Employee Forum Agenda — May 3, 2006
9:30 a.m.—Meeting: Wilson Library Lobby Pleasants Family Assembly Room
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks
IV. Special Presentations
- Dean Bernadette Gray-Little
- Ombudsman Wayne Blair
V. Human Resources Update—Laurie Charest
VI. Stretch Time
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
- Resolution 06-03 Concerning Expansion of Educational Assistance Opportunities for UNC-Chapel Hill Employees
X. Employee Presentations or Questions
XI. Forum Committee Reports
- Communications and Public Relations: John Heuer
- Forum Newsletter
- Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Cathy Rogers
- Compensation and Wages: Alan Moran
- Education and Career Development: Chuck Brink
- Health Benefits: Greg Alvord
- Legislative Action: Camilla Crampton
- Membership and Assignments: Gloria Farrar
- Staff Relations, Policies and Practices: David Brannigan
XII. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Ernie Patterson
XIII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
- Board of Trustees Finance Committee—Ernie Patterson
- University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee—Ernie Patterson
XV. “Go Around the Room”: A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds
May 3, 2006 Minutes
Chair Ernie Patterson called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m., urging listeners to contact legislators concerning the upcoming budget. He introduced Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and incoming Provost Bernadette Gray-Little to make opening remarks. Bernadette Gray-Little is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the largest institution at the academic core of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has served in numerous leadership positions at Carolina since joining the faculty in 1971. At the end of June she will become the Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor.
A professor of psychology, she was named executive associate provost in 2001, serving as the top advisor to the university’s chief academic officer. She served as the first senior associate dean for undergraduate education from 1999 to 2001. During that time she led the development of innovative programs to enhance intellectual climate, including the nationally ranked First Year Seminar Program. She was instrumental in expanding academic advising services and providing new opportunities for undergraduates to engage in research with leading faculty. She has also served as chair of the department of psychology and director of the graduate program in clinical psychology, and as a faculty affiliate at the Center for Creative Leadership.
A native of Washington, N.C., she received a Ph.D. in clinical psychology in 1970 from St. Louis University, which presented her with the William Stauder Alumni Merit Award in 1997. She graduated from Marywood College in Scranton, Pa., which honored her as a distinguished alumna in 1996.
Gray-Little was pleased to present the Employee Forum’s Community Award (3-Legged Stool) to Associate Provost Archie Ervin of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs. Ervin was first appointed to serve as Associate Vice Chancellor for University Affairs in 1986 and has held several administrative positions since then. He has served on ad hoc groups and advisory boards focusing on development programs and strategies, greater accessibility for disabled persons and many other concerns. Ervin chaired the task force on diversity and also drafted a diversity plan for the University. Gray-Little said that Ervin lives and breathes the concept of the 3-Legged Stool, given his work bringing faculty, staff and students together to advance the cause of Carolina throughout the state and the world. He had mentored countless students during his twenty years at Carolina.
Gray-Little read some of the many tributes paid to Ervin, citing him as a tireless and effective spokesperson for harmony; a leader of the University’s outreach programs; a key player in the African-American community and a person who had generated goodwill throughout the state. Gray-Little noted that the three-legged stool was not ready for the day’s events but would be delivered to Ervin soon.
Ervin said that he was truly astonished and humbled by receiving this recognition from the Forum. He said that we all labor in the same vineyards and that it was an honor to work here at UNC-Chapel Hill. He thanked the Forum and staff employees for all they do to contribute to the University and in fact found himself speechless.
The Chair congratulated Ervin and invited him to return to address the Forum at his convenience.
The Chair recognized Wayne Blair and Laurie Mesibov to make a special presentation on team cleaning. He recognized Facilities Services Director Jim Alty in the audience.
Blair said that he had been asked to meet with two groups of people involved with the OS1 process that had participated in site visits to other institutions. Blair emphasized that the ombudsoffice has no interest as to whether the OS1 process is implemented or not here at UNC-Chapel Hill. He said that he and the office took a neutral position and had met with participants to glean their perceptions of the process. Blair said that the office offered group members a chance to meet separately to discuss concerns individually with ombudspeople separately and privately but noted that no one had used this option.
Blair said that the first group he met with was composed of 8-10 people, mainly housekeepers, working at the University of Texas and the San Dea Research Laboratory in New Mexico where the OS1 system had already been implemented. The second group included some quotes from visitors who thought that they had not had the opportunity to meet with staff on their own at the University of Texas and thought that they had not enjoyed an opportunity to ask questions individually of staff members there.
Blair said that he had received two different sets of feedback. Many people in Texas and New Mexico did like the OS1 system, saying that it was good and the equipment and chemicals provided were better than with the old system. Respondents thought that the opportunities to go through orientation and training were commonly cited as a positive aspect of the program.
Blair emphasized that he did not have enough opportunities to talk with people to get serious feedback on the program. Some said that they did not like the program as it was different from what had been done before. He noted that those who had worked at their jobs a longer time were more resistant to changes in the system as opposed to newer employees, who said that they liked the structure of it. There were concerns that the timing of a particular task, say “a 3 minute thing” of cleaning an object, area or surface, might be inadequate if the object were abnormally dirty. Employees expressing this concern asked what would happen if the job took longer than 3 minutes. There was no known answer to this question.
Blair expressed a sense that the job at UT was easier, but there was a concern that employees who had bad supervisors had a hard time separating their supervisors from the OS1 system. He noted a quote from an employee that after twenty years, why go ahead with this new thing? Others said that OS1 employees seem more dependent and accountable to each other, rather than to supervisors. Groups seemed to address issues within the group before going to supervisors. There was a concern about lack of confidentiality between supervisor and employees. Also, Blair noted that at UT the housekeeping staff was short 100 employees, whether due to OS1, state funding or fiscal issues. Another concern was the 90 day rotation time between positions, which seemed too long to respondents. Again, the amount of feedback between supervisors and those supervised is absolutely critical.
The group at San Dea National Laboratories was more structured than at UT and people there seemed to like the OS1 system more. At UT, some of those interviewed liked the system and a few did not. At San Dea, there was a general consensus in favor of the OS1 system. Respondents thought supervisors were more responsive to feedback at San Dea and were also more likely to change the duty rotation to a shorter period than the 90 days imposed at UT. The concerns about OS1 articulated at UT were not articulated at San Dea in New Mexico, Blair said.
Another theme in New Mexico was the positive reaction to the increased training and the new types of machinery. Blair also said that most interviewees liked that disputes were handled internally within a team of housekeepers before getting the supervisor involved. However, other interviewees did not like this system.
David Harrison asked if the cleanliness level was better under OS1 than previously. Blair said that interviewees said that interviewees used the word “efficient” to describe the process. Harrison pointed out that the words “efficient” and “cleanliness” connoted different things. Blair agreed, but said that he had heard that the system was not as bad as before from respondents and so got a sense that implied a higher level of cleanliness.
Beth Graves asked if some of the OS1 teams at UT were always short of members, given the overall shortage of 100 housekeepers at UT. Blair said that no one had claimed that any team was ever short more than one person. Laurie Mesibov stressed that one should separate budget problems from the OS1 system. Her impression was that job loss suffered was primarily a result of budget problems have been similar to Carolina’s in recent years. She did not think one could automatically assume that job loss came as a result of the OS1 system.
Chuck Brink asked Jim Alty asked what would happen in OS1 when an employee is not deemed able to do their job after going through the training phase. Alty said that there is a standard process to retrain employees. There are some tasks that would not be different under the OS1 system such as dusting and mopping. These processes and tasks are not different. There would be no limit to retraining an employee who was not comfortable under OS1 unless they were mentally unwilling to learn. He had not seen an example of an employee mentally unwilling to learn and saw no reason that employees could not perform their tasks. He said that it is a never ending process to train employees.
Brink asked if there was a concern about doing repetitive tasks would become tedious or boring, depending on rotation. Alty said that the San Dea rotation had been cut back from 90 to 30 days based on feedback from housekeepers, who were happy about the change. Blair said that at the end of the day, the New Mexico group felt better with OS1 than they had with the previous system.
Blair pointed out that the two different institutions had two different means of implementing the OS1 system. Lucy Lewis said that respondents liked the equipment, training and chemicals better with OS1. Could Blair comment on the employees’ feelings of autonomy about their job performance? She imagined that one would prefer to dust a while, then switch to vacuuming, all on the same shift. Blair said that in New Mexico the rotation cycle for individual responsibilities was much more flexible. He said that things were different in Texas, not just for those cleaning but also in the lesser amount of training given supervisors. Mesibov added that some of the comments made were very specific to OS1 while other concerns were issues that would arise under any system.
Concerning the pilot project here at UNC, Blair said that the first group of participants unanimously preferred the OS1 system over the previous system. He acknowledged that this group was made up of volunteers from different areas and buildings. Nonetheless, the pilot group said that it was much easier to work with OS1 equipment and chemicals. There was still an issue in terms of rotation times, but the group seemed to work out a balance. Training was a key element of the work and the zone manager’s efforts to obtain training for himself and his group were very important.
Blair noted that someone had said that the job card was an issue. However, the issue was not as difficult as anticipated. He said that is OS1 were implemented, accepting feedback from workers was important. Blair said that supervisors should be receptive to issues of training, rotation and proper use of equipment and chemicals. He said that pilot participants generally loved the OS1 system and did not want to go back to the old system.
Antoinette Satterfield asked how many volunteers participated in the first pilot. Blair said that six people participated and the ombudsoffice met with all six, including the pilot manager.
Brenda Denzler said that she had heard that some original volunteers were dropped from the pilot team. Could Blair say how many were dropped off or replaced? Blair was uncertain whether these participants were dropped off or were asked off by the other team members. Alty said that one of the original six left to seek different employment that had little to do with the OS1 system. Another one of the original six had a conflict with the other team members who thought that individual was not cleaning their fair share. After internal discussions, that person asked to be taken off the team. An alternate was appointed to take their place. Alty said that only two of the original six left the project. Blair said again that training and the willingness to hear feedback was important.
Graves thanked Alty and Blair for their work in this area given the difficulty of implementing large scale changes. She thought it was good to have a vehicle to obtain feedback as different issues arise. Blair said that workers could have approached his office separately if they want to offer a different perspective. No worker chose to meet with he or Mesibov separately.
Graves noted that state funding is always an issue with the Housekeeping division. Would funding cuts have a more detrimental effect under OS1 than they would have under the current system? Alty said that in 2003 Texas higher education system had to absorb a statewide 50% cut that necessarily involved cutting positions. At UT, 114 positions were eliminated, with duties correspondingly reduced. Alty said it was easier to implement the reduction of duties under OS1 than with the zone system, as the OS1 system could more readily absorb different processes with its structured approach to cleaning.
A delegate said that the sample size for the UNC pilot seemed to be very small and was moreover composed of volunteers. The delegate asked if any future pilots would have more people in the sample and more volunteers. Alty said that the second pilot would address concerns that the first pilot was not a representative sample. The second pilot would use machines to measure dust particles and other technical measures. Carroll Hall will be the location of the second pilot and will engage a mixture of volunteers and new hires.
Camilla Crampton asked if the pilot will include any volunteers who have expressed reservations about the OS1 system. Alty said that Bill Burston had asked for volunteers and received sixteen names, of whom six were chosen to match the needed shift. Crampton asked if people who expressed reservations were asked not to participate in the pilot study. Alty said that all 400 housekeepers were offered the opportunity to volunteer. Crampton asked if the pilot knowingly accepted someone who expressed reservations about the system. Alty could not say that the pilot accepted someone who had expressed reservations about the system.
John Heuer noted that between 1980 and 2000, the University’s square footage doubled in size from 7 million to 14 million square feet. Has the University doubled the overall amount of housekeeping staff to keep up with the current round of construction. Alty said that the University has not added housekeeping staff to the degree he would like. The University has a standard of one housekeeper per 18,000 square feet. Every year, the University adds enrollment money for staff but also has to cut positions, gaining and losing ground in turn.
Denzler asked about Alty’s presentation on backpack vacuums and the process to convince housekeeping staff to turn in their push vacuums at UT. On the last sweep to clear out the push vacuums, hundreds were secreted away for use instead of the backpack vacs. Denzler asked what this fact meant about the acceptance of the backpack vacuums. Blair said that people liked the equipment if they were trained to use it properly. He said it was unclear what happened at UT but in New Mexico there was no problem getting rid of the push vacuums. Blair added that some pilot participants felt unwilling to speak en masse with the body of housekeepers for fear of verbal confrontations with a large body of attendees.
Human Resources Update
Associate Vice Chancellor Laurie Charest presented the Forum’s monthly Human Resources updated. She noted that the University had honored 130 Employees at its annual 20 year service banquet.
Charest noted that WPPR evaluations are due by the end of May.
Charest said that health insurance packets should go to every Employee in the next few days by postal mail. There have been a number of information sessions on the new preferred provider option (PPO). She was pleased by the careful way that attendees were measuring their options. The decision of which plan to sign up for depends on one’s own individual situation. More information sessions were scheduled for that week. The State Health plan also has conducted a few information sessions. One can phone 843-0526 to speak with State Health plan counselors about which program to choose until June 30, the deadline date for plan selection. Those with specific questions about a personal situation can phone 1-800-422-4658.
Generally, people have been pleased with the increased number of options and the opportunity for reduced out of pocket costs. Employees face a number of difficult and complex questions about what they might need to cover in the future. Jonathan Zerulik asked if this information could be rolled into the new employee orientation. Charest said that the information will become part of orientation.
Heuer asked if this was the first time that the 20-year club had been separated from other increments of service. Charest said that because of the size of the group who had achieved 25, 30, 35 and 40 years of service, the University has had to separate the groups into two separate banquets. She said that the room at the 20-year banquet was jampacked. She did not know how many people were eligible for the other banquet.
Charest said that the State Health plan website contains a list of all the physicians participating in the PPO. The PPO is a fairly robust network, especially in this area of the state. She emphasized that the costs of coverage are very different under the PPO depending on whether a provider is in or out of the network.
Charest introduced Human Resources officials Clare Miller, Gina Carter, Jennifer Adams, Linc Butler, Jessica Moore, Chris Chiron and Martha Fowler, among others.
The minutes from the April meeting were not yet available.
Chuck Brink introduced on first reading resolution 06-02 concerning money available for the educational assistance fund. He thanked Education and Career Development committee members Jane Majors, Linette Tyson, Barbara Eucker and others for their help with the resolution. Brink said that the resolution would raise the amount available from the staff development fund for the educational assistance program from $350 to $500 per person per year. Linwood Futrelle made a motion the resolution be accepted on first reading seconded by Roberta Massey. The motion was accepted. Then, Futrelle made a motion that the Forum suspend the rules to consider the resolution on second reading at the same meeting.
Jonathan Zerulik asked why it was urgent to approve the resolution today. Brink said that approving the resolution today would make these funds available this semester to students already enrolled in courses. Jane Majors said that one must apply for funds within 30 days after the end of classes. One can take a course at any accredited institution and receive a reimbursement, after having made a ‘C’ in an undergraduate course or a ‘B’ in a graduate level course.
Ellen Hill asked if the course must be a University level course. Claire Miller said that the educational assistance program is for job related courses but there must be some grade associated with the course. Laurie Charest noted that $20,000 is available from the state for the educational assistance program, with a limit of $350 per employee per year. A separate pot of money from the staff development fund was approved by the Forum four years ago to allow supplements to the existing educational assistance fund. Two years ago, the Forum voted that the staff development fund can supplement the educational assistance program money but allowing this use for non-accredited courses.
Charest recommended that the Forum make two different recommendations increase the educational assistance fund. Chris Chiron clarified that an accredited institution is needed for both pools. Charest said that the separate recommendations would affect the different pools of money.
The Forum agreed to suspend the rules with one delegate voting against.
Moving to discussion of the resolution itself, Barbara Eucker asked if non-job-related opportunities would require graded coursework. The Chair said that changing the educational assistance program to incorporate non-job-related courses would require a separate resolution.
Majors said that one thing not covered in this resolution was coverage of community college classes that help develop skills not directly related to one’s job. She hoped to see that requirement broadened in future resolutions. Brink agreed, saying that he hoped that Employees could eventually use the staff development fund for non-job-related courses like a history course.
Camilla Crampton noted that one could piggyback the staff development fund with the tuition waiver to pay for educational costs. Chiron said that book costs are now not covered and the tuition waiver now covers only two courses a year.
The Forum voted unanimously to approve resolution 06-02.
Majors moved for a “sense of the Forum” vote on whether to increase the Educational Assistance Program reimbursement from $350 to $500. Massey seconded this motion and the Forum voted favorably for this non-binding motion.
Brink thanked the Forum for validating the work of the committee. He noted that the staff development fund originated from fundraising associated with the bicentennial campaign in 1996. The fund has been used to support a part-time career development counselor and to supplement educational assistance program funds.
Now, the fund is used to reimburse employees for courses taken at an accredited institution that must be job related. The Employee Forum has no authority over this money but has only authority to make recommendations to the Chancellor for its use. The program is administered by the Office of Human Resources, with money first taken from the educational assistance program fund then from the staff development fund.
Currently, a balance of $82,000 is available for use. Brink produced a list of proposals for use of the funds, including an internship pilot program, a textbook assistance program, an upgrade to instructional software in the Clark-Cheek building, an update of training library and materials, a part-time student to assist users of the Clark-Cheek computers and enhancement of the computer loan program. Brink said that the computer loan program grew out of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace. He said that if the Forum recommended funds to supplement the computer loan program, it should establish some procedures for oversight of the program. Brink also said that all Employees should have the opportunity to pursue educational opportunities during work time, noting the procedures already in place instructing supervisors to provide their charges educational opportunities.
Regarding the internship proposal, Brink said that the staff development fund would provide seed money that would allow Felecia Perry and Human Resources to continue the program. Brink described the different funding proportions between the staff development fund and the sponsoring departments. He said a 50/50 split would cost about $34,000 for seven interns whereas a 75/25 split to share the cost of replacing these seven interns for six months would cost $67,000.
Jonathan Zerulik asked why the staff development fund has been underutilized and also why the educational assistance program has been underutilized. He suggested that the University might not be doing an adequate job getting information out about the programs. Laurie Charest said that the Forum has not made a recommendation for use of the staff development fund the last couple of years. Concerning the educational assistance program, she did not believe that the program suffered from a lack of publicity. Instead, Employees have busy lives and finding time to take classes is difficult for most. She thought it a shame to let funds accumulate when there are things that could be done to further staff development. She said that when the educational assistance program monies increase from $350 to $500, there will still be money remaining.
Brink said that departments must encourage people to take classes and must make allowances when classes are not available at any other time. He said the Education and Career Development committee had worked hard on its proposals the last couple of months.
Eucker said that one reason the committee focused on the clerical program was that people who have completed the basic clerical skills program have still had difficulty finding opportunities to advance within the system. These basic clerical skills graduates have needed something to bridge the gap between their current jobs and new office positions. Felecia Perry has indicated that if the Forum began the internship program, it could lead to grant applications that could extend or expand the initial program. She said that it was a shame that people who had worked to complete the basic clerical skills program had not been able to take the next step.
Majors said that the internship would count as experience that would improve the basic clerical skills graduates’ ability to compete for full-time jobs.
Ramona Kellam asked why the proposal would fund temporary, not permanent employees. Brink said that the proposal would pay for replacement employees to replace the permanent clerical skills graduates while they work on their internship. Majors said that the internship proposals would hire a temporary to do the work the clerical skills graduates are doing now. The home department would pay the clerical skills graduate’s salary plus a 10% in-range salary adjustment for additional clothes and other needs to fit into their new environment. The home department has expenses as well. Brink said that these incentives would lead to more departments taking on internship graduates.
Charest clarified that these interns would not officially leave their permanent positions with the University. Instead, they would work at a different University department that would not need to pay their salary; their home department would continue to do that. However, the home department must be willing to give up their employee for six months while they intern. In an ideal world that would work by itself but departments do not have a lot of money sitting around. These funds would supplement the costs that a department incurs developing skills and providing guidance.
Graves confirmed that after six months interning, the intern would go back to their old position, if that person has not gotten another clerical job at the end of their six months.
Brink noted that the shadowing portion of the internship had worked to rejuvenate supervisors who worked with the interns in similar projects. Charest said that a similar proposal has not succeeded when no money was made available to supporting departments. When the proposal is 100% cost-free, there are many participants.
Felecia Perry said that the job status of these interns has been overwhelmingly positive as they combine their basic clerical skills with intermediate ones. At the end of the program, the intern can claim six months or a year of office assistant III job duties on paper, placing them in a better competitive position when applying for clerical jobs.
The Chair commended the committee and Perry for their work finding opportunities for those trying to better themselves. Brink said that the committee would bring the resolution back to the Forum for second reading in June.
Liz Crowley asked the incentive of the housekeeping department to give up their worker for the six months. She hoped an answer to this question could be found.
Graves asked whether someone taking a class related to their job should request school funds or use the staff developments. Charest said that the educational assistance program supplements what departments can do for folks already. Others do not have the experience, are not able or not willing to support their Employees financially when taking these courses. The educational assistance program assumes that one has tried to obtain departmental funding but has been told that it is not supported.
Eucker asked Perry what kinds of things the clerical skills graduates can do for various departments. Brink said that people who graduate from the program qualify for office assistant or processing assistant III positions.
John Heuer, chair of the Communications committee, invited delegates to serve on that committee. He asked for a show of hands of those who read the InTouch newsletter. (At least three-quarters of the room indicated that they did indeed read the newsletter.) Chuck Brink said that he prints up copies of the newsletter and places them on the front table in his shop.
The Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards committee was working on its presentation for the Shining Heels award in late May or June.
Chair Alan Moran said that the Compensation and Wages committee will work on its living wage resolution. He asked members to read up on the resolution for the next meeting, with a mind to establishing a living wage ordinance for the University itself.
The Health Benefits committee had sent out an e-mail asking for Employees’ experiences with the State Health plan to gather compelling stories for a legislative presentation later this year.
Camilla Crampton, chair of the Legislative Action committee, said that Antoinette Satterfield had compiled a list of local legislators using maps showing the 17 North Carolina counties from which UNC-Chapel Hill Employees travel to get to Carolina. Now, the committee will work to compile a list showing how these legislators have voted on bills important to University Employees. The committee will also work on the Forum’s annual postcard campaign.
The Chair reported that he had met with University Legislative Liaison Kevin Fitzgerald to discuss legislative goals that the University and the Forum share. He had given a recent speech to the Board of Trustees on educational opportunities for staff. The University Priorities and Budget committee would meet later that month.
The Chair also serves on a committee that will try to define University-assisted housing.
The Chair invited those around the room to share something on their minds. Lucy Lewis said that she was glad to hear from the ombudsoffice concerning the OS1 pilot program, but said that she looked forward also to hearing from housekeepers participating in the pilot program. She thought it important to hear from as many perspectives as possible.
The Chair invited delegates to attend the May 4 Provost/Vice Chancellor meeting as there are still a number of open positions available.
John Heuer asked about delegates retiring from the Forum in the middle of their term. If one retires and is no longer a University Employee, one can no longer serve as a delegate. The Forum attendance policy also states that a delegate missing three meetings in a row or five during their term is assumed not to be interested in serving as a delegate. The Chair said that he wanted to find a continual pool of people excited about working for the Forum.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:36 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary