May 13, 2014 Employee Forum Executive Committee minutes
Attending (those who signed in): Dan Barmmer, Chris Chiron, Jackie Copeland, Paula Goodman, Michael Highland, Shelby Long, Matt McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Charles Streeter
Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:40 a.m. He urged committee members to join him the following week at the Board of Trustees meeting. He said that employees who helped with flood recovery will be honored at the meeting.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the minutes of the April meeting. Arlene Medder made this motion, noting that she was present in April. Shelby Long seconded this motion, which was approved by acclamation.
The Chair said that he would ask the Chancellor about funding the peer recognition award banquet and prizes when he sees her soon. Paula Goodman asked how many people will attend the retreat, and Matt Banks replied that there should be around 60 people there. Goodman noted that Carolina Catering will do the breakfast catering and Scurlock’s Catering will handle the lunch arrangements.
The Chair said that he would talk with Katie Turner regarding the Sakai versus Sharepoint question and possibly also the WYSIGIA publishing tool. He said that the new Vice Chancellor of Information Technology, Chris Kielt, is not a fan of Sharepoint, given its steep learning curve and loss of security. Kielt found Sakai more intuitive.
The Chair noted that the Chancellor’s Cup golf tournament has moved to Raleigh. The Forum needs to find support to decorate the golf hole. Michael Highland suggested that the Forum establish a committee to ready itself for the tournament next year. The Chair said that he was unfamiliar with the process of getting sponsors for teams.
The Forum would finish its Bylaws work in June. The Forum will attempt to get photographs from the Carolina Blood Drive. Michael Highland said that the Covenant Scholars program will be active with the Blood Drive.
Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Campus Community Garden is working to build a tool shed in the Garden. The Garden received a $15,000 donation for an active solar greenhouse. During the Chapel Hill Garden Tour, the Garden received 171 visitors. The APPLES class in Environmental Sciences planted Liberty beds. The Chair hoped to arrange a tour for Chancellor Folt and Vice Chancellor Fajack in the fall. He hoped to speak with Garden leader Claire Folt about this idea.
Dan Barmmer reported that the Communications and Public Relations committee is working on a summer edition of InTouch. The committee is considering an article on the removal of the grievance support person. It was asked why this would be a story for InTouch. Delegates thought that the subject has importance given the recent grievance procedure changes. Michael Highland noted that no training of support persons will be allowed by the University. Dan Barmmer thought that support person training has been eliminated at the discretion of the Office of State Human Resources and the General Administration. The Chair noted that the resource was used only rarely at UNC-Chapel Hill. Matt McKirahan said that the University could have provided more publicity about this option. The Chair thought that a Q&A article in InTouch would be better than nothing.
Dan Barmmer noted the general upset about the removal of the grievance support person. Michael Highland worried about the psychological impact upon possible grievants. The Chair said that perception equals reality for some people. He said that the Forum should stick to facts in its discussion of the issue. Chris Chiron said that the current legislation requires external mediators who are not in a position to advocate for the department or the employee. Paula Goodman said that Human Resources is very helpful, but there are people completely oblivious to the workings of the grievance process. These people need help. Goodman said that it would be difficult to rely on coworkers for support if grieving against one’s supervisor. Chiron said that almost every grievant has talked with Grievance Officer Chariss Jones to learn about the grievance process. Dan Barmmer commented that Human Resources has been very helpful in protecting evaluations. The Chair commented that some employees will not want to trust Human Resources with this information. He asked delegates with other ideas for stories to contact Katie Turner.
Matt McKirahan said that the Education and Career Development committee had met but did not have a quorum at its last meeting. The committee voiced concern about the inability to use professional development grant funding to help pay for degree credit classes. Instead, the grants will cover registration fees and airline costs, as well as non-credit courses. He said that employees will miss out on many excellent courses that will not fall within these guidelines. Chris Chiron commented that School of Government courses require a registration fee but not tuition. McKirahan said that many employees will not have the financial resources to attend classes without great help than registration fees and airline costs.
The Chair said that the Chancellor had talked about this program and resolved that the University could not pay money for courses before the employee attends. This was one reason she insisted on a higher-dollar possibility for applicants. McKirahan said that the committee wanted registration fees and airline travel paid up front through Maupin Travel. Additionally, Paula Goodman thought that employees would not want to pay hotel fees on the back end, as processing these charges takes a long time and could place a great deal of stress on lower-income employees.
Matt McKirahan said that the application development process for the professional development grants is nearly complete. However, he said that the meeting with Human Resources representatives had taken the wind out of the sails of the committee. That meeting had seen hotel, food, and gas expenses all placed on the employee’s department. Only if the department is out of funds could the employee recover costs from the professional development grants. Employees cannot get fees up front unless the course is out of the country.
The Chair wanted to keep the process as simple as possible. Matt McKirahan agreed. Dan Barmmer asked if the process would put the onus on the department to agree to pay for professional development options, and McKirahan said that it would. He pointed out that the School of Government uses Starlight to transfer funds between departments, meaning no funds touch the employee. This process works for credit and non-credit courses. The Chair urged the committee to take baby steps with this pilot program. Chris Chiron said that he would send an electronic document detailing the courses available for this type of training.
Paula Goodman said that the Membership and Assignments committee is busy planning the Forum retreat. The Chair hoped that Jan Boxill could speak on ethics and Frayda Bluestein could speak on open meetings law. Additionally, Clair Lorch should speak on the Carolina Campus Community Garden. The Chair hoped to get Joel Curran and Matt Fajack to address the Forum in the fall. Matt McKirahan noted that the School of Government has a public leadership group of faculty members available to speak.
Shelby Long reported that the next Personnel Issues committee meeting will take place May 27. She said that the resolution concerning pay increases had received approval. She said that the provision of forty hours vacation leave only until the end of the fiscal year irritates some employees. The Chair said that the accrual of bonus hours over the years is an accounting nightmare for the State. When these hours are paid out at the end of an employee’s retirement, the accrued expense can hit a departmental budget hard.
Michael Highland noted that the Recognition & Awards committee will host the peer recognition banquet on May 29. The committee will meet Wednesday to discuss arrangements in Carr 101. The committee will discuss the Kay Wijnberg Hovious Award as well as other issues.
The Chair reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly met for a half day at General Administration and then a full day at the Friday Center. Arlene Medder reported that the notary public class had a very good instructor.
Michael Highland noted that Forum officer elections will take place in June. The Chair emphasized that delegates should obtain supervisor approval before nominating a delegate for a Forum officer position. Highland emphasized doing this in advance of the June retreat.
Arlene Medder noted that there will be a new delegate on the Carolina Campus Community Garden committee. Dan Barmmer said that he is rotating off the Chancellor’s Child Care Advisory Committee.
The Chair directed that the Chancellor and Vice Chancellors should receive invitations to the June retreat. He wanted to invite the Board of Trustees as well as Vice Chancellor Washington and Associate Vice Chancellor Brody to the peer recognition event.
Michael Highland moved that the meeting adjourn, seconded by Dan Barmmer. The motion was approved by acclamation, and the meeting adjourned at 12:57 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary