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February 5, 2020

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center for Black Culture and History

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

I.  Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Shayna Hill (9:15 a.m. – 9:25 a.m.)

II. Special Presentations (9:25 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)

III. Human Resources Update (9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)

  • Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

IV. Consent Agenda (10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.)

V.  Old Business (10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.)

  • Proposal to Revise the Forum’s Electoral System (second reading)

VI.  New Business (10:40 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.)

  • Proposed Resolution on State Budget Matters
  • Proposed Video Production

VII. Announcements/Questions (11:10-11:30 a.m.)

VIII.  Adjournment


February 5, 2020 Employee Forum minutes

Attending:  Darren Abrecht, L.E. Alexander, Ashley Belcher, Rich Brandenburg, Tia Brown, Tiffany Carver, Tim Carville, Jen DeNeal, Morgan Douglas, Shakeya Duckworth, Phillip Edwards, Adrianne Gibilisco, Karen Gilliam, Zebadiah Harris, Shayna Hill, Keith Hines, James Holman, Katie Musgrove, Natiaya Neal, Ayla Ocasio, Jim Potts, Kevin Robinson, David Rogers, Kelly Scurlock-Cross, Tracy Wetherby-Williams

Excused Absences:  Dzenita Blackwell, Stephanie Forman, Mary King, Arlene Medder, Clinton Miller, Greg Smith, Rose Thorp

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  She asked delegates if they had any news to report from their departments.  Ashley Belcher reported that the tomato plant transplant day sponsored by TIAA and the Carolina Community Garden is scheduled to go ahead in April.

Katie Musgrove noted the recent faculty petition to allow renaming of campus buildings.  The Chair recalled that the building petition grew from the decision of the Board of Trustees to allow the renaming of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall.  A condition of this decision was a twelve-year moratorium on renaming campus buildings.  The Chair asked if the Forum wished to work on this issue perhaps with a resolution or a letter to the Chancellor on this question.  Laura Pratt asked how this issue would fit into a proposed letter regarding the Forum budget.  The Chair thought that the Forum might keep these issues separate.

The Chair asked for a show of hands as to how many delegates wish to address the moratorium on renaming buildings at the University.  Katie Musgrove said she would tweet a link to the petition.  The Chair recalled a conflict related to an InTouch publication of an article on microaggressions which had received negative attention from members of the national alt-right community.  The Forum had temporarily closed its social media as a result of this controversy.  Following this event, employees still experience fear about adding their names to articles in a public way.

David Rogers commented that perhaps one-half of the Forum raised their hands expressing an interest in taking up the moratorium question.  He added that meant that perhaps one-half of the body does not have an interest in working on this question.  The Chair asked why there was such a reluctance.  Keith Hines thought that delegates might feel that this fight might not be worth the considerable energy that it would require to see it through.  He thought the issue could grow as large as the Silent Sam matter.

The Chair asked what the Forum would prefer to take up in lieu of this topic.  L.E. Alexander thought that consideration of how staff are paid, treated, and promoted at the University would advocate for staff more directly.  She noted talk in her unit about these matters and the lack of merit raises was a huge part of this frustration.  She thought that the situation draws attention as to how the University allocates funds it receives.  Katie Musgrove suggested advocating for health care benefit improvements following on the community meeting in August.

Lillian Clemente, Director of Human Resources Communications, spoke on the employee engagement survey.  Employees will have received a link from ModernLink.  Employees should check their in-box and their spam folder to find this survey email.

The survey will allow employees an opportunity to share how they feel about the University workplace.  Clemente said that participation from UNC-Chapel Hill is very important, and she urged listeners to remind their colleagues to fill out the survey.  She noted the survey had gone out the previous day and would remain open until February 18th.  She said that ModernLink has a contact phone number to obtain the individual link for employees.  She urged listeners with questions to contact her directly.  Laura Pratt said that she had not received the survey link.  She asked how long she should wait for the link?  Clemente said that twenty-four hours is the amount of time to wait before contacting her for more information.  She would post additional updates as they become available.

Senior Director for Employee & Management Relations Angenette McAdoo gave the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  McAdoo noted that Becci Menghini and Linc Butler were unavailable that morning.  She welcomed Jessica Pyjas to present a wellness update.

Pyjas noted a survey in the most recent version of WorkWell which will ask about physical activity, reducing stress, and emotional and psychological supports.  The survey will be open through February 7th.  Pyjas noted that February is cardiovascular disease month, and employees can mark this occasion by wearing red on Friday, February 7th.

Upcoming events this month include a webinar on communicating tough topics to children on February 12th, a webinar on the art of self-acceptance on February 19th, and the Total Wellbeing Expo on March 11th.  Among featured perks available to employees this month is a reduced rate on UNC Baseball season tickets.  Deals on TurboTax and other events tickets are available through Perks Plus and the Working Advantage website.  Karen Gilliam asked if graduate students could access these benefits.  Pyjas said that only students who receive a monthly stipend are eligible.

Newly appointed Director for Benefits and Leave Administration Sheree Harmon spoke on the paid parental leave policy which was approved in September by the Board of Governors.  UNC-Chapel Hill received guidance on this policy from the UNC System Office in late November.  The policy became effective on our campus January 13, 2020.  She noted that this leave can run concurrently with Family & Medical Leave options.  She said that the leave provides 100% base regular pay for parents and partners of birth and newly placed children.

To receive this benefit, employees must work more than 20 hours a week as either SHRA or EHRA non-faculty and must be eligible to receive benefits.  Employees must have also been employed for twelve consecutive months, a requirement that effectively disqualifies temporary employees.  However, permanent employees who once were temporary employees can use their temporary time of employment with the University to make up their twelve-month requirement.

Harmon said that parents can receive recuperation leave for four weeks immediately following birth as well as four weeks bonding leave.  Both types of leave must be used within twelve months.  Thus, birth parents have eight weeks available leave.  This leave runs concurrently with FMLA leave and must be used before accrued leave.   Employees cannot use paid parental leave to replace leave that they’ve already taken.

Harmon said that employees with a qualifying event (birth or placement) as of September 1, 2019 are entitled to four weeks bonding leave.  Birth parents earn prorated recuperation leave.  An exception applies for stillbirth situations, in which birth parents may use four weeks recuperation leave within twenty weeks.

Harmon said that the paid parental leave request process will require submission of Benefits & Leave request forms.  “Verification of facts” will serve for documentation required.  An email should be sent to the employee, their supervisor, and their TIM administrator with reporting pay codes.  Those with questions should consult the Benefits & Leave Administration office.

An employee asked about using FMLA leave concurrently.  Benefits & Leave Consultant Brandi Flickinger said that there must be a coordination of policies for employees using sick leave and FMLA leave.  She said that the preferred option is to use recuperation leave first, then six-eight weeks of medical disability leave.  The employee can delay using their bonding leave but must provide documentation at the end of their leave to use vacation or bonus leave.

Tracy Wetherby Williams asked if the employee would still accrue credible service time.  Flickinger said that the service time would not accrue only if the employee is not in paid status.  Jim Potts asked if the employee would receive the same job protections during bonding leave that they receive during FMLA leave.  Flickinger said that the policies are not worded the same way, but the employee is still considered protected.  She encouraged employees to call or email with questions.

The Chair called for a motion to accept the consent agenda, which includes approval of the November and December minutes.  Katie Musgrove made this motion, seconded by Ayla Ocasio.  The motion was approved.

It was noted that Greg Smith, chair of the Communications & Public Relations committee, was out sick.  InTouch should be published either this or next week.

Ashley Belcher said that the Community Service committee had worked on the recent toy drive which had been a success and the largest one yet.  Belcher said that the committee also is planning work on an upcoming Habitat for Humanity event as well as the tomato planting event at the Carolina Community Garden.

The Education & Career Development committee will publish a survey on professional development needs and goals in the upcoming InTouch.  Employees are encouraged to take ten minutes to complete this survey.

Tiffany Carver noted that the Membership & Assignments committee was part of the larger conversation on the Forum election procedure.  The Chair noted that a planned video on Forum elections should raise consciousness about the voting and participation in democracy generally.

Jen DeNeal added that employees can register for federal and State elections by February 7th.  Registration forms must be postmarked by Friday, February 7th.  L.E. Alexander said that citizens can vote absentee for the March 3rd primary.

The Chair noted that the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum will not sponsor the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament this year but will still need coolers and radios as in the past.  Anyone interested in playing or working the golf tournament should contact the Chair.  The golf tournament will take place May 13th.  Natiaya Neal said that she had used Community Service Leave to work the golf tournament.  Others noted that work time can be used to work the tournament, but not to play golf.  The tournament has raised over $80,000 for the Janet B. Royster Scholarship for professional development opportunities for staff.  It was noted that the UNC Staff Assembly will meet March 23-24th at the UNC System Office in Chapel Hill.  The Assembly will also meet at Elizabeth City State University July 27-28th.

Laura Pratt reported that the Advisory Committee for Transportation & Parking met in January.  The committee discussed a mobility study on South campus and construction of a new parking lot at the Public Safety lot.  Construction of this lot will take place from February ’20 to January ’22.  The lot will feature 152 spaces.  Pratt said that the committee had asked for a breakdown of data about the 1,930 employees now paying for night parking (including UNC Health staff).  Pratt said that she would reach out to Library employees to ask about night parking’s impact on temporary staff employees.

Keith Hines reported that the Student Stores Advisory Committee had held an extensive talk about book prices.  He said that town halls seeking input from faculty and staff have not been well attended.  The committee will try alternative methods to obtain feedback in March.

The Chair noted that the Executive Committee had discussed the electoral process proposal and discussion at the Forum meeting in January.  Jim Potts said that he planned to rescind the previous proposal for change, allowing the Forum to proceed with its elections under its current method.  Potts said that ad hoc committee members would seek counsel from a Political Science professor on its election process.  Delegates with comments about the process should contact Potts or Forum Assistant Matt Banks.

Natiaya Neal said that the Forum Book Club would discuss the book The Followers by Megan Angelo on Thursday, February 27th.  Employees can receive a discount on this book when ordering from UNC Student Stores.

Phil Edwards asked the Forum Executive Committee to prioritize issues for the Personnel Issues committee.  He said that the committee has received multiple topics for discussion.

The Executive Committee will meet from 2-3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18th, a change from usual practice.

The Chair asked if the Forum wished to consider a resolution on compensation for staff employees.  Katie Musgrove recalled that the Forum had written a similar resolution two years ago.  The Chair thought that it was time for a new resolution, given the lack of State salary increases.  She hoped that a salary resolution would use long-term data.

Karen Gilliam asked how quickly the engagement survey from ModernThink would be processed.  The Chair noted that it usually takes a long time to get data back from surveys.  She said that the Forum could tell a story from this data, once it becomes available.

Jen DeNeal recalled a possible request to UNC-Chapel Hill leadership asking them to be more creative to find ways to compensate within the current salary structure.  Tracy Wetherby Williams noted the wide variance between departments in ability and desire to provide locally sourced salary increases for their staff.  Katie Musgrove advocated the idea to use endowment-type funding to provide flexibility for these increases.

Natiaya Neal said that over the years the Forum has not received responses from University Administration regarding its resolutions.  She did not trust that actions will occur as a result of resolutions.  She asked what other actions the Forum could take to solve the problem as a body.

The Chair recalled the case of an employee whose position was under classified and underpaid.  The relevant question was how to get the needed position upgrade through Human Resources.  She said that the position had seen six employees hired in five years.  She asked the unintended consequences of these situations and asked how the Forum wanted to be heard on these questions.  Jim Potts noted that some employees feel that they must resign from the University to be considered for higher level positions.

The Chair said that the State’s update of staff market rates has led to employees being paid less than the new full maximum.  Employees have not received salary increases that match the increase in market rates.  Jim Potts said that departments tend to blame Human Resources for the lack of salary increases and Human Resources blames departments.

Katie Musgrove noted that the Faculty Council had been supportive in advocating for staff issues.  The Chair praised Lloyd Kramer, the current chair of the Faculty, among other faculty leaders.

The Chair asked if delegates felt resigned or if these issues were “not worth the fight.”  Karen Gilliam was discouraged to learn of the relative lack of impact of Forum resolutions.  Tiffany Carver thought that the Forum needs to do a salary resolution to continue the record of the staff salary situation over time.  Katie Musgrove pointed out that the new University Administration seems more responsive to Forum issues and could lead to different results.

The Chair planned to take this feedback to her meeting with the Chancellor and in her remarks to the Board of Trustees.  She hoped to encourage creativity around salary and benefits questions.  L.E. Alexander said that the Forum needs data to make its case.  The Chair proposed that the Forum start with the data from the last salary resolution from 2018.

Katie Musgrove proposed that the Forum use Microsoft 365 Teams to handle its workflow.  Karen Gilliam proposed that delegates forward comments from employees to the group and to a Human Resources contact person.

Ayla Ocasio proposed that Forum delegates meet with other departments and their staff to learn about unique cases.  She thought that the Forum could develop a strategy and find solutions from these conversations.  Katie Musgrove again noted the disparity among departments in creativity and resources.  She hoped that the Administration would work to find campus-wide solutions.

Tiffany Carver thought that sharing information among departments is great.  However, she said that much depends on an employee’s Human Resources official and supervisor.  She said that this is a reason that employees hop departments to elevate themselves, to find a good supervisor willing to back them up.

The Chair proposed that the Executive Committee discuss these issues further.  In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 12:57 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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