Employee Forum Agenda
9:15 a.m.–Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library
I. Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Charles Streeter
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Special Presentations
- UNC Sierra Student Coalition Beyond Coal Campaign
IV. Human Resources Update—Senior Director Gena Carter
V. Approval of March Minutes
VI. Old Business
- Proposed Revisions to the Forum Bylaws (Original Bylaws, See Appendix I.)
- Resolution 14-02, Honoring Chair of the Faculty Jan M. Boxill
- Motion to Officially House and Sponsor the University’s Annual Blood Drives
VII. New Business
- Kay Wijnberg Hovious Outstanding Delegate Award (criteria)
- UNC System Staff Assembly Golf Tournament
- Resolution 14-03 Concerning Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment (Working Document)
VIII. Forum Committee Reports
- Bylaws Committee: Rotating Chair
- Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder
- Communications and Public Relations: Katie Turner
- Education and Career Development: Lois Douglass-Alston/Matt McKirahan
- Membership & Assignments: Paula Goodman
- Recognition & Awards: Michael Highland
- Personnel Issues: Yvonne Dunlap
- Compensation & Benefits: Shelby Long
- Legislative Action: Amanda Chang
- Staff Relations, Policies & Practices: Yvonne Dunlap
- UNC System Staff Assembly: Michael Highland/James Holman/Charles Streeter
- Executive Committee: Charles Streeter
Attending (those who signed in): Dan Barmmer, Nancy Beach, Deborah Bush, Tiffany Carver, Amanda Chang, Jackie Copeland, Lois Douglass-Alston, Yvonne Dunlap, David Fraley, Paula Goodman, Maggie Grant, Christine Greenberg, John Gullo, Michael Highland, James Holman, Todd Hux, George James, Shelby Long, Matt McKirahan, Aluoch Ooro, Christopher Powe, Kathy Ramsey, Christina Rodriguez, Anna Schwab, Charles Streeter
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. He noted that the Forum had not received nominees yet in Divisions 2 and 3. He asked delegates to help find employees to serve in these divisions.
The Chair introduced students Tait Chandler, Jessica Ruddy, and Anurag Angara of the Beyond Coal Coalition to make a brief presentation to the Forum. Chandler noted that the Coalition has called for the University to divest from the “Filthy 15” coal producing companies. He drew a parallel between the University’s move to divestment from South Africa and the divestment from the Sudan during ethnic cleansing there. He noted that the University now hosts one of 300 campaigns across the country working to divest university portfolios from coal companies. Angara said that the first University to divest itself from coal investments will garner national positive attention. Ruddy said that 77% of the student body had voted to divest the University from coal. Additionally, all of the Student Body President campaigns, as well as almost the entire Student Congress, expressed support for the Coalition’s divestment campaign. Ruddy noted that a Harvard Medical School study found that the coal industry costs the nation $300-500 billion in health care treatment costs, most affecting lower income and minority populations. Chandler said that coal is the most carbon-intensive fuel source, and mountain top coal mining is the most destructive form of energy extraction. He said that modernization has reduced coal employment from 200 people per mine to 12 people per mine. Angara said that investment prospects for coal are declining, so now is a good time to divest due to overvaluation of coal stock. Ruddy said that divestment represents a real social and political tool to raise awareness about the climate crisis. Angara said that this step would pave the way for other universities to divest and would boost climate legislation while jumpstarting the green energy sector. He said that the risk to the University’s endowment would be insignificant. Chandler clarified that divestment would have no effect on employee jobs or wages.
Anurag Angara said that any divestment would take place over a five year time period. James Holman asked the Board of Trustees’ current stance in this matter. Angara said that the Board has asked for a broader discussion of this question on campus. The Coalition will host a forum in April on this topic with those in favor and opposing the divestment idea. Deborah Bush asked if the University burns coal currently. Tait Chandler said that the University is transitioning away from coal in 2020. The University has already committed not to burn mountain-top removal coal. Bush asked where the University’s coal is extracted. Chandler said that it comes from Virginia and West Virginia. Dan Barmmer asked if Duke Power’s simultaneous investments in clean technology might make divestment a mistake. Chandler said that only 3% of Duke Energy’s investment are in solar energy. He said that if Duke Energy were to change course, the University could reinvest in the company.
Todd Hux said that the government subsidizes solar energy. He asked what it would cost to switch to biomass and solar from coal. Tait Chandler noted that fossil fuels are also heavily subsidized. He said that any move to invest in solar brings down rates and increases the competitiveness of the industry. Anna Schwab asked which other groups the Coalition has approached. Jessica Ruddy said that the Coalition has primarily worked on faculty support. The group has approached the faculty, the administration, and the Board of Trustees. She said that the Coalition had held a good conversation with Chancellor Folt. Schwab suggested approaching the Health Care System. Christina Rodriguez suggested that the Coalition include footnotes for its presentation. Ruddy showed Rodriguez the footnotes later on in the presentation. The Chair thanked the trio for their presentation.
John Gullo moved to discuss resolution 14-02 honoring Professor Jan Boxill. There was no opposition to this motion. Matt McKirahan specified that the Forum would hold discussion for five minutes. Gullo moved to close discussion. Yvonne Dunlap moved to approve resolution 14-02, seconded by Gullo. The motion was approved by acclamation.
Michael Highland moved that the Forum discuss a motion to officially sponsor and house the University’s Blood Drive. James Holman seconded this motion. Matt McKirahan specified that the discussion would go on for five minutes. The motion was approved without opposition. Yvonne Dunlap asked if there is a place in which the Blood Drive work would be housed. The Chair noted that the Forum has a spare office in which work could be based. Anna Schwab confirmed that the Forum’s logo would still appear on donor t-shirts. Todd Hux noted that he had been voted the Chair of the Blood Drive and had attended a meeting of the group last week. He said that the Red Cross and the existing volunteer group have handled most of the details in advance. He said that the organizers’ goal is 850 pints. He urged listeners to sign up to donate or volunteer. He also encouraged donors to consider double cell donation. Anna Schwab asked about volunteering for the steering committee, and Hux said that she would be welcome as a representative of the Forum. Tiffany Carver moved that the discussion be closed. Lois Douglass-Alston seconded this motion. The discussion was voted closed. Todd Hux moved that the Forum officially sponsor the two blood drives, seconded by Douglass-Alston. The motion carried. The Chair directed that the Forum add the blood drive to the list of committees.
The Chair asked Vice Chair Dan Barmmer to lead a discussion on possible Bylaws revision. Parliamentarian Matt McKirahan noted that Barmmer’s presentation should proceed any motions to approve changes. The Vice Chair outlined prospective changes in his presentation, including possible voting rights for the Chair and Parliamentarian, the solicitation of officer nominations following new delegate elections, and supervisor approval of Forum service. Aluoch Ooro voiced difficulty with the issue of supervisor approval. The Chair said that the Forum must secure approval for delegate service given work requirements. He noted that a delegate’s supervisor must sign off on Forum service, which can require eight or more hours a month. Gena Carter said it is not often that a supervisor denies an employee the opportunity to serve on the Forum, although a couple of cases have occurred. She said that difficulties arise when a supervisor has no knowledge of the employee’s plans until the letter from the Chancellor arrives. She said that it is better to establish understanding in advance through a separate letter from Human Resources. An employee denied the chance to serve can speak with the Forum and Human Resources to discuss the reason for this decision. Anna Schwab confirmed that this language is in the Bylaws. Ooro thought that this requirement contradicts the concept of the Forum. John Gullo noted that he had been pulled off the Staff Assembly. Carter said that this had been a one-time commitment that exceeded what supervisors envisioned, leading to a scaling back of duties. Todd Hux noted that every delegate is required to serve on one committee. Carter said that this person was serving on multiple committees. She said that delegates must balance time away from the office. Chris Chiron said that supervisors and delegates can always reassess decisions later on.
Aluoch Ooro found the idea of asking supervisors whether employees can serve on the Forum a philosophical contradiction. The Chair said that the Forum does not supervise employees. He said that if the Forum were to remove this requirement, it would lead to problems. He noted that he must deal with a number of administrators to approve his Forum service as Chair. Amanda Chang asked why this discussion could not take place after the delegate is elected.
Matt McKirahan reminded the Forum to allow Barmmer to finish his presentation before holding discussion. The Chair said that McKirahan had been asked to officiate in his capacity as Parliamentarian to lend structure to Forum discussions. Barmmer said that candidates’ photos would no longer be required by the Forum, and biographical sketches of candidates would be posted by the end of May. He said that there could no longer be secret ballot votes due to open meetings law requirements. It was recommended that absentee ballots also be eliminated for this reason.
Todd Hux asked if the Forum should vote for all of the changes together or each separately. Kathy Ramsey suggested that the Forum consider each individually. The Chair said that the Forum needs to establish its Bylaws changes by May. Aluoch Ooro said that it would be easier to consider changes slide by slide. Todd Hux moved that this discussion take place, seconded by Michael Highland. Matt McKirahan specified that the debate will take ten minutes. Todd Hux said that the Chair and Parliamentarian should have the right to vote. Lois Douglass-Alston disagreed, saying that these offices should not vote in order to maintain their objectivity. McKirahan emphasized that the Parliamentarian represents an electoral division, saying that denying this person the vote in Forum deliberations effectively removes representation from that division. He thought that the Parliamentarian should not vote in Executive Committee meetings. Michael Highland said that the Parliamentarian could still influence deliberations in other ways. Dan Barmmer noted that the law students who provided these recommendations thought that the Chair and Parliamentarian should have voting rights. Kathy Bryant said that she had accessed several on-line resources and found that parliamentarians have had the vote only in secret ballots. Otherwise, the parliamentarian is viewed as an impartial voice and did not have the right to vote in voice or hand votes.
Matt McKirahan noted that Robert’s Rules of Order do not take into account the open meetings law. He said that Moody’s Rules of Procedure might be a suitable alternative. Aluoch Ooro offered a compromise, stating that the Parliamentarian could vote without restrictions and the Chair could vote only in ties and elections. Christine Greenberg was bothered by the idea that elected delegates could not vote. Michael Highland asked how often the Chair and Parliamentarian vote in the first place. McKirahan said that whenever someone calls for “division,” or an official recorded vote, there have been no restrictions on a parliamentarian voting. Things are more complicated for the Chair. Todd Hux moved that the Chair have the right to vote only in a tie and in officer elections, and the Parliamentarian have the right to vote in every circumstance. Michael Highland moved to close discussion on this question. This motion was approved with one abstention. McKirahan said that this motion did not hold as there was a previous motion on the floor. Michael Highland moved that the Chair have voting rights in cases of a tie and officer elections, and the Parliamentarian have no voting restrictions. Christine Greenberg seconded this motion. Amanda Chang moved to close debate. This motion was approved with two opposing and two abstentions. The motion to approve the Chair’s and Parliamentarian’s voting powers was approved with three opposing and three abstentions.
Dan Barmmer noted a language change in the Bylaws. Michael Highland moved that the Forum accept this change. Todd Hux seconded. Matt McKirahan specified that debate would go for five minutes. McKirahan moved to close debate, with Hux seconding. The debate was voted closed with one abstention. The motion to approve the language change was approved with one abstention.
Dan Barmmer noted a language change to the Bylaws that would affect the process for officer elections. Michael Highland moved to vote on this question. Dan Barmmer said that these changes would affect Appendix I., 2. Nominations. James Holman seconded Highland’s motion. The motion was approved with two absentee votes. Aluoch Ooro raised the question of needing supervisor approval to run for an officer position. Barmmer said that Forum officers face extraordinary time pressures that require supervisor cooperation. Todd Hux raised the question of pre-approval of candidates who run from the floor. Todd Hux asked that the preapproval requirement be changed to an approval requirement. He moved that discussion be closed. Highland accepted Hux’s friendly amendment. Paula Goodman seconded the motion to close discussion. The motion was thus approved with one opposing and two abstentions. Barmmer noted that the Forum would consider the rest of its changes in May.
The Forum considered resolution 14-03 concerning sexual assault and sexual harassment on first reading. The Forum will vote on this document in May.
Dan Barmmer presented Senior Director Gena Carter to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. She noted that the University’s Title IX team had moved to 137 East Franklin Street, Suite 404. The team will hold an open house on Tuesday, April 22 from 3-5 p.m.
Gena Carter also hoped that everyone had received their benefits statements. She said that positive changes have resulted from Forum discussion of these statements. She said that Benefits Director Ashely Nicklis would be open to more discussion on ways to improve the statements.
Gena Carter said that employees should have seen the new, State-mandated grievance policy. She recalled that the Forum had heard a presentation on this topic in February. She said that most of the changes to the policy were State law. She said that she had found out a couple of weeks ago that the support person role has been discontinued. Anna Schwab asked the reason for the elimination of the position. Carter said that employees have always had the opportunity to confer with outside parties. The University has had a program to allow a voluntary support person. This person can still advise the grievant but may not participate in the formal process. Christine Greenberg asked if this change will be communicated to panelists. Carter said that grievance panels will still exist and the University will soon solicit new participation on these panels.
James Holman commented that this decision will put grieving employees at a disadvantage, as most employees do not know the rules of the process. Anna Schwab thought there should be a complaint registered, as the language barrier will affect some employees greatly without a support person. Aluoch thought that the burden is increasingly on the grievant to be well-prepared, particularly now with a support person not in the room. Gena Carter said that she had learned that many UNC campuses have no support person, while others have people who help but who do not participate in the grievance process. Christine Greenberg asked if Human Resources supports the grievant and the respondent. Michael Highland raised the prospect of organizing a voluntary group. He suggested advertising the need for help. Todd Hux confirmed that training will still occur for grievance panelists, but not for support persons. Dan Barmmer asked the Personnel Issues committee to take up this question for further discussion. George James asked why the grievance policy refers to “hostile work environment.” Chris Chiron said that this clause refers to those in a protected status legally, such as minority or gender. James offered to speak with Chiron off-line.
Dan Barmmer presented information about the UNC System Staff Assembly golf tournament to take place in June. He noted that John Gullo had worked with the tournament previously.
Yvonne Dunlap moved that the Forum accept the minutes of the March meeting. Todd Hux seconded this motion. The motion was approved with two abstentions.
Anna Schwab noted that the Carolina Community Garden will have a position on the spring garden tour the weekend of May 3.
There was no report from the Communications & Public Relations committee.
Lois Douglass-Alston said that the Education and Career Development committee will consider professional development grant applications at its next meeting.
Paula Goodman noted that the Membership & Assignments committee was working on elections and preparations for orientation of new delegates.
Michael Highland said that the Recognition & Awards committee had scheduled a meeting for April to discuss peer recognition award nominations.
Yvonne Dunlap said that the Personnel Issues committee had begun work on a resolution seeking a pay increase for State employees. The committee will meet again Tuesday, April 29. The committee will also discuss the elimination of the grievance support person.
Michael Highland said that the UNC Staff Assembly planned to work on the golf tournament, as well as a resolution seeking a pay increase for State employees.
In the absence of further discussion, Todd Hux moved that the meeting adjourn. Todd Hux made this motion, seconded by Lois Douglass-Alston. The meeting thus adjourned at 11:20 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary