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November 15, 2022 Executive Committee Meeting minutes

Attending: Randall Borror, Sharron Bouquin, David Bragg, Shane Brogan, Elizabeth Dubose, Stephanie Forman, Leah Hefner, Keith Hines, James Holman, Rebecca Howell, Kira Jones, Arlene Medder, Katie Musgrove, Charlissa Rice, Lori Shamblin, James Stamey, Janet Steele, Annetta Streater, Matthew Teal, Tracy Wetherby Williams

Chair Katie Musgrove called the meeting to order at 11:32 a.m. She asked for a motion to approve the October minutes of the group. Arlene Medder made this motion, seconded by Janet Steele. The motion was approved without opposition or abstention.

The Chair presented the Forum’s monthly budget report, noting that this month’s edition contains two separate tabs, one for the thirtieth anniversary event and the other for the UNC System Staff Assembly travel reimbursements. Treasurer Tracy Wetherby Williams pointed out that this month’s budget does contain a carryover entry.

The Chair also noted that she, Williams, Laura Pratt, and Matt Banks will meet with OHR Business officials to discuss Winter Blood Drive purchases to occur while Banks is out on vacation. The Chair hoped that the meeting would help resolve possible problems with necessary Blood Drive purchases and general payments for activities in Banks’ absence.

The Chair moved on to discussion about a proposal to establish a sustainability committee in the Forum. Matthew Teal had raised this topic around a year ago. Teal said that while sustainability is an important goal and value of the University and the Forum, he did not think that it now made sense for the Forum to pursue this proposal and establish its own committee on this topic. He thought that the Forum’s resources would best be used in partnering with the Sustainable Carolina office’s work to provide the staff perspective on sustainability. He hoped that Forum representatives could work with the office then report back on progress.

In addition, by withdrawing his proposal Teal hoped to avoid duplicative work with that of the Sustainability office. Teal noted that Mike Piehler, the University’s Chief Sustainability Officer, had met with the Forum earlier this year. The Chair hoped that the Forum could obtain an appointment on the University’s Sustainability Council, noting that the Forum has achieved parallel appointments with other campus concerns. She noted the technical nature of Sustainability Council discussions. Teal said that high-level faculty and staff serve on the Council, as well as 3-4 student members. Elizabeth Dubose volunteered to approach the Council in cooperation with the Chair.

Teal said that he has asked about procurement incentives to steer purchasers towards sustainable purchases. He reported pushback saying that it is up to units to decide how to spend their money, and that the Council could not tell units how to do business. He asked whether the University is considering sustainable building materials when remodeling or gutting existing buildings. He added that electricity use, water use, and air quality are also factors in sustainable development.

The Chair noted that the Sustainability website also includes mention of a Sustainability Coalition which forms an interconnected network of sustainability and environmental activities on campus. She was not certain how this group works with the Council.

Stephanie Forman proposed that Forum delegates could be surveyed to find people with particular skills to work with the technical details considered by the Council. She also noted that students have received appointments lacking these skills, which seems to open up membership upon interest rather than expertise. Tracy Wetherby Williams echoed this point about the importance of representation on these important University committees.

The Chair proposed to write Piehler proposing Forum nominees for the Council reflecting the current conversation. Teal was satisfied with this approach, again stating that the Forum’s establishment of a separate committee would be unnecessary.

The Chair moved to an email from delegate Randall Borror inquiring about the Forum elections process. Borror recalled he had hoped to recruit employees to serve in open delegate seats but was uncertain about whether and which Forum divisions had the full complement of delegates serving. He consulted a spreadsheet issued with the Forum’s annual report that seemed to require clarification.

The Chair said that spreadsheet was from 2021-22, and the report generally is reflective of the delegation from that academic year. She said that the allocation of seats amongst the Forum’s electoral divisions is calculated once per year according to job titles and employee rosters which are constantly changing.

The Chair also noted that the Forum has historically appointed all losing candidates in the March elections to delegate positions given the importance of maintaining full membership and the difficulty in targeting recruitment from designated areas. She said that the Forum could pursue divisional appointments more vigorously if desired. She also noted that elected delegates continue to serve in their original electoral divisions even upon transfer to another department or unit.

Matt Banks noted that the Forum originally had 45 delegates with a corresponding number of alternates. This system was abandoned as confusion about alternates’ status on the Forum and in their working units undermined their effectiveness. Now, the Forum is able to secure these employees by appointing them to time-limited positions as delegates, increasing the overall number of delegates to 60. Additional appointments are offered in excess of this number, again to make up for anticipated attrition among new delegates due to factors such as graduate school, work responsibilities, or lack of interest.

Randall Borror asked about emailing employees within a particular electoral division to increase responsiveness to various constituencies. The Chair noted the mismatch between electoral divisions and worker location which has led to confusion in the current system. Candidates represent divisions that reach far across the campus, but often do not represent their co-workers.

Banks noted that a proposal to reform the election procedure was presented to the Forum a few years ago. He proposed to share the discussion from that debate with the committee to inform their current thinking. The Chair thought that this material would be useful.

The Chair brought up the topic of instituting a Chair-Elect process for the Forum. She noted that the Faculty Council and the UNC System Staff Assembly have similar processes, which allow the succession of chairs to be more straightforward and consistent. She thanked Borror for the chance to explore these questions in more detail.

Arlene Medder said that the committee could rely on task force discussions leading to election procedure proposal if notes from these discussions were available. The Chair noted that the Forum relies on the Office of Human Resources (OHR) to provide lists of employees in current divisions in advance of the Forum’s election process. She said it would take a high level of commitment from OHR to carry through a change in its process. Previous discussions with OHR did not advance far for this reason.

The Chair recalled that previous Forum Chair Charles Streeter has helped create electoral divisions for the Forum’s elections. She hoped to automate this process in cooperation with OHR to provide this information. She said that Borror’s request for a divisional email listserv would rely on continual updates to the sorting of the overall employee roster into the Forum’s electoral divisions.

Charles Streeter said that the employee roster database is kept by OHR-IT, which he has relied upon to update divisions according to job titles through an Access database. The Forum needs to correlate the roster with the new job descriptions and federal guidelines to come up with reasonable divisional allocations. Matt Banks recalled that OHR-IT had reached out to the Forum to offer to automate this process. The Chair hoped to set up meetings with Streeter and OHR-IT towards this end soon.

Borror said that establishment of consistently maintained divisional listservs would assist in representing constituencies. Streeter recalled that the Forum has had these listservs previously, but Banks said that these have not been maintained. Streeter proposed that Active Directory could update list data for divisional representatives to use. He noted questions about delegates changing jobs possibly changing electoral divisions. However, this problem could be avoided in the governing software. The Chair hoped that this data would be updated at least once a week.

Shane Brogan reported that the Communications and Public Relations committee had received good engagement with regard to the Scavenger Hunt in October. He said that the committee will conduct drawings and send out prizes this week. The committee will also begin the InTouch publication process for late November or December.

The Chair noted that Vanessa Blake has taken over leadership of the Forum Book Club from Brooke O’Neal. She said that the new slate of books for 2023 should be announced soon.

There was no report from the Community Service committee. The Chair noted that the Winter Blood Drive will take place December 7th, the same day as the Forum’s upcoming meeting. She hoped that delegates would still try to donate blood that afternoon. The Drive is still seeking volunteers.

Arlene Medder said that the Carolina Community Garden Edible Campus group is working to do a food drive. She offered to find bins for departments looking to donate food for this drive. The Garden hopes to do another drive in the spring.

Janet Steele reported that the Diversity, Education, and Inclusion committee would meet the following week to address structural concerns. She asked for delegate input on committee work.

Matt Banks said that the Education and Career Development committee will notify professional development grant applicants of their eventual status by the end of the month.

Keith Hines reported that the Membership & Assignments committee had been busy with the 30th anniversary event in October.

Leah Hefner said that the Personnel Issues committee will discuss follow-up questions from the Vice Chancellors’ representatives’ meeting in October. There will also be discussion of recruitment and retention issues. The committee will discuss Staff Advisory Committee to the Chancellor (STAC) updates, which include improvements to the University’s application process. Hefner observed that many Human Resources managers seem to be very frustrated with the time needed to process these applications and the difficulty staffing units.

In its meeting, STAC also discussed career banding questions. Kira Jones asked if there was further discussion of the UE 150 demands on behalf of employees in Housekeeping seeking pay increases and elimination of parking fees. Hines said that the University does not have the power and authority to change housekeeping pay structure due to the career banding system. Hines said that STAC discussed the upcoming five-year Transportation and Parking plan to be developed next year in the context of these demands. He noted that housekeepers are not the only employees struggling in current conditions.

Elizabeth Dubose observed that the University cannot charge its private contractors the going labor rate for employees working on private projects due to the antiquated labor pay banding rates. Charles Streeter recalled that some items in the Chancellor’s Report for a Better Workplace were preserved in the Blueprint for Next program. He said that UNC System Staff Assembly had recently heard a presentation about the generational shift amongst workers in the UNC System and generally throughout the nation. He proposed that the University should establish a task force to address this question about the workforce for the future.

Tracy Wetherby Williams noted barriers related to local housing that employees and prospective employees face. She noted traffic concerns and their adverse effect on mass transit schedules. The Chair said that mass transit concerns will be part of the University’s five-year transportation plan discussions.

James Holman noted a concern about Housekeeping employees taking up to a month and a half off for educational training then choosing to leave the University soon afterward. He asked if management should allow this amount of leave for this purpose. The Chair noted that supervisors must make calculations governing employee leave to maintain their unit’s level of functioning. She thought that the practice Holman described would present problems in an area. Members discussed the details of this situation.

Discussion moved to questions as to what should occur if scheduled updates to the pay banding system do not occur as promised. The Chair hoped that the Forum could play a role in these conversations from the beginning as they occur. At this point, Elizabeth Dubose made a motion that the Forum seek involvement synergized and working towards the same goal with STAC and the Office of Human Resources in advocacy on the classification and compensation question. David Bragg seconded this motion, which was approved by acclamation. [Dubose had in mind a three-tiered approach, which I did not gather through the transcript.]

There was no report from the Recognition & Awards committee, as this is the lull part of the calendar for that group. Keith Hines reported that the UNC System Staff Assembly heard news on career banding updates. Hines noted that past Forum Chair Shayna Hill has been elected Chair-Elect for the Staff Assembly and would begin a two-year term in 2024. The Chair praised Elizabeth City State University for their efforts in hosting the event. It was noted that UNC-Wilmington may host the next event in March.

James Stamey had no report from the Buildings & Grounds committee. The Policy Review committee held two training events but has two policies up for discussion in December, Matthew Teal said.  There was no report from the Advisory Committee on Transportation, with hopes to meet in late November. Charlissa Rice said that the Carolina Peer Support Collaborative is working on a resource list for students who are not returning home during the Thanksgiving holiday. The group is also putting together a bookmark of mental health resources on campus for these students.

For December, the Chair said that she plans to invite new Vice Chancellor for Communications Camrhan Farwell for an introductory session, as well as Vice Provost Rick Wernoski to speak on Operational Excellence and Lean Management. Director Laura Kuizin will speak about the new Masters’ of Applied Professional Studies program at the UNC Graduate School.

Matt Banks will soon send out invitations to the upcoming Vice Chancellors’ representatives’ meeting on Thursday, December 8th. The Chair asked employees to remember their housekeeping staff as the holidays begin this year.

Members discussed the power outage at the Cardinal Deck and communication about this occurrence to employees. It was noted that communication did take place to parking coordinators but that this news did not filter down to line employees. Tracy Wetherby Williams thought that this event could have needed an Alert Carolina notification to employees.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting was adjourned at 1:29 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,                               Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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