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Employee Forum Agenda

September 5, 2012
8:30 a.m. Potluck Social
Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

Welcome to Our Newly Appointed Delegates

9:15 a.m. Meeting
Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

I. Call to Order

II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press

III. Special Presentations

  •  Charles Streeter on Forum Technology Advances
  • Wayne Blair and Laurie Mesibov, Ombuds Office

IV. Human Resources Update—Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone

V. Approval of August minutes

VI. Old Business

VII. New Business

  •  Election of UNC System Staff Assembly 3-Year Delegate and Alternate
    Candidates: John Gullo and Koyah Rivera

VIII. Forum Committee Reports

  •  Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Arlene Medder
  • Communications and Public Relations: Alia Wegner
  • Education and Career Development: Charles Streeter
  • Membership & Assignments: Myra Quick
  • Personnel Issues: James Holman (July, August minutes)
  • Recognition & Awards: Chris Meinecke (August minutes)
  • UNC System Staff Assembly: Danny Nguyen/John Gullo
  • Executive Committee: Jackie Overton (July minutes)

IX. Announcements/Questions

X. Adjournment


September 5, 2012 Employee Forum minutes

Attending (those who signed in):  Kittie Allen, Teri Augustine, Dan Barmmer, Joyce Beeson, Jennie Brooks, Ellen Donna Brooks, Tim Burke, Deborah Bush, Tiffany Carver, Karen Cheek, Peggy Cotton, Marilyn Couch, Tammy Cox, Kenneth Davis, TJ Deluca, Yvonne Dunlap, Lawrence Giffin, Sharon Glover, John Gullo, James Gusler, James Holman, George James, Christina Lebonville, Carleta Long, Valerie Madill, Avia Mainor, Matthew McKirahan, Arlene Medder, Jillian Molee, Danny Nguyen, Jackie Overton, Myra Quick, Koyah Rivera, Patricia Robinson, David Schwartz, Tara Smith, Charles Streeter, Alpa Vaghani

Chair Jackie Overton called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  She welcomed the newly appointed delegates to the Forum.  She was proud to invite all delegates to have some refreshments as the Forum planned to have socials every three months or so.

The Chair welcomed Charles Streeter to present on Forum technological advances.  Streeter spoke on upcoming changes involving Sharepoint, electronic voting, migration of the Forum website to WordPress.  He said that the migration would allow for greater ease of management than html, the current system.  He said that Katie Turner, Executive Assistant for Faculty Governance, had joined the Communications and Public Relations committee and had created a draft to fit in the University’s format.  Streeter demonstrated the Carousel function that could make the site even more robust.  He would present other possibilities at the Executive Committee meeting to make final decisions.  Streeter noted that Danny Nguyen had proposed using Sharepoint two years ago.  Sharepoint is a collaboration application to create an intranet for sharing and tracking documents, created by Microsoft.   Streeter will conduct training on Sharepoint September 12 and 13 for Executive Committee members in the Forum Office.  George James asked about the InTouch archives.  Streeter confirmed that the archives will remain as part of the website and will go to University archives.

Streeter said that the Forum needs to progress beyond its current paper voting system.  Campus mail can lose ballots and has difficulty keeping votes confidential.  He said that Student Government and Faculty Council use electronic voting to conduct their elections.  He said that the Forum’s position as the flagship for other UNC System staff organizations made it paramount that it advance in technology such as electronic voting.  Streeter said that Qualtrics software is provided free by the University and supported by the Odum Institute.  Qualtrics will allow the Forum to run statistics and voting.  Streeter noted that Qualtrics is sanctioned for use in University research.  Myra Quick asked how the Forum would make voting available for people on the second and third shift.  Streeter said that the Forum would ask its delegates to become available during these shifts to assist with voting.  Matthew McKirahan asked who would own the data from this work.  Streeter said that the Membership and Assignments committee would make the final determination for the elections, as it does now.  The Chair praised Streeter for his work.  She said that she wanted the Forum to be up to date with technology and that she wanted to move the Forum itself up a notch.

The Chair welcomed University Ombuds officer Wayne Blair and Ombuds Executive Assistant Victoria Dowd to discuss work in the Ombuds office.  Blair regretted that Ombuds officer Laurie Mesibov could not be present.  Blair noted principles of confidentiality, impartiality, informality and independence that characterize the office.  He said that the Ombuds does nothing without a client’s permission and the Ombuds does not answer questions as to who has visited the office.  Blair said that conversations with the Ombuds office do not put the University on official notice.  He said that confidentiality could be broken if children or the elderly are at risk for physical harm.

The Ombuds is responsible for tracking trends and issues.  The office may contact the decision-maker in a case to bring information forward without disclosing the identities of clients.  Blair said that the Ombuds office is a designated neutral, which can be frustrating for clients who desire an advocate for their position.  Blair said that the office is informal, although it can help clients navigate the formal processes of the University.  The office is independent, answering only to the Chancellor but not disclosing details even to him.  Ombuds officers will meet at convenient times and locations with clients.  The office will create a safe space to listen to complaints, but will not lie or manipulate the truth.  Often, the office will help clients read the “writing on the wall” with regard to their situation.  Dan Barmmer asked if the office conducts mediations.  Blair said that the office does so but usually conducts facilitated conversations that have no record.  Mediations imply the creation of a binding agreement to which parties bind themselves.  George James asked about possible creation of a conflict management course.  Blair said that only preliminary discussions have started with Human Resources on creation of this course.

Barmmer asked about situations in which a party agrees to an agreement then goes back on their word.  Blair said that Human Resources mediation uses a written record.  He encouraged clients to e-mail to each other their impression of what agreements have been made.  He said a verbal agreement is non-existent.  Blair noted that mediations and facilitated conversations do not have judges to rule on questions.  Instead, the parties themselves must work at the real issues.  Tammy Cox asked about the background of Ombuds officers.  Blair said that Ombuds are counselors, international educators, attorneys, and former diplomats, among others.  Ombuds must have the ability to work with people at all levels of an organization.  David Schwartz asked what led to creation of the office.  Blair recalled that Chancellor Moeser’s Task Force for a Better Workplace made the creation of the office the number one recommendation.

Blair noted broad trends of employees feeling stressed and exhausted physically and emotionally.  This state creates tensions that lead to difficulties that escalate quickly in many cases.  For example, an employee may feel bullied if that person has to answer questions from their supervisor.  Blair wished that employees and supervisors would just chill out, stating that these simple situations can lead to hours of conversations to clear up.  Blair said that instances of cyberbullying of supervisors and employees have occurred.  He said that employees have too often embarrassed themselves on Facebook, sometimes endangering their jobs.  He cautioned listeners to be careful when sending e-mail.  Blair said that employees should try to avoid conflicts based on technology.  He noted a case in which an employee had brought an attorney in to handle a relatively minor disagreement, leading to a breakdown in communication with their supervisor.  He said that a lack of trust can become personal.  Blair said that everyone at every level of the University is held to professional standards.  Marilyn Couch asked about having Ombuds officers present when meetings occur with supervisors.  Blair said that when his office is requested to sit in meetings, usually there is an expectation that the officer will keep records of what was said.  Later, the officer is expected to serve as a sponge for information absorbed.  He reiterated that the Ombuds office does not keep records of its meetings.  He added that supervisors have the right to hold conversations with their employees.  Schwartz asked what employees can do if they are intimidated by their supervisor.  Blair said that the office can help these employees strategize and prepare for difficult conversations.  He advised employees to ask to see particular policies in writing.  Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone praised Blair and his work.  She noted that there are sometimes we must all do as directed.  She said that sometimes employees must right-size expectations as all must do a job.  Blair said that there is often a saying that the Carolina Way means that employees are treated nicely, like a family.  He emphasized that working here is not like one’s family, as it is a job or business.  Families will stick by you but the organization may have to cut ties.  Carleta Long said that she is one who has used the internet to check the salaries of her compatriots.  She said she had used this information to obtain satisfaction from management.  She said it should be up to the new management to look at the records of who makes what.  Blair said that sometimes new management have no authority to make salary enhancements.

Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone presented the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  She said that the Connect Carolina Initiative will replace current systems with PeopleSoft.  There had been a decision to shift away from a phased implementation of PeopleSoft to a final implementation in January 2014.  NC Flex plan enrollment will take place from October 1-24.  Carolina Cares/Carolina Shares will kick off September 28 with an event in the Blue Zone.  She said that the Forum has been very supportive of this effort in the past.  She said that UNC-Chapel Hill raises the highest amount of money in the State.  She said that the campaign raised under $800,000 last year and the goal this year is $1 million.  Finally, Employee Appreciation Day will take place Friday, October 19.  Human Resources will reserve the Great Hall and the Pit for festivities and food.

As Chair Jackie Overton had to be at another meeting, Vice Chair Dan Barmmer closed nominations for the UNC System Staff Assembly representative.  John Gullo and Koyah Rivera were the two candidates.  Danny Nguyen noted that the UNC System Staff Assembly represents University System employees in discussions with the President of the System and General Administration.  After counting the ballots, Quick announced that Gullo was the winner of the three-year position.  Yvonne Dunlap was nominated for the alternate position but withdrew her name.  Rivera agreed to be nominated by acclamation for the alternate position.

Arlene Medder reported the Carolina Campus Community Garden will be the subject of five documentaries by Carolina students.  She said that the Garden plans to participate in International Housekeeping Week.  John Gullo asked what the Garden will do this winter.  Medder replied that the Garden will grow winter vegetables.  Charles Streeter said that the Communications and Public Relations committee is working on the InTouch newsletter for October.  Myra Quick said that the Membership & Assignments committee had worked on the day’s social.  The committee will conduct elections in March.  James Holman said that the Personnel Issues committee had worked on the Employee Forum Outstanding Delegate award criteria.  The award will be called the Kay W. Hovious award.  The committee also hoped the Forum could create a wall of fame for outstanding former delegates on its website.  Barmmer asked if the award would offer a cash prize.  Holman said that this question was up to the Executive Committee.  Lawrence Giffen said that he had contacted Students Action Workers to do an election drive on campus.  Christina Lebonville said that Duke University is offering on-line education programs.  Streeter said that the Education and Career Development committee was working on Staff Development fund proposals.  Chris Meinecke said that the Recognition & Awards committee was working on nothing at this time beyond the Qualtrics form for peer recognition awards.

Danny Nguyen reported that he was no longer the UNC System Staff Assembly Human Resources, Diversity, and Benefits committee chair, but he would still work to add his voice to discussions.  The committee is working on a resolution concerning community service leave and disaster relief.  John Gullo said that the Governance committee was rewriting several descriptions, including the description of the Chair.  The Assembly will work with the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Government on its conflict of interest policy.  Gullo asked if Human Resources had any information on the Erskine Bowles Service award, given the September 15 deadline for the award.  Kathy Bryant offered to discuss this item following the meeting.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:19 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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