November 3, 1999
“ = Ex-Officio
Joanna K. Smith
Call to Order, Welcome to Guests, Opening Remarks
Chair Jane Stine called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. She recognized the new managing editor of the University Gazette, Jerry Ross. The Chair noted that Chancellor William McCoy and Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Jack Evans were in an investment meeting that morning, and so were unable to provide opening remarks.
The Chair introduced Judith Scott to make a special presentation on changes to the University’s sexual harassment policy. Scott provided a handout outlining information on the recent policy changes. The State Legislature provided the impetus for these changes through Senate Bill 78 in September 1998, which established new grievance procedures for workplace complaints. The University’s response to this statute is incorporated into the workplace harassment policy.
Details about specific changes to the law are are available from Scott and the Sexual Harassment office. A copy of these changes can also be obtained from the Forum Office.
The Chair asked how an Employee could choose between the administrative option and the option to file a grievance in a harassment situation. Scott said that this choice depended on the nature of the complaint. The University’s Counseling Service will outline the different options with the Employee. Generally, if a complaint addresses a mild incident that is not repeated or pervasive, an Employee will want to choose administrative review. Of the cases to go through administrative review, very few have been appealed; cases are addressed in consultation with Scott and the University’s legal counsel, and are usually handled in a spirit of goodwill. Most of the time an Employee finds that an appeal would not be reasonable under these circumstances.
In the severe situation aggravated by repeated or extreme harassment, an Employee is probably better off filing a grievance under the staff grievance procedure. This advice will depend on the Employee’s wishes and the nature of the incident. Scott said that one advantage of administrative review is that an Employee can file well after 30 days. She said that typically an Employee has six months to file external complaints under the federal statutes of the Equal Employment Commission.
Betty Averette asked whether the time limit for an Employee to file a grievance began with the first or the last incident affecting the Employee. Scott said that if an Employee were exposed to repeated behavior, it would be reasonable to set the time limit starting with the incident that caused the Employee to file the grievance. The Employee will presumably discuss the behavior surrounding the incident in their written grievance.
Scott welcomed Employees to contact her office at 962-3026. for information on how the revisions apply to specific policies, and to receive a hard copy of the revisions from her office. The Chair thanked Scott for her presentation.
Bob Schreiner, the 1997 Chair of the Forum, gave a special presentation on the University’s Hurricane Floyd relief efforts. He had been involved in the School of Public Health’s work in eastern North Carolina. He noted that University-wide efforts have been focused by the Carolina Center for Public Service, led by Nick Didow and former Forum Chair Rachel Windham.
Schreiner said that primarily now the relief effort needs volunteers and money, but not so much supplies such as bottled water. He could speak mainly about the School of Public Health’s work on the problem. Schreiner said the State was unprepared for the massiveness of the problem following Hurricane Floyd, and thought that no organization could be prepared to deal with the extent of need caused by the disaster. He thought that less confusion exists now than before about what is needed. Locally, many departments have taken up donations for food, medical supplies and money, which have been sent to the Governor’s Fund. However, disaster relief has sent much of the bottled water to Mexico to assist in its recent flood. Flood areas are now overwhelmed with supplies, although medical and technical supplies are still needed, as well as money and volunteers.
The School of Public Health saw this activity as appropriate to its service mission to the State. The disaster because of its size and nature was a public health disaster; conditions in the environment were a threat to people following the harsh winds of the hurricane. Survivors had to cope with rotting people and animal corpses that contaminated well water; there were dangers from poisonous snakes in flooded areas and a severe mold and mildew problem.
Schreiner noted that the School sent a group of volunteers October 8 on two buses to Duplin and Edgecombe County, after making contact with the State Health Department. The School sought to use its expertise for public health needs, by sending students door to door to conduct needs assessments. Schreiner said that the mold and mildew in some locations was incredibly powerful, and that one of the greatest health hazards for volunteers was working in moldy environments. Volunteers also found survivors willing and interested to talk about their experiences, as a means to vent and to grieve their losses.
Schreiner noted that the University had not had many volunteers to work on Floyd relief efforts, and did not know the reason for this low turnout. He said that 111 people had volunteered for the alternative fall break day trips, which were mainly restorative efforts. However, considering that the University has approximately 30,000 students, faculty, and staff, the number volunteering is a very small percentage. Schreiner thought that some staff and faculty have been working through their departments or their local community and church groups.
Opportunities still exist for prospective volunteers, although the Center for Public Service has needed to cancel some trips for lack of volunteers. Schreiner has been Down East twice and found each trip a positive experience, in which he gave something to those who need help. He said that people down east continue to need help, money and time. Interested Employees can contact the Center at 962-5296 or access their web site at http://www.unc.edu/dps
Schreiner noted that each Employee is entitled to 16 hours of paid volunteer leave to work on Floyd relief efforts, but each Employee should check with their supervisor before using this leave.
Schreiner noted that the State Employees’ Combined Campaign (SECC) is holding its annual fundraising event for over 1200 organizations. He said the brochure outlining donor options was printed before Hurricane Floyd arrived, and added that the SECC supports the work of Floyd relief efforts. In addition, last year 53% of all UNC Employees donated to the Combined Campaign.
One Employee said that she would like to help the relief effort, but did not feel she had the strength to participate in the “rip and strip” restoration efforts. Schreiner said that other opportunities exist for these people to help with supply distribution. For example, bulk boxes of supplies need to be taken apart and distributed. Other people are needed to conduct surveys and listen to victims. Interested Employees should call the Center for Public Service or the Governor’s Hotline (1-888-835-9966) to volunteer.
Matt Banks described his experience volunteering during the alternative fall break in Windsor, North Carolina. He hoped to return to eastern North Carolina to volunteer over Thanksgiving break.
Human Resources Update
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest noted that in spite of the high number of vacancies at the University, Employment had filled 2,022 staff positions in the last year. This is the highest number of filled positions in a single year ever, and indicates that the University has many hundreds of new positions to be filled. Charest reported that the number of applications for University employment has risen slightly, and she was hopeful that this change indicated a dip in campus vacancy figures.
Charest reminded members to submit their forms for the North Carolina Flex program by November 12.
Charest noted that a few 403(b) carriers have not signed the University’s contract specifying that they will comply with IRS regulations. Employees affected will need to choose one of the approved companies to dedicate contributions by the end of the year if they wish to continue making contributions by payroll deduction. Benefits has held meetings for affected Employees on October 29, November 4, and December 14, and Employees with questions should contact the Benefits Office (962-3071).
Approval of the Minutes
The Chair asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the October 5 meeting. Matt Banks noted that Joanne Pitz’ name was spelled incorrectly in the minutes. Ken Litowsky added that the Forum may want to add the clarification that Delegates claiming excused absences under the Family & Medical Leave Act would not need to file paperwork associated with the Act with the Forum Office.
Kathy Dutton moved that the minutes be accepted with the stated amendments. Ken Litowsky seconded, and the minutes were approved unanimously as amended.
The Chair introduced Martha Barbour and Peter Schledorn to discuss the Personnel Policies Committee’s analysis of its work time survey, and resultant recommendations.
Barbour began by stating that it was not the committee’s intention to change the University’s current policy, but rather to bring attention to abuses of the current policy. She felt that the attention the survey and the committee had received had accomplished this goal.
The committee had incorporated comments from the previous Forum meeting into its analysis and recommendations. Barbour added that further discoveries might be found within the committee’s data. She introduced Schledorn to outline the committee analysis. Schledorn noted that the committee had conducted the survey because of the difficulty involved in obtaining quantitative information about workplace compensatory time issues. The request for this data emerged from various open committee meetings held in 1993.
The survey asked questions about the satisfaction levels, hours of compensation, and flexibility of schedule among SPA-exempt Employees. Not surprisingly, the survey found self-reported dissatisfaction concerning compensation, but a large majority (81%) of these Employees was happy with the flexibility of their work schedules.
Over 90% of these Employees have been asked to work more than 40 hours a week, and around 20% of surveyed Employees work over 40 hours a week every week. Schledorn said that this figure represented a significant burden on the personal lives of these Employees.
The committee concluded that there were two reasons why these Employees have been asked to work outside their regular work schedule: emergencies, or inadequate staffing, poor planning and mismanagement. The first problem is currently beyond the University’s direct control, but the committee hoped that the University could work to minimize the latter.
The committee found the strongest satisfaction factor to be among those who know how the compensation law applies to them. This is a good reason to inform Employees of relevant laws and policies so that they can adjust their expectations and talk more intelligently with their supervisors about their personal situation. The committee also feels that informing Employees of the State policy would reduce abuses of this policy. Scheldorn cited the cases of SPA-exempt Employees who had been requested to work over 40 hours in a week but had been required to submit leave requests for doctors’ appointments in that same week. The committee felt that campus perceptions have been raised about these issues through its work, and hoped that Human Resources would continue in this mode through an educational program on work-hour practices and policies.
The survey revealed that many Employees take work home, and that Employees found this was a bonus of increased flexibility. However, supervisors might not be giving proper credit for this contribution in WPPR evaluations and merit pay decisions. The committee felt it was important that managers properly appreciate these contributions.
The committee recommended that supervisors keep work schedules as regular as possible, given that some Employees are very disturbed by changes in their schedules, while others are not. The committee felt that frequent requests to work outside the set schedule could be symptoms of a greater managerial problem such as lack of staff or adequate planning. The committee hoped that supervisors would find other ways to address their staffing needs than through these requests.
The committee hoped that the University would continue to train managers to avoid abuses of Employee leave time, and to broaden orientation about work-hour rules. In addition, the committee hoped that managers would encourage Employees to work at home through telecommuting if this option fits with their office’s mission. Barbour noted that most Employees reported that telecommuting boosted their productivity, and only a small group reported a problem maintaining productivity when working at home. She added that telecommuting reduces the strain on campus parking and transit resources, as well.
Barbour noted that some Employees would react differently than others to changes in their work schedule, according to personality, personal and family commitments, and the type of work they do. The committee mainly sought to encourage managerial flexibility.
The committee also requested that the Office of State Personnel funds geographic pay differentials, and provide funds to move Employees through their pay grades. Barbour noted that the University’s new hiring minimums have made it easier for newer Employees, but have had a negative effect on staff retention. However, this year is not the best time for the University to request money for staff salaries. She thought the University might want to make increasing staff salaries a multi-year goal in order to get a response from the Legislature.
Ken Litowsky noted that the third recommendation advocates making the EPA system more familiar to managers, and suggests a type of mandatory training. Barbour thought that training for managers has to come from the chancellor and deans’ level; Human Resources cannot carry out this training because of the different lines of supervision. Thus, the committee will ask the chancellor to take notice these recommendations and so encourage a culture through which Employees are conscious of their rights.
Litowsky said that he would be happy to follow up on reports of wage-hour violations involving departments not allowing earned leave to SPA-exempt Employees. Barbour thought that complaints of this nature had largely stopped in the wake of the Forum survey. Litowsky said that Employees with such complaints should feel free to contact his office at 962-3894.
Laurie Charest wondered if the recommendation for geographical pay differential was meant strictly for SPA exempt Employees. She thought that such a limitation would disappoint “regular” SPA Employees. She also cautioned that the recommendation for geographical pay might be seen as going beyond conclusions warranted by the survey’s analysis. Barbour said that the committee would examine the possibility of changing this recommendation.
Barbour moved that the Forum ask the chancellor to support these recommendations and send a copy of this report to deans, directors and department heads. She further moved that the Forum consider the report on first reading. Linwood Futrelle seconded this motion. The Chair asked members to read the report in more detail and be ready for discussion on second reading in December.
Betty Averette thought that if the University were to make the recommendation for geographical pay differential for SPA exempt Employees only, other campus Employees would become upset. Schledorn agreed that the committee meant to help all Employees, not such SPA exempt Employees, and wanted to say something in general on behalf of all Employees. He thought the committee could modify its recommendations through small editorial changes.
Peter Landstrom noted that some Employees had filled out the survey without holding SPA exempt status. He himself had received a survey. Schledorn said that the committee had sorted through surveys, keeping those done by SPA exempt Employees and conducting a separate analysis of the surveys filed out by anonymous respondents and SPA non-exempts. The committee had surprisingly found the responses of the two groups to be very close in content.
Litowsky noted that the 4th recommendation stated that work performed at home should count as work time. Litowsky noted that work performed at home is officially considered work time already. Barbour said that the committee meant merely to emphasize this point to supervisors. She would change this passage after consulting with Litowsky.
At this point, the Forum took its customary stretch break.
Lynn Ray issued the first call for Forum officer candidates. She noted that Forum officer candidates typically issue biographical sketches for inclusion in the December agenda packet, and are officially nominated at the December meeting. Elections are held at the January meeting, with nominations allowed from the floor. The Chair encouraged Delagates to run for office, saying that she had enjoyed her opportunity to play a direct role in the University’s affairs. She offered to meet with any delegate to provide further details about the work of the Forum officers.
The Chair noted that the Executive Committee had held a warm discussion with the Faculty Council Executive Committee on the subject of staff recruitment and retention. The Chair was encouraged that Chancellor McCoy is committed to the same kind of raises for staff as have been advocated for University faculty. The Executive Committee will need to meet with Jack Stone to discuss ideas mentioned in the faculty meeting to increase staff recruitment. The Chair noted that the University has filled over 2000 positions in the last year, but still bears 600 vacant positions due to turnover and the creation of new positions.
The Chair had not yet heard back from Carolyn Elfland concerning a new task force to discuss departmental parking allocation. She suggested that Betty Averette take this topic up with the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee.
The Forum has placed ads in the Daily Tar Heel soliciting nominations for its annual Community Award (3-Legged Stool). Nominations are due in the Forum Office by November 16.
The Forum Office will communicate the approved Guidelines revisions to the chancellor later in the week.
Committee chairs are reminded that annual reports are due in the Forum Office by November 19 (later postponed to November 23).
Bobbie Lesane, Chair of the Career Development Committee, moved that the Forum consider the committee’s report on management and Employee responsibilities in staff training and education on first reading. Lesane said the committee had worked to find ways to implement a development plan for staff and supervisor training and orientation. The committee also emphasized the importance of managerial flexibility with Employee schedules. Terry Barker seconded this motion. The Forum agreed to read the proposal and come prepared for discussion in December.
Lesane reported that the Educational Assistance Program had received a $15,000 deduction this year, which will reduce stipends by around $200/fiscal year/person, to a maximum of $350/fiscal year/person for educational grants.
Ken Perry had nothing to report from the New Careers Training Board.
Kathy Dutton, Chair of the Employee Presentations Committee, said that the group has still to hear confirmation for a December 2 community meeting from the chancellor. There is a possibility that the meeting might be delayed until January.
Lynn Ray, Chair of the Nominations Committee, said that the group had been working to find candidates for the Forum officer positions. The committee will meet at the end of the month after consulting with the Forum Executive Committee.
Linda Drake, Chair of the Orientation Committee, thanked all who participated in the October 22 Orientation for new Delegates. She invited everyone to arrive early for the December 1 reception, to be held before the Forum meeting to honor incoming and departing Delegates. The reception will be in the Wilson Library lobby starting at 8:45 a.m. December 1.
The Forum will hold its annual planning retreat Friday, January 21 in the Friday Center. Drake noted that committee chairs would need to prepare their annual reports to advertise the work of their committee, and to appoint someone to perform a presentation at the day’s “committee fair.” The presentation will serve to attract recruits to service. Drake thanked her committee members for their service.
Martha Barbour, Chair of the Personnel Issues Committee, noted that the group’s work had been addressed earlier in the meeting. She thanked committee members for making the past two years interesting and exciting.
Betty Averette said that the Recognition & Awards Committee had provided nametags for staff marching in the University Day processional October 12. However, many marchers did not have nametags due to a lack of communication between their departments, Special Projects, and the Forum Office. Averette suggested that all future staff nominations go directly to the Forum Office to avoid names falling through the cracks.
Task Force Reports
The Chair said that the 27th payroll adjustment team had appointed two sections, logistics and education. She had been appointed to the latter. The logistics team is handling the programming and payroll details associated with a possible change to a semimonthly pay system. The team’s goal is to create the least impact on Employees. As soon as the logistics team concludes its recommendations, the education team will gear up. Connie Boyce is the Human Resources representative to the education team.
The Master Plan and Horace Williams planning teams have not met but will meet in November.
Betty Averette reported that Chief Poarch had met with the Transportation and Parking Advisory Committee. She hoped to bring up the permit allocation process at a future meeting. In addition, Public Safety is investigating the benefit of free parking for retired faculty. Currently, retired faculty are allowed to park with a permit for free after lunch, a privilege which has exacerbated the parking situation for those returning to campus after lunch. Public Safety might change the hours during which these passes are valid, or might begin to charge a fee for these passes.
The committee also discussed the subject of towing versus booting illegally parked vehicles, and the release of these vehicles. Currently, Public Safety requires owners of these vehicles to pay all back fines before releasing these cars. The committee discussed the problem of repeat offenders paying parking fines over an extended period. Averette invited Employees with opinions on the University’s enforcement rules to contact her. The Chair noted that retired staff are also eligible for similar free parking permits on the recommendation of their departments, a fact which is not widely known. Public Safety anticipates that the number of these free permits for retired faculty and staff will double in the next few years unless their distribution is controlled.
The Chair reported that the University Priorities and Budget Committee had not met but would soon look at case studies for the $1 billion capital campaign. The UPBC will hold a planning retreat for the budget process January 12.
The Chancellor’s Search Committee will do a first screening of candidates over the next six months, pushing for a December 15 deadline to submit a list of candidates to President Broad. The search committees for the Provost and the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration are anticipating the work of the chancellor’s search committee. An information meeting for the Vice Chancellor for Finance & Administration committee was poorly attended by the University community. Jerry Ross of the University Gazette agreed to look into writing an article advertising search committee meetings.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:18 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary