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December 16th, 2022 Employee Forum Executive Committee minutes

Attending: Randall Borror, Tiffany Carver, Elizabeth Dubose, Stephanie Forman, Leah Hefner, Keith Hines, James Holman, Arlene Medder, Katie Musgrove, Joe Ormond, Sara Pettaway, Laura Pratt, Janet Steele, Charles Streeter, Matthew Teal, Tracy Wetherby Williams

Chair Katie Musgrove called the meeting to order at 11:32 a.m. She welcomed Dawn Osborne-Adams and Trish Harris as special guests for the day’s discussions about recent occurrences in the Housekeeping area. She noted that the Forum had approved a resolution regarding this topic in April. She thanked Osborne-Adams for agreeing to help plan moderated discussions in the New Year.

The Chair noted that market rate adjustment increases have occurred for some of these roles, which represents good news, although there was some pushback from some frontline housekeepers in local media. There was also a feeling that these increases were not enough to support these workers’ current needs.

Dawn Osborne-Adams recalled that many present have worked with her in designing this kind of facilitated discussion. She began by asking conceptually what the group hopes to achieve and where the group is hoping to land. Planning for these sessions would organically occur following the answers to these questions. Osborne-Adams added that she was happy to serve in this role and to work with committee members to create something that would be helpful.

Thus, Osborne-Adams asked, what does the Forum hope to achieve and to avoid through these sessions. The Chair thought that the Forum’s resolution could serve as a basis for this discussion. She also wanted to ensure that housekeepers are feeling heard by the administration, with the right to raise issues of concern.

James Holman joined the call. He thought that housekeepers should have the opportunity to be interviewed separately from management, with no zone managers, assistant directors, or directors present. He thought that this is the only way to ensure that these people can speak freely. Osborne-Adams asked Holman if it would be acceptable to do a series of meetings with housekeepers, another meeting with zone managers, and a meeting with assistant directors, with the director. Holman thought that boots-on-the-ground groups were the most important sources of feedback out of these groups. He thought it important that these groups have a method through which they could converse with university leadership, perhaps inviting the Chancellor to these latter meetings.

The Chair commented that the protesting housekeepers who came to the Board of Trustees meeting and presented seemed to feel good about hearing from the Chancellor and Trustees in that setting. She thought having senior leaders feeling invested in what they are saying could be really important. Osbourne-Adams asked what size groups would be best for these meetings.

Holman said that having meetings attended on a voluntary basis would be a good start, as people would not be forced to attend if they do not want to do so. He suggested perhaps two sessions on first shift, with one session on second shift, as this shift has fewer workers. He thought it important to include the Burmese community, although it can be difficult for this community to speak freely, Holman said.

The Chair envisioned perhaps two first shift meetings for first shift boots-on-the-ground employees, followed by one session with first shift management. She proposed a similar structure for the second and third shifts. She granted that this amounted to a lot of meetings, but would limit each meeting to fifteen or twenty people. Holman thought that people could feel nervous about speaking generally and about speaking in front of one another.

Holman thought that having a cap of ten at each meeting would be best. He thought that this number of meetings would be manageable. In addition, he would like to see employees from each zone participate, perhaps North Campus one meeting and South Campus the next. Osborne-Adams raised the question of in-person versus Zoom meetings. Holman sought a session in which employees would feel directed to give their best advice as to improving the Housekeeping department, rather than participate in a complaining session.

The Chair confirmed that having interpreters present would be best. Osborne-Adams thought that interpreters should not be associated with the University in any way, as their working role could put them in an unfair position in playing this dual role. She thought it best that the university pay for interpreters. Holman noted that housekeepers might feel more confident speaking for an interpreter whom they already know through the workforce.

Trish Harris suggested that the Employee Forum request that the Chancellor’s Office find money for these interpreters. The Chair noted the need for a proposal for this purpose.

The Chair envisioned that management would develop an action plan for success following these meetings, to provide a meaningful suggestion for top-level administrators. Osborne-Adams confirmed that the meetings should yield recommendations in written form containing actionable items.

The Chair thought that even having these meetings as a vehicle for housekeepers to voice concerns is in itself a tangible outcome, as statements made will be elevated to the highest levels for consideration. She noted the work of the Employee Forum and the Carolina Black Caucus on behalf of housekeepers is sometimes not appreciated. She thought that having Chancellor Guskiewicz and Associate Vice Chancellor Wu in the room for these meetings would demonstrate that the university takes these concerns seriously.

Osborne-Adams asked Holman the ideal outcome for these meetings, depending on what may be found. Holman said that the university would need to intercede in certain situations to change working conditions. Osborne-Adams asked if it would make sense for Wu to return to a larger group follow-up session to summarize what she had heard and what the next steps would be.

Matthew Teal agreed with the direction of this planning. He thought that the meetings will have failed without a vigorous action plan resultant from them, even if discussions are robust and engaging. He recalled from his earlier conversations with housekeepers that these employees feel fed up and frustrated, like they are shouting into a void. He noted that these housekeepers were quoted that no one in the Administration had reached out regarding any of their concerns, leading to the move to protest and submit petitions.

Teal looked to the Forum’s resolution and its specific requests giving housekeepers more flexibility in response to inclement weather and in choices about overtime pay or comp time pay as easy wins for the administration.

Holman thought it also important to explain the process of how raises are given to housekeepers as a means to improve understanding of the current situation. He thought that some housekeepers have an overly simple view of how salary increases occur on campus, and need to learn how the process works in actuality.

Osborne-Adams wondered about how much level-setting information about expectations should occur in these meetings. She suggested having a ten-minute period during the conversation whereby these expectations are set. This structure would differ from the traditional Q&A format. Trish Harris agreed that people throughout the University do not understand how raises are awarded and advised separate comments on this subject and even providing a handout to attendees to take home. Otherwise, attendees may forget what they have heard in these meetings without additional reinforcement.

Harris noted that the university is a state institution bound by the laws of the state. She said that this fact needs to be made clear to attendees in multiple languages, perhaps on the handout describing how raises occur for state agencies. She recalled that housekeepers had sought help from students who also did not understand the state’s process for granting raises. She thought efforts in this area would pay off.

Stephanie Forman worried that a session of level-setting on university finance in these meetings would put bounds on the other concerns that attendees might bring. Osborne-Adams thought this was a great point that underscores the power of the facilitator to frame discussion in a certain way.

Holman added that he understood that postings for housekeeping positions are not occurring, as people applying for these positions are not receiving interviews because of a lack of housekeeping experience. He said that the department can train people to work in these areas. Keith Hines noted the speed with which certain athletics teams at Carolina can hire new personnel versus the speeds that are reserved for line departments.

Osborne-Adams found that people in facilitated sessions are willing to do what is requested, but when given multiple areas of concentration this arrangement can lead to chaos. She advocated setting one very simple task for attendees and facilitators to aim to do. At this point, she departed the meeting for another commitment.

The Chair proposed that the Executive Committee continue thinking about this question as a group, returning in early January with ideas about facilitation. She thought perhaps a facilitated session or video might go out to housekeepers prior to these meetings whereby a description of the campus situation related to raises could feature. Holman noted that there have been questions about these meetings already in the Housekeeping Department.

Members asked if there is any other financial ask that the Forum could make of the Chancellor’s Office related to this process. Trish Harris noted that these items could feature on the one-page document outlining the overall process for these meetings.

Stephanie Forman suggested serving attendees coffee, while Laura Pratt asked about the availability of meeting space. Holman suggested the Housekeeping Office as a place to meet, although others worried that housekeepers might feel reluctant to speak freely there.

Members agreed to work on a draft proposal with Trish Harris. Questions arose as to funding the production of handouts for the meetings. The Chair would hold meetings with Anna Wu and Becci Menghini regarding the structure of these meetings in the next week, towards execution in the new year.

The Chair moved to the next item on the agenda, the set of listening sessions regarding the Carolina Women’s Center, overseen by School of Law Professor Beth Posner. Posner had asked the Chair to work on scheduling listening sessions for staff employees in parallel with those in place for faculty and students. Another part of this process will feature an anonymous feedback form. The Chair hoped to use the already existing groups established on campus (STACC, Employee Forum, Carolina Black Caucus, etc.) to save planning energy. She thought having the Employee Forum session hosted by the Forum’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee could provide a different perspective for listeners. She thought this idea would be more effective than pulling together registrations from staff across campus.

Stephanie Forman asked what framing will be used in these meetings. The Chair said that Posner’s group will facilitate these meetings and so will set this structure. She offered to forward ideas to Posner and her group. The Chair thought that perhaps the Forum could use an all-campus email to request anonymous feedback beyond the listening sessions with existing groups.  She did not want to limit conversations to the DEI committee and other campus groups.

Janet Steele said that the DEI committee could likely host this meeting in January. She would make sure that the meeting did indeed occur given the need. The Chair hoped that the meeting could occur in late January.

Trish Harris said that she would do an open call to all members of the Carolina Black Caucus towards scheduling a January meeting for that group as well. Members discussed other scheduling logistics for this meeting.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the November minutes. Janet Steele made this motion, seconded by Elizabeth Dubose. Dubose asked if the committee has a quorum. [One-third of committee membership constitutes a quorum under the Forum Bylaws.] A quorum was found, and the motion was approved by acclamation.

The Chair noted that the Forum needs to present Michele Fulton with a depiction of funds remaining for the summer Carolina Blood Drive. Matt Banks discussed details of the budget with committee members. He noted that the Forum has funded almost all of its November 2022 professional development grant recipients for their projects. He suggested perhaps devoting some funds to updating the Forum’s plaques and other associated expenses.

The Chair said that the Forum bylaws need revision. She said that this process requires two months’ discussion. She hoped that the Forum Parliamentarian would work with volunteers to accomplish these revisions. She asked the committee to discuss a prospective Chair-Elect system for chair elections. Rebecca Howell offered to work on this effort.

Laura Pratt asked about the Forum’s previous discussion of election procedure revisions. She asked that Matt Banks provide this discussion from the Forum minutes to the Executive committee. The Chair noted that the Faculty Council and the UNC System Staff Assembly have approved Chair-Elect systems in recent years.

Charles Streeter recalled that the Forum never acted on a similar proposal during Shayna Hill’s term. He noted that there were lingering questions about the eventual role of the Forum Vice Chair and the outlook of officer succession under this proposal.

The Chair said that her motivation for this proposal was to alleviate the Chair’s burden of attempting to find and vet future leadership prospects. The proposal would also provide delegates a more logical trajectory when considering stepping into a leadership role. She thought this idea would provide departments with more transition time to prepare for an employee serving in the Chair’s role. Charles Streeter added that having a Chair-Elect would allow introductions to the University community for this delegate prior to their assuming the chair position.

The Chair asked members’ opinions of this proposal, saying that it would require buy-in from the Forum as a whole. She would begin working with Howell and other delegates to write language for these Bylaws revisions.

The committee moved to forego committee updates. Laura Pratt reported that the Blood Drive had exceeded donation goals by a significant amount. 368 units of blood were collected, the most collected in a December drive in a decade. The summer blood drive will occur on Wednesday, May 3rd this year. The Chair praised Pratt and Amber Meads for their leadership of the drive this year.

The Chair said that she, Shane Brogan, Joe Ormond, and a few other delegates met yesterday to pull together InTouch’s December edition. Members with content or suggestions should contact Brogan or Ormond soon. Brogan hoped to publish either that day or the Monday following.

The Chair recalled that the Forum will hold its general meeting January 11th and its next Vice Chancellor representatives’ meeting on Thursday, February 9th. The committee discussed possible speakers for the January meeting. Members discussed the merits of EHRA conversion.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 12:57 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Matt Banks, Recording Secretary


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