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August 17, 2021 Executive Committee minutes

Attending: L. E. Alexander, Sharron Bouquin, Shane Brogan, Tiffany Carver, Phil Edwards, Stephanie Forman, Natasha Hanks, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, James Holman, Brigitte Ironside, Kira Jones, Angenette McAdoo, Katie Musgrove, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, Antonio Squire, Matthew Teal, Alice Whiteside, Jacob Womack

Excused Absence: Arlene Medder

Chair Katie Musgrove called the meeting to order at 11:30 a.m. Jacob Womack moved that the June minutes be approved, seconded by Laura Pratt. The motion was approved by unanimous consent.

Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget. Delegates had several questions about this budget and asked him to check his figures with Cheryl Gerringer of the OHR Business Office. Banks said that he would do so.

The Chair said that she had decided that the September Forum meeting would take place entirely via Zoom given the worsening COVID situation. She hoped that the Forum could move to hybrid meetings in the future, ideally combining in-person and Zoom communication together. She hoped that Tiffany Carver could later report as to whether she was able to get a series of reservations at the School of Social Work.

Shayna Hill updated the committee about arrangements for the announcement of the 2021 Clark Staff Award for Moral Courage. She asked the Chair to request word on the notification process from the Chancellor’s Office. The Chair said that she planned to meet with the University Day planning committee the following week and would bring up this topic then. Hill said that it would be useful to follow up at the one-on-one with the Chancellor.

Hill also noted the proposed professional development grant endowment honoring Bil Hayes, a beloved Computer Science employee who died suddenly. Organizers of the endowment effort asked specifically for the Forum to administer the grant. She said that the endowment requirement is $25,000 and as of March the group had raised $18,000. After a one-year waiting period, the Forum will have the opportunity to administer these grants.

The Chair asked Jen DeNeal to replicate the Forum election process for the September Staff Assembly elections. Laura Pratt asked for leave from this process given that she plans to run for an alternate position on the Staff Assembly. The Chair asked that Banks write an email requesting nominations for these Staff Assembly positions, so that the ballot can be prepared ahead of time. Jacob Womack suggested the email contain information about expected duties and time commitments.

Hill noted that the Staff Assembly has proposed that the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum host meetings that were previously hosted by the System Office due to a loss of adequate meeting space. Hill said that she had asked about budget to support the Forum’s work hosting and had not received a response thus far. The Chair worried that having UNC-Chapel Hill host most annual meetings would shift focus away from the other System campuses. Hill said that she has not received a response to her request for a budget for the September Staff Assembly golf tournament, either. She said that partners in the System Office include Matt Brody, Darrell Bass, and Chris Chiron.

The Chair called for committee updates, noting that the budget committee is now defunct. She saw the Executive Committee as taking oversight responsibility for the Forum budget. Tracy Wetherby Williams said that the Forum’s budget allocation has yet to be approved by the Chancellor’s Office.

Shane Brogan of the Communications & Public Relations committee said that group will work to hold a general meeting to discuss publication of InTouch and the scavenger hunt in October. The Chair said she had not heard word about whether employee appreciation day will occur this year and what format it might take if it is held.

There was no report from the Book Club committee.

Jacob Womack reported that the Community Service committee had met briefly to support the Blood Drive and Carolina Community Garden groups. Womack said that the Community Service committee will focus on homelessness efforts. He said that given current budget restrictions, the committee’s work for the toy drive and the food drive will change somewhat. In addition, the committee will work with Grounds to possibly have a campus tree dedicated to the Forum.

Jen DeNeal said that the Blood Drive committee will likely meet next month to discuss the winter drive and possible arrangements for having a longer drive.

Antonio Squire reported that the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee had worked to support its subgroups including the Alternative Holidays committee. Additionally, Squire was excited that Dr. Leah Cox, the University Chief Diversity Officer, will join the committee for its September meeting. The Chair recalled an idea to build a larger sculpture on campus to honor unsung heroes who help build the University. She suggested that the DEI committee fold these considerations into its ongoing work. Members discussed possible ways to fund construction of the monument.

L. E. Alexander said that the Education & Career Development committee will meet August 31 with new and returning members. Laura Pratt added that the committee had finished work on the Carolina Family Scholarship selections and notifications.

Keith Hines reported that the Membership & Assignments committee is preparing for the 30th anniversary of the Forum’s founding next year. Tiffany Carver said that the committee looked forward to this planning and possibly doing some things differently.

There was no report from the Recognition & Awards committee. Kevin Robinson noted that the Rules committee is a special group that does not meet regularly.

The Chair asked if members had suggestions for speakers at the September 1 meeting. Tracy Wetherby Williams suggested a speaker to advise on phishing and web security. James Holman suggested Ardis Watkins of the State Employees’ Association of North Carolina (SEANC).

The Chair asked if Human Resources’ annual briefing about enrollment will occur in September or October. Angenette McAdoo said that she would contact Sheree Harmon from OHR Benefits regarding this presentation. The Chair hoped that the presentation could occur in September, the month before enrollment. October would still work as a backup option. McAdoo also pledged to follow up with Becci Menghini regarding prospects for employee appreciation day. The Chair also hoped that Catherine Brennan of Environment, Health and Safety will be present to offer support about COVID questions, perhaps as a guest.

At this point, the committee discussed proposed textual and substantial revisions to Resolutions 21-03 and 21-04, currently being written by the Personnel Issues committee. Stephanie Forman said that the committee will consider other resolution topics as the year progresses. Kira Jones raised the thoughts of an employee nervous about disclosure of personal health information in the COVID-19 vaccination attestation system. This employee was specifically concerned about disclosing the location of the vaccination and the date on which their vaccination occurred. The employee worried about precedent-setting in this matter that could lead to employees being forced to disclose, leading to potential discrimination. Members discussed their own experiences with vaccine notification and University employment. It was noted that HIPPA does not apply to the University as the campus does not exist as a healthcare provider. Stephanie Forman discussed the attestation form and the process for loading this onto the University’s website.

Stephanie Forman raised another concern from an employee asking whether they must come to campus as part of a pilot hybrid program in their department. This person asked why they needed to come to campus when their attendance fails to meet any obvious business need. Forman also noted confusion about whether an employee could work at home for 30 days or less under the University telework policy. Members raised questions about the continued efficacy of STACC and CCAC.

Jacob Womack said that severe understaffing around the University has led to delays in getting normal requests done. These delays are becoming a larger continuing problem. He thought that the move to temporary employees has been part of an overall shift of fiscal responsibilities from the University to staff. Stephanie Forman asked how many temporary employees are now serving in what were permanent positions. Keith Hines thought that the University needs to find a threshold for rotating employment period terms for temporary employees.

The Chair noted that the on-call vehicle policy for Skilled Craft Facilities employees continues to be a concern for some employees. Members expressed some dissatisfaction about how this question was addressed at the Vice Chancellors’ meeting earlier that month.

The Chair recalled that it was said that UNC-Chapel Hill would move into line with other System campuses by limiting use of State vehicles in this regard. In addition, it was noted that Grounds and Housekeeping staff have never had access to State vehicles to drive home during on-call duties. The Chair recalled that the response did note possible exceptions for adverse weather for Facilities Services employees.

The Chair did grant that the response did leave something to be desired. She asked how the University could find alternatives that do not impact employees who have been working on campus continually during the pandemic. She asked members to provide advice on further advocacy the Forum could pursue to change this policy. Keith Hines thought that the amount saved, perhaps three to four full-time positions or $180,000, could easily be found in discretionary funds. He did not think that the policy should be changed to inconvenience employees for this dollar amount. In that meeting, the Chair had asked if there had been any creative thinking as to finding different alternatives to cutting the budget that does not impact employees in this way.

There were also questions as to the derivation of the $180,000 figure. A member thought that the cost savings measures in Facilities also were implemented to grasp more control of employees’ lives through cameras and vehicle tracking. This delegate thought that it was a poor idea to cut overnight on-call State vehicle access as the hurricane season will soon arrive. He did not think that the $180,000 saved compared with the potential of one half-million dollars in water damage resulting from the lack of overnight on-call State vehicle access.  Another delegate said that he did not see much language in the policy regarding allowed exceptions around inclement weather.

James Holman noted that Housekeeping employees do not have overnight access to State vehicles during on-call duty. He asked why these employees must work snowstorms or other support work during adverse weather in general. He did not think employees should have to use their personal vehicles to get to work in this circumstance. He also asked why the rate of on-call duty is $2/hour for Housekeeping employees but $3/hour for other Facilities employees. The Chair pledged to bring up these issues in her upcoming meeting with Chancellor Guskiewicz. Jacob Womack suggested trying to find first-hand accounts of the negative impacts of this policy. Holman noted the thus far non-existent response to work orders to fix an elevator in the Cheek-Clark building.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by unanimous consent at 11:47 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary


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