April 15, 2014 Executive Committee minutes
Attending (those who signed in): Dan Barmmer, Gena Carter, Tiffany Carver, Yvonne Dunlap, Michael Highland, Shelby Long, Matt McKirahan, Charles Streeter
The Chair called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m. He welcomed Amy Patel and the other presenters of the Employee Wellness Capstone program to present their findings. Patel noted that the group of School of Public Health masters’ students have worked to study health problems in Facilities Services. She noted that employees earning lower wages are at higher risk for health problems compared to the rest of the University. The group worked to instill health promotion and policies, noting that lower-wage employees tend to participate in these programs to a lesser degree than other employees. It was noted that a number of services are already available at the University.
The group held thirteen interviews with Facilities Services management and held six focus groups with forty-two frontline staff. The group used interpreters to speak with employees with limited English proficiency. The focus groups recognized that their fellow employees are in poor health and were interested in improving their health. However, despite this interest, barriers to knowledge about opportunities still exist. Employees rely on supervisors to relay information. Staff in the focus groups request more communication from Human Resources and Facilities Services. In addition, the University’s wellness programs generally do not accommodate the second and third shift employees. There was also a feeling that management support increasing production more than employee health. However, focus group employees seemed to feel that their own supervisor would support their participation in wellness programs.
The group looked at evidence-based interventions, such as developing a continuum of possible interventions from low resource to high resource. Examples of low resource initiatives are health education, nutrition classes, and walking groups. Medium resource initiatives would include creating links with employee safety training and establishing supportive social and physical environments, such as employee involvement in design and implementation of wellness programs. High level resource initiatives would include integration with organizational culture, such as through more in-person communication, changing management culture to require support from management. Other examples might include screenings with follow-up treatment.
The Chair asked why Facilities Services employees do not participate in health and wellness programs. It was observed that many of these employees work second jobs and/or may not be able to afford gym membership costs. There was interest expressed in going to the Student Recreation Center (SRC) if participation was free or charged on a sliding scale. Michael Highland suggested analyzing peak hours of gym usage. Amy Patel said that next year’s Wellness Committee may pursue this option.
Yvonne Dunlap asked why the Wellness Committee focused on Facilities Services employees, as University employees generally could use these initiatives. A group member responded that Facilities Services employees are generally paid less than other employees, a factor that has consequences for health and wellness. Michael Highland asked about extending these initiatives to other parts of campus. Dunlap observed that all employees feel like lower-wage employees these days. Matt McKirahan asked about implementation of these policies. A group member said that it had met with Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Operations Anna Wu to help with continuing this work. The committee will also look to apply for funding. McKirahan asked if the project will be housed in Facilities Services or the School of Public Health. Group members hoped that the Work Well, Live Well group could help house the committee’s work. Highland suggested that the group connect with the State Health Plan’s initiatives by using their model to track compliance with health initiatives. He also suggested looking into cross-department cooperation in future years.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the minutes of the January meeting. Michael Highland made this motion, seconded by Shelby Long. The motion was approved. The Chair called for a motion to approve the minutes of the February meeting. Yvonne Dunlap made this motion, seconded by Michael Highland. The motion was approved. The Chair called for a motion to approve the summation of the March meeting. Shelby Long made this motion, seconded by Tiffany Carver. The motion was approved, with three abstentions. Yvonne Dunlap asked for clarification of a statement about redacting names from the minutes in the March summation. The Chair noted that some employees will not want their personal information in the public record. The committee discussed a situation in which the Forum wanted to hold a closed session but was unable to do so. Dan Barmmer noted that the Forum cannot obtain outside legal advice, a point which was the subject of the closed session in that situation.
Matt Banks gave the Forum’s monthly budget report. Dan Barmmer asked why the Forum could not fund its peer recognition event from the Staff Development fund. The Chair thought this was a good idea and that he would pursue it.
The Chair noted that the support person has been removed from the University’s grievance procedure. He asked if Senior Director Gena Carter could provide any insight into how this occurred. Carter said that the original implementation date of grievance policy revisions was set for March. However, the Office of State Human Resources wanted to look further at the policy. At an all-day training in May, General Administration representatives were told that the position was to be eliminated. The Chair asked if other campuses used the position. Carter said that the position was underutilized on other campus as it was at UNC-Chapel Hill. She said that grievants mainly have found support persons outside the process. She noted that the Office of State Human Resources allowed the University to use support persons on a pilot program. She said that there had been only three or four instances in which a support person was used since 2011. She noted problems with connecting the support person to the grievant as well as problems with paperwork not being sent. Michael Highland asked about the cost of the grievant support program. He suggested improving the policy instead of ending it. Carter said that UNC-Chapel Hill supported the program in a way no one else did. However, the University can no longer sponsor a grievant support program. This fact does not mean that people cannot help grievants outside the process.
Gena Carter said that grievants usually contact their outside support persons before they file their grievances. Yvonne Dunlap asked why the University does not offer training on the grievance policy. Carter said that there are resources available on the University website. She said that the guidelines for grievances range thirty pages, covering the roles, rights, and responsibilities of grievants and respondents. She noted also that the University has a dedicated support person for grievants’ reference, Sharise Jones. The Chair suggested that the University develop Captivate videos to enhance employee understanding of the process. Dan Barmmer noted the “us v. them” mentality among some employees. He said that this change would exacerbate this feeling, as really suspicious people will want a support person. Carter said that the grievant would usually want to speak on their own behalf. She recalled the case of a support person who went off-script a couple of years ago in a hearing.
Matt McKirahan noted the ramped up nature of Title IX hearings, as compared with the scaled down staff grievance procedure. Gena Carter said that Title IX procedures are often very different and more serious than staff grievances. The Chair asked how long the University has had a grievance support person. Carter said that the position has been in place at least thirteen years. She said that it has been used only a handful of times, though. The Chair asked about employees who are too nervous to speak. Could a support person be in the room with the grievant? Carter said that under the new policy this would not be possible. She said that the University and its branches will no longer be able to sponsor or train grievant support people. Michael Highland asked if there was anything the Forum could do. The Chair observed that the Forum could help grievants connect with Sharise Jones. Carter said that the new brochure will be changed to reflect this policy change. Highland worried about the perception this step will have on employees who may feel more isolated or who may not come forward in certain circumstances. Carter said that the Forum can remind people of the University’s on-line resources.
Michael Highland asked about the confidentiality of conversations with Human Resources. He worried that some employees might perceive the University as a hostile environment in these situations. The Chair commented that employees may not be familiar with the actual processes. Dan Barmmer suggested that the Personnel Issues committee study this question in more detail. He suggested that the Forum consult with the ombuds office and Human Resources to find the number of grievances before and after the change.
The Chair sought to discuss the Sakai versus Sharepoint content hosting question but moved to table the discussion. He noted the possibility of using a different newsletter module to push out content from the Forum website.
The Chair said that the Forum needs to organize its consideration of its Bylaws revisions. Dan Barmmer noted that only a few people had read the Bylaws revisions for the April meeting. Michael Highland suggested establishing a style sheet to make the presentation of content more consistent. The Chair suggested that the Forum consider four major changes via vote then consider the other changes via one vote. Matt McKirahan said that anyone upset with grammatical changes to the Bylaws can vote against their revision. He suggested that the Forum establish a time limit for discussion. Barmmer said that the Forum had approved all but the last three screens of the proposed changes he presented in April. McKirahan suggested that the Forum establish a standing order for the length of time of debates.
The Chair asked Gena Carter how the increase in the probationary period to 24 months would affect delegate recruitment. Currently, the Bylaws state that:
Employee Forum Delegates (hereinafter “Delegates”) shall be permanent (full-time or part-time) Employees who have completed probationary requirements as mandated by the University. (III. Membership A. Eligibility)
Carter noted the feeling that it would be unfair to ask an employee to wait 24 months to become a delegate candidate. Carter said that she would speak with University Counsel about this question.
The committee discussed the possibility of holding an Earth Day event April 22 in coordination with the Campus Community Garden. Arlene Medder noted that UNC students have activities planned to work in the Garden during Earth Week. Michael Highland suggested that the Forum plan for a joint activity next year. The committee agreed with this idea.
The Chair noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly has asked the Forum to work on the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament, by sponsoring a hole or a team. He noted that Winston-Salem State University has won the tournament the last two years. He asked if the committee wished to work on decorating a hole. The tournament will take place Saturday, June 18 at the Lonnie Poole Golf Course in Raleigh. The committee agreed that it would like to decorate a hole, and would perhaps approach local businesses for help in fundraising. The Chair asked that the Membership & Assignments committee handle approaching businesses for this purpose.
There was no report from the Bylaws committee beyond what had been discussed.
There was no report from the Blood Drive committee.
Arlene Medder reported that the Carolina Campus Community Garden committee has congratulated Clair Miller for receiving an APPLES service learning award.
The Communications and Public Relations committee will work to publish a new edition of InTouch in the summer or early fall.
Matt McKirahan reported that the Education and Career Development committee had experienced edits submitted from Human Resources for the professional development grants. He said that a number of questions had been removed. Additionally, there will now no longer be a timeline submitted in the grant application. Finally, there will be no set amounts listed for the scholarships. Gena Carter asked if there are guidelines established around the use of the money. McKirahan said that these will be internal guidelines. The Education and Career Development committee along with one Human Resources representative will meet to make sure applications are in compliance. McKirahan said that the committee sought to have rolling deadlines in order to accommodate employees with upcoming conferences. McKirahan said that the committee will be responsible for establishing that the amounts awarded do not exceed the amounts available from the Staff Development fund. The Chair asked when the committee will meet. McKirahan said that the committee would meet every sixty days. The Chair preferred having a finalized, set deadline rather than rolling deadlines, particularly for the first set of applications.
It was noted that the Membership and Assignments committee was considering use of paper ballots for Divisions 2 and 3.
Yvonne Dunlap reported that the Personnel Issues committee will work to finalize its pay resolution. The committee is also considering creating an op-ed piece on what employees want.
Michael Highland reported that the Recognition and Awards committee will meet April 17 from noon-1:30 p.m. in Carr 101 to discuss the upcoming peer recognition ceremony.
The Chair noted that the Athletics Council had met the previous Friday. The Rams’ Club is considering restoration of rebuilding the Dean Smith Center. Athletics is also hiring an assistant director for marketing. He noted that Athletics is considering starting faculty/staff appreciation days to recognize employee contributions. He also noted the second annual “Rammys” athletic awards banquet at Memorial Hall on April 14.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:40 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary