FORUM PHOTOS: the Forum will take its annual portrait at 9:15 a.m., before the Forum meeting on the steps of the Wilson Library
Agenda — November 2, 2005
9:30 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press; Swearing in and Pinning of New Forum Delegates
III. Opening Remarks
• Chancellor James Moeser
IV. Special Presentations:
V. Human Resources Update
• Laurie Charest, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
VI. Chair’s Report, Executive Committee (Tommy Griffin) & Committee Reports
• Personnel Issues: David Brannigan
• University Assignments: Tom Arnel
• Career Development: Leon Hamlett
• Communications: Brian White
–> Forum Newsletter
• Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards: Debra Galvin
• Employee Presentations: Ernie Patterson
• Nominating: Patty Prentice
–> Officer Elections
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
• Forum Officer Elections
–> Vice Chair: David Brannigan & Brenda Denzler
–> Treasurer: Greg Alvord & Jane Majors
X. Stretch Time
XI. “Around the Room”/Employee Presentations
XIII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
November 2, 2005 minutes
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:32 a.m. He welcomed Eric Ferreri of the Chapel Hill Herald, Lee Kennedy of the University Gazette and other members of the press, in addition to guests and other observers.
The Chair led the Forum’s newly elected delegates in the recitation of the Forum charge.
The Chair then welcomed Chancellor James Moeser to make opening remarks. Moeser was struck by the content of the Forum’s recitation of its charge to advocate for staff and to form an effective communication link for Employees. He thought the charge brought to the surface why Employees return to work day after day.
Moeser noted the upcoming change in leadership of the Forum. He praised Chair Tommy Griffin as man of passion, courage and a friendly, positive attitude. The Chair had made a difference and Moeser considered him a very good friend.
Moeser recalled that Erskine Bowles has received an appointment as President-Select of the UNC System. Bowles will visit campus November 21 to meet with groups including the
Forum’s Executive Committee. Moeser was pleased that the University had established the Ombudsoffice in response to the number one recommendation of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace. He said that office represented a way to deal with questions before they become serious by addressing concerns in an atmosphere of respect and confidentiality.
Moeser said that while he appreciated the salary increases provided by the State Legislature, he bemoaned the sharp increase in out of pocket health care costs. He said that this increase represented another sign that the State’s benefits package is not compatible with the private sector or peer institutions. Moeser had discussed with Bowles the health care situation and his recent move to increase the minimum staff salary to $20,800, exceeding that approved by the General Assembly. Through in-range adjustments and staff equity funds, the University had raised 340 Employees in twenty campus units up to this standard. Moeser was pleased that the UNC Health Care System had developed a similar plan for its employees in October. He said that such initiatives were very important for the success of the University to compete in the high cost of the local labor market and address serious problems in retention, equity and fair pay. He looked forward to working in partnership on issues requiring attention from the General Assembly and the Office of State Personnel.
John Heuer asked about Moeser’s recent appointment to the FBI advisory committee. Moeser said that two weeks ago he had received an appointment as one of twenty university presidents to work with FBI Director Robert Miller. He said that this committee had begun two-way discussions on the issues of security as they relate to higher education. Leaders of the FBI and CIA have admitted they do not understand the culture of higher education very well. He noted concerns about preventing future terrorist attacks and also concerns with individual liberties and academic freedoms. He appreciated the opportunity to share with the federal government a constructive avenue for communication.
David Brannigan asked if this appointment was connected to the federal mandate to spend funds on the University’s information technology system. Moeser said that a federal law permits wiretapping if the government suspects a person will commit or plans to commit a crime. The government must show due cause in court to obtain permission to use the wiretap. The concern of higher education is in the reconstruction of email servers across the country. The advisory committee had discussed the unfunded mandate and its legitimate reasons with concern. The Chair asked where the University would find funds for this work. Moeser replied that these funds would come from tuition monies or reallocations, possibly resulting in a loss of positions.
Brenda Denzler asked if the government could access emails without a court order. Moeser said that the government did not have the authority to do this and would require similar permissions as when requesting a wiretap.
Ernie Patterson said that the voice-over IP costs will become astronomical. Moeser said that the next stage of merging telephones with computers presented three legitimate national concerns. First, the protection of individual rights to privacy and freedom; second, the cost and financial burden to carriers; and third, the method of implementation and degree of governmental involvement.
Human Resources Update
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest presented the Forum’s monthly Human Resources update. Charest said that North Carolina Flex applications were due in the Human Resources offices today. She said that Employees will have the opportunity to sign up for flu shots in the coming month. Additionally, the State Health Plan has begun a new wellness program that includes health risk appraisal, access to health coaches and help implementing new and healthier lifestyles. There are no financial incentives yet for those enrolling in wellness programs but plans are coming soon.
The Chair asked about reports that the University would soon freeze reclassification actions. Charest said that the University is still moving ahead with career banding work and is exactly where it needs to be in this area. She said that the University had received an exemption from freezing its reclassifications for all positions, whether or not involved in the career banding process. Curtis Helfrich confirmed that people with concerns about individual reclassification actions should contact their individual Human Resources generalist. She said that the Office of State Personnel had not provided additional money to help with job classifications to date.
Michael McQuown raised a concern he had mentioned last month about receiving appropriate credit through Aon Consulting with his North Carolina Flex debit card. Charest said that her office had received fewer than five complaints, all of which it had pursued. She had personally used North Carolina Flex for a while but had never had a claim rejected or lost. Jill Hartman said that Aon Consulting had cleaned up a problem within ten minutes. McQuown said that he had submitted letters with required receipts two additional times but with no satisfactory response.
Katherine Graves asked whether Employees automatically receive a debit card when they sign up for NCFlex. Charest said that one must pay $6 to get the card then must mail in receipts after using it to square one’s account. An Employee pointed out that Aon Consulting actually saves money on the debit card plan because it does not have to mail out reimbursement checks. Charest pointed out that the plan usually reimburses via direct deposit.
Ellen Hill asked why the cards do not function like credit cards. Charest said that the connections between the pharmacies and Aon Consulting are not yet sophisticated enough to function in this way.
The Chair asked that Forum committee chairs submit annual reports by November 30. He reported on his work with the tuition task force, saying that the University needs to find additional money to help graduate students struggling to complete their degrees.
The Chair had spoken to a gathering of around 300 employees at North Carolina A&T University. He looked forward to meeting with President-Elect Bowles November 21 as well as participating in a video conference with Bowles and other staff organizations December 9.
David Brannigan, chair of the Personnel Issues committee, said that group was carrying on work associated with the November 30 community meeting. That meeting will feature George Stokes, the director of the State Health Plan and state senator Ellie Kinnaird. Tom Arnel suggested inviting Katherine Graves to also participate as a member of the panel.
Lisa Inman of the Orientation committee reported on the successful orientation program that took place October 27. The committee will now begin preparations for the January 11 annual retreat. Camilla Crampton singled out Inman and Gloria Farrar for their outstanding work on the orientation program.
Tom Arnel, chair of the University Assignments committee, said that Brian Whitling looked likely to assume Arnel’s position in 2006. Brian White, chair of the Communications committee, said that the most recent edition of InTouch had just arrived.
Debra Galvin, chair of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee, said that group had distributed 25 of the 27 prize patrol baskets to winning recipients across campus. She thanked Rebecca Molinary, Katherine Graves, Tom Arnel, Anthony Eubanks, Roberta Massey and Chuck Brink for volunteering to help with this task, among others. Galvin said the committee still hoped to kick off a food drive in the coming month. She asked delegates to help establish pick up points for food across campus.
Ernie Patterson said that the community meeting would take place in the Stone Center unless it becomes necessary to move to the Great Hall. Barbara Eucker asked if there were other examples of state universities that had implemented their own health care programs. Laurie Charest said that the University of Georgia and University of Minnesota had set up plans and provided the UNC task force with data on their experiences. Human Resources will work to process this data over the coming weeks.
David Brannigan pointed out that while the University has the nation’s #1 basketball team, it ranks last of thirteen southeastern states in provision of health care benefits.
Chuck Brink moved that the Forum approve the August minutes, seconded by Curtis Helfrich. The motion was approved with one abstention. Katherine Graves moved that the Forum approve the September minutes, seconded by Chuck Brink. The motion was approved with one abstention.
Ernie Patterson reintroduced resolution 05-11 honoring Joe Straley on second reading. Jonathan Zerulik said that the word “PhD.” was improperly spelled. The Forum voted to approve the resolution by acclamation.
The Forum took a five minute stretch break.
Laurie Mesibov thanked Chancellor Moeser for his kind words. She said she and Wayne Blair had had a wonderful time at the appreciation fair. She distributed brochures from the Ombudsoffice.
John Heuer urged delegates to listen carefully to the statements of each of the Forum’s officer candidates.
Michael McQuown nominated Chuck Brink for the office of Forum Chair. He had known Brink three years and he praised Brink’s good leadership abilities and his easy-going but assertive nature. He noted that Brink had served on the Executive Committee and as vice chair of the Personnel Issues committee.
Brink thanked McQuown for his kind words and said that the Forum had produced a profound effect on his life, as he had met his fiance through working with the Forum. He said that the Forum should act as an advocate for Employees and not just as window dressing. He said that the Forum needs to concentrate on media outlets and work to make Employee needs the administration’s number one priority. He pledged to use the majority of the Forum’s time for its items and concerns. He pledged to spread the work of the share among those best able to accomplish it, saying than one person cannot do everything.
Martha Fowler nominated Ernie Patterson for the office of Forum Chair. She said Patterson was dedicated to improving the life of Employees. She said a Forum Chair should work with sixty delegates and the administration to accomplish consensus and should be a strong leader.
Patterson cited his work with the Personnel Issues committee and Executive Committee on salary and health benefits issues. He noted his work with the Dell Computer Initiative. As Employee Presentations committee chair, he had organized the November 30 meeting on health care issues. He would work to make the voice of all 37,000 UNC System employees heard and would work to support the UNC health care initiative task force.
Camilla Crampton nominated David Brannigan for the office of Forum Vice Chair. She praised Brannigan as a great advocate for Employees as the chair of the Personnel Issues committee, saying he had kept the group’s nose to the grindstone on pay and health care issues. She praised his organization of a seminar with Sorien Schmidt of the North Carolina Justice Center. Keith Fogleman praised Brannigan as a man who does his homework and comes well prepared to discuss issues.
Brannigan said that the Forum needs to elevate pay and health benefits issues and to broaden its friends outward, as opposed to being so parochial. He said that the Forum needs to deal with the Legislature or it would be seen only as an in-house talking shop. He said that University Employees need wages high enough to send their children here to school, not just a 2% or even 5% annual increase. He said that the Forum needs to have a place early on in discussions about things like the part-time degree program to add second degree candidates to the mix. He said that if UNC-Chapel Hill is to become the best public university in the country it must be better providers of pay and health care. The Forum must also become more effective with the media and the Legislature.
Brenda Denzler nominated herself for the office of Forum Vice Chair. She praised the diversity of opinions the Forum hears and was impressed with the Forum’ range of accomplishments. She was committed to improving communications, salaries, computer access, educational opportunities and co-governance relationships throughout the University.
Karen Rowe nominated Jackie Kylander for the office of Forum Vice Chair. She praised Kylander’s excellent work on the health care resolution. She said Kylander would represent an excellent voice for accountability and noted her standing as a medical researcher.
Kylander saw the Vice Chair position as an adjunct to help the Chair’s work. She saw the administration and Forum as all part of the same boat. She had a unique perspective as a graduate of the University. She said that the ranking of the University should not depend on winning sports, forcing students to purchase laptops or wiring buildings for internet access, but rather the respect it engenders among all working here. One cannot teach in a dirty classroom to unfed students. Kylander said that it was the duty of Forum delegates to represent the people who voted for them and to remind the administration of the role of staff.
Greg Alvord nominated himself for the office of Forum Treasurer. Alvord saw the Treasurer position as a combination of leadership and financial responsibility. He pledged to work hard on health care and salary issues.
Sue Field nominated Jane Majors for the office of Forum Treasurer. She praised Majors as a financial administrator handling University Library accounts and purchasing, from books to bills. She added that Majors is a notary public and is exceptionally suited to assist the Forum. She praised Majors’ work on the SPA Library Forum for her tremendous editorial skills. Majors had been entrusted to work on the Library’s planing committee and had exhibited characteristics of commitment, teamwork and a careful deliberative style.
Majors said that she had worked for the University for only three years but had worked twenty-eight years as a self-employed business owner who had maintained the books for her husband’s consulting business as well as for their rental properties. She said that financial procedures must be taken care of in the right way. She handled all the money for ten departmental libraries dealing with records, journals, subscriptions and other items, reconciling State accounts in these areas. She handles 200 trusts and endowments and also receives and tracks gifts from donors. She thought it important that the Forum never allow a hint of impropriety in its dealings by following the accounting procedures of the University to the letter.
Lisa Inman nominated Jonathan Zerulik for the office of Forum Secretary. She praised Zerulik’s organized and to the point manner. She also praised his initiative and willingness to step up to fill the role of Secretary.
Zerulik said that he wanted to see how he could help and get involved with the work of the Forum.
The Chair introduced the Democratic vice presidential nominee for 2004, the former Senator from North Carolina and the new director of the Center on Work, Poverty and Opportunity John Edwards to make a few remarks.
Edwards said that he was very pleased to be here working with the Center through the UNC Law School. However, he said the Center’s academic focus was separate and apart from his appearance here. He wished to spend his time in the cause of those working hard for a living and he praised the perspectives of those who had spoken before him. He said it was morally wrong for a University like this not to pay its workers enough to enroll their children here.
Edwards recalled the families devastated by Hurricane Katrina and said that Americans had moved to help these people out of a sense of justice and fairness. He said that people everywhere deserved to be treated with dignity and respect, represented by a living wage, the right to organize and be heard collectively. Edwards said that he knew the Governor and the Legislature very well and he wanted to help as an advocate, while adding that the Center itself does not advocate. Edwards said that he has the freedom to do as he wishes and said that the Forum’s agenda, working people’s agenda, is what his life is about now. He said that what the Forum is fighting for, he was also fighting for.
David Brannigan said that he was pleased to have Edwards here and noted that the Forum had approved a resolution welcoming the Center. Edwards said that he had seen the Forum’s website and the resolution. Brannigan asked if Edwards’ ideas to get working people out of poverty would find much headway in a right to work state like North Carolina. Would he advocate to end right to work laws and to establish collective bargaining rights here in North Carolina?
Edwards said that he would advocate the right to collectively bargain anywhere in the United States. He said that the reason that working people could earn a decent living had come from the organized labor movement. He granted that the right to organize faced a long uphill road in North Carolina.
John Heuer noted that the USA has 5% of the world’s population but uses 25% of its resources and supports 50% of the world’s military might. Edwards said that the priorities of the American people are not the priorities of the Bush Administration. He strongly believed that the country had been sapped by the mess in Iraq, the aftermath of the hurricanes and the draining costs of health care. All these factors led to the sense of a country in crisis. He said that Americans are coming to understand health care as a right, not a privilege. He said people had begun to wonder why economic recovery helps only the wealthy, while working people’s incomes decrease or remain stagnant. Millions more people are now in poverty as gas prices rise, health costs rise and incomes are not keeping up with inflation. He said that the country needs a different set of priorities.
Edwards invited people to think in terms of fairness. He said that we all have equal worth. His father, who had never gone to college, was worth as much as anyone, certainly the President. Edwards said the country should pay people a decent living wage. He said that we must all speak from the heart.
On a less serious note, Curtis Helfrich asked if Edwards was an North Carolina State or UNC fan. Edwards said that he enjoyed his ties to both schools but that he remains a Tar Heel fan.
Ernie Patterson asked how the Forum could help Edwards’ work. Edwards said that what the Forum is doing helps, as the Forum is fighting for the same cause Edwards is fighting for, although more might arise after a time.
Chuck Brink asked what specific ideas Edwards had to take care of these longstanding issues. Edwards said that the minimum wage was a national embarrassment and needs to be raised to $7.50 an hour. He said that everyone in the United States needs health care coverage provided by the market or the government. He said that health care costs are becoming a competitive issue. Over half the country now does not have the personal financial assets to survive a mishap or accident. Edwards would set up accounts for working families in which the government matches what a family could save each month. He would implement a housing voucher program to create racial and economic integration. He would grant free tuition and books to all students able to work ten hours a week. He would expand the earned income tax credit and implement real labor law reforms. Finally, he would rebuild New Orleans with the working people displaced from there instead of granting no-bid contracts to Halliburton to do the work. Edwards would advocate an entirely different set of priorities that he thought the country was ready to embrace.
The Forum adjourned by acclamation at 11:54 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary