Agenda — August 7, 2002
9:30 a.m.—Meeting, Wilson Library Assembly Room
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests, Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks—Provost Robert Shelton
VI. Special Presentations
· Kay Hovious and Steve Hutton on University Personnel Flexibility Study Committee Report
· Martha Fowler from SEANC 19
V. Employee Presentations or Questions
VI. Human Resources Update
· Laurie Charest, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
VII. Stretch Time 6
VIII. Approval of Minutes of the July 3, 2002 meeting P
IX. Old Business
· Proposed Guidelines Change (2nd Reading)
X. New Business
· Resolution Supporting Dissemination of the University’s Personnel Flexibility Report, To Aid Community Understanding of the Issues Involved (1st Reading)
XI. Forum Committee Reports
· Career Development: Fred Jordan
· Communications: Linda Collins
Þ Forum Newsletter
· Employee Presentations: Gary Lloyd
· Nominating: Kay Teague
Þ Forum Elections
· Orientation: Joan Ferguson/Barbara Logue
· Personnel Issues: Mary Ann Vacheron
· Recognition and Awards: Shirley Hart/Sylvia White
· University Committee Assignments: Lee Edmark
XII. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Tommy Griffin
XIII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
· Transportation & Parking Advisory— Tommy Griffin
· Personnel Flexibility Study Committee—John Heuer
P = Included in Agenda Packet
August 7, 2002
Wilson Library Assembly Room
“ = Ex-Officio
Mary Ann Vacheron
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:34 a.m. He welcomed Scott Ragland of the University Gazette and Eric Ferreri of the Chapel Hill Herald to the meeting along with other assorted guests. He then introduced Provost Robert Shelton to make opening remarks.
Shelton thanked the Forum for the chance to speak and noted that Chancellor Moeser was away on vacation for a few days. He thanked the Chair for his visible and positive leadership style, noting that he had been an extremely active presence in South building during tuition and budget discussions.
Administratively, Steve Jarrell, the University’s associate vice chancellor for information technology, retired July 26 but has agreed to continue in an interim role. Dean Bresciani will serve as interim vice chancellor for student affairs. Shelton said that the University would conduct searches to fill these positions, preceded by task forces reviewing the portfolios of these areas.
In addition, the University should soon announce appointment of several new deans pending Board of Trustees and Board of Governors approval. Dean Campbell’s term as the dean of pharmacy will end in January 2003.
Concerning the budget, Shelton said that the University was waiting from Raleigh too hear of its final decision. He noted that an appropriations committee was meeting on the subject that morning. He said that the University had not made budgetary assignments to deans and vice chancellors for the current fiscal year. He also said that the University needs flexibility to decide how it will administer any proposed cuts as close to the local level as possible. He added that the University had not placed a global freeze on hiring or on expenditures.
Shelton did not know the size of the coming budget cut, although a May memo from Raleigh mentioned a 5% figure. He noted that the House appropriations committee had worked into the wee hours on the topic with fifteen more amendments under consideration, many of them not friendly to the University in terms of capturing tuition remissions and overhead monies. University leaders continue to make their case to the Legislature.
In contrast, the Senate has passed a plan to reduce the University System’s budget by 2.4%, a figure offset by $70 million in enrollment growth. UNC-Chapel Hill has taken the strategy to grow more slowly, in quality rather than size. Last year, UNC-Chapel Hill took a $10 million which was offset by an enrollment increase of $11 million. UNC-Chapel Hill will likely not see the same of either figure this year. Shelton hoped that the Legislature would adopt a budget before the primary elections in early September.
Regarding State employee raises, Shelton noted discussion of very small across the board raises or the provision of two weeks paid vacation in lieu of a raise from the House. Neither of these options were included in the Governor’s or Senate’s budget.
Shelton sympathized with employees’ feelings given a lack of salary increases combined with rising health care and other costs. He noted that most other states across the nation face similar budgetary problems. He said that the University’s goal is to keep cuts as low as possible while making its case to the State and pushing for preservation of flexibility and non-State funds, be they overhead receipts, gifts, contracts or other sources.
Most painful of all has been the elimination of positions. Shelton said that the University is doing all it can to help Employees, and he complimented Laurie Charest and the Human Resources department for their excellent ideas, including hiring an outplacement firm. Shelton said that University staff have worked to record a record amount in private research dollars in spite of funding cuts. Administering these dollars, and the $500 million in bond construction projects, will require a masterful effort from embattled staff. He said that staff make the University a better place for all and said that University administration will continue to articulate their contributions to the State.
Shelton praised the energy and effort expended to get the campus ready for students returning to school. He thanked everyone who put in the work necessary to accomplish this annual ritual with a minimum of disruption. He also noted that Chapel Hill is busy in the summer with open libraries, dining halls and offices, in addition to workers preparing the campus’ four new dormitories Shelton said that UNC-Chapel Hill this year welcomed 3,480 first year students, fewer than last year’s 3,690 first year students. He praised the quality and commitment of this year’s group in the classroom and the community.
On August 19, the University will officially open the newly renovated Robert B. House undergraduate library, the first major renovation finished on the main campus. He invited Delegates and others to attend the dedication ceremony.
Concerning construction, the University has begun work on two major projects, the first phase of the science complex and the Ramshead complex. This work will see an addition made to Phillips Hall and to Kenan Labs, among other things. Unfortunately, the University has had to remove a number of trees to accommodate this work. Shelton said that the University will provide landscaping to fit these buildings in afterwards.
The Ramshead complex will occur over three phases, the first of these to be a 700 space parking deck, topped by a student dining facility and finally recreational green space. Shelton commended to Delegates the University’s website on the master plan which demonstrates how each project contributes to the master plan. University officials have discussed the implications of the master plan with first year students during CTOPS orientation sessions.
Shelton noted that Chancellor Moeser would make his second annual state of the University speech September 4 at 3 p.m. in the Great Hall. He invited all listeners to attend this extremely informative talk. Secondly, the campus will host University Day Saturday, October 12, the same day as the home football game against North Carolina State. He encouraged Employees to come to campus a bit early for the festivities, which will include Bill Farris, a renown speaker on southern folklore and former director of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Farris will speak and play guitar during the Hill Hall events.
Shelton thanked the Forum for its time and attention. He offered to take questions. David Collins asked why the University had begun charging $3 per month per phone line for telecommunications services, in addition to $7 per data port per month. He had also been told that telecommunications would charge a $10 surcharge for a national beeper, all as a necessary figure in construction costs. However, he had heard that as of July 15, two-thirds of all projects were 13.9% below budget, saving the University $36 million construction costs. He asked why the UNC System had not used this money instead of charging for phone lines and data ports.
Shelton said that Collins was correct that the University had benefited in that every bid for capital construction had come in under budget. However, the University cannot adjust for these factors, as there is no provision for inflation in its estimates and will not disadvantage Year 6 projects against Year 2 ones. He noted that the University has a long tradition of decentralization, and departments have made their own choices about numbers of phone lines and data ports, and the use of overhead funds. Departments have had to bear the cost of services they request. However, it does not help departmental budgets when decisions to charge come late in the fiscal year.
Linda Collins noted that the News & Observer had reported that NCSU libraries receive 4% of all overhead receipts. She asked why UNC-Chapel Hill could not adapt a similar allocation. Shelton said that people tend to think that overhead receipts are an endless pot of money. At UNC-Chapel Hill, libraries receive a fixed allocation rather than a percentage. He noted that the Office of the President keeps 15% of all overhead receipts which it uses for faculty startup costs. If UNC-Chapel Hill were to rearrange its allocation scheme, it would have to bring some dollars back from academic units which generate these funds in the first place. Shelton could not say if the University’s allocation system was optimal, and said that legislators have proposed to take some overhead receipts back from the University.
Keith Fogleman said that the undergraduate library was beautiful, but he said that University Employees were finishing work that the contractors should have completed. Shelton did not know about this situation. Fogleman said that the University could not send in its workers until it had formally accepted the renovations from the contractor. Shelton asked if there are still contractors working on the building. Fogleman said that subcontractors and mainly University Employees were working on the building now. He thought that the University had paid the contractor to do the work that its Employees are doing now. Shelton said that he would have to speak with people closer to the project for more details. He did understand that the building would be completed by August 19. Fogleman said that perhaps the University should not pay to complete the same work twice. Shelton agreed and said that he would look into the question.
The Chair welcomed Martha Fowler from the State Employees’ Association (SEANC) District 25 and Kay Hovious and Steve Hutton the University’s personnel flexibility study committee. He asked Fowler to make a brief presentation on SEANC’s work.
Fowler said that interested employees can find out more about SEANC at their website at www.seanc.org SEANC is the representative body for more than 60,000 State employees, from secretaries to engineers. SEANC is the largest non-union public employees’ association in the nation. The association lobbies for the rights of State employees in departments and agencies in areas such as health care coverage, downsizing, retirement, and salaries. Fowler said that SEANC has worked to defeat much potentially harmful legislation and said that no other organization advocates directly on behalf of State workers. SEANC meets regularly with the Governor and legislative leaders to express employee concerns.
Fowler showed the Forum the SEANC website, which is kept up to date on current events related to State employees. SEANC has worked to defeat efforts by some pharmacies to drop the State health plan drug card.
Each year, SEANC holds an annual convention at which Delagates meet to discuss objectives for the year. Most years, full funding of the comprehensive pay plan stands at the top of the list. SEANC has also advocated an individual health care benefit, adjustment of pensions to the two highest salary years of service, and early retirement. SEANC monitors legislation proposed in Raleigh and outlines the work of each State senator and representative. The website also presents a weekly legislative update when the General Assembly is in session.
SEANC members have a voice in the workings of the organization, and can utilize a $1000 accidental death and dismemberment benefit, group insurance and vision programs, scholarships, and group buying and travel programs.
SEANC has begun endorsing candidates in specific races and works with the Legislature on issues of importance to employees. The association has fifty-two districts across the State, with a board of governors that meets quarterly. Fowler chairs SEANC district 25, while Mike Hawkins chairs SEANC district 19. Both districts cover the UNC campus community and all State agencies within Orange county.
Visitors to the SEANC website can find e-mail addresses for their local legislators. Retirees can remain members of SEANC for a half-price membership. Fowler noted that Orange county has only an 18% participation rate among state employees. She encouraged everyone to work together to make SEANC and the State stronger.
The Chair then introduced Steve Hutton to speak on the University’s personnel flexibility study committee.
Speech to UNC Employee Forum by Steve Hutton, August 7, 2002
I thank the Forum for this opportunity to speak with you about the minority report. It was a privilege and an honor to serve as your representative.
When the Chancellor announced the formation of the committee, he indicated that there would be seats at the table for dissenters. I thought, that’s me. It’s well known that I’m a member of SEANC and that SEANC already has a position opposing management flexibility. When I applied to serve on the committee, I indicated that I might not be a true dissenter, that there are aspects of management flexibility, like broad-banding, that I find appealing. But the possibility for a dissenting opinion existed from the beginning.
When I was appointed, I decided to approach the task with an open mind. I once served on a jury here in Orange County. I had some prior experience at setting aside biases and reserving judgment until all the evidence is heard. I felt that if I were to change my mind about management flexibility, I would then be obligated to strive to change the policy of SEANC. I was particularly pleased when Kay Hovious was appointed. Kay, as a Past President of SEANC, is much more influential than I am. I felt that would make the job of changing SEANC’s position that much easier. After all, Kay was one of the main architect’s of SEANC’s position on management flexibility, a position that was developed over four years ago.
However, as the work of the committee was winding down, when all the evidence was heard, neither Kay nor I reached the conclusion that management flexibility would benefit employees as it is being proposed. In fact, I became more convinced than ever that it is a bad idea.
Today I am going to speak only about collective bargaining. That was not my only reason for dissenting. Besides the points Kay will discuss, I had additional reasons for my dissent.
Some people associate collective bargaining with unions. First of all, “union” is not a four-letter word. It’s not a dirty word. Just as our government is built on a system of checks and balances, unions provide a check and balance against managerial and corporate abuse. If North Carolina’s textile employees had listened to the unions, who were saying that NAFTA was going to cost them their jobs, they might still be employed. But they didn’t. Now they’re out work. Instead of putting money into the state’s treasury, our former textile workers are costing the state money for unemployment payments, welfare, and re-training. We public employees are also suffering as a result of NAFTA because there is less money in the state budget. So I think it’s high time we get over our prejudices against unions.
Some people consider that SEANC is already a union. However, most members of SEANC do not. We consider ourselves a professional association. But collective bargaining is also engaged in by non-union, professional associations. That is the model of collective bargaining that SEANC is working to develop here in North Carolina. I, frankly, don’t care what people call SEANC, so long as we can engage in collective bargaining. What’s more important than what we are called is what we can do. Another way of putting it is, “I don’t care what my mamma calls me, so long as she calls me for dinner.”
Collective bargaining is a very specific form of formal negotiation. Informal negotiation is a part of every day life. If you’re married, you probably negotiate with your spouse every day. If you have children, you’re probably negotiating with them every day. This Forum negotiates. You negotiate among yourselves what your priorities will be. You negotiate with the Chancellor or other members of the administration. The lobbying activities of SEANC are another type of negotiation. Collective bargaining, as formal negotiation, is different from these informal negotiations in several ways.
In informal negotiations, there are often multiple participants. Who is and who is not participating can change from moment to moment. The matters undergoing negotiation change. Some are dropped. Some new ones arise. Some negotiations take place publicly. Others, privately. Sometimes what is resolved in the public arena remains unresolved in the private. Sometimes what is resolved privately is never made public. Often there is no real resolution.
With collective bargaining, who the negotiators are is established at the outset. No one else is allowed to participate. The matters to be negotiated are established at the outset. Negotiations take place in private. In some states, the law provides that the initial bargaining positions of each party must be made public. In some states, the law provides for a public comment period after an agreement is reached. But in all states, negotiations take place behind closed doors. There is a time limit. And finally, there is a resolution—a legally binding contract that neither side can change during the period of the contract, unless the other party agrees.
So the real difference between the negotiations that are taking place under our current system, and those that would take place under collective bargaining, is that with collective bargaining you actually get a result. No more spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. I believe that one reason our peers are more efficient than we are is because there are long periods that they do not waste time and energy in fruitless negotiations. Once there is a contract, there’s nothing to negotiate for at least a year and a half. And once negotiations begin again, only the designated representatives are spending time in negotiations. Under our system, almost anyone can become a negotiator and negotiate anything at anytime and without ever achieving a result. That’s a waste of time and energy.
In an appendix to the management flexibility report, you’ll find the information I pulled together on collective bargaining as my assignment on the benchmarking subcommittee. I invite you to look it over. In the committee itself, we did not discuss collective bargaining in any detail. Steve Allred, whom I consider a representative of the administration, indicated that the administration didn’t want to endorse collective bargaining because they didn’t want to appear wacky to legislators. In quotes, “wacky.”
I contend that collective bargaining is not a wacky idea. What is wacky is that we in North Carolina are so far behind our sister states in adopting legislation to provide for modern labor relations practices.
In 1935, fully 67 years ago, all private sector employees except agricultural workers were granted by Congress the right to engage in collective bargaining. That is the National Labor Relations Act. It’s intent was to end years of warfare between business owners and workers. It sets down the rules for democratically electing worker representatives. It provides that if the majority of workers don’t want to engage in collective bargaining, there won’t be bargaining. Public employees, like agricultural workers, are not covered by that act.
An example of the labor strife that led up to the Act occurred in North Carolina six years earlier. In 1929, several people were killed during a strike in Gaston County. As a consequence, Dr. Frank Porter Graham wrote the “Industrial Bill of Rights.” He enunciated as a fundamental principle the right of workers to organize and to bargain collectively. His Bill of Rights was published in February 1930 and was endorsed by over 400 prominent North Carolinians. Six months later, Dr. Graham was elected President of UNC-Chapel Hill. I have to wonder, if Dr. Frank is looking down upon us today, what would he make of our current circumstance—his own university’s employees denied by North Carolina law the right to bargain collectively?
At present, the right of public employees to bargain is well established in the majority of states under their own state laws. A total of 42 states have legal provision for some form of bargaining by at least some state or local government employees. Of those 42 states, 27 have legislation that specifically provides for bargaining by state government employees, and another 6 states have legal provision for “meet and confer” by state employees. (Source: Richard Kearney, Labor Relations in the Public Sector, Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2001.)
The situation that exists today is that 98% of all non-agricultural workers in the United States have the right to collective bargaining. It is us, and other public employees primarily in the South, who comprise the 2% of U.S. workers who don’t have the right.
Human rights do not spring into existence. We, the people, create them. When Thomas Jefferson wrote of inalienable rights beyond the purview of monarchs, those assertions captured the imagination of the American people, which lead ultimately to our fundamental political and human rights enumerated in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Saladin Muhammad, an organizer for UE, has stated that collective bargaining is a human right. Dr. Jerry Jailall, a SEANC member, spoke at last year’s SEANC Convention and asserted that collective bargaining is an inalienable right. When we say that it is we, the 2% who are unjustly deprived of a basic human right, we are carrying on a proud tradition.
I believe that collective bargaining for North Carolina’s public employees is inevitable. There are currently two, nearly identical bills before the U.S. Congress that will grant bargaining rights to all police, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel in those states that don’t already do so. The bill in the U.S. House has 224 co-sponsors, well above the 218 votes needed to pass. Remember, this is a House that has not always been friendly toward labor, but 224 members support collective bargaining for police, firefighters, and EMS personnel. On the Senate side, there are 22 co-sponsors. These bills may be voted on before the fall election.
We start our deputy sheriffs at $25-$30,000 per year. The same for firefighters and police. Every day they risk their lives for us. They are our everyday heroes. But we, the people of North Carolina, refuse to accord them the dignity and respect of sitting down with them to negotiate a contract. That’s what I find wacky!
What is also wacky is that we are out of step with the rest of the world. The International Labor Organization was chartered after World War II and serves as a sort of United Nations for labor matters. The United States is a charter member. Convention 151 of the ILO specifically grants collective bargaining rights to public employees. If the U.S. ever adopts Convention 151, North Carolina’s prohibition against public sector bargaining will be instantly struck down.
We have all heard about “globalization.” If you study globalization you realize that technical standards and legal standards and labor standards and business standards are all becoming, well, more standard. It is only a matter of time before an international trade agreement requires that the U.S. adopt the world’s standard and permit collective bargaining for public employees.
Speaking of world standards, our university administration requires that any worker involved in the manufacture of caps or T-shirts or sweatshirts or athletic shoes or anything with the UNC logo or trademark, any worker must be allowed to belong to a union. It doesn’t mean that the workers have to belong to a union, but the local laws and their employers must allow them to belong to a union. What’s more, our university administration requires that the same workers be allowed to negotiate contracts, if a majority of the workers choose to do so. The workers must be able to bargain collectively. I’m very proud that UNC-Chapel Hill is a world leader in setting these standards, but I also know that this leadership came only after extensive pressure from students over several years. These students took the moral high ground. Through their continuous efforts, including a sit-in, they dragged the administration to the moral high ground. Now the situation is this–our university, our employer, demands more rights for workers who manufacture these garments than they are willing to demand for us, their own employees, from the State of North Carolina. Has our university actually and fully attained the moral high ground? I don’t think so.
I’ve heard some people say that North Carolina is an anti-union state, that legislators will never agree to public sector unions. Well, whether SEANC is a union or not may be debatable, but the fact is, SEANC does already exist. Legislators do negotiate with SEANC on an almost daily basis. Legislators do meet and negotiate with UE. The real problem it seems to me is that the legislature doesn’t have enough trust in the executive branch to turn negotiations over to them.
About the same time the committee was being told that our university administration didn’t want to appear wacky to legislators, I was reading news accounts about the requirement that incoming students read a book about the Quran. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that requirement, but there were numerous letters to editors from alumni who are refusing to continue their donations and from parents who now refuse to ever send their children to Carolina. And there is a law suit. I think it’s admirable, that at time when the world is experiencing unprecedented international tensions, that our university leadership would seek to foster improved relations among the world’s cultures. But I find it ironic that they are so unwilling to do the same when it comes to modern labor relations practices for their own employees. I do not understand at all why our administration will not join with us in support of collective bargaining rights. I believe that speaks volumes about where their priorities really are.
The Chair then introduced Kay Hovious to speak on the personnel flexibility study committee report.
First, I thank the Forum for selecting me as one of your representatives. It was a privilege and an honor to serve. I thank you also for this opportunity to talk about the Management Flexibility Committee and the minority report. I say, Management Flexibility Committee rather than Personnel Flexibility Committee, because I believe the majority report favors managerial over non-managerial personnel.
In thinking about the vote of the committee, it’s important to realize that management flexibility will impact different groups differently. Administrators are likely to benefit, and there is no prospect for a downside on their compensation. The same with faculty. EPA supervisors might benefit. There is some downside risk to their compensation, but probably not much. The downside risks for non-supervisory EPA employees and for all SPA employees, however, are considerable. I can’t say for certain how many members of the committee were SPA, but it appears to me that 3 out of 7 or 8 SPA employees did not vote for the majority report. As an EPA supervisor, I did not vote for the majority report. Everyone else voted for the majority report, and from their perspectives, why not? But another way to think about the vote is that two-thirds of your Forum representatives voted against management flexibility. That’s the way I prefer to the think of the vote.
As the work of the committee progressed, a theme emerged. I believe the theme was first identified by Bob Cannon. The theme of trust. Or more precisely the lack of trust between administrators and rank and file employees. You will hear this theme running through my report.
One problem that I failed to recognize early on was that the charge of the committee was to derive general characteristics of a personnel system. For me, the devil is often in the details. As our work progressed, I found myself increasingly frustrated because the committee did not delve into the details. Today, I feel that IF the Chancellor is truly interested in having a dynamic conversation about management flexibility, that we must discuss the details.
The committee has made a recommendation about abiding by federal laws. To our new, top-level administrators, I’m certain this sounds like a perfectly reasonable statement. To the casual reader, this sounds like a perfectly reasonable statement. But this statement offers me little reassurance. I remember the Keith Edwards’ case, and the many years it dragged on. And the university lost that one. I remember the housekeepers’ lawsuit, and the many years it dragged on. And the university lost that one. I remember the firing of Officer Swain and his subsequent re-instatement. And I remember the mysterious resignation of Chief Gold. Even today we have the Bobbie Sanders case, which prompted the State Personnel Commission to require that Chapel Hill review its hiring practices. These are just the publicly known cases. I’m aware of several others that aren’t as well-known. I know that the university and UNC Healthcare have lost some of those, too. I’m certain, there are other cases that I don’t know about. I care less about what the university says it will do than what it is doing. Before I’m willing to believe that the university will abide by the laws governing employment, I would like to see a period of time pass when the university actually does abide by current laws.
Another giant loophole in the majority report is that the university will abide by state law. But we know that last year President Broad put before the legislature a bill to change state law. This bill would eliminate the property interest in SPA employment. When I talk to employees about their “property interest,” I’m often confronted with puzzled expressions. This property is not tangible, like a house or a car. It is intangible. The property in question is a reasonable expectation of continuing employment. The legal premise for this expectation of continuing employment is the very same premise as for faculty tenure. The United States Constitution guarantees that no citizen can be deprived of their life, liberty, or property without due process of law. It is this property interest, granted by the State Personnel Act, that guarantees that SPA employees cannot be dismissed without just cause or without due process. It is this property interest that forms the fundamental basis for the grievance process. Under the State Personnel Act, the grievance process includes access to the Office of Administrative Hearings with review by the State Personnel Commission. In 1998, when UNC Healthcare acquired management flexibility, any employee who didn’t already have two years of service, lost the opportunity to acquire a property interest. They became at-will employees. If they file a grievance, they cannot appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings. They have no right to have their case reviewed by the State Personnel Commission. Of the 15 articles of the State Personnel Act that apply to SPA employees, only four apply to UNC Healthcare at-will employees.
Most of the peer institutions the committee examined provide for outside arbitration, when grievances aren’t settled in earlier steps. For SPA employees, access to the Office of Administrative Hearings and the State Personnel Commission are similar to outside arbitration, in that they are not internal to the university. If management flexibility is implemented, most state employees will still have access to the Office of Administrative Hearings and the State Personnel Commission. University employees with less than two years of service won’t. You should note that the majority report does not provide for independent arbitration. If an employee exhausts the university’s internal grievance procedure, the only next step is to go to court—a much higher threshold than the Office of Administrative Hearings.
I’ve heard some employees say, well, if it’s just those with less than two years of experience, then why does this affect me? I say that it affects you because it affects your fellow workers. It changes the employment relationship in the workplace in a way that will be detrimental to us all. I’ve heard some employees say that they’ll never get in trouble, so they’ll never have need of the grievance process. I wish I had a nickel for every employee who thought they would never need the grievance process but found themselves forced by circumstances, often beyond their control, to go down that path. So when the majority report recommends abiding by state law, I have to say, that’s all well and good, but that depends on what state law is. We have to ask, why is President Broad trying to change state law?
Before I leave the topic of “property interest,” I should point out that the Chancellor is unlikely to ever appoint a committee to study the elimination of the faculty’s property interest or tenure. If he did, there would be a hew and cry that could be heard from here all the way to Mt. Mitchell. If he loaded the committee with EPA and SPA employees, so that faculty were only one-third of that study committee, the cry could be heard all the way to the Rockies.
There is another contradiction in the administration’s case for management flexibility. What they want to do is eliminate SPA employment. I have heard that President Broad wants one class of employee. But changing state law won’t eliminate SPA employment, at least not for another thirty or more years, until the last SPA employee retires. Instead of simplifying the personnel system, they will actually be making it more complex.
A similar point was raised in committee and in the community forums. Human Resource Information Systems presumably finds it too difficult to maintain information systems for both EPA and SPA employees. This is a spurious argument. Information systems adapt to the needs of the organization, not the other way around. I question whether it’s really HRIS employees who are advancing this argument anyway.
In reviewing the collective bargaining contracts of our peers, we found that their HR departments are keeping track of employee seniority in the state system, their seniority in the employee’s current bargaining unit, their seniority in any bargaining unit they’ve ever belonged to, and in some cases their seniority in every job they’ve every qualified for. If our peers can do that, why is it so difficult for our information systems to keep track of two distinctions, EPA and SPA?
Additionally, on our own campus, there are many classifications for faculty and temporary employees. We have graduate teaching assistants, lecturers, instructors, assistant professors, associate professor, and full professors. Then there are the non-tenure track classifications for research assistant professors, research associate professors, and research professors. Then there the administrative classifications for department heads, deans and assistant deans. There are also emeritus classifications and more I haven’t named. For temporary employees there are time-limited, part-time, full-time, those hired through Tar Heel Temps and those hired through the department, and other distinctions. Why, then, is there any need to further simplify the three major classifications of most staff employees—EPA, SPA exempt from overtime laws, and SPA non-exempt from overtime laws? Besides, federal law requires that we maintain distinctions between those who qualify for time-and-a-half pay and those who don’t.
I’ve also heard that the policy differences between EPA and SPA are so few that we just need to merge the classifications to eliminate these policy differences altogether. I say, if the policy differences are so few, they can’t be causing that much trouble in the first place. Why not just leave it as it is?
Finally on this point, in reviewing our peer institutions, the vast majority maintain both legal and policy distinctions between the classes of employees that we designate as EPA and SPA.
The argument that we have to have one class of employee is clearly fallacious and clearly motivated by other reasons.
Now I come to the issue of money. It was clear from the discussions that the administration wants to eliminate longevity pay. The bill proposed by President Broad would have ended the longevity system for anyone hired after the bill became law. But in committee there were discussions about rolling longevity pay into base pay. So it’s not clear to me that people already employed but with less than 10 years of service would ever qualify for longevity pay. Or those who are receiving longevity pay based on 10 years of service would ever qualify for the increase after 15 years of service. Again, for me, the devil is in the details.
At one point, it was asserted that longevity pay is inconsistent with the desire for merit pay. I don’t see it that way. I see longevity pay as a form of merit pay in and of itself—an incentive for career public service and a reward for continuing one’s career in public service.
The administration intends to eliminate all across the board increases. There would no longer be pay increases for career growth. There would no longer be cost-of-living increases. All pay would be merit-based pay.
At the same meeting in Hamilton Hall when the Chancellor announced the formation of the committee, he asked Provost Shelton to describe how public-private partnerships would bring money into the university, and how those funds could be distributed to the benefit of all. When Provost Shelton finished, I didn’t understand it. In the course of the committee’s deliberations, the topic of public-private partnerships was raised. No one ever explained how this would work. We never asked our peer institutions about it. If you search the majority report, you won’t find anywhere a mention of public-private partnerships.
In regards to a system of only merit-based pay, I don’t foresee the legislature giving us more money for increases than they would otherwise give for a pay increase to all state employees. In other words, I envision that if the legislature awards a 2% increase, almost all state employees will be receive a 2% increase. The university will be given a lump sum, equivalent to a 2% increase for each employee. Under a merit system, let’s say 50% of employees receive more than 2% as a merit increase. That amount has to be offset by giving the other 50% of employees less than 2%. If one employee receives 2.5%, someone else will only receive 1.5%. If someone receives 3%, someone else will receive only 1%. If someone receives 4%, someone else will get nothing.
If you look at the results of the input committee’s survey, you’ll see that about 65% of employees who responded prefer merit-based pay over cost-of-living increases. Personally, I can’t conceive of a merit-based pay system that will award 65% of employees an above average increase and only 35% a below average increase. It’s just not possible, unless the system is excessively unfair to the least-deserving 35%. The more likely scenario is that about one-third of employees will receive an above average increase. About one third will receive the average increase. And about one third will receive below average increases, or nothing. So in regards to this survey, one of three things must be true. Either the survey was filled out overwhelmingly by those who are meritorious, or some people have an inflated view of their merit, or some people just haven’t thought this through. There’s no way that 65% of employees are going to receive above average pay increases. In addition, we have to ask, would such a system be fair to non-supervisors? Or would supervisors have the advantage?
In committee, the point was made that not awarding cost-of-living increases was tantamount to allowing inflation to punish good employees. This argument appeared to fall on deaf ears.
In committee, the question was raised of using tuition to fund SPA increases. That suggestion fell on the table like a lead balloon.
Faculty have five avenues for increasing their incomes—contracts and grants, tuition, pay increases from the legislature, increases to achieve equity, and supplements from endowed chairs. About two-thirds of staff have three avenues—pay increases from the legislature, and increases through reclassifications and range revisions, and the in-range salary adjustment program. About one-third of staff have only one avenue—pay increases from the legislature. These are in departments where there isn’t enough money to fund in-range adjustments, or if there is enough money, departments decline to participate in the program. In the last decade, faculty compensation at UNC-Chapel Hill has risen 41%, about 10% above inflation. Most staff have made zero gains against inflation, and a substantial proportion have lost ground to inflation. I take exception to faculty endorsing a design that will further suppress the incomes of a substantial proportion of staff.
I look at a personnel system like an automobile. You can design a Cadillac, or you can design a Chevy, or you can design a Corvette, or a Volkswagen. Whatever the design, you need fuel to operate it. Without the fuel, you aren’t going anywhere. The administration may contend that with management flexibility, they can design a more fuel-efficient system. Here’s where the analogy breaks own. The engine doesn’t care how much fuel is in the car. The wheels don’t care how much fuel is in the car. The windshield doesn’t care how much fuel is in the car. Factors such as fairness, equity, and workplace justice don’t matter to the parts of a car. But they do matter in a personnel system, because a personnel system is comprised of people. To people, fairness, equity, and workplace justice do matter.
When it comes to fuel and fairness, I believe the design of the Comprehensive Compensation System is a good design. We have SEANC to thank for the design. More specifically, we have Peter Schledorn to thank for the design. There is nothing wrong with the design. It just needs some fuel to operate. As in the movie Jerry Macguire, the short answer is, “Show me the money.” Unfortunately, the majority report doesn’t show me the money.
In the final analysis, I have come to view management flexibility as yet another manifestation of the administration’s ongoing war against their own employees. Our current leaders may not have been here for all the battles, but I have been here for many. I remember the effort to take away our holidays. Who could forget the three years battling privatization? The span-of-control study. The adverse weather policy. The loss of rights and compensation by hospital employees. The overworking of salaried employees and the battles over comp time.
I do believe that the matter of trust between administrators and employees is the most pressing issue facing the university, bar none. The issue of trust is more important than buildings. The issue of trust is more important than faculty salaries. The issue of trust is tearing at the very fabric of our university community and the community of Chapel Hill.
Why, when the issue of trust is so important, why would any administration wage a propaganda campaign for a management flexibility proposal that is so obviously NOT going to benefit most employees? Why would they present a plan that factionalizes employees, setting faculty against staff, EPAs against SPAs, supervisors against non-supervisors? Why, when the issue of trust is so important, why would they wage yet another war on their own employees?
The Chair thanked Hutton and Hovious for their remarks. He read a statement from Gary Pearce, a third Employee representative on the personnel flexibility study committee. Pearce said that he had abstained from the vote because the call for collective bargaining smelled like a union to him. He felt grateful to the committee for its support and fair and equitable treatment. However, he thought that the personnel flexibility initiative would hurt more Employees than it would help. He thought that flexibility would do more to support the administration than Employees.
The Chair said that Employees would need to do a lot of careful thinking about the report and its conclusions.
Human Resources Update
The Chair welcomed Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Charest thanked everyone who participated in the University blood drive, stating that over 1,000 employees and friends of the University helped collect 912 pints of blood, with eighty-three first time donors.
Secondly, Charest noted that the University would participate in the Office of State Personnel’s pilot broad-banding program. Personnel in the information technology area will be trained in September for the program. She said that more information would become available soon.
In addition, Charest noted that proposals such as early retirement, extra vacation and one-time bonuses were only included in the House budget, not the Senate. Much depends on the work of the conference committee. She had heard that the House had considered giving State employees ten additional days of vacation in lieu of a pay raise, but these days would go away at the end of the fiscal year. She did not know how the University would track these days separately.
Also, Charest noted the House’s early retirement initiative, which would offer employees 55 years or older with 25 years of service a bridge payment until they reach 62 years of age. Eligible employees would have a six month window in which to choose whether to take this option.
Charest noted questions about the implications of the State health plan moving from the fiscal to the calendar year. The questioner wanted to know what would happen to deductibles. Charest said that there would probably be a six month deductible period. A delegate asked if Employees with 30 years of service must be 55 years old to use the early retirement option, and Charest said that according to the current proposal one must be 55 years old.
An Employee asked if under the House proposal, Employees must use vacation and sick leave in the same time frame. Charest said that as proposed the answer is no, and vacation transferred to sick leave could carry over to sick leave, but she did not know for sure.
An Employee asked how long generalists will take to send hiring sections to departments. Charest said that at the end of the closing period, generalists will send the final batch of applications to departments when the batch is ready, usually several days.
At this point, the Forum took a five minute stretch break.
Approval of Minutes
The Chair called for a motion to approve the minutes of the July 3 meeting. Rob Sadler made this motion, seconded by Lee Edmark. The Forum approved this motion by acclamation.
The Chair presented a proposed revision to the Forum guidelines for consideration on second reading. He read the proposed revision. Rob Sadler moved that the Forum strike the words “from the University campus” from the proposed revision. The Forum approved this motion by acclamation. Sadler then moved that the Forum approve the proposed resolution, seconded by Kay Teague. The motion was approved by acclamation.
The Chair noted that the Forum had received resolution 02-07 on the personnel flexibility study committee. Kay Teague moved that the Forum set its rules aside to have a first and second reading of the resolution at the same meeting.
Fred Jordan asked why Teague was in such a hurry to get the motion approved. The Chair said that the personnel flexibility report had gone to the Office of the President without dissenting opinions. He wanted to make sure that the minority report was read and that all relevant information is received by decision-makers and Employees. He said that the Legislature was supposed to delay consideration of the issue until 2003 but that the Office of the President had requested a finished report by August of this year. He wanted to make sure that all sides had a fair shake in the matter.
The Forum heard the resolution on first reading. Kay Teague then moved to suspend the rules to allow consideration of the resolution on second reading, seconded by Diane O’Connor. The Forum approved suspension of the rules unanimously.
Barbara Logue then moved to approve the resolution on second reading, seconded by Diane O’Connor. The motion was approved by majority vote on second reading.
Fred Jordan, chair of the Career Development committee, said the group would meet again August 15 at 2:30 p.m. in Sitterson Hall.
Linda Collins, chair of the Communications committee, said the group had last met July 18 and would meet again soon to discuss plans for a combined July/August issue. She said that a subgroup of the committee could meet to discuss a redesign of the Forum website August 15.
Gary Lloyd, chair of the Employee Presentations committee, said that the group had met September 5. The group will host the Forum’s fall community meeting Friday, September 13 from 10:30-noon in Hamilton Hall 100. Charest and Associate Provost for Finance Elvira Mangum will be the main presenters at the meeting, which will address personnel flexibility issues. The Chair encouraged Employees to attend this meeting if at all possible.
Matt Banks of the Nominating committee noted that 2003 election ballots would go out that month. He said that the Forum had experienced a significant increase in the percentage of nominations accepted by Employees nominated.
Barbara Logue, co-chair of the Orientation committee, said that Kay Hovious had agreed to speak at the Forum’s ten year anniversary. She said that Sylvia White had ordered food for the event and had come close to the Forum’s budget ceiling.
Logue asked members to return a sheet explaining what being a Forum representative means to them for use in the new delegate orientation. She also asked members to think about co-chairing committees for next year.
Lee Edmark, chair of the University Committee Assignments committee, said that group would work on securing Employee representation on the upcoming vice chancellor search committees. The committee is also searching for people to serve on EPA non-faculty grievance, insurance, and sexual harassment review committees.
The Chair said that he had been active with the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT), which replaces the Transportation and Parking Advisory committee (TPAC). In the interest of time, he shortened his report. He also thanked everyone for the hard work they have done through the summer.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:32 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary