March 13, 2014 Employee Forum Vice Chancellor/Provost Meeting
Attending: Dan Barmmer, Matt Brody, Gena Carter, Yvonne Dunlap, Todd Hux, Jeff McCracken, Chris Meinecke, Jackie Overton, Kevin Seitz, Charles Streeter, Carol Tresolini, Matt Turner, Felicia Washington, Anna Wu
Vice Chancellor Felicia Washington called the meeting to order at 10:02 a.m. and led the room in a round of introductions. She noted the first item of the agenda is the University’s response to adverse weather in January. Charles Streeter said that the University had experienced Condition 2 adverse weather condition, which placed the decision to come to work at the discretion of the employee but leaving offices open. He reported a general feeling among staff that the University should have closed. He also noted that some departments did not communicate the policy to their employees who subsequently did not understand when they could arrive and leave from work. He noted that second shift employees were still asked to come into work. These employees braved snow and icy roads which were in worse condition when they left for the day. He noted that some employees were told that they must use vacation time if they needed to stay home in this adverse weather. He said that the situation had improved during the February adverse weather events.
Felicia Washington noted that there had been two Condition 3 events in February in which the University was closed. Gena Carter said that the University is required to report its decision-making to General Administration. Todd Hux asked how employees are designated critical and emergency employees. Anna Wu said that much depends on the individual shop. She said that an employee’s work plan will say if that person is an “emergency employee.” Todd Hux said there was some confusion about who was considered an emergency employee. Carter said that Human Resources can provide a list of designated emergency employees. Anna Wu said that if an emergency employee cannot come in, that person is covered under the adverse weather policy. However, it is different if an employee does not even try to come in to work.
Charles Streeter noted the issue of employees trying to get home during the January adverse weather event. Anna Wu said that the University has to be very careful about its allocation of resources, particularly 4×4 vehicles. Todd Hux noted the rumor that some Facilities Services employees were not sent home with State vehicles. Wu said that on-call employees can drive State vehicles home when necessary, but she could not say for certain whether emergency employees have the same privilege. She said that Facilities Services will take another look at this question. She noted that it has been ten years since the University experienced a Condition 3 closure adverse weather event. Matt Brody noted that there is new leadership at the University. Previously, Human Resources was not consulted regularly on adverse weather questions. Now, there is more consultation between Public Safety, Human Resources, and upper administration in these decisions. Brody said that the feeling now is that if it is not safe for students to walk to class, there are similar risks for employees. He said that in the past the University would not have declared a Condition 3 closure for the past events. Dan Barmmer agreed, noting the general philosophy at the University that it will not close altogether.
Felicia Washington said that the University had difficulties deciding whether to close in the instance of the night storm that struck in January. Chief of Public Safety Jeff McCracken said that in the instance of a night storm, he begins his decision-making process at 4 a.m., speaking with officers on duty, Chapel Hill Transit, and Grounds employees before making recommendations to the Chancellor. Daytime storms are more difficult to evaluate given the number of people already on campus. In January, McCracken kept employees up to date with the Alert Carolina system, however there were concerns that this method would not make it to all staff. Matt Brody asked how long the Condition 3 status continues, given that second- and third-shift employees must be notified also. Matthew Turner said that his office had to use foundation funds to pay for hotels for employees whose bus would not take them home that evening. Carol Tresolini asked if an employee is paid for this time if at work. Matt Brody said this question is up to the State to answer. Charles Streeter thought that the University might want to work to find housing space if these adverse weather events become regular occurrences. Turner said that the Hospital was open to a couple hundred of employees that evening. Matt Brody said that there needs to be some contingency planning for this kind of situation in the future.
Anna Wu said that traditionally Grounds employees have stayed overnight in cots, but she did not consider this a good option. She said that on February 12 the Carolina Inn helped with this situation. Matt Brody said that in major events there has been the necessity to evacuate dormitories. Wu noted that the University recently had to relocate 90 students from Cobb Dormitory because of fire damage. Jeff McCracken said that it is best to eliminate the need for shelter by making an earlier call to close the University. If an employee is concerned about their ability to get home, they should be allowed to leave. The University has hurricane situation shelter protocols but has not yet contemplated similar arrangements for winter storms. There are considerations of food, cleanliness, and security in shelter situations.
Jeff McCracken also noted that a number of employees and students were stuck because they wanted to attend the Duke-UNC basketball game. He said that the University needs better communication in this area. Matthew Turner said that the Dental School had made an early decision to close and turn away patients. Todd Hux noted that parents have to be available when the schools close early. Dan Barmmer said that employees living outside Orange County could not use the Condition 3 status to get out in time. McCracken wondered how far out the University should consider adverse weather in surrounding counties. He said at some point the University must limit its focus to this campus.
Dan Barmmer asked why the TIM time management system had removed the ability for employees to enter Condition 2 weather events. Gena Carter said that some employees had misused this entry, leading to TIM administrators having to correct resultant problems after the fact.
Yvonne Dunlap noted that employees who parked in the Highway 54 lot had to walk up to 2.5 miles in the snow because the FCX and HU buses would not transport them. Jeff McCracken noted that Chapel Hill Transit was impacted by the weather, having eight buses stuck on MLK Boulevard. Chapel Hill Transit continued to operate until 8 p.m., but not at near the level of service needed. Dunlap thought that the FCX bus should have begun running before 2 p.m. She also thought the parking lots and sidewalks should be cleared for employees trying to get home. McCracken said that there is a set priority for cleaning, with the Hospital and Patient areas coming first. He would find if there could be some adjustment of the schedule.
Chris Meinecke noted that the NCAA calls its own shots regarding cancellation of the UNC basketball game. Jeff McCracken noted that if the teams are able to reach the arena, the game is allowed to go on. Only when Duke’s basketball team indicated that it could not reach the Smith Center was the game cancelled. Matthew Turner observed that it would be very difficult to evacuate a full Smith Center on a moment’s notice. Felicia Washington noted that this decision is not under the control of campus administrators.
Charles Streeter asked for some background on the credit monitoring company that the University is using to help employees whose credit was recently exposed due to the data breach. Matt Brody said that Rust Consulting worked with the University to craft its response to the breach, and had bundled the ID911’s data monitoring services with the overall fee. The University has used Rust Consulting previously. Dan Barmmer suggested that the University use the call center to track down employees who might have been affected by the breach. Yvonne Dunlap noted that several University departments have experienced breaches in recent years. She was impressed by how this breach had been handled. Felicia Washington said that Rust Consulting had sent out around 10,000 letters to affected employees with 1,047 employees registering for credit monitoring services. The ID911 service will last for 6-7 months, then will be subject to review. Kevin Seitz said that a new wave of letters will have better information on the envelope to insure that employees do not misidentify the notifications as junk mail. Barmmer proposed possibly sending the letters registered mail rather than regular first class mail.
Matt Brody said that Rust Consulting works for hundreds of clients and so could not organize a call campaign to reach employees. The focus has been instead to assemble and verify current addresses. Dan Barmmer understood this distinction. Kevin Seitz said that Barmmer’s proposal could be considered if the situation escalated. Brody said that the University has explored extending the ID911 credit monitoring service for employees, perhaps through offering a discount for renewing employees. Charles Streeter asked about ID911 offering identity theft insurance. Brody responded that he had not heard great things about this particular service.
Charles Streeter related the story of an employee who desired to receive University honors for 30-year employees who had retired ten months early due to accumulated sick and vacation leave. He had contacted Human Resources, General Administration, and the Office of State Human Resources to confirm that the University should not have to recognize this employee’s service. He had found out recently that the Chancellor thought otherwise, leaving the recognition up to the discretion of the department. He thought that this decision represented a bad precedent. Matt Brody said that he thought that the University should allow such recognition. He would get back to Streeter on the particular implementation of this general policy after consulting with Ashley Nicklis, the Senior Director for Benefits.
Todd Hux suggested that the University send a letter thanking people who came in to work during the snow. In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 10:58 a.m.
Respectfully submitted, Matt Banks, Recording Secretary