From the Chair, Ernie Patterson…
I want to thank the Board of Trustees, the Chancellor, and his administration for their continuing support of the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum and its mission. As you develop UNC’s legislative goals for next year, I hope you will continue to support all of the more than 12,500 people who work for you here. Because all of us—the 14.5% who are tenured or tenure-track faculty, the 8.5% who are fixed-term faculty, the 14.3% who are graduate teaching assists, and the 62.6% of us who are staff—all of us are working hard to make this an even greater University.
The Forum, in particular, continues to do everything it can to report and support the needs and concerns of its constituency—the nearly two-thirds of UNC employees who are staff. Our Health Care Committee is meeting with a representative of UNC Hospitals to present issues the Forum has identified through surveys and, hopefully, to foster an atmosphere of mutual cooperation and support in which we can both work to improve services to UNC employees and others.
Our Staff Relations Committee is gathering survey data on flexible scheduling and telecommuting in response to employee concerns about being denied these work options despite the Chancellor’s support of them. In addition to questions for all employees about their use of these options, the survey includes questions for supervisors, who have the power to approve or deny scheduling and telecommuting for staff who work under them, and questions about employee use of transportation options that are available at the University, such as the park and ride lots and vanpooling. We will be sharing our survey results with members of the UNC faculty who are working on an emergency plan for the University in the event it is ever hit by an influenza pandemic.
In a similar spirit of planning for the future, the Forum would like to ask for your support in making UNC a leader in the use of current best practices in building design and construction. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has shown that incorporating best practices up front in the building process results in significant reductions in design and building cycle time and in the total cost of construction. They point out, too, that the long-term cost of operating buildings that are built to these standards is significantly reduced.
The Forum feels that UNC should pledge now to develop Carolina North using these best practices, which means that we will need to obtain the business flexibility to commit to full life-cycle building modeling. One way to do this would be to provide a means for those who are knowledgeable in these areas—whether their knowledge is based on education or hands-on experience—to advocate for needed changes while new buildings and renovations are in the business stage of planning. It is important that they are able to do this without fear of retaliation from management wedded to old ways. More specifically, we need to:
- – Open up doors for staff participation in these developing efforts.
- – Look for ways to involve student and faculty leadership in these areas.
- – Provide ongoing training of line personnel in these new approaches.
UNC is not just building a larger University that we will all be able to see and admire in ten or twenty years. UNC is building a lasting University. It has initiated a process whose effects will be felt well beyond its 300th anniversary and into the 22nd century. We must set our goals—and begin to live up them—so as to be up to the challenges the University faces today and will face in its future.
The Forum took a historic step at its September 6 meeting, approving a resolution that called for the repeal of North Carolina General Statute 95-98, which forbids public employees from engaging in collective bargaining activities. (All links to PDF documents.)
The resolution, featured in an accompanying press release, garnered notice across the State, with print and radio journalists contacting the Forum to obtain details about the resolution and its genesis.
Chancellor Moeser responded to the resolution via a letter that he released to the media.
Noted NAACP civil rights lawyer Alan McSurely took exception to Chancellor Moeser’s letter, authoring a reply that he also released to the media.
The Forum authored its own reply to Chancellor Moeser, clarifying its stance in the light of recent legislative negotiations about employees’ salaries and benefits.
The Forum relied on this history of General Statute 95-98 to inform its discussions and make its decision on the issue.
The Employee Forum will hold its fall community meeting October 19, tentatively scheduled from 12:15-2 p.m. in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room of the Wilson Library.
Jerry Jailall, State Coordinator of the Comprehensive School Reform Grants Program in the Department of Public Instruction, will present a powerpoint on the HOPE Coalition and its work to repeal North Carolina General Statute 95-98.
Then a panel discussion will take place on the subject of repeal of GS 95/98 and the role of collective bargaining and living wages with a public discussion and Q+A session.
Professor Andrew J Perrin from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of Sociology. Professor Perrin wrote an eloquent letter to the Chancellor citing his concerns about the Chancellors remarks in the Daily Tar Heel concerning the Forum’s recent resolution calling for the repeal of NCGS 95-98.
Professor David Zonderman from the History Department of NC State University. He’s a labor historian and has done some research on public sector collective bargaining. He’s also worked on this very issue as it applies to public employees in NC.
Others panelists are to be announced.
The president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, Reverend Doctor William Barber, will provide the meeting’s closing address. Rev. Barber is at the forefront of the effort to rebuild a movement to challenge the “racism, poverty, and regressive public policies” that plague North Carolina today. You will be inspired by his directness and eloquence. He is a speaker very much in the prophetic tradition of Dr. ML King.
Please stop by on your way back from the Employee Appreciation Day festivities.
Employee Forum community meetings count as work time but employees should confirm their attendance with their supervisor.
The University recognizes that assisting employee parents and student parents in their pursuit of quality child care services is important to retaining a committed, dependable workforce and enabling students to concentrate on their education. That is one of the reasons for the Child Care Advisory Committee.
Appointed by the Chancellor to study and evaluate alternatives for improving and strengthening child/family issues for UNC faculty, staff and students, the Committee is responsible for making recommendations to the Chancellor for future goals for programs and services, as well as assisting the Office of Human Resources’ Employee Services Department in implementing new programs and services.
The Child Care Advisory Committee meets monthly and is chaired by Dwayne Pinkney, assistant vice chancellor for Finance and Administration.
Current new initiatives being examined by the CCAC include support for mothers in need of lactation space.
Ongoing initiatives in the Work/Life program that the Committee reviews include: the child care financial assistance program; Carolina Kids Camp; and Helping Heels Child and Elder Care Providers list.
For more information about the committee use the following website link: http://hr.unc.edu/employees/spa-employees/workfamily/childcare/ccac-members
or contact Aimee Krans, work/life manager at firstname.lastname@example.org
By David Brannigan, Vice-Chair, Employee Forum
August was a good month for the University, maybe the best yet. It was able to raise over $30 million dollars to add to the $2 billion goal of its very successful Carolina First Campaign. Unfortunately, little of this money will make one iota of difference to the many low-paid people who work here every day.
A quick visit to the Carolina First Campaign web page offers no hint of how all these donated funds will benefit “staff.” It mentions faculty, students, campus, research, strategic initiatives, and University endowments…but never the “staff.” Instead, the staff are left to the vagaries of state funding, where some years they get a whopping 5% raise, some years a whole 80 hours of vacation, and some years nothing at all. Even after this “good” year for raises, the average State employee will still be some $11,000 dollars worse off than they were five years ago.
Meanwhile, the Fundraiser-in-Chief, the Chancellor, gets a healthy 9% raise of his already handsome salary, and when the staff try to promote discussion of one of the major impediments to improving our situation (N.C.G.S. 95-98), he gets all huffy and pouty about it in the Daily Tar Heel.
When I receive the yearly request for employees to contribute to the Carolina First Campaign, I am always somewhat amazed at the University’s sheer chutzpah. As low-paid employees, the burden of taxation for the last twenty years has shifted toward us and away from the wealthy, so we are already underwriting the bond issue that supports the University expansion you see all around campus. And still they ask us to give?!
In October 1998 when Banks D. Kerr dropped a cool $2 million for the spiffy new pharmacy building bearing his name, it was just two years after the University had settled the housekeepers’ class action law suit over unfair and racially discriminatory working conditions. It is a telling fact that even with staff issues so recently brought to their attention, no one ever suggested using a portion of that $2 million to boost the pay of those who would wind up cleaning the building, maintaining the HVAC and grounds, providing clerical support, etc.—all of which contribute to the success of the University.
In all the donations made to the Campaign, has there never been a thought about the staff that supports the University’s mission? I find it hard to believe that all of this extraordinary generosity by so many people has never been accompanied by the thought, What about the staff?
The University seems to lack the imagination to envision a scheme as bold as the Carolina Covenant that might be applied to securing additional financial support for the staff. So let me propose one:
People of faith seem to have at least one good idea that might be adapted to staff support, and that is the practice of setting aside “tithes.” Imagine what would happen if the University made it a condition of giving that some minute percentage of all donations would be, in essence, “tithed” or set aside to ensure that the University could bolster the basic pay of its staff to at least the level of a living wage. A mere 1% of the $2 billion to be raised by the Carolina First Campaign would generate $20 million that could be used as an endowment to make Carolina the first “Living Wage University.”
But instead of such a noble and innovative approach, a poverty of imagination and morality leads to a situation where the $5 million dollar gift for the new Global Education school gives the donor—a corporation—naming rights for the new building. When dedicated in March 2007, the new school will be housed in the “Fed Ex Global Education Building”—a name actually approved by the Chancellor’s naming committee and the UNC-CH Board of Trustees. That building will be staffed by many employees who work full time and yet fail to make wages sufficient to ensure that their own children will always have health care, food security, and the prospect of a college fund to see them through university.
Perhaps some of the staff who work there will be able to supplement their incomes by taking second jobs as greeters at the doors. They could wear little purple vests with orange lettering, beam brightly, and say, “Welcome to the Fed-Ex Building!”
One could make a strong moral and economic case that this University can never be the truly great university that the Chancellor has envisioned unless it can ensure that it never asks any employee to contribute to its mission for anything less than a living wage. The generosity of many thousands of contributors could help this to happen.
Alas! So much for imagination.