August 21, 2018 Executive Committee minutes
Attending: Dzenita Blackwell, Tiffany Carver, Shayna Hill, Todd Hux, Arlene Medder, Alan Moran, Katie Musgrove, Jim Potts, Laura Pratt, Kathy Ramsey, Greg Smith, Rose Thorp, Tracy Wetherby-Williams
Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m. She outlined the purpose of the Executive Committee meetings as setting the agenda for the Forum’s general meetings and to bring thoughts and ideas forward. She noted delegates’ responsibility to bring items forward for discussion. She noted that division leaders, committee chairs and Forum officers can vote in the Executive Committee meetings.
Tiffany Carver recalled that most Forum issues are brought up via the various listservs, rather than through divisional representatives. Jim Potts noted difficulties with employee identification with the various electoral divisions. Rose Thorp asked about obtaining video links or phone-in functions for the Forum conference room.
Arlene Medder moved that the committee accept the June minutes with one edit. Katie Musgrove seconded this motion, which was approved.
The committee asked that the Forum purchase t-shirts and pens from the annual budget. The Chair noted that office renovations are under discussion with University administrators.
Terri Phoenix spoke on the removal of health insurance benefits for LGBTQ employees from the State Health Plan. Phoenix hoped to partner with the Forum to find ways to restore these benefits. Phoenix noted that gender transition and reproductive exclusions emerged just this past year. The Chair suggested that the Forum could write a resolution on this subject, bring the issue to the bimonthly Vice Chancellor representatives’ meetings, or perhaps ask the State Employees’ Association of North Carolina to lobby legislatively.
Phoenix said that the excluded items did not bring an excessive cost to the State Health Plan, which is administered by the State of North Carolina and not by the University. Phoenix recalled that transgender hormone therapy is now not covered under the State Plan, but similar coverage remains for cisgender hormone therapy. Rose Thorp asked how the State knows the gender identity of the employee in these cases. Phoenix said that when an employee who received a gender assignment seeks to pursue transgender therapy, that person is not allowed to do so by the State due to the change of gender on Health Plan paperwork. Another employee could receive testosterone therapy, for example, without interference if that person identifies as male. Thorp asked if Phoenix had information on the University’s peer institutions’ coverage in this area, and Phoenix did not.
The Chair said that she would need to obtain consensus on this issue to move forward. She suggested bringing the question up at the upcoming UNC System Staff Assembly meeting in October to obtain a larger voice in support of restoring the lost coverage.
Arlene Medder thought that the Forum stood on firm ground in fighting against this inequitable treatment of employees. It was noted that the decision in this matter again does not lie with the University or the University System. The Chair noted that the Forum had weighed in on legislative issues in the past through the Chancellor and her intermediaries. She thought that the Staff Assembly Chair would have a similar avenue to reach the UNC System President if successful.
Arlene Medder suggested a public statement in support of restoring these benefits. Hoi Ning Ngai asked how representative a resolution advocating restoration of benefits would be of University staff. The Chair suggested that the Personnel Issues committee study this issue further towards crafting a resolution for consideration by the Forum. The committee also suggested that Phoenix present on this subject at the next general meeting on September 12, 2018. Karlina Matthews thought that the two differing treatments of cisgender and transgender employees for similar treatments was troublesome.
The Chair suggested that Matthews join the Personnel Issues committee for its discussions. Rose Thorp recalled that health care benefits have shrunk while costs have increased over many years. The Chair thought that such a request in the form of a resolution would not unduly burden campus administrators.
The Chair noted that the Forum would need to produce the Staff Development fund request for the Chancellor. She said that the Chancellor had never refused the Forum’s request for use of these funds. She said that fund proceeds were the interest from a Coca-Cola Foundation account, which does not in fact roll over from year to year. The Chair offered to ask Human Resources accounting the reasons why the Forum’s accounts do not retain a carryover from year to year. She asked Matt Banks to forward explanatory and trust formation documents to the Executive Committee. The Chair recalled that last year, the Forum was asked to cut $1500 from its budget and ended up with a $5000 surplus.
The Chair asked that Banks finalize arrangements for hiring of Jennifer Standish, the history graduate student who has agreed to study the Forum’s 25-year tenure. The Chair directed that meals for the Forum book club now be restored to restore participation levels in that group.
Laura Pratt said that she had asked for slightly more for the Forum’s Professional Development Grants towards a revision of the program’s procedures. Karlina Matthews emphasized the importance of finding a way to use any surplus funds in advance of the end of the fiscal year. The Chair recalled that the Forum had requested support from the Chancellor for the Forum’s 25-year anniversary event in December 2017.
Katie Musgrove suggested that the Forum secure polo t-shirts for its delegates. Rose Thorp suggested that the Forum provide coffee at its open meetings to increase attendance. The Chair noted that the Forum is obliged to host a community meeting for staff employees each year. Kathy Ramsey said that initial discussions had led to preliminary selection of spring break as the date for this meeting.
Natiaya Neal suggested that the Forum hear a presentation on Generations in the Workplace from School of Public Health faculty. She offered to work with Banks to secure these speakers. The Chair asked Neal to share the building and room number of the possible spring location of the Forum meetings in the School of Public Health.
The Chair noted that election of Staff Assembly representatives will occur in September. She noted the work of the Staff Assembly in the UNC System.
The Chair asked for comments on a draft proclamation honoring University Housekeepers which would be presented at the September meeting. Members were generally in favor of this draft. The Chair noted that she would attend an event during Housekeeping week at which she would present the proclamation.
Members discussed the disposition of the 2018 bonus leave. Jim Potts noted the interest in this topic amongst staff employees. He noted that the Forum and the University had little influence in this decision, which was driven by the Legislature and the Office of State Human Resources. The Chair said that delegates had presented their concerns about the policy at the recent Vice Chancellor representatives meeting. She said that the State Employees’ Association of North Carolina (SEANC) had constructed an explainer of the new policy for employees. Members discussed the recent communication from University Human Resources regarding the policy. Rose Thorp noted that some employees do not understand the new policy, while others understand but do not like the new policy.
Karlina Matthews suggested that campus Human Resources representatives communicate the intricacies of the new policy. A delegate said that some departments have little contact with their Human Resources representatives. Greg Smith noted the possibility that the 2018 leave policy will place some employees afoul of other University policies, such as the attendance policy in Housekeeping. The Chair said that the policy feels like a double deduction for employees who have close to the 240 hours of vacation time saved. Tiffany Carver asked why the change was made this year. Greg Smith surmised that decision-makers might want to reduce the amount of payable leave on the books against the State budget.
Greg Smith said that the Communications & Public Relations committee will next publish InTouch around August 28th.
Rose Thorp reported that the Personnel Issues committee had not had great attendance at its first meeting. She hoped that the group could increase its numbers given the upcoming work on a Forum resolution.
Tiffany Carver said that the Membership & Assignments committee will work to promote attendance of different committees. The committee will work to prepare for the December social event and the Forum elections in the spring.
Arlene Medder noted questions arising among staff as to the Forum’s stance on the Silent Sam question. She asked if the Forum would issue a position or communique on the issue. Other members emphasized getting input about staff feelings before stating a position. Kathy Ramsey noted that the Carolina Black Caucus will soon issue its own position but would also like to know staff sentiment on the issue. The Chair suggested that delegates kick off conversation on this topic under New Business at the September 12th Forum meeting.
In the absence of further discussion, Arlene Medder moved that the meeting adjourn seconded by Kathy Ramsey. The motion was approved, and the meeting adjourned at 1:45 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary