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UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

December 2, 2015

Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library  (room change)

NOTE:  This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without advance notice.

9:10 a.m. –  9:25 a.m.  Winter Holiday Potluck & Social

I.   Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Charles Streeter (9:25 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)

  • Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press

II.   Special Presentation (9:30 a.m. – 9:50 a.m.)

  • Joel Curran, Vice Chancellor for Communications & Public Affairs, and Natalie Vizuete, Director of Social Media

III. Human Resources Update – Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington (9:50 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.)

IV. Old Business (10:10 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.)

  • Student Stores

V.  New Business (10:20 a.m. – 10:35 a.m.)

  • Drawing for Holiday Prizes
  • Approval of November Minutes (SharepPoint Link, Delegate-Only Access)

VI. Forum Committees (10:35m. – 10:55 a.m.)

  • Carolina Blood Drive: Jim Fuller  (Blood Drive December 10th, Fetzer Hall, 7:30 – 1 p.m.)
  • Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder (October minutes)
  • Communications and Public Relations: Katie Turner
  • Education and Career Development: Samara Reynolds
    • Recognition & Awards
  • Membership & Assignments:  Kathy Ramsey
  • Personnel Issues:  Chrissie Greenberg
    • Compensation & Benefits:  John Williams
    • Legislative Action:  Christopher Powe
    • Staff Relations, Policies & Practices:
  • UNC System Staff Assembly: Kim Andrews/Shane Hale/Charles Streeter/Victoria Hammett
  • Executive Committee: Charles Streeter

VII. Announcements/Questions (10:55 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)

VIII.  Adjournment


Attending (those who signed in):  Kim Andrews, Jo-Ann Blake, Sharon Brinson, Bonita Brown, Clare Counihan, Mary Dahlsten, Phillip Edwards, Shantell Ferrell, Christine Greenberg, Victoria Hammett, Kathy James, Karen Jenkins, Gabrielle Jones, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Natiaya Neal, Jackie Overton, Michael Penny, Kelli Raker, Kathy Ramsey, Charles Streeter, Ben Triplett, Katie Turner

Excused Absences:  All excused due to lockdown?

Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 9:54 a.m. following the all clear signal after a campus lockdown due to a reported armed man spotted on campus.  He noted that employees had been told to shelter in place, meaning that they should not have left their current location before receiving the “all clear” signal.  The Chair said that a number of delegates were unable to attend the day’s meeting due to the shelter in place requirement.

The Chair reported that Vice Chancellor Joel Curran and Director of Social Media Natalie Vizuete would be unable to present that morning due to media duties associated with the lockdown.  He hoped that they could present at a future Forum meeting.  He hoped that delegates had enjoyed their Thanksgiving.

The Chair noted that recent focus groups related to policies governing workplace harassment and violence had gone very well.  He was pleased that delegates had an opportunity to give their input on policy during its formation.  Kelli Raker noted that questions still remain such as what an accommodation would look like and how to accomplish an accommodation in an equitable way.  The Chair noted that the task force is constructing policies for faculty, fixed-term faculty, adjunct faculty, graduate students, and staff, among others, leading to different policies for each group.

The Chair noted that the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT) will discuss its process for constructing the University’s next five-year transit plan.  He said that the process will likely cover fifteen months of discussion and preparation.  He said that the Forum will almost certainly host a presentation from ACT members at a future meeting.  Katie Turner suggested that Parking allow staff employees working the day before a holiday to park for free on campus, given the number of empty spaces as others head for their vacation.

The Chair noted that the Forum had participated in a rally on Monday regarding the Student Stores situation.  He had not spoken during that event.  He noted that the Executive Committee will soon author a letter on this subject to the Chancellor.  He thought that the process so far had not been done correctly, in a manner sorely lacking formal analysis.  He said that the onus is on the Forum as an advisory body to the Chancellor to voice its concerns.  Katie Turner noted that the Raleigh News & Observer had published an editorial encouraging the University to keep Student Stores UNC-owned.  Matt McKirahan asked the context of the letter, particularly how it would be signed.  The Chair said that it would be from the Chair and other representatives of the Forum.  He said that the letter will not go out until January.

The Chair welcomed Interim Associate Vice Chancellor Gena Carter to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Carter wished all a good holiday season.  She noted that biweekly employees’ $750 pro-rated bonus will be paid in the December 11th paycheck, and monthly employees’ will receive their $750 pro-rated bonus in their December 22nd paycheck.  She said that the State will take taxes from this bonus but not retirement deductions.

Carter welcomed Senior Director for Benefits and Work Life Ashley Nicklis to present on the types of leave available to University employees.  She said that her department will provide information to the Forum on a periodic update in addition to timely updates.  She noted that the types of leave available to faculty were not included in this presentation.  She said that civil leave is available to employees for jury duty when called for jury duty or when called as a witness as part of one’s job.  Chrissie Greenberg confirmed that there is no maximum amount of civil leave awarded in most cases.

Regarding educational benefits, Nicklis said that employees should use their own leave to cover time for classes that are not job-related, such as to complete one’s degree.  Employees should either flex their schedule or use vacation leave to cover absences.  Kirk Montgomery asked about absences due to seeking certifications.  Nicklis said that this time is allowable as education leave as long as the certifications are part of one’s job.  Sharon Brinson asked how many hours of educational leave the University will provide.  Nicklis said that if the University is paying for the class, up to five hours a week are eligible.  However, the three courses a year allowed through tuition waiver are intended to be pursued outside of working hours.  Jo-Ann Blake asked if the tuition waiver is available for classes taken outside the UNC System or community colleges.  Nicklis said that employees could seek educational reimbursement, but not tuition waiver, for classes taken outside the UNC System.

Nicklis said that the University will pay 30 days of military leave to active or reserve military called into active duty, then will pay a military differential.  She said that employees serving as reservists receive 120 hours of military leave each federal fiscal year (October 1-September 30).  She noted that there are other provisions governing military leave.

With regard to vacation and sick leave, Nicklis noted that EPA non-faculty in Tier 1, such as the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors, earn 26 vacation days a year.  EPA non-faculty in Tier 2 earn 24 vacation days a year. SPA employees earn an increasing range of vacation leave, up to 17 hours a month for those employees with 20 years or more of State service.  Vacation is the most universal leave that can be used in any instance, with managerial approval.  Sick leave is earned for all employees at a rate of 8 hours/month.  Vacation leave exceeding 240 hours will be rolled over into sick leave each January 1st.

Bonus leave has taken different forms:  some leave never expires, while other leave expires at the end of the fiscal year.  Bonus leave that does not expire does not count towards the 240 hour a year limit.  Upon retirement, the University will pay out vacation and bonus leave but not sick leave.  Sick leave can be credited towards TSERS (State Retirement system) service, but ORP (Optional Retirement Program) enrollees forfeit their sick leave upon retirement.  Victoria Hammett confirmed that employees can retain their sick leave for five years following termination.  Nicklis said that this statement was true for separations other than retirement.  If an employee returns to State service within five years, they can retain their earned sick leave.

James Holman confirmed that an employee is limited to donating 40 hours sick leave to a non-family member, with a larger number allowed for donation to family members.  Jo-Ann Blake noted differences between the TSERS and ORP retirement programs.  Nicklis said that employees now have the right to choose between the two programs, but in 2013 could only select the TSERS plan.  She said that TSERS is a classic defined benefit pension plan while ORP is a defined contribution plan.  ORP participants make contributions to a Fidelity or TIAA-Cref 401(k) or 403(b) investment fund in hopes of a windfall upon retirement 20-30 years from now.  She said that enrollees have had to choose between the two programs, essentially receiving all of their retirement benefits through the ORP fund accumulation or the TSERS defined benefits.

Shantell Ferrell asked to whom an employee may donate sick leave.  Nicklis said that there are rules governing donation of sick leave.  The University’s policy is to allow unlimited donations of sick leave for an employee’s family members and allow a limit of 40 hours donated to non-family employees.  She noted that there are also unit and departmental limits on shared leave.  Ferrell asked the rationale for not allowing shared leave donations.  Nicklis said that discrepancies between the salaries of the different employees can lead to departments having to bear unexpected costs.  She emphasized that shared leave donations are at management discretion.

Kirk Montgomery asked if employees who opted for the ORP system can switch into the TSERS plan.  Nicklis said that the vesting time required for these plans is a perennial issue in the General Assembly’s legislative agenda.  She noted that vesting used to require five years’ service, then ten years’ service for the ORP plan.  She noted that the ORP enrollment is meant to be an irrevocable decision.  She clarified that the University requires five years’ service for vestment.

Nicklis noted that employees can receive workers’ compensation leave by North Carolina Law if an injury obtained on the job only allows certain work.

With regard to community service leave, Nicklis said that employees have the choice of different options.  Employees can use 24 pro-rated hours for community leave from January 1-December 31.  Employees should volunteer for schools or charitable organizations when using this leave.  Nicklis clarified that charitable organizations must be 501(c)(3) non-profits.   She said that church work are allowed but must exclude activities having a religious connotation.  Kathy James asked what proof the University requires to demonstrate that an employee has really done community service.  Todd Hux commented that in Facilities Services, one is required to submit a form signed by the event coordinator to his supervisor when taking this leave.  Nicklis said that there is no universal answer to James’ question, as much depends on the Human Resources policy in the particular unit.  She did say that leave policy must be applied universally to all employees in a particular unit.

Kathy Ramsey asked who approves community service leave and should one have to ask to take this leave.  Nicklis said that all leaves must have managerial approval, cleared in advance (except for sick leave).  She noted that disaster relief community leave requires training by the Red Cross.

Nicklis proposed to return a future meeting to discuss the Family and Medical Leave Act and shared leave programs.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the November meeting minutes.  Arlene Medder had submitted grammatical corrections to the minutes previously.  Kathy James made this motion, seconded by Kirk Montgomery.  The minutes were approved by acclamation.

The Forum returned to its holiday potluck festivities.

Todd Hux reported that the Carolina Blood Drive will resume Tuesday, December 8th.  He encouraged donors to use the Red Cross’ Rapid Pass system to speed up the entry process. He noted that donors must present themselves by 1 p.m. that day.

Arlene Medder said that the November meeting of the Carolina Campus Community Garden had been cancelled.

Katie Turner said that the Communications and Public Relations committee had worked on communication strategies for the November 30 Student Stores rally.  Committee members had contributed to a letter to the editor of the Daily Tar Heel on this subject.  She noted that the book club will go on hiatus for December but will resume with ‘1Q84’ in January.  She noted that the Campus Recreation department is promoting its “Eat Smart, Move More” program.

Matt McKirahan said that the Education and Career Development committee had met in November to discuss the upcoming higher education mini-conference, the Career Corner column in InTouch, and the professional development grant program.  He said that the committee is considering holding brown bag lunches for staff regarding career development issues.  McKirahan said that the roll out of the revised professional development grants will begin in mid-January for the next six months.  The Chair noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly Susan B. Royster professional grants are open in August and May.  He had encouraged employees to apply for those grants then the Forum’s grants.

Kathy Ramsey had no updates for the Membership and Assignments committee, beyond the Executive Committee’s next meeting at the Hickory Tavern in Carrboro.

Christine Greenberg said that the Personnel Issues committee discussed the Student Stores question and how the process had engendered mistrust among employees.  She thought that the Forum needs to develop a parallel initiative concerning outsourcing.  She thought that market studies concerning Student Stores revenue were old.  She noted also discussion of degree options towards part-time enrollment for University employees.  She also noted that Chris Chiron had provided a link to UNC Online programs, but she said that these programs are either very specific or very high in tuition.  She said that it remains a challenge to obtain a masters’ degree for employees.

The Chair said that he and Kirk Montgomery had discussed the Chancellor’s Workforce of the Future proposal.  He said that the Baby Boomer generation is now retiring but Generation X workers are not staying in one job quite as long.  These developments have led to difficulties for the University and other institutions.  Christine Greenberg commented that outsourcing causes equity issues and is not an answer for poor management, such as when it takes three months to recruit for a position.

The UNC System Staff Assembly will meet December 8th and 9th in Durham.

Ron Campbell discussed protocols for lockdowns.  He noted that students had ignored protocols to shelter in place following the siren.  Kathy James commented that she cannot hear the alarm at the Bioinformatics building.  Campbell said that Public Safety will look at interior notification for these buildings.  Kathy Ramsey noted that many students may feel that they cannot possibly miss an exam for any reason, siren or not.  Campbell said that all campus operations should cease until the all-clear signal is given.

The Forum returned to finish its prize drawings.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:56 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary


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