Employee Forum Agenda — September 2 , 2009
9:15 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 Presentations
V. Human Resources Update with Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone
VI. Employee Presentations or Questions
VII. August Minutes
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
X. Stretch Time
XI. Forum Committee Reports
- Communications and Public Relations: Ashley Fogle/Carrie Goldsmith
- Forum Newsletter
- Community Affairs, Recognition, Awards and Outreach: Teena Burton
- Compensation & Benefits: Gina Platz
- Education and Career Development: Cate Cunningham/Koyah Rivera
- Legislative Action: Jonathan Stephenson
- Membership & Assignments: Aluoch Ooro
- Staff Relations, Policies & Practices: Marc ter Horst
XII. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Tommy Griffin
XIII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
XV. “Go Around the Room”: A Chance for Attendees to Share the Issue Most on their Minds
September 2, 2009 Employee Forum Minutes
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:20 a.m. He welcomed press and visitors. He welcomed Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone to provide the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Senior Program Specialist Chris Chiron and EPA Non-Faculty Specialist Noreen Montgomery spoke about upcoming contract changes with EPA non-faculty employees. Term contracts for these employees will no longer be routine but instead will require the approval of the Chancellor or Provost. The minimum notice provisions for termination will also be changed under the new proposals. EPA non-faculty employees with one year of continuous service will receive 30 days notice; those with two and three years service will receive not less than 60 days, but usually 90 days notice; and those with four years continuous service will receive 90 days notice. Debbie Dehart confirmed that EPA non-faculty with less than one year of continuous service will have no notice required for termination but 30 days recommended notice.
Violation of an employee’s 1st amendment rights and retaliation for exercising the appeal process has been added to the reasons for termination. Chiron noted that the current EPA grievance process is administered by a volunteer EPA non-faculty employee. Under the new proposal, a Human Resources employee will take over administration of the process. Chiron noted that the revised official filing form requires that an EPA non-faculty employee file a grievance within 30 days of the specific action, with extensions allowed if pursuing structured mediation through the Office of Human Resources or in Equal Employment Office (EEO) administrative review. However, to receive the ten day extension one must file a grievance beforehand.
Discharges for cause will skip straight to Step 2 of the grievance process, a panel hearing. These hearings will employ electronic recordings but employees can request transcripts at their own expense. Legal counsel are allowed for EPA non-faculty at discharge for cause hearings. The grievant’s support person can speak on their behalf at the opening and closing of the proceedings. Alan Moran asked if English as Second Language interpreters could be included in the policy. Chiron said that they would be made available as a matter of course. Lucy Lewis asked if attorneys would be available in SPA grievances. Chiron said that state policy did not allow attorneys to appear in SPA grievances, as grievants have the option of the Office of Administrative Hearings. The proposed policy changes will go before the Board of Trustees and Board of Governors and, if approved, will take effect October 1. Brenda Malone asked that Forum delegates with comments or proposed changes to the policy send their comments on through the Forum Chair, Tommy Griffin.
Malone said that there would be no salary increases for the 2009-10 or 2010-11 fiscal years. Increases will be made available only for exceptional circumstances such as reallocations, promotions or adjustments for competencies. Malone said that there would be no specific exception for retention issues.
Debbie Dehart asked about the October 22 football game, noting that some employees have been distressed about the University closing two hours earlier that day. These employees were upset that they would have to disrupt their family schedules to accommodate ESPN. Malone said that employees have been encouraged to hang on to compensatory or flexible furlough time to minimize the impact of these changes. She said that Chapel Hill Transit will treat the 3 p.m. close like rush hour to accommodate commuters. Aluoch Ooro said that the business operations of the University had been disrupted by the football game. Mark Duncan asked why authorities could not move the football game two hours. Malone said that many people were excited by the vibrancy of the University’s athletic program. Debbie Dehart suggested that the University allow employees to make up the time via the adverse weather leave system. Malone said that the University had offered employees as many options as possible to make up the time. She noted that students and faculty will be away for fall break during that time. She furthermore felt distressed by the negativity about the situation. She said that the University had tried to be flexible about the lost hours but it could not simply let people go home without making up the time, as this power is limited only to emergency situations.
Dehart said that the football game loss of hours, coming on the heels of the enforced furlough and Christmas leave, had led to somewhat of a backlash. Aluoch Ooro said that the football game had surprised those who are not tuned into sports but were trying to schedule regular business meetings. Malone said that she had noted this problem. Marc ter Horst thanked Malone for her efforts and asked if employees should contact her office with further concerns. Malone thought that the University’s plan was quite workable and had been distributed to employees as soon as possible. Carl Schuler said that the athletics program is important for name brand recognition of the University.
Nancy English said that some employees wanted to work earlier in the morning to avoid using flex time for the lost two hours. Malone said that she would speak with people in Facilities Services to make sure that this desire is accommodated.
Todd Hux asked about the media reports that 300 UNC-Chapel Hill employees had been laid off, among them nine vice chancellor positions. Malone said that she could not identify all of the employees lost, but added that she had shared layoff information with the Forum. She said that close to 100 employees had been laid off with more coming, with some to occur before the new fiscal year. The University had been asked to operate with a 10% cut, meaning that more layoffs are coming down the pike. Human Resources had laid off one employee and had eliminated all vacant positions. Alan Moran asked if any upper level administration posts had been laid off (Reduction in Force, RIFd). Malone said that there had not been RIFs of these positions, but it was possible that these positions had lowered compensation or that affected people had gone back to their faculty appointments. Moran said that upper level administration cuts represent an opportunity to show savings of money to taxpayers. Malone said that every unit was challenged to bring operations in line with the new budget and to protect students. Lucy Lewis commented that Mike Smith had returned to his role with the School of Government.
Malone noted that other universities had asked the Chancellor to share the video about the Bain process from his website. She commented that the Chancellor was interested in an open process. Alan Moran thanked Human Resources for including a domestic violence component in the violence in the workplace policy. Wayne Blair thanked Forum members for their kind words and gestures following his brother’s death.
At this point, the Forum took a ten minute stretch break.
The Forum minutes were approved on the motion of Jackie Overton, seconded by Bonni Baird, with a change in the minutes that members of the Ombuds office be described as “Ombuds.” There was no old business or new business.
Jackie Overton asked for suggestions for the Forum’s upcoming community meeting. Lucy Lewis suggested health insurance. She noted that weight and smoking will be listed on the policy, which she described as the most restrictive in the nation. The Chair suggested inviting Chuck Stone of SEANC to speak. He noted that SEANC had filed a lawsuit to obtain the details of the State Health Plan contract.
Ashley Fogle of the Communications committee said that group was on track to publish InTouch on September 14, perhaps being pushed back to September 30. Teena Burton of the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee said that group would publicize the Unsung Heels award program. The deadline for the award will sit on the Thanksgiving holiday. The Compensation & Benefits committee had not met but planned to meet in the next few weeks. Bonni Baird reported that the Education & Career Development committee had not met. Lucy Lewis asked about rumors that the literacy program for staff would be discontinued.
Alan Moran wanted to address the tuition waiver issue, saying that the reduction from three to two courses would create a tremendous loss for employees and the institutions. Carrie Goldsmith said that she was greatly affected by the reduction and she had called the Governor and President Bowles to ask about keeping the waiver. Moran said that the cut was made because legislators need to be seen cutting something. The Chair said that he would fight to see the third waiver course restored.
Jonathan Stephenson of the Legislative Affairs committee said that group had met last Friday to discuss legislative events. He said that the tuition waiver issue affected faculty also and he suggested using departmental listservs to get word out about the issue. Marc ter Horst suggested writing a survey on the question. Alan Moran said that the UNC System Staff Assembly Human Resources committee had commissioned a survey on the tuition waiver program with an eye towards expanding the program to spouses and domestic partners. Stephenson said that the Legislative Affairs committee was monitoring health insurance and collective bargaining activity in the Legislature.
Lucy Lewis said that the Staff Relations, Policies and Practices committee was working through a list of priorities including ESL training, computer literacy, bereavement leave, departmental compliance with University policies, and supervisory training. The committee will meet again September 30.
The Chair reported that the Executive Committee had discussed placing Forum delegates on search committees, among other items. Alan Moran suggested that the Forum receive a concise version of HAVEN training at the October meeting.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary