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Employee Forum Agenda — August 6, 2008

9:15 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

I.            Call to Order

II.           Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III.          Opening Remarks

IV.         Special Presentations

V.          Human Resources Update—Brenda Malone

VI.         Employee Presentations or Questions

VII.        Minutes

VIII.       Old Business

  • Proposed Guidelines Revision on Staff Assembly Delegate Responsibilities (Consideration Delayed Until Next Month)

IX.         New Business

X.           Stretch Time

XI.         Forum Committee Reports

  • ·  Communications and Public Relations: Brenda Denzler
    •     Forum Newsletter
  • ·  Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Beth Bridger
  • ·  Compensation & Benefits:  Alan Moran
  • ·  Education and Career Development:  Liz Cahoon/Cate Cunningham
  • ·  Legislative Action:  Mike Hawkins
  • ·  Membership & Assignments:  Aluoch Ooro
  • ·  Staff Relations, Policies & Practices:  Mike McQuown

XII.        Chair’s Report (Executive Committee):  Tommy Griffin

XIII.       Task Force/University Committee Reports

XIV.       Announcements/Questions

XV.        “Go Around the Room”:  A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds

XV.        Adjournment

P = Included in Agenda Packet



August 6, 2008 Minutes


Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  He said that following the practice of the Board of Trustees, the Forum could do motions instead of resolutions to make its preferences known to the Chancellor.  The advantage of this would allow the Forum to carry out its business more quickly.  The Chair noted that the Forum Executive Committee had met with Chancellor Thorp and had very good attendance.  He hoped the same would occur with the upcoming Provost/Vice Chancellor “Trinity” meetings.   He introduced ombuds officers Wayne Blair and Laurie Mesibov, praising both for the progress they’ve made these last years in their positions.

Blair noted that the ombuds office had gotten into the habit of making a presentation to the Employee Forum at the end of each fiscal year.  He noted that the office’s work is confidential but that the office keeps data in aggregated form.  The office is neutral and does not advocate for a particular side, but it can help employees access the formal process if they choose.  The office reports directly to the Chancellor.

Blair said that meetings sometimes take place off campus to make attendees more comfortable.  He said that the office had handled over 300 cases this fiscal year, meeting with over 1,000 people.  Cases may demand one or several meetings.  Fifty-one percent of these cases are SPA, 2% SPA-exempt, 22% EPA faculty 15% EPA non-faculty, and 10% are other cases not affiliated with the University.  Women initiate sixty-five percent of all cases.  Fifty percent of cases are employment related issues such as disputes with colleagues, disagreements about compensation, and termination questions.

Laurie Mesibov noted that creation of the ombuds office three years ago was a direct outgrowth of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace.  Faith Thompson asked if there is a trend of conflict that the ombuds office handles in one division.  Blair said that he could not talk about particular divisions but could talk about trends across the board.  He noted that sometimes supervisors will tell their employees that certain policies exist when they no longer exist.  He advised employees to ask to see relevant policies in writing, on a University website or elsewhere.  He said that many times misidentification of policies is not malicious, but is the product of outdated or incorrect information.  When a question exists, ask to see the policy on the University website.  Blair said it’s your right to be informed where the relevant policy is.

Alan Moran asked if these policies could be made more readily accessible given the University’s upcoming literacy initiative.  Blair said that sometimes even people in management positions do not understand policies.  James Holman said that he had noticed policies on the books implemented differently in different areas.  Blair said that there is some lack of consistency in implementing policies.  Mike McQuown of the Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee said that group had decided to look at cross-department policies and procedures, to make sure they are fairly and correctly implemented.

The Chair asked if the ombuds office represents temporary employees.  Mesibov said that the office will assist them.  Blair said that these are the most vulnerable employees.  Jonathan Stephenson asked if the office represents hospital employees.  Blair said that it did not, but it does represent the medical school.  Faith Thompson asked if the ombuds website is separate from the University’s and Blaire said that it is not.  The website is, or employees can phone 843-8204 for a consultation.  The office is located in Porthole Alley at 134 East Franklin Street.  Griffin praised the contributions of the ombuds office.

Griffin presented Gena Carter to make the customary human resources update.  Carter said that training & development will run another English as a Second Language (ESL) course.  These courses are typically offered every six months.  Interested parties can go to or phone the main registration number 962-2550.  These classes will take place Mondays and Thursdays from September 22 to November 17.

McQuown asked if University materials had been translated into other languages.  Claire Miller of human resources said that there was the issue of providing materials to the large Burmese population.  This population speaks multiple dialects so providing translation is a bit confusing.  She noted that the Office of State Personnel did have a Burmese translation option for its NC Flex program.  Carter said that the Women’s Center did have access to at least one interpreter for the Burmese dialect.

Lucy Lewis asked what kinds of outreach are done to reach the Burmese population.  Miller said that orientation is one place mentioned.  Carter said that often the University will make someone available to help with translation or will ask a family member to help understand policies and paperwork.  Miller said that human resources facilitators are very aware of this issue.  She invited employees with specific ideas to contact her.   Mary Campbell cited successes with posting training posters in her office.

Carter noted that the University Managers’ Development Program (UMDP) will begin taking applications soon.  This program spans ten months and involves intensive training, assessments, feedback and coaching.  There is no fee to participate and applications will be accepted until August 29.  Interested parties can contact Holly Tiemann at 962-9682 or Cookie Davis at 962-9686.


The Chair asked if there were any corrections or additions to the minutes.  Faith Thompson noted that the Membership and Assignments committee was not listed among those reporting in July.  Mike Hawkins noted that Brian Usischon’s name was misspelled, as was “ombuds office.”


Concerning old business, Griffin said that the proposed Guidelines revision on responsibilities of UNC System Staff Assembly delegates was delayed.  Alan Moran moved that all UNC-Chapel Hill delegates to the UNC System Staff Assembly be presented for the Executive Committee discussion.  Mike McQuown seconded and the motion was approved by voice vote with none opposed and one abstention.

Brenda Denzler moved that the Forum contact Chancellor Thorp to ask him to convey to the Board of Governors and President Bowles the idea that the UNC System as a whole would benefit from creation of an ombuds office.  She added the proviso that the UNC System should not hire Wayne Blaire or Laurie Mesibov.  Faith Thompson seconded this motion..  The Forum approved the motion.

Faith Thompson moved that the Forum create an opportunity to adopt standards for rules of engagement.  She lamented the side conversations that took place at the last meeting.  The Chair said that he followed Robert’s Rules of Order in 90% of cases.  Mike Hawkins thought that the Forum should consider appointing a parliamentarian.  Thompson withdrew her motion in favor of a motion appointing the Executive Committee to consider the two page summary of Robert’s Rules as a basis for discussion.  Carl Schuler seconded the motion.  The Forum approved this motion with none opposed.

The Chair noted that the Forum had committed to participate in the Employee Appreciation Event October 16.  The Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee, along with Nancy English, Mike Hawkins and Amy Preble, volunteered for the task.


New Business

The Chair noted that the Legislature had returned to work early this year to consider a proposal to support the State health insurance plan by increasing copayments.  The early session also may consider President Bowles’ Article 16 initiative.  The Forum considered various ways to express its disagreement with Article 16 while observing the rule against lobbying.  Jonathan Stephenson respectfully encouraged Human Resources to take a neutral stance on this issue.  Brenda Denzler suggested that General Administration gather more data to make a more compelling case for Article 16.  Alan Moran questioned how closely General Administration was following its own procedures currently.

Lucy Lewis asked what are the rules are concerning Forum advocacy.  The Chair said that citizens have the right to express their views to the Legislature.  However, the Forum is charged to develop policies and advocate these to the administration and other employees.  Denzler said that the Forum can also ask the Chancellor to communicate the Forum’s views to the Board of Trustees.  The Chair said that communicating information about a policy does not constitute political action, whereas in contrast asking someone to vote for a particular legislator would be political advocacy.

Alan Moran said that the Forum could reiterate its position to the new Chancellor by reaffirming its resolution.  Debbie Dehart asked for a description of the Article 16 terms.  Denzler said that she would work on a list of six reasons why Article 16 is not a good idea.  Mike Hawkins said that he would send out links to Article 16 and its executive summary.

The Forum took a ten minute break.

The Chair noted that the University administration had informed the Forum that the housekeeping policy meetings are not considered open meetings under State law.  Brenda Denzler said that some authorities disagree with this interpretation.  The Forum moved to support the housekeeping committee in weekly meetings with management.  The Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee has moved to support this committee as one of its main issues to work on this year.  Mike McQuown moved that the entire Forum support the housekeeping committee.  Alan Moran seconded this motion.  The Forum voted unanimously in favor of this motion.

James Holman reported that these initial meetings had seen Housekeeping already decide to add more weekend workers.  Another employee said that housekeepers have already been told that they will have to work weekends.  The Chair noted that the University can change its work schedule to meet the needs of the University.  Holman said that he had been told that such changes must be made six months in advance.  Marshall Dietz said that management can set working hours however it chooses but cannot violate state or federal rules and regulations.  Jonathan Stephenson said that this situation was a reason to repeal NC General Statute 95-98 banning collective bargaining for State workers.  The Chair said that the Forum would support the committee and that the University must find a compromise.

The Chair said that he had received many e-mails against the proposal that employees must use a day of their leave so that the University can close over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.  Chris Chiron said that employees will have the option to make up the time. He noted that the State cannot advance leave past the end of the calendar year.  He said that the University would likely make the unpaid closed day January 2, 2009, giving employees the rest of the year to make up the eight lost hours of work.  Employees can account for the time in the interim by classifying it like adverse weather leave.

Mike Hawkins moved that the UNC-Chapel Hill Forum Chair send a letter to UNC Human Resources and the UNC Chancellor in opposition to the proposal requiring staff to take leave for the proposed University closed days in 2009 and 2010.  Cindy Stone seconded the motion.  Alan Moran proposed that the University give its employees the day off with pay as administrative leave.  Marc ter Horst said that all the technical people in his shop were against taking personal leave for a holiday.  He observed that if seven other UNC System campuses are closing in this way, there must be some way to make it work.  Mary Campbell said that single parents have expressed their strong disagreement with the proposal given their need to use leave for their children.

Chris Chiron noted that the definition for administrative absences is based on availability and that holidays are defined by statute.  Aluoch Ooro said that the consensus in her office was against the proposal.  Debbie Dehart noted that some areas of campus must remain open to take care of experiments.  Chiron said that there is no centralized data on how much of the campus must remain open at all times.

The Forum voted in favor of Hawkins’ motion with none opposing and four abstentions.

The Forum moved to adjourn at 11:33 a.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Matt Banks, Recording Secretary


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