recyclables after two Carolina football games.The recycling net at Carolina is expanding.