December 15, 2015 Executive Committee minutes
Attending: Sharon Brinson, Bonita Brown, Gena Carter, Clare Counihan, Phillip Edwards, David Fraley, Jim Fuller, Christine Greenberg, Shayna Hill, James Holman, Arlene Medder, Kirk Montgomery, Jackie Overton, Christopher Powe, Kathy Ramsey, Samantha Reynolds, Charles Streeter, Ben Triplett, Katie Turner, John Williams
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:28 a.m. He noted feedback from UNC System Staff Assembly Chair Pernell Bartlett that incoming UNC System President Margaret Spellings is someone with whom employees can work. Katie Turner noted that forty-eight UNC-Chapel Hill faculty signed a letter asking the Faculty Council to pass a resolution requesting that Spellings affirm her commitment to working with all members of the UNC community regardless of their sexual orientation. The faculty noted that during her time as Secretary of Education in George W. Bush’s administration, she withdrew funding from a PBS program because it featured a same-sex couple. Turner said that there are deep divisions among faculty regarding how to receive the incoming president. The Chair was skeptical that anyone can change the UNC System to the degree feared by Spellings’ critics. He said that UNC employees should hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Turner said that faculty have not engaged in shared action but have pursued individual means of protest such as writing to the News & Observer. Clare Counihan worried that Spellings’ administration will move in sneaky ways to impact fields out of favor such as gender and sexuality studies. The Chair said that the Forum must keep an eye out for these moves. He also noted that Spellings will not be inaugurated until March 2016.
Vice Chair Kirk Montgomery called for a motion to approve the minutes of the September meeting. Clare Counihan noted that she had submitted corrections to these minutes. She moved that the minutes be approved as amended. The motion carried.
Montgomery called for a motion to approve the minutes of the October meeting. Arlene Medder and Ben Triplett had submitted corrections to the minutes previously. Medder made this motion, seconded by Bonita Brown that the minutes be approved as amended. The motion carried.
Montgomery called for a motion to approve the minutes of the November meeting. He noted that he had attended the November meeting. Medder and Counihan had also submitted corrections. Medder made this motion, seconded by Kathy Ramsey. The motion carried.
Shayna Hill presented the Forum’s monthly budget report. She noted that the Forum had requested a supplement in funding from the Staff Development fund to support spring editions of the notary public training classes. Gena Carter said that she would check on the status of this letter.
The Chair noted the packet of information that was included with this month’s agenda packet related to the Student Stores situation. Katie Turner noted that a faculty member had asked Chancellor Folt to share her personal view of this question at the December Faculty Council meeting. Folt had said that she would stand by the decision of the Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration with regard to this issue. Turner said that the Faculty Council meeting video with the Chancellor’s comments is online at the Office of Faculty Governance website. She noted that Vice Chancellor Matt Fajack did not attend that meeting.
The Chair called for a plan and strategy to handle developments regarding efforts to outsource as they occur. Turner noted that Folt seemed to think that the Request for Proposals (RFP) had already been issued. Paul Cardillo, a Student Stores employee, confirmed that there was no RFP online as of that morning. He recalled that, during the meeting, Legal Counsel Pat Crawford confirmed that the Student Stores proposal would be a Request for Information (RFI), not a RFP, as it is considered under State law as a revenue generating agency. Kirk Montgomery asked if Vice Chancellor Fajack can choose any vendor. Stephanie Berrier, a Student Stores employee, said that the selection can be made without being bound by financial considerations. Cardillo said that the administration is not bound by the same rules as a typical RFP. He said that Student Stores employees have been promised to see a copy of the RFI at another all-hands meeting on December 21. He thought that the administration will wait to issue the RFI until mid-January. The administration will seek internal input during the intervening six-week period. He said that the RFI advisory committee would convene in late February or early March with a target date for a decision of early April at the latest.
Berrier said that Student Stores staff will not be appointed to the committee. The Chair said that Student Stores employees should be ex officio members. He noted that two Employee Forum representatives will serve on the committee. It was noted that the Student Stores bid group will have a chance to view other companies’ presentations before having a week to put together its own presentation.
Christine Greenberg asked if the budget discussions will include the hardware upgrade for the Stores’ payment systems. Shayna Hill thought that since the RFI process is not bound to generate the most revenue for the University, increased emphasis should be placed on criteria such as employee job security, customer service, and student employment. Kirk Montgomery had read that the Student Stores privatization effort could not preserve the Carolina Computing Initiative.
Greenberg asked how accounting for Student Stores functions. Berrier said that the Stores have their own accounting system, other than Payroll services. Greenberg asked if Student Stores are bound by trust fund rules, noting that her department, Study Abroad, must maintain general revenues in department. Berrier said that the Student Stores buy for retail purposes and so would have an RFP for an outside company. Student Stores undergoes a different set of rules for Purchasing and other areas. Kirk Montgomery asked if the committee could essentially pick the company it wants. Berrier said that Campus Bookstore Consulting (CBC), the consultant firm hired to prepare the RFI, had pledged not to take sides. She said that CBC has been responsible for both helping universities outsource and assisting universities with taking back bookstores after outsourcing had a negative impact.
Katie Turner asked Berrier to discuss the Umstead Act and its impact on a private company. Berrier said that Student Stores are subject to the Umstead Act, which states that State businesses cannot compete with local businesses. Thus, Student Stores could only sell to faculty, staff, students, alumni and families. She said that everything Student Stores carries must be academic or carry the University logo. She noted that Pat Crawford had clarified that Student Stores would still be subject to the Act if it were transferred to a private entity. Crawford said that any loophole providing exemption would be in violation of the law. Berrier said that Follett may not have taken the Umstead Act into account in its privatization of other bookstores in the UNC System.
The Chair noted that an East Carolina University Staff Senate resolution had asked for an investigation into market rates and analyses in order to lay the groundwork for more staff salary increases. He said that the UNC System Staff Assembly wants to produce a similar resolution for consideration by incoming President Spellings. Arlene Medder asked if the Personnel Issues committee planned to work on a market survey. Chrissie Greenberg said that the committee had discussed the idea but had not yet produced a draft. The Chair hoped that the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum could adopt the other resolutions.
Katie Turner voiced an objection to the Forum rule that UNC-Chapel Hill’s UNC System Staff Assembly representatives must vote in accordance with Forum positions. She thought that the Forum did not have a right to dictate how a representative votes in a different body. The Chair said that the Forum serves in an advisory position to the Chancellor and so expects its direction to be reflected in its Staff Assembly delegation.
Shayna Hill asked the last time a market analysis had been done on University positions. Montgomery said it had been done in 2008. James Holman proposed that the Forum prepare a resolution for the January meeting.
The Chair said that the Forum will work on a plan and timeline for the next six months over the holiday break.
Kirk Montgomery asked about reports that Student Stores are out of compliance with regard to credit card identity certification. Stephanie Berrier said that being out of compliance means that Student Stores must take the loss for a fraudulent credit card transaction instead of the cardholder’s bank. It was noted that businesses across the country are out of compliance due to the transition to chip identity verification. Approximately only 30% of retailers are currently compliant. Katie Turner asked if the Forum should draw attention to things of this nature to protect employees who would wish to remain anonymous. Members concluded that there had not been negligence in this area on the part of the Administration beyond exposing the Stores to liability for fraudulent credit card transactions.
Delegates discussed the letter written to the Chair from former Associate Vice Chancellor Carolyn Efland concerning the Student Stores outsourcing discussion. She made points about the auxiliaries tax charged to Student Stores, which had undercut revenues in recent years. Stephanie Berrier said that the tax began after the Stores’ renovation and cost approximately $600,000/year. Student Stores use University Payroll and Human Resources services but not information technology or grounds services. Based on gross revenues, Student Stores were losing money on this arrangement. Meredith Weiss had attempted to reduce this cost to $250,000/year. Kirk Montgomery said that this tax could have been a source for cited declining Student Stores revenues.
The Chair sought to establish an intentional plan to deal with this process. He said that the Forum needs to establish a formal committee on Student Stores questions. Christine Greenberg said that the Personnel Issues committee would give this group its full support. She said that shared services generally will become a new initiative under study by the Task Force for the Workplace of the Future. Gena Carter asked for a copy of Carolyn Efland’s letter. Ben Triplett asked if Student Stores employees have enough information to allow them to compete on an equal playing field with other interested corporations. Stephanie Berrier noted that these employees will have use of a free consultant to prepare for their presentation.
Katie Turner noted that the cost of the Campus Bookstore Consultants had been billed to Student Stores, money which could have been used for student scholarships. Christine Greenberg thought it a shame to place one part of the University in competition with another. The Chair said that he would reach out to Carolyn Efland to ask to share her letter with a broader audience. Turner asked about including the Forum Executive Committee in consultations about the Request for Information (RFI) before it came out. The Chair recalled that this was promised at the October Vice Chancellors’ meeting.
There was a question about any outsourcing initiatives at the University beyond that at Student Stores. The Chair recalled that Vice Chancellor Matt Fajack had said that they were not aware of any outsourcing initiative at the October Vice Chancellors’ meeting.
It was noted that there would be another Student Stores employee meeting on December 21. The Chair, Kirk Montgomery, and Katie Turner hoped to obtain an invitation to that meeting.
The Chair said that the Executive Committee would not hold a January retreat this year.
Jim Fuller noted that the Carolina Blood Drive had turned away some donors at its December drive due to the need to comply with a new Red Cross policy to stop taking donors at 1 p.m. He noted overwhelming support from faculty and graduate students compared with past years.
Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Campus Community Garden hosted a successful weed dating session. The Garden is still looking to hold its second shift distribution at 5 p.m. The Garden hopes to hold a spring opening for the greenhouse.
Katie Turner said that the Communications & Public Relations committee will publish another edition of InTouch before the New Year. The committee will host the Forum book club in January and February.
Nakenge Robertson said that the Education and Career Development committee will work to plan the higher education mini-conference which will take place March 22. The committee will invite a range of panelists to speak on topics of interest. The Chair noted that the professional development grants, peer recognition award banquet, and Carolina Family Scholarships will also need attention and funding this semester. He said that the committee is still overseeing work of the Recognition & Awards committee.
Kathy Ramsey said that the Membership & Assignments committee had worked on preparations for the Executive Committee meeting at Hickory Tavern that day. The committee will not need to plan for the January Executive Committee retreat, as that has been canceled. Members of the Executive Committee applauded her for arranging the meeting.
Christine Greenberg said that the Personnel Issues committee will study outsourcing and shared services issues, as well as educational options for staff employees.
The Chair reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly had met recently at NC Central University and NC School of Science and Math, both in Durham. General Administration has received a revised adverse weather policy allowing the Chancellor more flexibility in making those decisions. Gena Carter said that the Office of State Human Resources and the State Human Resources Commission had approved the policy. She said that General Administration will likely rule on implementation of that policy this week.
Kirk Montgomery asked about the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament. The Chair said that NC State University is on stand-by and will more than likely host the event. He said that the Employee Forum will need to find sponsors for its hole. The Forum would receive back 15% of all funds pledged to the tournament.
Katie Turner suggested possibly postponing the Task Force on University History from January to another month given the otherwise full agenda that month. She reported an idea from Daniela Serna of Campus Recreation to introduce campus instructors into workplaces. She mentioned the Forum possibly hosting a stretch and relax class in the spring during a lunchtime. These exercises would be low impact and light yoga. The Chair proposed that the Forum provide light refreshments for the class.
Shayna Hill noted that the School of Dentistry will hold its first staff retreat. The retreat will feature an Employee Forum table. The Chair noted the activities of the next six months, including elections, awards banquets, mini-conferences, book club meetings, and needed sessions to change the Bylaws to allow the Forum to hold its retreat in July.
The Chair thanked delegates for their service throughout the year.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:14 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary