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May 6, 2020

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Zoom Remote Meeting:  Connection Details Below

NOTE:  This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without notice.

I.  Call to Order, Opening Remarks & Recitation of Forum Charge—Chair Shayna Hill (9:15 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.)

II. Announcement of Kay Wijnberg Hovious Outstanding Delegates for 2019-20 (9:30 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.)

III. Human Resources Update (9:40 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)

  • Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

IV.. Consent Agenda (10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.)


IV. Old Business (10:20 a.m. – 10:55 a.m.)

  • Forum Officer Nominators’ & Candidates’ Speeches (Nominations May Be Made from the Floor)
    • Chair: Shayna Hill
    • Vice Chair: Katie Musgrove
    • Secretary: Tiffany Carver
    • Treasurer: Ayla Ocasio
    • Parliamentarian:

V. New Business (10:55 a.m. – 11:20 a.m.)

VI. Announcements/Questions (11:20-11:30 a.m.)

VII.  Adjournment


May 6, 2020 Employee Forum minutes

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order via Zoom at 9.15 a.m.  She led the Forum’s new delegates in a recitation of the Forum Charge. She took a moment to recognize the 2020 class of Kay Wijnberg Hovious Outstanding Delegates, as voted on by the Forum in April. Phil Edwards, Natiaya Neal and Laura Pratt are this year’s award winners.

The Chair welcomed Vice Chancellor for Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance Becci Menghini to provide the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Menghini congratulated the Hovious Award winners for this year. Menghini noted the ongoing planning associated with the prospective return of students to campus this fall. She said that guidance would be provided regarding Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to be worn on campus. She noted that Governor Cooper is reported to soon loosen restrictions in Phase 1 of the pandemic response process. She said that generally, employees would likely not return to campus until later this summer. However, units should provide guidance on a phased return for their employees.

Menghini sought to address angst among on-site employees about pay rules governing on-campus work. She said that the State rule has been that campus work is paid at 1.5 times the regular rate, either directly or through compensatory time. She noted the institutional decision to pay for this work via compensatory time.

However, the University has decided to pay out for this work at the time and a half rate when possible. The University has brought in Payroll Services to work on this question about how to pay out for this work faster than the required twelve months. On-campus employees will receive compensation as time earned or in paid salary. She asked listeners to tell affected employees of this intent to pay out for this work faster than required.

Joe Ormond asked about the priority order of different types of leave. [Associate Vice Chancellor Linc Butler clarified following the meeting that COVID-19 comp time, like standard comp time, must be used prior to the use of other types of leave (vacation, sick, or bonus leave).]

Theresa Silsby asked about employees who are in high-risk situations and are nervous about returning to campus. Menghini said that this question has arisen in conversations with the System Office. She expected broader leave provisions for these employees. She did not know if these employees would need to demonstrate their high-risk status. However, employees will not have to petition their supervisors directly for this kind of leave. Menghini granted that this subject contains many complexities. She anticipated the State would provide the University guidance.

Silsby thanked Menghini for her remarks. Menghini said that the System Office and UNC System institutions must wait for guidance from the Office of State Budget and Management and the Governor’s Office. This chain of required approvals often delays the communication of information.

Stephanie Forman asked about a general conversation about Family Management issues apart from Covid-19 questions. Menghini said that this conversation could occur but said not much has happened recently given the current focus on the pandemic. She said that the current discussion surrounds the equitable navigation of decisions regarding who will stay at home to telework versus those who will return to campus. She noted that the University is desperate for office space which may lead to increased teleworking options or perhaps the rotation of shared office space.

Forman asked Menghini to say more about broadband connectivity issues affecting faculty, staff and students who wish to telework. Menghini said that this question becomes a national issue given the need for infrastructure investment. She said that the University can provide limited intervention to help community members but could not do so for the long term.

The Chair was then delighted to welcome Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz to provide remarks to the Forum. Guskiewicz said that it was great to see all assembled virtually and he hoped that everyone is in good health. He was proud to thank the University’s workforce for working harder than ever to respond to the “forced experiment” of the pandemic. He said that the workforce remains strong and energetic despite working remotely.

Guskiewicz noted the number of employees participating on multiple Zoom calls while doing work and taking care of their homes, elders, and children. He thanked employees for hanging in there in this uncertain time. In addition, he thanked the on-campus employees in Grounds, Housekeeping, Campus Police, Research, and other areas that have played a part to help continue the University’s mission.

Guskiewicz noted rumors that the Governor would relax the shelter-in-place order soon. He said that a University goal is to use the next two and a half months to open research operations and to make campus labs fully operational. He emphasized the need for employees to return to campus safely.

Guskiewicz hoped to announce the calendar for the fall semester by the end of May. He said that as of now August 15th is the first scheduled day of classes. However, the University is exploring starting a few weeks earlier to allow finishing the semester before Thanksgiving. This arrangement would prevent students contracting the virus then from returning to campus with the illness and infecting others.

Regarding the campus budget, Guskiewicz did not yet know the State of North Carolina’s final picture. He said that the University will work to mitigate negative effects to protect students and the core mission of Carolina. He said that Carolina Next will guide decisions on how the University will move forward.

Guskiewicz recognized Kevin Robinson as the director and producer of the Forum election video. He was pleased to play a small part in that video, and he praised Robinson for winning the Hermes Creative Platinum and Gold awards in making the film.

Tracy Wetherby Williams noted that she works at the Adams School of Dentistry. She said that the School has a very strict temperature screening policy for visitors to prevent the spread of Covid-19 on site. She imagined that this screening would expand to other schools and departments. She asked Guskiewicz if he foresaw similar screenings occurring in all campus buildings. In response, he noted the wide range of measures designed to keep people safe in campus buildings, from social distancing to temperature checks to sterilizing stairwells.

Arlene Medder asked the Chancellor if he foresaw any impact of the pandemic upon the Carolina Covenant scholarship program. Guskiewicz said that he had worked with Development to contact the University’s donor base to boost financial aid. He said that the impact upon Carolina Covenant should be known by the end of the week. He added that around 15% of undergraduates receive Carolina Covenant support.

Haydée Marchese asked Guskiewicz to discuss how impending budget cuts will impact personnel. She asked when the Administration will provide guidelines to business directors. Guskiewicz said that the University is awaiting guidance from the Legislature and the UNC System Office. He said that there has been little conversation about this question in the last week. He noted the need to prepare for different scenarios under the assumption that Carolina must continue to thrive. He could not say that cuts will not occur but added that no furloughs are in place now.

Chancellor Guskiewicz thanked the Forum for the opportunity to drop in. He looked forward to seeing delegates on campus when possible.

The Chair returned the Forum to the Human Resources portion of the agenda. Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler said that his office has worked on the FAQ web page for Wellness & Benefits specifically related to Covid-19 measures. He acknowledged that employees are struggling and noted Jessica Pyjas’ work on finding wellness resources for the Human Resources website. He added that the office will work to make Covid-19 resources easier to find on the site.

Katie Musgrove asked about the suggestion to create a Keep Working page like that in place at Duke and NC Central. Butler said that UNC-Chapel Hill has a different graphics remote work environment than these other schools which prevents duplication of these efforts. He said that the University has made resources available and is happy to build out more as needed.

Jim Potts asked about guidelines for parent-employees as summer approaches and many camps announce closings. He asked for ideas for parents who are needed to return to work yet must also provide unexpected childcare. Becci Menghini said that the first resort is the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which provides 14 days paid leave for American workers affected by the pandemic. In addition, employees have University leave available, and the possibility of remote work for some. She said that things will change as the transition to campus operations occurs and employees should consult with their supervisors about possible options. Menghini said that the State and the System Office will provide further guidance on the FFCRA in the coming weeks.

Work/Life and Wellness Manager Jessica Pyjas announced upcoming mental health awareness events through the month of May. She directed listeners to for further information. Pyjas noted that the University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is historically underutilized. She said that EAP offers free counseling via virtual sessions as well as other benefits.

Alicia Brandt added that EAP is available for household members of UNC employees. Arlene Medder said that EAP also runs mindfulness and other mental health workshops.

The Chair asked that the Forum bypass its consent agenda to hear committee reports. This suggestion was approved. Katie Musgrove moved that the April minutes be approved, seconded by Arlene Medder with attendance and grammatical edits. The minutes were approved.

Greg Smith said that the Communications & Public Relations committee would work to edit the podcast for release soon. The committee worked hard to publish the most recent issue of InTouch. There was no report from the Forum Book Club committee.

Regarding the Community Service committee, Arlene Medder reported that the Carolina Community Garden is looking to hire an undergraduate student as an intern for the fall. Jim Potts said that it was still uncertain whether the June 2nd Carolina Blood Drive would be approved to take place. He said that the committee would likely need volunteers.

Becci Menghini recalled questions about screening volunteer workers at the blood drive. She said that members of the Chancellor’s Cabinet all generally acknowledge the need for the drive given national blood shortages. Officials are reviewing possible dates in June and July for the Smith Center and elsewhere. The University is awaiting guidance to ensure the safety of volunteers and workers. She said that the committee will meet again Thursday and Monday. She hoped it would arrive at a decision soon.

Laura Pratt reported that the Education & Career Development committee opened the professional development grant’s April application period. She emphasized that grants will not be approved for travel consistent with current guidelines. The committee plans to notify applicants of their status before Memorial Day.

Tiffany Carver thanked the Membership & Assignments committee for its work on the Forum elections. Laura Pratt noted the large number of new delegates and welcomed the newcomers.

Rose Thorp said that she had been active taking care of a new child recently. She and Phil Edwards co-chair the Personnel Issues committee which responds to employee inquiries on various questions. She read the email of a TEACCH employee in Carrboro discussing current difficulties for employees in that unit. Thorp encouraged delegates to volunteer for her committee. She would place a new meeting on the calendar soon.

It was noted that the Recognition & Awards committee has received almost 200 nominations for the Forum’s Peer Recognition awards. The committee will host winners at the June meeting.

Keith Hines did not have a report from the UNC System Staff Assembly. Laura Pratt noted that there is an Assembly special meeting that afternoon featuring System Vice President Matt Brody and Associate Vice President Chris Chiron, both veterans of work at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Pratt reported that the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT) had canceled its past two meetings. She would report further on these meetings once they resume.

James Stamey provided a report on the Buildings & Grounds committee in the chat updates of the Zoom software. He noted the committee’s recent vote on signage related to the renaming of the field at Kenan Stadium following a large donation from the Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation.

The Chair asked Parliamentarian Jeff McQueen to conduct the first round of candidate and nominator speeches. McQueen recognized Shayna Hill, candidate for Forum Chair. Hill spoke on her work of the last three years as Chair and asked delegates to consider her for a fourth year. There were no other nominations from the floor.

McQueen recognized Katie Musgrove, candidate for Forum Vice Chair. Musgrove mentioned her time as Community Service committee chair as a reason for her candidacy. McQueen called for other nominees from the floor. Natasha Hanks nominated herself saying that she plans to speak at the June meeting. There were no further nominations from the floor.

McQueen recognized Tiffany Carver, candidate for Forum Secretary. Carver chose to defer her remarks until June. There were no further nominations from the floor.

McQueen recognized Ayla Ocasio, candidate for Forum Treasurer. Ocasio noted her work supporting Forum operations and managing funding sources. She pledged to continue her diligent work if reelected. There were no further nominations from the floor.

The Chair resumed conduct of the elections process. She recognized Jeff McQueen, candidate for Forum Parliamentarian. McQueen said that he had found his work on the Forum meaningful. There were no further nominations from the floor.

The Chair noted that delegates will have the opportunity to nominate candidates from the floor at the June meeting, at which the election will take place.

The Chair asked that the item of New Business related to creation of a Women’s Issues committee be tabled as the primary sponsor of the proposal could not be present.

Laura Pratt asked for an update on plans for the July Forum retreat. The Chair said that the retreat will take place via Zoom and will help decide committee compositions, divisional leaders, and other items. Tracy Wetherby Williams suggested inviting David Rogers to reprise his teambuilding exercise from the July 2019 retreat. Rogers noted that his term will end in June, but he offered to explore the idea further.

Members discussed alternatives to the Zoom software for holding remote meetings. There was a question related to voting for the Forum Officer elections without a polling option in Zoom. Jessye Bongiovanni offered to help with a dress rehearsal of the officer voting process.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 10 52 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary


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