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Employee Forum Annual Retreat Agenda

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Student Administrative Services Building (SASB) North-Upendo Lounge

9:00-9:30 AM         Morning Refreshment—Coffee, Tea, Pastries

9:30-11:15 AM       Welcome and Business Meeting

  • Opening Remarks
    • Wayne Blair & Laurie Mesibov, University Ombudsofficers
  • Human Resources Update
  • Approval of April Forum Minutes
  • Approval to Use Trust Funds to Print In Touch
  • Election of Forum Officer Candidates
    (Nominations from the Floor will accepted).

    • Forum Chair:  Tommy Griffin
    • Forum Vice-Chair:  Alan Moran & Jacqueline Overton
    • Forum Secretary:  Bonni Baird
    • Forum Treasurer:  Marc ter Horst
      • (new nominations by Faith Thompson)
  • Election of Alternate to UNC System Staff Assembly Delegates
    • Mike Hawkins
    • Marc ter Horst

12:30-1:30            Lunch:  Selection of Executive Committee Divisional Representatives

1:30-2:00 PM         Committee Descriptions and Delegates Selection of Forum Committees

2:00-3:15 PM         Committee Breakouts, Initial Meeting to Establish Plans for the Year

3:15 – 3:30 PM       Afternoon Break

3:30-4:30               Committee Reports and Adjournment


June 3, 2009 Employee Forum Minutes

Chair Tommy Griffin welcomed Ombudsofficers Wayne Blair and Laurie Mesibov to provide opening remarks.  Blair reiterated the work of the ombudsoffice, noting the office’s hallmarks of confidentiality, neutrality, informality, and independence.  He said that the perception of the office was basically positive.  However, he said that the gas price crisis last year had led to a series of stressors on employees and managers.  Now, employees are facing layoffs and managers are facing agonizing decisions over whom to layoff in their departments.  Those left behind are facing larger workloads.

Blair noted that the question, “when are you going to retire?”, when asked of an employee by a manager, is actually an illegal question.  He said that some managers asking this question have done so in a malicious manner, after which ombudsofficers have been willing to hold conversations to make sure that this mistake does not happen again.  Other employees have gone over their WPPRs with a fine-tooth comb to make sure that their performance rating is not the source of a possible layoff.  He said that WPPRs have been the source of overreaction among some employees, leading them to plan to retire or retain attorneys before consulting with the ombudsoffice.  Blair urged employees to think through their responses to workplace occurrences before overreacting.  A delegate asked about peer to peer questioning about an employee’s retirement.  Blair said that such questions, even peer to peer, create an uncomfortable situation and unneeded anxiety.

Blair said that rumors often flourish in these situations.  He urged employees hearing of rumors to get information in writing.  He also noted that managers have a responsibility to talk about needed areas of improvement with their employees in advance of their WPPRs.  He said that people are becoming more combative when discussing their WPPRs.  He also said that employees are beginning to release information about their health issues in hopes that this might protect them from layoffs via the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).  He urged people to advocate for themselves.

Blair also said that the ombudsoffice is having to meet people outside their offices more often than previously.  He said that employees seem more afraid to come to the ombudsoffice on Franklin Street than before.  He noted that employees seem to underestimate their own work when developing a contingency plan or resume in case of layoff.  Alan Moran noted that UNC-Chapel Hill has the only ombudsoffice in the University System and that other UNC campuses had inquired about using the office.  Blair said that the goal of the office is to get employees to think through their situations before acting.  He said a significant part of the office’s work has to do with referrals.

Nancy English asked about managers’ pet peeves and favorites.  Blair said that these can divide a department.  He said that a manager may have input over who stays and who does not.  He said that sometimes a polite astute conversation will work, but there is no such thing as an untouchable employee or manager.  He said the office had seen a dramatic increase in issues dealing with stress and an increase in confrontational and adversarial behavior.  He urged employees to go to the source when confronted with rumors.

Fellow ombudsofficer Laurie Mesibov asked delegates to share with their fellow employees the information from that day’s presentation.  She introduced ombudsoffice assistant Victoria Dowd.

The Chair thanked Blair and Mesibov for their presentation.  He also announced that delegate Mary Campbell had won the University Managers’ Award.

Vicki Bradley gave the Forum’s customary Human Resources update, noting that the University had changed its performance evaluation forms into one new plan.  This new form will be composed of a list of competencies and ratings.  The purpose of the form is to document the tasks needed on the job.  There are also new salary recommendation forms requiring documentation why salaries should increase.

Brenda Denzler moved for the approval of the April Forum minutes, with Myra Quick seconding.  The motion was approved without opposition.

The Forum moved to discussion of the Chancellor’s proposal to use funds from the staff development fund to publish print editions of InTouch in FY 08-09, 09-10, and 10-11.  Marc ter Horst said that the $7,500 involved should not affect the basic clerical skills and educational assistance programs supported by the staff development fund.  Moran asked the principal amount of the fund and asked if the proposal would detract from these other functions.  Brenda Denzler said that this was Chancellor Thorp’s idea but the Communications committee did not feel right about presenting the idea until it received approval from the Education and Career Development committee.  That committee wanted to limit use of the fund to two fiscal years, after which the Forum would seek full funding in the Forum budget.  She said that the Communications committee would help prepare the print edition.  She said that the cost would like run $1500-1800 for 10,000 inserts into the Daily Tar Heel in the summertime.  The Daily Tar Heel would lay out articles and graphics supplied by the Communications committee.  The Chair noted that the Forum had not asked for a budget increase for its functions in a long time.  Denzler said that the Communications committee had already made arrangements to publish in late June.  In the absence of further discussion, the Forum moved to accept the Chancellor’s offer with no abstentions or votes against.  Mary Campbell suggested that the Forum look to invest the staff development fund in short term money market funds to increase its value.

Denzler said that with $5,000, the Forum could publish InTouch in a print edition perhaps three times a year.  Carrie Goldsmith asked why the Forum published an insert rather than publishing in the Daily Tar Heel.  Denzler said that the Communications committee wanted total editorial control short of legal action, and said that it was important to keep a distinction between the two entities.  Ryan Greenway moved that the Communications committee come back with a plan to spend the funds, seconded by Todd Hux.  The motion was approved with none opposed or abstaining.

Forum Officers Tommy Griffin (chair), Jackie Overton (vice chair), Bonni Baird (secretary), and Marc ter Horst (treasurer) were elected by acclamation, with one vote abstaining.  Given his election as treasurer, ter Horst withdrew from the election as UNC System Staff Assembly alternate, leaving Mike Hawkins to be elected by acclamation with one vote abstaining and one vote against.

The Forum then moved to reform its committees and discuss plans for the year.  The meeting adjourned at approximately 3 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,


Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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