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Employee Forum Agenda — May 6, 2009

9:15 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

PLEASE NOTE:  the Forum will take its annual photograph at 9:15 a.m. on the steps of the Wilson Library.  Please be on time for the photograph!

I.            Call to Order

II.           Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III.          Opening Remarks & Swearing in of New Delegates

IV.         Special Presentations

    • Chancellor Holden Thorp
    • Bain & Company

V.          Human Resources Update—Brenda Malone

VI.         Employee Presentations or Questions

VII.       April Minutes Not Yet Available

VIII.       Old Business

IX.         New Business

X.           Stretch Time

XI.         Forum Committee Reports

  • Communications and Public Relations: Brenda Denzler
    • Forum Newsletter
  • Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Beth Bridger
  • Compensation & Benefits:  Alan Moran
  • Education and Career Development:  Liz Cahoon/Cate Cunningham
  • Legislative Action:  Mike Hawkins
  • Membership & Assignments:  Aluoch Ooro
  • Staff Relations, Policies & Practices:


XII.        Chair’s Report (Executive Committee):  Tommy Griffin

XIII.       Task Force/University Committee Reports

XIV.       Announcements/Questions

XV.        “Go Around the Room”:  A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds

XVI.        Adjournment


May 6, 2009 Forum Meeting Minutes


Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  He welcomed Chancellor Holden Thorp to make opening remarks.  Thorp thanked UNC employees for their superhuman effort on behalf of the people of North Carolina and the young minds who study here.  He said that the State budget situation continues to look worse, with a hard freeze now in effect on discretionary state spending.  The Governor has called for a ten hour furlough for all employees.  He was pleased that the Council of State had accepted the furlough.  Thorp reviewed the State’s budget process and said that a 5% reduction was prudent.  His office returned 11% of funds to the University Budget committee for reallocations and wound down the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Public Service.

Thorp commented that he would work to find a way to help the 8,000 staff employees at UNC, as he had helped the 50 employees in the Department of Chemistry.  He then introduced Jeff Denneen and Mark Finlan from Bain & Company to make comments on the company’s interim study report.  Deneen said that the company had focused primarily on the administrative side of campus, finding that the administrative side had grown at a faster rate than the academic side.  The company’s consultants had found a complex organizational structure with some redundant and antiquated features in finance and human resources.  The University has ten layers from top to bottom, making it difficult for the leadership to understand the situation of those on the front lines.  Thorp thought that Bain had helped in making decisions on the 3-7% cut, but was advising the University on a multi-year journey.  Bain’s five year project was to advise the University on areas of opportunity from cost and efficiency perspectives.  Another level of detail of work will take place after Bain leaves.  For example, in consolidating multiple e-mail platforms, which platform should the University choose, and why.

Brenda Denzler asked whether Bain’s corporate background had perhaps limited the possible options that it had chosen to recommend contrary to the University’s academic setting.  Thorp said that the University needs to find ways to fix areas in which it is performing poorly to free up brainpower for higher level tasks.  Mike Hawkins asked if the Chancellor had considered ending academic programs.  Thorp said that he hoped that he would not have to do so.  He said that the University will not end the contracts of faculty based on financial considerations.  If things really do go south, the University will look at combining positions.  Kitty Allen noted that during the late 1990s, the University got rid of a number of mid-level managers.  She commented that the University seemed to have hired back a number of these “chiefs.”  Thorp said that it does not make sense to cut staff in some areas.  He said that the University must work to empower employees to make the University better.

Ashley Fogle asked about a section of the presentation that seemed to advocate cutting the Sitterson Institutes.  Thorp said that in all situations, the University must handle cuts by making the organization better and by managing difficult budget circumstances.  He said that the University would likely look to restructure how the Sitterson Institute is financed.  Ernie Patterson asked about ways to increase the use of facilities space on campus.  Denneen commented that if the University moved to a fixed classroom schedule it should be able to accommodate 5-6,000 students more.  Thorp said that the University had not accounted for the psychic and financial costs of funding infrastructure expansion on the scale of the last bond issue.  The University is now in a position to catch up, presenting a kind of silver lining to the recent budget problems.

Ruth Novacek asked if the economies of scale addressed by Bain included the faculty at the School of Medicine and other schools.  Denneen said that human resources, finances, information technology and administration are all to be addressed, but not faculty.  Similarly, UNC Health Care Services and UNC Physicians & Associates are not addressed by this study.  Thorp said that his commitment to reduce the size of the administration meant to reduce spending at the divisional, associate provost and associate vice chancellor level.  He said that these measures would embrace the School of Medicine and School of Public Health.  He said that the University must find ways to reconfigure its central human resources functions, but that final decisions about what to cut lie with himself and his administration, not with Bain & Company.

Brenda Denzler asked about the possibility of shifting funds from endowment to State funds.  Thorp said that endowment contributions are down 25% this year, cutting 12% from the University’s bottom line.  He said that this was one reason that the University had gone ahead with its 5% cuts as early as possible, in order to save jobs that might be exposed by a mid-year cut.  Denzler asked if there were any attempt to shift expenses from endowment funds to State funds.  Thorp said that after five months of falling endowment gifts, programs face three choices:  to discontinue the program, to burn principal, or to seek more gifts to the University.

Aluoch Ooro asked what she could take back to her unit as the sum of knowledge from the day.  Thorp said that he sought better communication, more streamlined processed, and more empowerment of line employees.  Todd Hux confirmed that employees losing 0.05% of pay will receive ten hours paid leave or not.  Thorp said that they would.

Associate Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone gave the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  She said that the performance management process ends May 31.  She said that Human Resources had revised the performance management evaluation form to require only one form submitted per year if there were no performance deficiencies.  She noted that Human Resources had introduced a revised layoff policy accompanied by two resource guides, one for managers involved in layoffs and another for employees receiving layoffs.

Given the recent H1N1 flu scare, Malone also outlined the University’s pandemic and communicable disease policy, particularly the part regarding the designation and treatment of mandatory employees.   These CDMEs (communicable disease mandatory employees) are treated differently in how they account for absences and receive emergency mandatory furloughs.  The communicable disease attendance policy is similar to the adverse weather policy:  during a Condition 1, the University is open on a regular basis; Condition 2, classes are cancelled and offices are open; Condition 3 offices are closed and CDMEs are expected to act; Condition 4 the University is closed and CDMEs receive furloughs; and Condition 5 is that of a complete emergency, with furloughs for no one.  Compensation guidelines developed in accordance with the Environmental Health and Safety department will govern furloughs granted during these conditions.  She clarified that during Condition 4, the Governor will declare the University closed but CDMEs will still be on the road.  During Condition 5, the Governor will direct that everyone stay home.  Under Condition 3, employees receive administrative leave with pay, with essential employees receiving time and a half for working.

Lucy Lewis noted the case of a support person laid off six months before being vested.  She asked if this decision were grievable.  Malone said that this decision was not grievable as it was a business decision to engage in the layoff.  She said that someone could question to see if the steps in the policy were followed.  She said that employees can request to see their personnel file to see if the departmental plan was followed.

Ernie Patterson asked if time that layoff employees spent with Lee Hecht Harrison in their final month counted as work time.  Vicki Bradley said that it did.  Ryan Greenway suggested that Human Resources encourage employees to use their ten furloughed hours on the required closed day in December 2009.

Brian Usischon spoke about the State Employee Recognition week and National Fitness Day.  He also noted that Appalachian State University had challenged UNC-Chapel Hill to see who could raise the most blood during their annual blood drive.  Usischon noted that Senate Bill 287 would eliminate the 90/10 PPO+ plan and would drive up deductibles and coinsurance, as well as costs for prescription drugs.  He said that in 2010 all will start in the 70/30 plan unless one can attest in writing that one is not smoking.  Starting in 2011, this practice will also involve body mass index (BMI) levels.  Brenda Denzler asked if the plan were offering options for smokers.  Ernie Patterson said that prescriptions and exercise plans were all part of the State Health plan options.  Amy Preble said that using BMI of 40 to determine health care coverage was very dangerous and opened the door to using even lower figures.

Usischon said that all employees were required to take the 0.05% furlough, with positions not funded by State dollars remaining in employees’ departments.  He said that for SPA employees, reductions will affect the May 22, June 5, and June 19 paychecks.  EPA employees will receive reductions in their May and June paychecks.  Special issues may arise for temporary employees and graduate students working on visas.  One can receive responses to questions at  Debbie Dehart confirmed that post-docs who are trainees are treated like temporary employees or students and are not affected by the furlough.  Post-docs who are regular employees lose money under the furlough like other employees.  Brenda Denzler pointed out that the furlough will remove money from employees’ gross pay, perhaps reducing one’s tax burden.  Nancy English asked if the furlough will affect one’s longevity pay.  Usischon said that there is nothing in writing on this question.  Brenda Malone confirmed that the furlough will apply to those in layoff by June 30.  Ruth Novacek said that she understood that doctors are taking a hit also, but HCS employees are not taking a hit.  Usischon said that HCS employees are also hit by the furlough statutes.

Tommy Griffin nominated Jackie Overton to run as Forum Vice Chair, citing her hard work and dedication to the Forum.  He noted that she had received an undergraduate and masters’ degree from UNC-Chapel Hill as well as a certificate in management.

Mike Hawkins nominated Tommy Griffin to run for Forum Chair, noting that he had learned from experience to try not to allow influences to go against what is right.  He praised Griffin for his 36 years experience and his balance in allowing what is needed to be said to be said.  Griffin pledged to bring heart, faith, and experience to the job.  He urged employees to support each other.  There were no nominees for Forum Secretary or Treasurer at this point.  There were three nominees for UNC System Staff Alternate position, Marc ter Horst, Brenda Denzler, and Mike Hawkins.


Lucy Lewis moved for a suspension of the rules to pass the resolution concerning Reduction in Force, seconded by Mark Duncan.  The motion was approved with 27 aye votes, 0 nay votes and 2 abstentions.  Marc ter Horst commented that the Forum had had this resolution before it previously.  Lewis said that she would like to have the resolution voted on and heard.  Marc ter Horst moved to table the resolution.  Only two delegates voted to table, so the motion did not pass.  Ruth Novacek asked the floor for a family of four.  Alan Moran said that $42,000 was the amount given by the NC Justice Center as a living wage for a family of four.  Novacek said that HCS employees would not be affected by this resolution, and Moran agreed given that the Forum does not represent these employees.  Moran moved to call the question.  Twenty-two delegates voted in favor, with three against.  The next motion was to approve the resolution.  Nineteen voted in favor, three against with four abstentions.

From the Legislative Affairs committee, Mike Hawkins encouraged new delegates to pay attention to the passage of Article 16.  Marc ter Horst of the Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee said that group was working with housekeepers on the break issue.  The Chair noted that housekeepers were restricted to certain areas for breaks under current policy, being called upon to go to their car or outside.  Brenda Denzler of the Communications committee said that the print edition of InTouch agreement would come before the Forum at the Forum’s June meeting.

The Forum agreed to adjourn at 12:04 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,



Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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