This year, Tommy Griffin, Forum Chair, spoke on behalf of staff at the University Day celebration October 12th at Memorial Hall. Here is what he said:
Hello friends. Here we are again, gathered together to celebrate another University Day just like we have done for so many years in the past. I want to thank Chancellor Moeser and all our honored guests for coming here today. I want to thank the students, staff, and faculty for coming out today to celebrate. I want to thank everyone for all that they do to make this the best public university in our state and in our nation and soon to be the best public university in the world. We come here every year to celebrate the many accomplishments that we have made together in education, research, and public service. We come here today to thank all the folks who have supported this great University over the years. We come to thank each other because without all of us there would be no University. So give each other a pat on the back and say thanks for a job well done.
I can only imagine how our founding fathers felt as they gathered together to make plans to build a university for the citizens of North Carolina: To take a dream and make it come true for all of us to share in, then, now, and forever. We will soon have the opportunity to share those very same feelings as we make plans for Carolina North and begin to build it together. We have a bright future in front of us, but it’s going to take a lot of hard work to make it happen. But I know we all are up to the challenge because we all care and we have proven it time after time for over 200 years. Get ready because we are on the way to the 21st century together.
There are many things that we can be proud of and celebrate today about our great University, our people, our traditions, and everything that we have accomplished together over the years, but if I had to choose just one thing to be proud of, that always stands out, no matter where we all are, or where ever we end up in life, I would choose our Tar Heel Spirit. That is the true love that we share with each other every day and strengthens our faith and hope for the future generations of students, staff and faculty who will follow in our footsteps and who will continue to live the dream that we all have shared in over the years. Long after we all are gone and forgotten, our true love for this great University and its people will continue to live on no matter what happens in the future. Long live the Tar Heel Spirit and its people and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Thanks for everything that you do to make this a great University.
When you leave here today and return to your work sites on campus, thank your fellow employees for keeping the dream alive. When you leave here today and return to where you teach, thank your fellow teachers for keeping the dream alive. When you leave here today and return to your classes, thank your fellow students for keeping the dream alive.
Information is now available on the UNC website about the controversial Team Cleaning system that has been proposed for use by the housekeeping staff on campus. In response to an August resolution by the Employee Forum, Jim Alty, Director of Facilities Services, released to the Forum a wealth of reports, evaluations, data, and memos related to the proposed change.
“It is a regimented and detailed system that requires quite a bit more paperwork than our current system,” observed David Brannigan, the Forum’s chair of the Personnel Issues Committee, after reading the released documents. “It also appears that in other places where this system has been adopted, it has led to outsourcing and the elimination of staff positions.”
Management at Facilities Services denies that staff reduction is an objective in implementing the new system. At presentations around campus, Alty has emphasized that one of the advantages of the system is that it will require the creation of a lower-level supervisory position. Those who are chosen to fill this new position will thus gain the kind of experience state law requires them to have in order to get promotions to higher-level, better-paying positions.
Other issues surrounding the proposed system have to do with workplace safety, efficiency, and over-all job satisfaction.
The documents are available in paper format in the Employee Forum office at 134 East Franklin Street, Room 207. Electronic versions of some of the documents are available online at http://forum.unc.edu/committees/personnel_issues/os1pdf.html, together with a commentary written by David Brannigan, Employee Forum Personnel Issues Committee chair.
Dwayne Pinkney, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration, spoke at the 10/5 Forum meeting about the Carolina Commons Affordable Housing Project. This project, currently in the planning stage, involves developing some of the land, which was to be sold to Winmore developers before that plan fell through.
Winmore was to use two parcels of land, one north of Homestead Road and the other to the south. Carolina Commons will use the southwest corner of the northern tract. Pinkney explained that there were constraints on the use of the land, including buffers to be maintained along Bolin Creek and steep areas that would be difficult to develop.
The plan calls for 141 units of various sizes, including houses selling for $280,o00 and $225,00, condominiums at $80-90,000, and townhomes at $160,000. All of the properties will sell at about 20% off the market rate. The properties will only be available to UNC faculty and staff. To retain the affordability of the units over time, there will be limits on the amount of profit residents can make when they sell the property.
Forum delegates said that even at the somewhat lower selling prices, Carolina Commons properties would be beyond the budget of many staff. Pinkney responded that UNC is subsidizing the project by providing the land, but that the project had to break even. Delegates questioned why the plan includes housing for faculty when faculty in general makes far more money than staff. Delegates suggested building fewer of the large units and more of the smaller ones; using a sliding scale, with smaller units subsidized more than the larger ones; or assisting with financing the homes. Pinkney welcomed suggestions. He said the University is considering selling some larger properties on the northern part of the tract at a profit and using some of the funds to subsidize Carolina Commons further.
Address your suggestions for the Carolina Commons Affordable Housing Project to Assistant Vice Chancellor Pinkney at CB #1000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Thinking of retiring? There is a new law on the books that you may need to know about.
After October 1st this year, State employees can no longer retire and then immediately go back to work for the State either full- or part-time. A new re-employment law mandates that there must be a six-month period in which no paid service is performed for the State before a retiree can take another State job.
In the past, new retirees could quickly resume working for the State without jeopardizing their retirement status. They just had to be sure that their total yearly earnings from the new job did not exceed half of what they had made in the year before they retired.
Under the new law, new retirees must wait at least six months before starting employment in another State job. If they fail to do so, their retirement benefits could be suspended and they may be expected to repay any benefits they have already received.
Another restriction in the new law prohibits those who are about to retire from making “a pre-existing agreement for post-retirement employment” with a State employer after the six-month waiting period is finished. This means that while re-employment with the State is permitted for retirees after the six-month waiting period, it cannot be pre-arranged before retirement.
The purpose of these new restrictions is to ensure that the NC retirement system stays in compliance with the federal regulations that govern public pension systems, since the General Assembly determined that in some areas the State may not have been adequately doing so.
Employees wanting to know more about the new laws can contact the Human Resources Benefits office at 962-3071 or access the Department of the State Treasurer, Retirement Systems Division, at 733-4191 or on the Internet at http://www.treasurer.state.nc.us/dsthome/RetirementSystems.
The Forum Communications Committee, which produces the InTouch newsletter, would like the InTouch to better communicate the opinions of Carolina employees. To do that, we need your help. In particular, we need articles, letters, and general rants on subjects that are of concern to employees, for instance, team cleaning, affordable housing, a living wage for employees, pay increases, health care, and so on. We’ll edit the grammar and punctuation (only) on any pieces that you submit. You don’t have to be eloquent – you just have to be committed to communicating your knowledge, your ideas, and your concerns to your fellow employees.
A new organization, the Student-Worker Alliance for Tutoring, has been created at UNC whose goal is to provide the children of all UNC staff and Aramark employees with free student-led private tutoring. This service is being offered by UNC students in conjunction with the Work-Life Program in Human Resources.
The mission of this organization is to provide a new medium through which UNC students can give back to the UNC community via a tutoring service for children. On a larger scale, this service hopes to further the sense of solidity between UNC-Chapel Hill staff and students by enabling them to work together and contribute to the atmosphere of academic enrichment.
Interested staff will be able to access a database through the Human Resources website that lists the names of the UNC student tutors and their contact information, as well as the subjects and ages they can teach. An interested employee can then contact a student tutor and coordinate a schedule based on the UNC student’s availability and the employee’s convenience. The tutoring will be provided for children in grades K-12 and take place in either reserved study rooms on UNC campus or a location mutually determined by the employee and the UNC student. The current plan calls for a smaller version of the tutoring list to be up by the end of October, with the tutoring taking place on campus, and with the full tutoring list and database launched at the beginning of the spring semester.
The InTouch will post the web address for the tutor list when that becomes available.
Emil Kang, Carolina’s Executive Director for the Arts, spoke at the 8/3 Forum meeting about the grand opening of Memorial Hall after its extensive renovations, as well as the 2005-2006 Carolina Performing Arts Series. Kang pointed out that while many of the shows are expensive, the reason for this is that the scheduled shows are world-class. He pointed out that one can get better per ticket prices by buying a “subscription” to shows of a particular kind, for instance, world stage or jazz. The subscription tickets cost 15% less than individual tickets, and staff are eligible for an additional 5% discount off the subscription price. Kang pointed out that there is a range of prices for every show and that there are no bad seats in Memorial Hall. (The InTouch editor saw Nanci Griffith on 10/7 and can confirm this.) For the first time, Memorial Hall will have $10 student tickets available for its shows.
Several delegates pointed out that the cost of tickets, even with a discount, is well beyond the reach of many University staff. They suggested making $10 seats available to staff or having a special low-priced matinee for staff. While the prospects are dim that we will see either of these changes this season, it remains to be seen whether this will happen in future seasons