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October 20, 2015 Employee Forum Executive Committee minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Sharon Brinson, Bonita Brown, Gena Carter, Clare Counihan, Phillip Edwards, Chrissie Greenberg, Shayna Hill, Arlene Medder, Kathy Ramsey, Samara Reynolds, Charles Streeter, Ben Triplett, Katie Turner, John Williams

Chair Charles Streeter called the meeting to order at 11:38 a.m.  He asked how the University Day festivities had worked for delegates.  Delegates discussed the use of the gonfalons (flags) and their transition.  Delegates also noted that the Employee Appreciation Day events had gone well.  There was a question as to whether the Dining Service folks should have been recognized with time off.  The Chair noted that these outsourced employees are not officially associated with the University.  Sharon Brinson raised an objection to one risqué song played by the Rubber Band during Employee Appreciation Day.

The Chair asked how the UNC game had gone.  Ben Triplett asked if delegates could obtain more tickets for guests next year.

Katie Turner reported that the scavenger hunt had 45 vouchers returned of the 66 submitted.  She said that the hunt had trended on local Twitter for around five hours that Friday.  She said that the hunt promised a prize for the best selfie taken during the hunt.

Shayna Hill and Matt Banks presented the Forum’s monthly budget report.  Katie Turner asked that the $400 Twitter class honorarium for Andy Bechtel be paid that week.

Members recounted their experiences of the October 8th Vice Chancellor/Provost meeting concerning the Student Stores situation.  Katie Turner noted that a comparative study of campus student stores had found that 85% of all books were cheaper here than at a Follett-run bookstore.  She noted reports that Student Stores had been hamstrung by a decision not to allow the organization to reorganize its on-line offerings.

Clare Counihan asked whether anyone had attended recent Student Stores employee meetings.  Katie Turner noted that Mike Patil had been chosen as an independent party in these meetings.  She said that the faculty agenda committee will consider a resolution on Student Stores that week.

The Chair noted that outsourcing and higher education were hot topics nationally.  Some observers favor outsourcing University services to allow faculty to focus on teaching and research without worrying about employment rules and policies.  He recalled conversations with other UNC System institution representatives that have switched to Follett to administer their bookstores.  Reports about the company have been unfavorable.  Ben Triplett asked if the Student Stores’ own proposal would fare in the Request for Proposals (RFP) process.

Katie Turner said she had not heard of any activity by the review committee.  The Chair did not have information about when the committee would officially convene.  He said that if the University is set to make a decision in March it should name its review committee now.  The Chair did not think that the University had outlined the problems to be addressed by the proposal.  Turner said that one conception is that the University Administration must cut costs and raise revenue.  Clare Counihan asked if this is the exclusive role of University Administration in light of the mission of the University.

The Chair noted the upcoming changes at UNC General Administration.  He said that the University should hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  Katie Turner said that faculty had condemned recent major violations of the University’s tradition of shared governance.  Ben Triplett recalled Clare Counihan’s question as to whether the Forum wished to oppose outsourcing altogether or only lacking transparency.  The Chair recalled that the Forum’s position twenty year ago established a very high bar for privatization to occur.  Counihan suggested that serving as a model employer for the State is part of the University’s mission.  Chrissie Greenberg said that the Forum should settle on one message for delegates to communicate.

Katie Turner thought that the fundamental issue is retaining Student Stores jobs as State jobs.  Shayna Hill asked how Ben Triplett felt that the Forum had been too hasty regarding its passage of resolution 15-04 concerning Student Stores.  Triplett thought that attitudes on both sides have not been helpful.  He asked delegates to keep in mind the Forum’s long-term relations with campus Administration.  John Williams recalled how devastating outsourcing had been in his experience at Duke University previously.  Chrissie Greenberg noted the difficulty of not acting out of anxiety or anger when discussing these questions.

The Chair asked the Forum’s next step.  Turner said that she would make space available in the Forum’s InTouch newsletter.  She recalled hearing that the University is discussing Reductions in Force related to the Shared Services initiative.  Arlene Medder hoped that initiative would study what works at the University.  The Chair noted his experiences with Shared Services provision in Student Affairs.  A video of Matt Fajack presenting on Shared Services at a recent Finance & Administration meeting was shared with the group.  Clare Counihan thought that the full Forum should be part of the discussion as to the Forum’s long-term strategy, perhaps through the use of small groups in closed discussion.  Delegates generally agreed with this idea.

Ben Triplett asked about the presence of the Carolina Family Scholarship in the list of Carolina Cares/Carolina Shares charities.  Counihan suggested that Ronda Manuel might have some insight as to this question.

Counihan suggested that the Forum hear from a speaker from the A. Phillip Randolph Institute concern voter education and registration.  She would provide contact information for a future discussion.  Katie Turner suggested inviting Vice Chancellor for Communications and Public Affairs Joel Curran to discuss University rules for the use of Twitter and other social media.  The Chair noted that Forum delegates have been asked to meet regarding new procedures on reporting employee misconduct.

Jim Fuller was not present to speak on the Carolina Blood Drive group’s behalf.

Arlene Medder noted that the Carolina Campus Community Garden is working on a construction site schedule for the Garden greenhouse.  She noted efforts to implement an “Edible Campus.”  She said that 30 people had showed up for third shift food distribution.

Katie Turner said that the Communications and Public Relations committee will publish InTouch at the end of the month.  The committee will meet to plan the future of the Book Club, among other issues.

There was no report from the Education and Career Development committee.

Kathy Ramsey reported that the Employee Appreciation Day and Student Stores issue have increased interest in the Forum.

Chrissie Greenberg reported that the Personnel Issues committee had postponed its meeting due to a conflict with Employee Appreciation Day.  She noted that the policy on in-range salary adjustments had likely been resolved in the favor of the Forum’s position by the General Assembly.  Shayna Hill noted additionally that the return to the twelve-month probationary period became effective October 1, 2015 and was retroactive to all employees who have satisfied one year’s employment.

Gena Carter noted that the State will soon revise the performance management review process.  She said that the University will likely distribute the $750 bonus to biweekly employees in the first December check.  She said that the bonus will be taxed as salary rather than a one-time bonus in order to reduce the tax burden on employees.  Employees employed as of November 1, 2015 are eligible for the bonus.

The Chair noted that the Advisory Committee on Transportation will meet October 29, 2015.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 1:36 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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