Agenda — October 1, 2003
9:30 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks
IV. Special Presentation
· Laurie Charest, on University Benefits Situation
V. Employee Presentations or Questions
VI. Human Resources Update
· Laurie Charest, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
VII. Minutes of the September 3 meeting delayed
VIII. New Business
· Announcement of Elected Delagates
· First Call for Forum Officer Candidates for 2004
IX. Stretch Time 6
X. Forum Committee Reports
· Personnel Issues: Michael McQuown/Delita Wright
· Recognition and Awards: Katherine Graves/Shirley Hart
· University Committee Assignments: Tom Arnel
· Career Development: Ray Doyle
· Communications: Brian White
Þ Forum Newsletter
· Employee Presentations: Tom Arnel
· Nominating: Katherine Graves
Þ Forum Elections
· Orientation: Meredith Clason
XI. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Tommy Griffin
XII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
· University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee—Tommy Griffin
· Carolina North Project—Tommy Griffin
· Transit Advisory Committee—Tommy Griffin
· Task Force for a Better Workplace—Tommy Griffin/Katherine Graves/Amy Gorely
P = Included in Agenda Packet
October 1, 2003
Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library
“ = Ex-Officio
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 10:34 a.m. He welcomed Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest to make a presentation on Employee benefits. He reminded Delegates that they are welcome to attend and process at the University Day ceremonies October 12.
Charest began her PowerPoint presentation by noting that she had made this presentation previously to the Board of Trustees Finance committee. She said that the Board was looking for new ways to support Employees, perhaps by improving Employees’ benefits package. She thanked Karen Abel for her great work on this presentation, and recalled that the Chair of the Board of Trustees would present these issues to the Board of Visitors this week.
This benefits analysis compared the University to peer institutions, meaning public institutions roughly similar to the University academically. Charest began by noting that people once came to work at UNC-Chapel Hill for the benefits, now they leave for just the same reason. Her presentation would cover health insurance, retirement, dental insurance, long term disability and life insurance. She reminded listeners that the Board of Trustees does not set benefits for SPA Employees, and does not have authority to set coverage levels or to use employer money to enhance benefits. The State of North Carolina uses benefits programs for employees in other southern states as its benchmark for comparison, rather than peer institutions of higher education.
Concerning health insurance, Charest noted that the State plan pays for coverage for the individual Employee, whereas the Employee must pay for coverage for their children and family. Most other peer institutions offer a choice in health insurance plans. The University ranks first in comparison with other institutions as one of the three that do not charge for individual coverage. Charest remarked darkly that this would be the only instance in which the University ranked first in comparison with the other 13 ranked campuses.
With regard to family coverage, the University charges Employees $427.48 a month, or approximately $5000 a year to coverage spouses and children, an amount roughly twice that of the nearest peer. Charest remarked that concerning total cost for coverage, the University ranks seventh among the 13 institutions; however, Employees pick up a disproportionate share of these costs.
Comparing health insurance plans is more difficult. Charest’s office compared out of pocket expenses for a hypothetical family of four needing four office visits, one emergency visit and 24 generic prescriptions. Employees at the UNC-Chapel Hill, along with the University of Texas, pay the highest out of pocket expenses for this hypothetical coverage. Employees at UNC-Chapel Hill pay the most in premiums and out of pocket expenses, the worst level of coverage in both cases.
Moving to retirement benefits, UNC faculty can choose between contributing to the State plan or to an optional defined contribution plan. Regardless, all SPA Employees must contribute 6% of earnings into the plan, receiving a defined benefit on retirement based on salary, years of service and a retirement factor. Charest noted that the faculty’s defined contribution plan bases its pay out on the amount of money contributed and the interest or income earned on investment. She said that one cannot compare the different types of plans (defined benefit and defined contribution).
The defined contribution plan, which is available to EPA non-faculty Employees, requires Employees to contribute 6% of salary while the University contributes 6.84%. The Employee’s contribution at UNC-Chapel Hill falls above the peer group average whereas the University contribution falls below the average. Charest noted that the vesting period to receive benefits is the longest among the 13 peer institutions. The length of time required to be vested in a defined contribution plan affects portability of the plan to other workplaces. In comparison, Ohio State University contributes 10% of salary to each of their employees’ defined contribution plans, a nice benefit.
Comparing defined benefit plans among the different institutions, Charest’s office chose to compare the actual retirement benefits for hypothetical Employees making $25,000 a year and $75,000 a year. In comparison, Employees at UNC-Chapel Hill earning these salaries would receive benefits almost exactly the average amount that workers at other institutions would at similar salaries. However, Employees must contribute 200% of that required on average at the other institutions, an above average contribution required for an average benefit.
Chuck Brink asked what contribution the State makes to Employee retirement plans. Abel said that the State contributes 3.2% of salary to retiree health plans, 1% to pension plans, with no more contribution to life insurance or disability plans. She said that the State’s defined benefit plan is considered to be over-funded, meaning that it has more assets now in the plan than needed to deliver the promised benefit for enrolled Employees. However, the State has reduced its contribution to the plan for a few years now, and it cannot continue to do this without moving the plan into financial trouble.
Katherine Graves asked if these figures were based on an Employee retiring after 30 years. Abel said that an Employee can retire after 25 years as long as they are 65. They would receive a 3% increase in money received each year worked afterwards.
Charest noted that at UNC-Chapel Hill, the University does not contribute to Employees’ dental plan, but faculty and staff may participate in the North Carolina Flex program, paying for expenses on a pre-tax basis. The University sponsors other dental plans but does not contribute to these plans, and the plans do not fall on a pre-tax basis. Compared to other institutions, dental expenses here at the University are very high; five peer institutions offer dental plans for families at no cost.
Dixie Bloom asked about the waiting period for coverage under a University dental plan. She said that she would have been required to pay for one year before receiving a benefit. Abel said that most dental plans require a waiting period for pre-existing conditions. Charest said that dental coverage would not be affordable if people could wait until they had dental problems before they purchased coverage. She said that Employees should try to purchase health and dental insurance in advance of trouble, but granted that the lack of pay increases has made this difficult. Graves pointed out that the requirement that one must pay in advance, file paperwork and wait for reimbursement makes the North Carolina Flex plan difficult for some people.
Charest noted that the University provides long-term disability coverage for Employees with more than five years of service, for which the University pays. The University does not provide life insurance, but pays participants a death benefit of not less than $25,000 or more than $50,000. The University also sponsors Employee paid term insurance which grants reimbursement of up to five times one’s salary.
Charest’s office did a comparison among the peer institutions for workers earning $25,000 and $75,000, asking what percentage of take home pay each would have left over after deductions for the five core benefits, parking, federal and social security tax. The UNC-Chapel Hill Employee earning $25,000 would take home only 78.9% of the average of the other institutions, receiving the same benefits. The Employee earning $75,000 would end up with 92.4% of the average take-home receiving by a worker at the other institutions. In both cases, UNC-Chapel Hill ranks 13th of the 13 institutions studied.
The University’s low ranking is driven by the high cost of health and dental insurance, and the above average required retirement contribution. A worker earning $25,000 pays 13.5% of gross pay for these benefits, but pays 33% of gross pay at UNC-Chapel Hill. A worker earning $75,000 pays 7.6% of gross pay, but 15.3% of gross pay at UNC-Chapel Hill.
One can also measure the degeneration of benefits over time. The UNC-Chapel Hill Employee earning $25,000 in 1998 paid only 21% of gross pay for the same package of benefits that the Employee would have to pay 33% of gross pay today. The Employee earning $75,000 in 1998 paid 11.3% of gross pay, versus 15.3% of gross pay today. While there has been a significant decrease in federal taxes, this change has been more than offset by the increase in benefit costs.
Charest said that the presentation posed a question to the Board of Trustees: how could UNC-Chapel Hill become the leading public university when it ranked so low in worker compensation? She said that the University must improve its benefits program to attract and retain the best faculty and staff. Charest said that the University must find a way to increase its contribution for dependent health insurance coverage, possibly by imposing a sliding scale for premiums or increasing the number of plan options. For now, the University must work with the General Assembly to accomplish any of these needed changes. Additional changes to decrease the Employee contribution to the retirement system while keeping the level of dependent coverage the same are needed. Providing subsidized or employer-paid dental insurance are also beneficial options for the University.
Bloom asked if why the University could not now contribute to Employees’ benefits packages. Charest said that the University has no authority under State law to change compensation levels, including benefits and salary levels. Bloom asked if the University could make contributions to the retirement system voluntary instead of involuntary. Charest said that changing the contribution level of the Employee or the State could be useful, but it would affect the benefit received. The Employee also could have the option to make additional contributions, or the University could increase its contribution per Employee.
Brink asked how many workers at peer institutions had benefits controlled by state legislatures, versus self-determined systems. Abel said that she would have a specific answer to this question available in November. She said that the Universities of Florida and California are note tied to their state’s compensation system. She noted that the Duke and Emory University and the University of Chicago are private. However, the Board of Trustees might not agree that such comparisons are viable for staff employees, where it might grant the comparison for faculty employees. Outside observers might judge that staff compensation should take place against local employers. Charest commented that the University does not do well in comparison with local employers either.
Delita Wright asked if implementing personnel flexibility would help the University find ways to alleviate these problems. Charest said that this authority would still require the University to find creative answers to these problems. Wright thanked Charest and Abel for their work on behalf of the Forum’s Personnel Issues committee.
Graves asked whether the University could use the School of Dentistry as a means towards providing some kind of subsidized dental care for its Employees. Charest said that at one point the School of Dentistry provided a reduction in cost for Employees of up to 10-15%. However, the University was forced to end this benefit as other State Employees did not have access. Until the University gains some structural change in the law, it cannot offer benefits to its Employees that other State employees do not have.
Joanne Kucharski commented that the erosion of benefits seems to have occurred longer than the past five years, and that measuring further back might add to the case of comparison. Abel said that changes in the tax structure and some federal regulations have made the comparison more difficult with current compensation levels.
Charest noted that the Board of Trustees had asked what is so different about the University and its workers that it needs a separate compensation system. She said that corporate officers and companies see similar drops in compensation for their workers. Part of the challenge in making the case for University Employees is to differentiate the University’s work from national trends. She noted that the News & Observer and CBS news have run stories on the number of working uninsured. The challenge is to bring this reality to the minds of decision-makers. She said that narrowing down information to the most meaningful statistics would help make its case about what happens to the pocketbooks of those who work for the University.
Graves said that Employees have seen no increase in salaries over the past two years combined with an increase in benefits costs. Bloom asked if the University had put together local comparisons in an analysis around three years ago. She did not think that the trends which found the University falling behind local employers had changed since. Cheryl Lytle thought that the University’s ranking of last among 13 institutions would make an impression among boosters who take pride in the University’s standing against other groups. Chris Koltz wondered if the survey results would hold in comparison with the top ten public universities in the country. Abel said that a similar comparison could be made and noted that North Carolina State University had made simliar inquiries with regard to national engineering schools. She said that between the two studies, Human Resources could construct a list of the top ten public universities.
Wright asked if comparing pay equity and retention might be useful. Charest said that defining turnover rates and equity could provide some problems. She offered to work with Wright on a specific definition of these terms as related to the benefits analysis. Scott Ragland asked if the University could join forces with North Carolina State University to make a case to the Office of the President. Charest said that the Forum would need to decide how to deal with this information.
Human Resources Update
Charest noted that enrollment booklets for the North Carolina Flex program would go out soon. Employees must use the form that comes in the booklet, and cannot rely on automated or photocopied entries. In addition, the Flex plan will now reimburse for over the counter drugs, if not vitamins or alternative health remedies. Employees should consider their spending on over the counter drugs when subscribing to the North Carolina Flex plan.
The Chair thanked Charest for her and her office’s hard work on the benefits presentation to the Board of Trustees. He said that the Board had truly heard this message, and he hoped that the Board would work to help find ways to help staff compensation levels.
The Chair made the first call for Forum officer nominations. Interested candidates will make speeches at the November meeting, and the election of Forum Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary will take place in December. Delegates interested in running for Forum office should notify Katherine Graves by the middle of the month to arrange their biographical sketch and other matters.
The Chair noted that the work of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace had split into subcommittees this past week. He said that the group’s work had achieved a great deal of work and attention from the public. He also noted that the Chancellor’s Award selection committee had announced five winners that week.
The Chair asked if there were any employee presentations or comments from the floor. Cheryl Lytle asked about the delay in letting people know about the University closing. She said that the University closed at 2 p.m., but some Employees faced hazards in returning home that late. There was concern whether the buses would run that late, Michael McQuown said. The Chair said that the buses ran that day until 5 p.m. Charest said that even with the new policy, Employees could leave to return home whenever they could arrange under the adverse weather policy. An Employee did not want to use two hours leave time to leave early in such a dangerous situation.
The Chair noted that two groups of Facilities Services Employees had travelled to Elizabeth City State University to help that campus recover from the effects of the hurricane. He said that group had represented the University well.
Michael McQuown, co-chair of the Personnel Issues committee, said that group had met two weeks ago with Keita Cannon, Robert Cannon, Drake Maynard and Steve Hutton to discuss the University’s grievance procedure. He said that a write-up of the meeting is in the works, and
Katherine Graves, co-chair of the Recognition & Awards committee, said that group had put its activities on hold in September but would work to distribute “Prize Patrol” gifts in the third week of October. She asked for volunteers to help present baskets to the lucky winners. She noted that winners will receive the basket from someone in their office, and the Forum members will come along to take pictures and commemorate the event. Cynthia Cowan and Mary Johnson noted that the committee will send out certificates to the other Employees nominated for these awards.
Secretary Katherine Graves thanked the Nominating committee for its work in soliciting Employees to run for Forum delegate status. She said that the committee had engendered a great deal of interest in the Forum. She thanked Delita Wright, Cynthia Reardon, Ruth Williams and Matt Banks for their work counting ballots. She announced the results of the 2004 delegate elections:
Division 1: Kathleen Younce Bernier, Meredith Clason, John Adams, William Bisese, Bradley Bone Alternate: Michael Case
Division 2: David Brannigan, Frederick Moore, Anthony Eubanks Alternates: Don Marsh, John DeGraw, Frank Alston, Margaret Gilliam, Al Jeter
Division 3: Tommy Griffin Alternates: Terry Brady, Lynn Farley
Division 4: Victoria Dowd, Rebecca Ashburn, Jacqueline Carlock, John Hewitt Alternate: Marissa Reavis
Division 5: Katherine Caudell Graves, Patty Prentice, David Moser, Brian Whitling Alternates: Eddie Gill, Paul McGinley
Division 6: Sandy Jeffers, Darryl Harris
Division 7: Tom Arnel, Beth Godwin, Camilla Crampton, Leon Hamlett, Dale Bailey Alternate: Christopher Middleton
Division 8: Kirk McNaughton, Penny Ward, Amanda Briggs, Karen Rowe, Curtis Helfrich
Division 9: Martha Fowler, Brian White Alternates: Tom Jenswold, Tana Hartman, Shannon Eubanks
Tom Arnel, chair of the University Assignments committee, said that group was working to consider proposals to restructure the committee. Arnel, in his capacity as chair of the Employee Presentations committee, noted that State Health Plan Director Jack Walker was tentatively scheduled to be the featured speaker at the Forum’s fall community meeting. (The meeting will take place Wednesday, November 12, from 3-4:30 p.m. in Gerrard Hall.)
Ray Doyle, chair of the Career Development committee, said the group had continued its work on the University’s part-time adult degree program and the GED outreach program. He praised the amount of student involvement in the latter program. He also said that the Chancellor’s task force had raised the question of reviving the basic clerical skills program. Doyle noted that the GED program now holds classes in the Forum Office on Franklin Street every Tuesday and Thursday morning. He invited listeners to contact him at 962-4440 to get signed up for the high school equivalency program. He also praised Bobbie Lesane among many others who had used the University’s programs to advance in their careers.
Brian White, chair of the Communications committee, said that the committee planned to get its InTouch newsletter out shortly. The committee would meet the following afternoon in the Forum Office. He invited all interested parties to make submissions for the newsletter.
The Chair noted that plans for the upcoming community meeting are underway. He asked the Communications committee to include these plans in its next issue. He asked Delagates to be ready to be photographed at the Forum’s December meeting, which will see an appearance from Chancellor Moeser and Board of Trustees Chair “Stick” Williams.
The Chair reported on his visit to the Johnston Center to see a presentation by Hugh Morton, the noted photographer. He had attended another meeting on campus ethics with five previous Forum chairs.
The Chair noted that there has been a drive to increase student fees by about $20, a figure that he thought was a bit high. He had also met with the board of the Carolina Center for Public Service.
The Chair attended a meeting in late September with Vice Chancellor for University Advancement Matt Kupec and Laurie Charest to discuss a possible fundraiser for staff Employees. He noted that the Forum had proposed this idea in the past, but thought the prospects were favorable following the specific ideas of the Chancellor’s Work Place task force. He observed that it is easier to raise money for specific goals rather than general ideas. He said that the fundraising will likely take place locally to begin. He appreciated this willingness to help on the part of Kupec and his office.
The Chair urged Employees to contribute to the State Employees’ Combined Campaign. He noted that the Carolina North and University Priorities and Budget committee had not met that month. The Chair said that the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT) had held open forums to talk about the bus system, particularly the idea of combining Chapel Hill Transit with the Triangle Transit Authority. He wanted the transit system to be as user friendly as possible to help those who cannot afford parking permits.
The Chair said that the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace had met twice already and was going very well. He encouraged Employees to fill out the survey on workplace preferences, and to communicate their feelings and ideas. The task force will extend its timeframe somewhat to accommodate the survey process. McQuown asked for some clarification of this last point. The Chair said that the task force was originally scheduled to issue its final report on November 11, but will wait a bit longer while survey results are compiled and analyzed.
Lauren Mangili said that many Employees cannot take the flextime accorded them because of the demands of the workplace and parking needs. She hoped that Human Resources would look for ways to increase the use of flextime for Employees.
Other task force members advocated improving staff benefits and starting a dental insurance program for Employees. The Chair praised the task force’s use of staff, students, Human Resources representatives and faculty as representatives on each subcommittee of the task force. He said that the students and faculty had added an new perspective and energy to discussions. He also thought that Human Resources staff had been very useful in providing answers on possible ideas and their implementation.
Mary Johnson proposed creating a certificate to recognize the work of these students, and other students that have worked to benefit life for staff Employees. The Chair agreed with this idea.
Chris Koltz proposed that the University allow Employees to bank education tuition remission and community leave hours not used for future service. He hoped that the task force would include this idea in its surveys and final report. Graves said that the committee had a range of ideas for consideration, and she encouraged Koltz to continue working on this idea.
Syed Mustafa asked about the possibility of setting up listservs to allow Delegates to e-mail the people in their electoral divisions. Wright said that she had set up a first meeting with people in Administrative Information Services about this idea. Graves said that paper copies of the Employee roster could also help Delegates stay in touch with their divisions.
Mustafa noted that there will be stories in the Daily Tar Heel about the work situation of staff employees on campus.
Chuck Brink said that he would like to see more media attention on staff issues, positing that this attention will lead to more action from campus administration and the Legislature. Mack Rich thought that the Daily Tar Heel could look into the effects of high health insurance costs on staff lives.
Delita Wright said that she hoped that more Delegates would choose to run for Forum officer positions. She did not want only one person to run for each position on general principals. Mustafa said that he hoped the benefits powerpoint presentation would see greater exposure in the media. Corrie Mimms said that Employees can find a great deal of information about training opportunities from the Human Resources Training & Development department.
Jeanne Hiesel suggested that the University send the presentation to the News & Observer and local television stations. Martha Barbour introduced herself and noted that she had served on the Forum before. She indicated an interest in serving on the Personnel Issues and Recognition & Awards committees. Brian White said that he would be willing to run articles in the Forum’s InTouch newsletter on the presentation. An Employee suggested sending the presentation to other System staff councils. Ray Doyle thanked the new Delegates for speaking up and hoped they would be willing to take up leadership positions in the new year.
Mary Johnson voiced concerns about the future of the Carolina North tract and its impact on the character of life in the Town of Chapel Hill. Michael McQuown appreciated the work being done on continuing education. He thought that all supervisors should be required to take some kind of administrative training as part of their jobs. Cynthia Cowan asked if the Forum could receive more details about the Chair’s meeting with Matt Kupec concerning fundraising for Employees. Tom Arnel proposed inviting Kupec to a future meeting.
Scott Ragland noted that the University Gazette will cover the benefits presentation in a future issue, in the context of the Board of Trustees meeting. Arnel noted the erosion of take-home pay which he thought emphasized the need to raise staff salaries as well as benefits. He thought that people at the lower end of the pay scale deserved a living wage, and said that having to work two jobs places a great amount of stress on these Employees.
Arnel noted that a reception for Carrboro Town Aldermen candidates Joel Braun and Alex Zaffron would take place that weekend. Katherine Graves praised the enthusiasm of the first-year Delegates and said she looked forward to working with them. Connie Boyce of Human Resources encouraged listeners to voice their opinions in Forum meetings.
The Chair reminded listeners of Chancellor Moeser’s State of the University speech that afternoon in Hill Hall.
The Chair also noted that the University will hold a staff appreciation event Wednesday, October 22 from 2-4 p.m. at Carmichael Auditorium. TIAA-Cref and UNC Student Stores are co-sponsoring the event, which will provide refreshments, door prizes and bookstore discounts for all faculty and staff that day.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:44 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary