August 19, 2014 Executive Committee meeting
Attending (those who signed in): Angela Combs, Yvonne Dunlap, Andy Eaker, Oscar Fleming, James Fuller, Michael Highland, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Charles Streeter, Ben Triplett
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:37 a.m. He led the room in a round of introductions. He asked the group to consider the recent decision to postpone the University’s night parking plans. He had sent out a request for comments from campus employees and was surprised that the response to the delay was not uniformly positive. He had received 380 comments as of Friday afternoon. He said that everyone thought that the night parking program was going to occur, so the decision to delay has caught people short. He noted that commenters have asked whether daytime parkers will have to still pay the 2% scheduled increase for this year. The Chair asked the committee to consider the Forum’s official stance as the representative of staff.
Michael Highland recalled that the Forum has heard presentations from Public Safety on the need for night parking fees. Oscar Fleming thought that the question might be how to create a sustainable system for transit issues. Given the implementation of fees for park and ride lots, the need for new revenue seemed clear. Ben Triplett asked why the University has decided to delay the program. The Chair said that his conversations with senior administrators had referenced questions of safety and equity. Matt McKirahan said he did not know if the Forum should take a formal position on the question. He thought the Forum should adopt a more nuanced approach to advocate a safe, well-considered, and fair approach to the question. He did not want the Forum to pit staff member against staff member. Michael Highland said that some employees prefer to work at night given the shift differential paid to these employees. The Chair reiterated that the Forum needs to produce a stance on this question. Triplett noted that the shift differential is 10% of salary, meaning that these employees receive compensation for night-time work. It was noted that daytime users pay for the lights, patrolling, and maintenance of the lots at night, while nighttime users do not contribute to this upkeep.
Yvonne Dunlap thought that the Forum should adopt a consistent logic to its approach to decision-making. She said that fees should be applied across the board and that all need to pay into the system whether they park during the day or the night. Arlene Medder noted that nighttime users do not have the option to use the park and ride system in the same manner that daytime users do. Oscar Fleming agreed that these buses do not run late. Michael Highland said that possibly two or three buses run until 9 p.m. He recalled that the University has the late-night P2P system for students. He thought that the University will look to capture revenue sources from night and weekend parking in coming years to meet budgetary needs.
Matt McKirahan thought that the Forum should not limit its discussions to only staff. He said that departments have to handle parking costs. Michael Highland said that these departmental transit fees hurt smaller departments most. The Chair said that the fees present an equity issue. Matt McKirahan said that the infrastructure does not allow a system to have everyone park close to their jobs at night. Yvonne Dunlap said that the Forum’s concern should lie with employees, not students or visitors. If the University chooses to charge employees for day and nighttime parking, it should not be the University’s issue how employees get to work, she said. The Chair said that the Forum needs to consider variables such as equity, transparency, and consistency. The Chair noted that of the eighty-one pages of responses, feelings ran about 50/50 on the question. He thought that University administrators may appreciate the Forum’s polling employee feelings on the question.
Jim Fuller asked what percentage of the transit budget goes to pay for bus service. Arlene Medder said that around 60% of the budget goes to bus transit. Fuller thought that bus riders should pay something into the system, as they now ride for free. The Chair noted that taxpayers in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County pay into the system to keep the buses free, even if they do not pay at the point of service. It was noted that student fees are devoted to the bus system on the condition that the buses remain free.
The Chair summed up that the Forum’s stance is that whatever decision is made on the night parking question should be fair, equitable, and indicative of continuing transparency. Decisions should display an across-the-board logic. He suggested that the University look to fund added transit services if nighttime parking fees are implemented. Matt McKirahan asked where the University will raise money for its budget if it cannot rely on night parking fees. The Chair said that if daytime fees rise 5-10% as a result of possibly eliminating night parking, this occurrence would raise questions about the consistency of the decision. He said that the University must consider how to change perceptions of how this situation has been handled. Ben Triplett observed that the gradations for the nighttime fee structure should be more gradated. He said that everyone should have to contribute something to maintain the system. The Chair thought that the University could implement some pay lots to soften the blow of removing night parking as a budgetary support. Michael Highland worried that this proposal could still hurt employees needing to park in decks.
The Chair said that he would draft a letter reflecting the Forum’s stance following Forum discussion in September.
Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report. The Chair noted that the Forum has agreed to purchase a Kindle Paperwhite for the upcoming scavenger hunt. He hoped that the Forum could get a donation of the grand prize next year. Andy Eaker commented that the University should provide ample parking in its planning stage for new buildings. Yvonne Dunlap thought that when the University puts up buildings, it should construct adequate parking. Eaker pointed to the fringe benefit to employees of having parking nearby. Members discussed the possibilities for light rail service between Durham and Chapel Hill.
The Chair noted that he had asked the Personnel Issues committee to work on responding to certain criticisms of the Forum by a University employee. He noted that the Forum had undertaken work within its mission to address the issue of staff pay raises but that the Forum does not have authority to advocate beyond the Chancellor’s Office. Matt McKirahan advised that the Forum should respond to the employee by noting the positive steps the Forum has taken in the area of staff salary increases. Andy Eaker proposed that the Forum constitute a year-round committee to convince decision-makers of the importance of staff salary increases. He said that this course would increase staff morale. He proposed that the Forum work to hold decision-makers accountable. Michael Highland said that there are certain issues, such as pay increases and parking, over which the Forum has little or no control. He proposed that the Forum consider the bigger picture in building a cooperative effort to address these issues. Eaker observed that the Forum had increased its on-line presence recently through social media.
The Chair reported that he had received advice that the Forum pursue 2-3 goals each year. He agreed that the Forum needs a constant dialogue about these questions. Yvonne Dunlap summed up that the Forum should pursue upward mobility and adequate compensation for staff as its main goals. She noted the frustration that has emerged as staff members discover they are paid less than new hires. The Chair agreed with the idea that the Forum should concentrate on its efforts and achievements in its responses.
The Chair outlined a system of goals, broad outcomes, objectives, strategies and tactics to achieve organizational aims. He said that a goal is considered a broad outcome, while an objective is a means to achieve this broad outcome. A strategy is a means to achieve an outcome, and a tactic is a means to achieve a strategy. (Not sure if I have this description correct.) Michael Highland asked if the Forum should have increasing visibility as a goal. Matt McKirahan thought that the Forum could never adequately know if it has achieved this objective. Oscar Fleming favored increasing fair and equitable compensation more than employee empowerment. The Chair asked if the Forum should advocate upward mobility or developmental opportunities.
Ben Triplett suggested that the Forum disseminate more information about the Forum’s mission, given its controversial reputation in some quarters. He said that some employees simply shut off when approached by the Forum. He thought that the Forum should change its reputation in some way. Michael Highland suggested aligning the Forum’s mission with the University mission. The Chair emphasized this point, noting his efforts to increase collaboration with other campus units. He did not feel the need to reinvent the wheel by recreating each program already underway on campus. He thought that the Forum can enhance campus programs through collaboration.
Michael Highland thought that the Forum should articulate why its work is essential to fulfilling the University’s mission. Andy Eaker emphasized the need for a culture of mentorship. Highland thought that building institutional knowledge is an important part of the Forum’s work that it should advertise. The Chair said that he would have the document from this conversation typed up and sent out to the committee.
The Chair noted that a document on how to write resolutions would be presented to delegates in September. He planned to meet with Parliamentarian Matt McKirahan to talk about ways to simply parliamentary processes.
Gena Carter advised that the Forum, when constructing its goals, should note that it serves as an instrumentality of the Chancellor. She said that the Forum would likely want to share its ideas with her and note that the Chancellor may have goals and projects of her own that will take precedence. Oscar Fleming noted that delegates have the opportunity to interact with high-level administrators at the bimonthly Vice Chancellor/Provost meetings. Michael Highland suggested that the Forum ask for help on these goals in these meetings. Matt McKirahan appreciated the opportunity to flesh out the goals that had emerged at the Forum’s June retreat. He proposed inviting facilitators from the School of Government to assist in this process further.
The Chair noted that the Forum Calendar, Sharepoint, and listserv questions were largely settled for now. Oscar Fleming asked what development opportunities are available for new Forum delegates. He suggested working on ideas to improve the April new delegate orientation.
The Chair noted that the Office of State Human Resources has named September 8-12 as State Employee Appreciation week, and September 10 as State Employee Appreciation Day. He thought that the Forum could work to increase its visibility on this particular day. He noted that the University’s Employee Appreciation Day will take place in October. The Chair recalled the positive response he had received upon wishing campus workers happy administrative professionals day. Matt McKirahan suggested that the Forum sent out a Twitter post on this question each day of the week. Michael Highland proposed that the Forum send a thank you card to all employees. He also suggested that the Forum negotiate a reduced price for Bull’s Head books for that day or week. He added that Performing Arts may be willing to donate a seat a show to recognize outstanding employees. Andy Eaker agreed that recognizing the contributions of staff is important, but might take more time to work out in advance. The Chair recalled that the Winston-Salem State University Staff Senate chair had commissioned a video that received broad play on that campus. He suggested that the Forum challenge the Faculty Council to the Ice Bucket Challenge now popular on-line. He planned to speak with Faculty Council chair Bruce Cairns about this idea.
The Chair called for committee reports.
There was no report from the Blood Drive committee.
Arlene Medder reported that the Carolina Campus Community Garden committee had presented its proposal for a toolshed to the Chapel Hill historic district commission.
The Communications and Public Relations committee had been active with the scavenger hunt planning and publication of InTouch.
Matt McKirahan reported that the professional development grant applications are now in review with Human Resources. He hoped to hear back from Kathy Bryant soon. Andy Eaker said that the Education and Career Development committee hoped to locate a more centralized location for meetings soon. Arlene Medder suggested that she could make reservations for Lenoir Hall meeting rooms. Eaker said that the committee will study holding a dinner recognizing outstanding campus mentors.
Angela Combs said that the Membership & Assignments committee will likely meet monthly by teleconference. She said that the committee has been active in reserving a table at the October 17 Employee Appreciation Fair. The committee discussed Forum t-shirts and plans for a quarterly social in December, March, and June. The committee also briefly discussed holding an event outside of working hours for delegates. Matt McKirahan cautioned Combs that these events should not violate the State’s open meetings law. The Chair responded positively to a suggestion that the Forum resume its February food drives.
Yvonne Dunlap said that the Personnel Issues committee will meet August 26 to discuss the 9.9% limit on staff salary increases and career banding, among other items.
The Chair reported that the Staff Assembly would hold its all-day meeting on October 2. He had forwarded the Assembly newsletter to the Forum listserv. He said that the Forum will need to select an alternate Assembly delegate to replace Shane Hale at its September meeting. Hale replaces Michael Highland as the Forum’s two-year delegate.
The Chair planned to invite Chief of Staff Debbie Dibbert to the September 3 meeting of the Forum. He also planned to invite a representative from Athletics to discuss faculty/staff days for athletic events.
The committee agreed to consider the July minutes at the next Forum meeting.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:32 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary