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October 2, 2019

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center for Black Culture and History

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

I.  Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Shayna Hill (9:15 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.)

II. Special Presentations (9:20 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.)

  • Director of Benefits & Leave Administration Sheree Harmon
    • Tarron Brandon and Tom Waldenberg on 2020 Benefits Open Enrollment
    • Michael Boykin on Annual Total Rewards Summary

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

  • Interim Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement Becci Menghini
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

IV. Consent Agenda (10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.)

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

  • UNC System Staff Assembly Delegate Election
    • Candidates:
      • Keith Hines

VI. New Business (11:20 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.)

VII. Announcements/Questions (11:30 -11:35 a.m.)

VIII.  Adjournment


October 4, 2019 Employee Forum Minutes

Delegates Attending:  Darren Abrecht, JoAnn Blake, Ashley Belcher, Rich Brandenburg,  Sarah Carrier,  Tiffany Carver,  Timothy Carville,  Adrienne Cromwell,  Morgan Douglas,  Phil Edwards,  Stephanie Forman,  Adrianne Gibilisco,  Chrissie Greenberg,  Zebadiah Harris,  Shayna Hill,  Keith Hines,  James Holman,  Mary King,  Jeff McQueen,  Clinton Miller,  Kadejah Murray,  Natiaya Neal,  Ayla Ocasio, Joe Ormond,  Jim Potts,  Laura Pratt,  Rocky Riviella, David Rogers,  James Stamey, Allison Standard, Rose Thorp, Tracy Wetherby-Williams

Excused Absences:  L.E. Alexander, Jen DeNeal, Katie Musgrove

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  She noted that the Forum Office had recently undergone renovation and thanked L.E. Alexander, Adrianne Gibilisco, and Ashley Belcher for their work on putting the office back in order.

The Chair introduced Sheree Harmon, Director of Benefits and Leave Administration for the University.  Harmon gave an update on the new paid parental leave benefit which had been approved September 20.  She said that the Board of Governors had granted University employees eight weeks of fully paid parental leave, with four weeks granted to the non-giving birth parent.  This policy will likely be implemented in early January 2020.  She did not know if the policy would be retroactive to 2019 but would provide more information as it becomes available.  Laura Pratt asked if the policy would become effective upon hiring or when a new employee becomes FMLA-eligible.  Emma Beckham asked if the UNC System Office will maintain a central funding source for this leave.  Harmon said that more details remain to be announced.

Harmon welcomed Benefits Consultant Tarron Brandon and Leave Administration Consultant Tom Waldenberg to discuss the upcoming State Health Plan enrollment period, which will occur from November 2-19 this year.  Waldenberg noted that the enrollment period will end on a Tuesday this year.  He said that key changes are in NC Flex program offerings.  Brennan said that the State Health Plan will still offer the 70/30 and 80/20 options, with employees defaulted into the 70/30 plan.

Brennan encouraged employees to do their tobacco attestation to avoid a hefty increase in premiums.  Otherwise, there is no State Plan premium increase for 2020.  Employees who use tobacco can avoid the tobacco use increase by registering for counseling sessions at CVS pharmacy by December 31.

Brennan said that 70/30 plans now fall under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), meaning that enrollees will receive preventative services and medicines at no charge.  Enrollees seeing their primary care physician will pay lower copayments for office visits.  David Rogers confirmed that these benefits will also hold for 80/20 plan enrollees.

North Carolina State Health Plan benefits will carry over from 2019 to 2020, with two exceptions.  First, employees must renew their flexible spending account enrollment to maintain use of this benefit in 2020.  Secondly, the State Plan dental program will now offer a three-tiered plan system, divided into High/Classic/Low options.  Enrolled employees will default into the Classic option and must designate if they wish to change options.  The FSA (Health Care Flexible Spending Account) will increase allowed contributions to $2,700 this year.

An employee asked about obtained reimbursement for prescriptions under the FSA rules given changes in the IRS tax laws.  This employee was concerned given that she pays for her prescriptions out of pocket.  Brennan offered to discuss this employee’s situation following the meeting.

Tarron Brennan directed employees to for more information about the health plan enrollment period.  Tom Waldenberg said that employees will receive communications at their home address, their campus address, and via emails, likely by mid-October.  The Office of Human Resources will conduct enrollment counseling sessions at the Administrative Office Building off Airport Drive from November 5-19.  Tracy Wetherby Williams noted the previous separation of State Health Plan enrollment periods from NC Flex program enrollment periods.  David Rogers confirmed that $500 left in an FSA will roll over indefinitely.

Michael Boykin, a Business Systems Analyst with Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement (WSEE), spoke on the new rewards statements.  He said that employees last received hard copy statements in March 2018 for 2017.  Now, his office will use the ConnectCarolina Self-Service tab to provide statement access.  To receive statements, employees must be permanent, .5-time FTE (full-time equivalent) and must be active when administrators run the process to produce the statements.  This process will occur in the next few days, Boykin said.

These statements create an overall picture of what the University pays each employee, including FICA, taxes, medical insurance, and leave such as vacation and sick leave.  These statements will provide this information and will give employees a better picture of how to access these benefits.  WSEE employees are available to print off statements for those unable to do so on their own.

David Rogers asked about employees working less than .5-time FTE.  Boykin said that the University will not produce a statement for these employees as the University does not typically provide benefits for these employees.

The Chair welcomed Senior Director for Employee & Manager Relations Angenette McAdoo to provide the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  McAdoo noted that Becci Menghini and Linc Butler were at the University’s banquet honoring employees who have worked 25 years or more.  She noted that October is Hispanic Heritage month.  She urged employees to participate in the Carolina Cares/Carolina Shares campaign.

McAdoo also said that Employee Appreciation Day will occur Friday, October 18th.  Employees must obtain permission from supervisors to participate in this event.  Those desiring to participate in talent show activities must sign up by Thursday, October 12th.  Set-up for the departmental fair will occur from 7:30-9:30 a.m.  McAdoo asked listeners to consider volunteering for a one-hour shift.

Wellness Manager Jessica Pyjas provided a wellness update.  Pyjas noted that her department will conduct three courses on elder issues through the month of October.  She reported that twenty departmental wellness champions have stepped forward in recent weeks.  Pyjas also noted that Produce Box will provide employee discounts on entry fees.  The organization will partner with Blue Cross/Blue Shield at Employee Appreciation Day’s departmental fair.  Employees can obtain a free annual membership and $10 off their first order with the promotional code ‘Blue365.’  Employees can also obtain Carowinds discounts and other offers via the University’s Perks page.  Employees can get discounted movie tickets for AMC/Regal theaters from the Perks page as well.

David Rogers said that 1000 Petals Yoga currently provides employees ten classes for $90 with the “Carolina Adventures” discount.  Pyjas said that employees can notify her office of local discounts via

The Chair asked to skip the consent agenda.  The Forum agreed to this request.  The Chair called for a motion to approve the September meeting minutes.  Arlene Medder approved this motion, seconded by Tiffany Carver.  The motion was approved by acclamation.

Greg Smith reported that the Communications & Public Relations committee was busy organizing the Forum’s scavenger hunt for October 18th.  He asked listeners to consider volunteering to help hide vouchers that morning.  Additionally, he asked for volunteers to help with the Forum table at the departmental fair.

Ashley Belcher added that the Community Service committee will also sponsor a table for the departmental fair.  The committee will meet after the current meeting to discuss its plans.

Laura Pratt reported that the Education & Career Development committee will also meet following the current meeting in the Genome Sciences building.  She noted that the professional development grant application process will open October 15th.  She asked delegates to spread the word about this opportunity.

Tiffany Carver reported that the Membership & Assignments committee would meet briefly following the current meeting.  She asked delegates to provide their names to her for purposes of keeping attendance.

Phil Edwards said that the Personnel Issues committee will continue its course figuring out how to approach the voluntary shared leave issue.  The committee will next meet October 10th.  The Chair noted that Rose Thorp’s comments at the August Forum meeting had surprised some that health care issues are a consideration for staff.  She introduced Kimberly Richardson from the School of Medicine to speak about her difficulties with health care.

Richardson said that she is a Type I Diabetic who has difficulty keeping up with expenses related to glucose monitoring and other equipment and insulin.  She said that her flexible spending account (FSA) does not cover the costs that she incurs.  Additionally, a new piece of equipment that would help her know when her sugar is under control, is around $1700, well out of reach for someone of her salary.  Richardson has elder care issues with her mother and her grandmother was in an accident a year ago and is recently recovering, as well.  She urged decision makers to find an alternative for those earning only $34,000/year.

Natiaya Neal recalled comments at the Forum’s recent community meeting that physicians at the UNC School of Medicine do not pay for their health care coverage as a benefit of employment.

Stephanie Forman said that the community meeting needed voices like Richardson’s on its panel.  She said that employees going into debt for life-saving medications need representation.

Phil Edwards asked how many stories like Richardson’s the Chair had received since the community meeting.  The Chair said that she had heard from employees paying $900/month in premiums and employees who must rely on their spouse’s insurance as the premiums for the entire family were unaffordable.  Some employees report deferring their own medical and dental care in order to pay their children’s care.  The Chair recalled that State Treasurer Folwell had suggested that employees attempt to pay for their care with cash rather than insurance, which struck her as a crazy recourse in these difficult times.  She said that stories like Richardson’s need to be told and heard.

Forman suggested that the Forum convene another community meeting.  The Chair advised that Forman and other new delegates can bring their energy to this project and to defining what they wish the Forum to stand for.  It was suggested that the Forum attempt to hear stories like Richardson’s monthly.  Phil Edwards suggested that the Forum write a resolution to bring the situation to the Chancellor’s attention.  The Chair liked this idea but wondered how to strengthen a resolution by use of social media.  She wondered about next steps.

Zebadiah Harris suggested that the Forum seek employee stories in departmental staff meetings.  Natiaya Neal asked if the Staff Assembly could influence how decisions on these questions are made at the System level.  The Chair said that recent Assembly discussions on health concerns have not been actively pursued.  She was encouraged that UNC System Senior Vice President Matt Brody conducts regular monthly Chair meetings with the Assembly and could advise on further advocacy.

The Chair said that the UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum still seems to set the standard for leadership on contentious issues in the Assembly.  James Holman said that most Assembly resolutions seem to be repeats of resolutions passed here in the Forum.  He said that Assembly resolutions go to the President of the UNC System for consideration.

Members discussed the logistics of holding a second community meeting before the end of the year.  Members asked how realistic it would be to ask decision makers to return to campus for further conversations.

Rocky Riviella asked why more staff are not involved in the State Health Plan’s governing committee.  He recalled the switch to comprehensive coverage that he saw as an “absolute disaster.”  The Chair agreed that people making decisions seem not to be hearing employees’ stories.  James Holman thought it would be harder for decision makers to deny stories when they must look these people in the face.  Natiaya Neal asked if the Forum wanted to draft a resolution on this question.

Katie Musgrove said that the Forum should study representation on the State Health Plan board.  Keith Hines said that he did not feel represented by those currently serving on the board.  The Chair thought that creating a resolution to address these questions and to depict more employee stories would be useful.

Todd Hux raised the question of no-bid contracts for State Health Plan administration.  He said that this system seemed to be out of order.  Emma Beckham noted that the State Health Plan board of trustees will meet December 10th at 10 a.m., according to the Plan’s website.  Board members are appointees of the State Treasurer.

Sarah Carrier thought that emailing these members as well as the Governor and other legislative leaders would improve the Forum’s chances of finding allies.  Karen Gilliam recalled the advent of high-cost insulin in recent years and the contrast with prior years in which free insulin was a lifeline to many North Carolinians.  She noted the “doughnut hole” in Medicare prescription coverage and that charity care at hospitals is less readily available.

Stephanie Brown said that the UNC Health Care System plays a huge role in this question.  She thought that the Forum could rely on the System’s ties to the University in pressing for reform.  Keith Hines said that the focus of decision makers differs from regular employees.  He said that their plans do not focus on the pain that people feel right now.

Natiaya Neal asked about organizing this effort, perhaps by inviting Matt Brody to a meeting during the open enrollment period.  The Chair advised that this conversation continue at the October 15th Executive Committee meeting.  Stephanie Forman asked about increasing communications with student organizations who might be helpful in this effort.  The Chair appreciated these groups’ interest, saying that the more partners involved the better.

Sarah Carrier said that videos on this question could help to convince other University institutions to lend their voice.  Kimberly Richardson agreed that videos catch the attention better than written emails.  Stephanie Forman noted two campus initiatives regarding the Black experience:  Black Out Loud, a recording studio effort, and Uncut at UNC, an athlete-centered website.  She said that coordinating with these efforts could boost the Forum’s work.

Phil Edwards said that he would distribute forms at the Employee Appreciation Fair asking employees to speak about their health care experiences.  Laura Pratt said that a recent N.C. State video had been a very powerful way to present information that the Forum could use as a model.

The Chair asked for a point person to lead this effort.  Sarah Carrier said that the Personnel Issues committee could work on this concern and would add Kimberly Richardson and Ricky Phillips as members.  The Chair thanked Carrier and the committee for their leadership.

Natiaya Neal reported that the Recognition & Awards committee was currently inactive.  She said that this month, the book club would discuss Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book The Water Dancer. 

James Holman noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly had accepted a $15,000 sponsorship from the State Employees’ Association of North Carolina for the Chancellors’ Cup golf tournament.  The Chair praised Holman for his work obtaining this sponsorship last year and this year, in the largest single donations to date.

James Stamey said that he is the new delegate on the University Buildings & Grounds committee.  Keith Hines said that the Student Stores Advisory Committee will meet that afternoon.

The Chair noted that the Executive Committee will host Provost Bob Blouin to discuss Carolina Next.  She asked members to stand for election to the UNC System Staff Assembly as the two-year delegate and alternate.  Running unopposed, Keith Hines was elected delegate and Laura Pratt alternate.  The next Staff Assembly meeting will take place November 4 -5 in Chapel Hill.  Sarah Carrier asked the Chair to bring the health care issue to the Assembly for consideration.  The Chair said that she would do so.

In the absence of further discussion, Arlene Medder moved that the meeting adjourn, seconded by Rocky Riviella.  The meeting adjourned by acclamation at 10:58 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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