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January 9, 2019

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center

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.)

  • Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press

II. Special Presentations (9:25 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.)

  • Betty Ann Morgan, President, University Managers’ Association
  • Lucy Brown, Peer Support Specialist, UNC Hospitals Emergency Services
  • Panel on Campus Resources
    • Brandon Washington, Director of Equal Opportunity, Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement
    • Desirée Rieckenberg, Senior Associate Dean of Students & Director, Office of the Dean of Students
    • Dawn Osborne-Adams, Univ. Ombuds & Director, Ombuds Office
    • Wendy Kadens, Clinical Social Worker, Counseling & Psychological Services

III. Human Resources Update (10:15 a.m. – 10:35 a.m.)

  • Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement Felicia Washington
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

IV.  Consent Agenda (10:35 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.)

V.  Old Business (10:55 a.m. – 11:05 a.m.)

Vi. New Business (11:05 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.)

VII. Announcements/Questions (11:25 -11:30 a.m.)


January 9, 2019 Employee Forum Minutes

Attending:  Darren Abrecht, Donyell Batts, Jo-Ann Blake, Emma Beckham, Rich Brandenburg, Tiffany Carver, Timothy Carville, Karen Gilliam, Lori Haight, Shayna Hill, Linda Holst, Todd Hux, Mary King, Heather Lewis, Katie Lewis, Karlina Matthews, Aisha McClellan, Jeff McQueen, Arlene Medder, Alan Moran, Kadejah Murray, Katie Musgrove, Nataiya Neal, Hoi Ning Ngai, Laura Pratt, Kathy Ramsey, Greg Smith, James Stamey, Rose Thorp

Excused Absences:  Kathy Allen, Jim Potts, David Rogers, Cheryl Siler-Jones, Kewana Smith, Rich Wright

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  She welcomed Betty Ann Morgan, head of the University Managers’ Association, to speak on behalf of that group.  Morgan noted that the UMA was formed in 1983.  The group hopes to expand to all seventeen UNC System campuses.  She noted the group’s mentorship program and social media efforts.  Morgan hoped that the UMA could expand cooperation efforts with the Forum in the future.

The Chair introduced her dear friend Lucy Brown, a Peer Support Specialist with UNC Hospitals Emergency Services.  Brown spoke of her background supporting peers with substance and alcohol use disorders, noting her own difficulties in this area.  She offers support and a listening ear to those in the emergency room, helping connect patients to local resources.  She practices non-judgmental advocacy to enable patients to obtain the help that they need.  Her office allows patients to consult more than once and even offers family members the chance to consult.

Lori Haight introduced a panel on campus resources featuring Brandon Washington, Director of Equal Opportunity, Desiree Rieckenberg, Senior Associate Dean of Students, and Dawn Osborne-Adams, University Ombuds Officer.  Rieckenberg spoke on helping students navigating challenges and crises.  Washington noted the work of the Equal Opportunity Office in investigating retaliation, sexual assault, and other offenses.  The Office also helps to enact the University’s Reasonable Accommodation Process.  He noted myriad training opportunities available on federal and state civil rights laws.  The Office also works to enforce equitable hiring practices.

Haight asked what the University had taught these leaders during times of crisis.  Osborne-Adams said that establishing working relationships before the fact of crisis can help people to work together when the moment of truth arrives.  Rieckenberg said that the last semester has been unlike any other here at UNC-Chapel Hill.  She said that the University has responded well to snow, water, wind, and protest situations due to relationships already in place.

Washington said that managers can sometimes hurt communication with a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude to workplace concerns.  He said that most campus employees care about creating successful outcomes and roles in their work.  He urged listeners to learn to disagree without being disagreeable.  Osborne-Adams said that while improving relationships among community members can feel daunting, the quality of community life depends on these efforts.

Haight asked if current strife represents a new normal for University operations.  Washington said that sometimes an employee cannot share certain information with certain individuals, which can result in lessened trust.  He said that developing understanding beforehand through formal and informal conversations can improve communications when times are difficult.  Rieckenberg said that one could not predict the future but said that administrators can statistically know something will occur and prepare for it in advance.  She said that everyone listening has a responsibility and an opportunity to contribute to this preparation.

The Chair noted the additional challenge of balancing staff roles in the workplace with individually deeply held beliefs.  She said that the Forum presents a space to share and be heard.  She urged employees to celebrate small victories in order to reorient day to day pessimism.  Osborne-Adams noted the challenge of living in an increasingly polarized community that mirrors the larger world.  She said that everyone can figure out their personal locus of control.  University Ombuds Officer Laurie Mesibov said that small acts of kindness can make everyday encounters with strangers consequential.

Haight noted that in the absence of information, information will be made up.  How can the University deal with this kind of “fake news?”  Kathy Ramsey asked where community members should go if a threat from the community occurs.  Rieckenberg said that aside from Public Safety officers, the Ombuds Office, the Gender Violence Coordinator, and campus Educational Assistance Programs all take seriously these issues of navigation and connection.  Ramsey said that finding a starting point to deal with these situations was the main thrust of her question.  Washington said that Human Resources handles many things that do not fall under Public Safety’s purview.

Todd Hux noted a lack of response to concerns he lodged three to six months ago.  Osborne-Adams said that the resolution of some issues demands a lot of time.  Hux said that the feeling of being left hanging has been the worst thing.  Osborne-Adams said that there is sometimes no hard and fast answer to a question or concern.  She observed that outcomes may occur that we do not desire.  Rieckenberg said that hearing employees’ concerns is an issue that administrators must address as everyone deserves the respect of an answer.  She knew how frustrating these situations can be and thought that the best intentions in these areas are not enough.  She praised employees’ high level of courage to share these concerns.

Alan Moran asked about breaking down silos as employees look to leadership to make change.  He said that turnover among leaders undermines momentum towards effective change.  The Chair added that staff exist in the middle of these change efforts and can feel minimized because of poor communication from leadership.  She said that staff may not feel understood and cannot be expected to be responsible for the entirety of office culture.  She noted that supervisor training (BEST) had been made mandatory for all supervisors except for faculty.  She said that staff may feel that they do not completely have agency as fellow employees in this system.

Osborne-Adams thought that these questions are interdependent.  Rieckenberg observed that managers in different departments have different experiences.  She said that middle level employees can be exhausted dancing between restive line staff and difficult supervisors.  She thought that most University employees are in this middle position.  The Chair observed that employees who name a problem are seen to exemplify that problem.  She asked how staff can feel valued and enabled to raise concerns.

Haight thanked panels members for their time and remarks.  The Chair hoped to continue this conversation in future panels.

The Chair welcomed Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Butler noted the current federal government shutdown.  The University has felt only a relatively small impact from the shutdown as the Provost has found funds to alleviate its effects thus far.  He said that things would change if the shutdown continues.

Butler noted the new minimum salaries which were established by the State this past summer.  He said that this increase was welcome, but it creates salary compression in the respective salary bands.  He said that the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) has adjusted market rates (not salaries) 5.8% upward.  On Monday the UNC System Office requested data on where University institutions have addressed the compression issue.  He hoped to have better news on the progress of these efforts next month.

Alan Moran asked if Butler could define compression in this context.  Butler said that some State employees have been brought up to the minimum $31,200/year salary.  Unfortunately, crew leaders and supervisors of these employees have not received a corresponding increase, leading to uncomfortable closeness between line employees’ salaries and supervisors’ salaries.  He said that the 5.8% adjustment to market rates is welcome, but supervisors are still squeezed into these bands without further funds.  Moran asked if the market rate would be higher than the private sector.  Butler said that this question depends on many factors.

Todd Hux confirmed that the increase in the market rates does not represent an increase in salaries.  Rose Thorp asked how the State gathers data on salary compression, arriving at a conclusion for just this job category.  Butler said that there needs to be a comprehensive analysis studying all salary adjustments.  He would update the Forum as he learns more.

Senior Benefits Consultant Rob Stevenson noted that the January 15th deadline for the tuition waiver program was soon approaching.  He said that three courses a year are allowed including summer school at any of the seventeen UNC institutions.  He noted that only NC State requires a paper application for this purpose, with every other UNC institution accepting online applications.  He noted that UNC Friday Center courses are eligible for this benefit as well.

Greg Smith asked if summer school courses are eligible for tuition waiver as well.  Linc Butler said that this question depends on the institution and the type of course.  Katie Musgrove noted a general desire to have UNC’s online MBA and MPH courses available for tuition waivers.  Stevenson said that receipt-funded courses like these do not accept staff tuition waiver.  Linc Butler said that there had been a push with the Office of the Provost to change this practice, but it had not been successful.

Kathy Ramsey asked if employees can attend community college with the tuition waiver.  Rob Stevenson said that employees should use the Educational Assistance Program for this purpose.  Butler said that expanding the waiver to community colleges would require legislative action.

Core Benefits Consultant Tarron Brandon said that the registration deadline for spring classes is January 15, 2019.  However, some classes at NC State had a January 4th deadline.  Rob Stevenson noted that the tuition waiver process functions under the single sign-on protocol and works for every UNC institution excepting NC State.

Rose Thorp reported that an employee had asked her for help with the tuition waiver process.  She had difficulty trying to help her navigate the process.  A delegate said that UNC-Charlotte uses a flow chart to help its employees, allowing them to register for classes and apply for the waiver together in one computer application.  Rob Stevenson said that his office would love this functionality which is not yet available at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Senior Benefits Consultant Jessica Pyjas noted the wide variety of wellness classes offered for free or minimum charge by the University.  She directed listeners to the WorkWell newsletter for more information on dates and times.  She added that a nutrition class will take place Mondays at the Kenan-Flagler Business School.  Employees can receive 15% off the sign-up fee by registering at the first class.  Employees on the 80/20 State Health plan can attend these classes at no cost.

Pyjas directed listeners to the website for information about local and national deals offered in the University’s new perks program.

Katie Musgrove said that the fitness opportunities at lunch are helpful but not for her personally.  She suggested that after-work classes would be more accessible to staff and suggested their expansion.  Pyjas said she would share this view.  She said that staff had not attended the previous iteration of classes held at 4 p.m. or 5:15 p.m.  She said that employees can access all University gyms for a $12.50/month fee.

The Chair thanked the Office of Human Resources for its updates.  Katie Musgrove moved that the consent agenda be accepted while carving out an exception for the Community Service committee.  Kathy Ramsey seconded this motion, which was approved by the Forum.

The Chair noted that the Forum has been asked to host the Chancellor’s Cup golf tournament again.  She did not want to agree unless there was enthusiastic participation from delegates.  She asked that the Forum Assistant survey members for their ability to participate in the golf tournament fundraising or logistical teams.

The Chair introduced resolution 19-01 concerning adverse weather on first reading.  Delegates discussed wording changes in the resolution’s text related to the use of community service leave.  It was noted that use of community service leave requires preapproval, something seemingly incompatible with adverse weather days off.  Arlene Medder confirmed that giving blood in a Condition 2 event would still be considered community service leave.

Karlina Matthews recommended striking the words “sick time with currently approved leave options,” in order to open the range of options for leave during adverse weather.  Heather Lewis asked if the resolution would apply to other universities.  The Chair understood that each UNC System campus staff organization has responsibility to author its own resolution.  Linc Butler said that there is only one policy governing the entire UNC System which is handled differently on different campuses.  The Chair observed that campuses seem motivated in this area depending on how they have been affected by adverse weather events.

Katie Musgrove thought that if a consensus emerges that Condition 2 adverse weather events are burdensome, perhaps the policy would be changed.  Butler said that the UNC System Office sees the policy as frustrating also.  The Office of State Human Resources is mandated to carry out the policy, although it has afforded some flexibility in various cases.

The Chair asked the Forum’s stance on eliminating the Condition 2 aspect of adverse weather leave.  Rose Thorp said that the Personnel Issues committee had discussed the issue at length and had arrived at a consensus that the designation should be dropped.  She also noted the extreme displeasure among employees that sick leave is not an option to pay down adverse weather leave debts.

Darren Abrecht confirmed that the University must request authorization from Raleigh after the fact to close the University (Condition 3) under current policy.  James Stamey asked how adverse weather impacts time worked.  He asked if employees still can use up to one year to make up the time lost.  Linc Butler said this time period has been shortened to one month.  He said that any changes to the adverse weather policy such as the use of sick leave to make up time lost would require legislative action.  Katie Musgrove thought it a good goal to allow employees to make up time in a year.  Butler pointed out that employees can now check their leave status on TIM whereas they could not before.

The Chair asked the Forum what it wished to do.  Katie Musgrove thought that the language of the resolution did not need to change.  Natiaya Neal moved that the resolution go to second reading in February, seconded by Jeff McQueen.  The motion was approved by the Forum.

Natiaya Neal noted that the peer recognition award program is undergoing reform.  She hoped to have suggested changes for the full Forum’s consideration in February.  She invited interested delegates to contact her by e-mail.  She said that the next Book Club meeting will discuss Becoming by Michelle Obama.  That meeting will occur January 24th.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:35 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Matt Banks, Recording Secretary


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