Agenda — September 7, 2005
9:30 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks
IV. Special Presentations:
• Peter Reinhardt, Enivornment, Health and Safety
• Jim Alty, Facilities Services
(Letter from the Chair Concerning Team Cleaning Process, in pdf format)
V. Human Resources Update
• Laurie Charest, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
VI. Chair’s Report, Executive Committee (Tommy Griffin) & Committee Reports
•Orientation: Meredith Clason
•Personnel Issues: David Brannigan
• University Assignments: Tom Arnel
• Career Development: Leon Hamlett
• Communications: Brian White
–> Forum Newsletter
• Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards: Debra Galvin
• Employee Presentations: Ernie Patterson
• Nominating: Patty Prentice
–> Forum Elections
VII. Minutes of the August meeting delayed
VIII. Old Business
IX. New Business
X. Stretch Time
XI. “Around the Room”/Employee Presentations
XIII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
• Tammy Yopp on Child Care Subsidy Qualification Levels
September 7, 2005 minutes (abridged)
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m., recognizing assorted guests and Human Resources officials in the audience. Wayne Blair announced that the ombudsoffice had hired Victoria Dodd to serve as the executive assistant for the office beginning September 19. The Chair asked delegates and others to consider making contributions to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.
The Chair introduced Ron Howe of the Department of Environment, Health and Safety (EHS), filling in for Pete Reinhardt. Howe said that EHS hoped to complete an indoor air quality assessment for the Bioinformatics building in the next couple of weeks.
Howe said that EHS thought that the OS1 vacuum backpack cleaners were satisfactory from an ergonomic standpoint. David Brannigan asked about the possibility of a safety hazard related to the external electric connection and the possibility of exposed live electrical plugs. Howe said that he would study this precise issue and get back to the Forum. Katherine Graves asked who manufactures the particular chemicals associated with OS1 team cleaning, and who would train Employees in their use. She said that effective training should be conducted by the manufacturing representative and 3M, a chemicals manufacturer, had not carried out this practice. She also asked to see the Materials and Safety Datasheet (MSD) related to these chemicals. Howe said that he had not reviewed these issues to this point.
Howe said that EHS had reviewed the heat dress policy and would present recommendations to the University’s Safety and Security committee. Marshall Dietz appreciated this report but said that it was wholly inadequate. He thought that the way the heat index was defined in the recommendations was not appropriate for this campus’ work environment as it ignored the effect of sunshine. Dietz thought that the University needed a central body to determine the heat index and to notify workers when it was too hot to continue outdoor activities. He cited a University of Toronto study and said that someone could die if the University did not take more concrete steps. He issued this warning now in hopes that EHS would act.
Howe praised Dietz’ questions and said that Occupational Health and Safety had analyzed jobs for their exposure to heat. Dietz said that the amount of clothes that some Employees wear while working in the heat exposes them to a heat index of 130-145 degrees. Howe said that he would study this question and report back to the Forum with more information. The Chair said that indoor air temperatures can reach 95-100 degrees in the attics of some buildings. Dietz raised similar questions about cold temperatures and when EHS would communicate to outside Employees to stop work. David Brannigan asked if Howe could also check on the safety reasons why Grounds Employees cannot wear shorts at work in the summertime. Camilla Crampton asked when Howe expected to have answers to these questions and Howe said by the middle of next week.
The Chair introduced Jim Alty, Director of Facilities Services, to speak about the prospective OS1 Team Cleaning process for the housekeeping division. Alty said that the OS1 system is based on a scientific process that follows ergonomic principles that makes cleaning less laborious for Employees. The biggest emphasis of the process is safety for housekeepers and building occupants. The OS1 process features a new training system. It also helps to equalize workloads for housekeepers and increase cleaning quality. Alty pointed to peer universities and private companies that use the OS1 system. He also noted the environmentally aware nature of the OS1 system.
Ernie Patterson asked if Facilities Services would invest in better pay for its housekeepers as a result of savings under OS1. Alty said that he was hamstrung by the State pay ranges and classification system. He would talk with Human Resources about increasing pay for mastery of different tasks under the new system.
Alty said that housekeepers would work as specialists in a particular area of housekeeping, such as light duty, bathrooms or vacuuming. These specialists would work as a team to clean buildings with a lesser amount of equipment. The current system assigns one housekeepers to carry out all of these functions on one or two floors. Graves asked if housekeepers could alternate duties after a particular amount of time. Alty said that the rotation plan would be up to the individual organization. The team could rotate duties monthly or quarterly if that works to relieve tedium. Brannigan said that he had heard differently. Alty said that Facilities Services had not defined its rotation but rather would wait to see how the pilot team does in its 120 day program.
Graves asked how the housekeeping supervisors would keep up with these teams. Alty said that there would be two levels of supervisors under OS1: zone managers and crew leaders. The crew leader positions would give housekeepers a new place to develop the two years of needed supervisory experience to obtain promotion to zone manager positions. Patty Prentice confirmed that Employees could still approach any housekeeper with help obtaining replacements for bathroom tissue and other items.
Brannigan said that the classification of crew leaders as salary grade 54 seemed unequal given the additional recordkeeping, monitoring and notetaking required of these positions, and the salary grade 56 given to Grounds crew leaders. Alty said that his office is restricted in its use of job titles and would approach Human Resources to work on a higher salary classification. Patterson proposed that the career banding system might be useful here, but Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest said that the Office of State Personnel had put the career banding process on hold for the present.
Alty said that the OS1 process would involve all housekeepers but not the moving crew Employees. Bill Burston, head of the Housekeeping Division, said the Division has 21 zones, the majority of which do their work during the night shift. Eighty-five housekeepers work during the day shift. Burston said that there is no difference in the opportunity for advancement for workers on the day and night shifts. Roberta Massey noted that those who have received OS1 training might receive an advantage in competing for promotions. Jackie Kylander asked if no other housekeepers hold supervisory experience. Burston said that the Housekeeping Division previously had seven different layers of supervisors so a number of housekeepers do hold supervisory experience. Crampton asked if it was easy to shift from the day to the night shift or vice versa. Alty said that it was not easy to make these shifts but it is possible. Alty discussed the short-staffing contingency if a housekeeper is absent under the OS1 system.
Massey asked how much is allotted to cover different buildings. Alty said that staff measure buildings with laser pointers to determine square footage. Time is allotted according to common industry measures. Brannigan said that housekeepers under OS1 would have only two minutes to check in each morning and only five minutes to restock equipment. Alty said that the process was so well-planned that one would not need a longer period of time to check in. Also, since the work shift’s supplies would all be located in one place and distributed at the beginning of the shift, there would be no need to go back and forth for different bottles of chemicals afterwards. Graves asked who makes the prepackaged materials and Alty said that Portion-Pak packages the materials.
Brannigan pointed out that supervisors will like the OS1 system since they can keep better track of where their workers are during the shift. Alty said that a supervisor will have a general idea where their Employees are by the hour and should not have to look all over an eight story building to find each team. Brannigan said that the supervisor would know where they are every minute. He recalled that Bill Burston had said in a previous housekeepers’ meeting that supervisors could keep their Employees from sleeping on the job as well. Burston denied making this statement.
Estzer Karvazy asked if new buildings are harder to clean than old ones. Alty said that they are about the same difficulty. He said that the OS1 process was Green Seal certified and was proven to reduce physical strains among Employees. Graves asked if the MSD safety sheets for cleaning chemicals would be provided to housekeepers carrying their materials on their carts. Alty said that these sheets would be in the buildings.
Massey asked if the reduced cost of chemicals would result in additional salary increases. Alty said that Facilities Services planned to use this money to boost its training programs and purchase improved equipment. Massey said that housekeepers should receive additional money if they were becoming specialists under the new system. Alty said that this question was for the State to decide but said that Facilities Services would not be saving millions of dollars under the new system. Massey confirmed that the Director of Housekeeping Services can recommend positions for reclassification.
Alty cited a door dot system as a method to improve safety in buildings. The door dots would instruct housekeepers whether to keep doors locked, unlocked or remain as found. Mike McQuown suggested different shapes for these dots in case some housekeepers are color-blind.
Alty praised the standardization of the OS1 process as setting clear expectations for work at each level and providing consistent service. Brannigan asked how much it would cost to roll out the OS1 system across campus and to replace equipment. Alty said that Facilities Services would in fact save a bit by implementing the new system. Patterson confirmed that OS1 equipment and chemicals do not fall under State contract. Brannigan asked if Alty could provide concrete figures on the OS1 campaign, the training trips to Salt Lake City and the visits to other campuses. Alty said that even without OS1 the Housekeeping Division would still need improved training. Brannigan asked what had been done previously to improve productivity and efficiency outside OS1, asking why the Division had not sought internal improvements before bringing in an outside consultant. Burston said that the Division had expanded its orientation and training, converting its twist and fill process, substituting backpack scrubbing cleaners and implementing other methods to improve zone management and organization.
Massey asked how Alty could guarantee that the OS1 method would work better than what is currently done. Alty said that there are no guarantees but said that the process would improve cleaning while reducing injuries. Massey asked if the University could accomplish these improvements without OS1. Alty said that it would not be cost-effective to design a program from scratch, much as a car manufacturer does not manufacture every part for every car. McQuown said that UNC-Chapel Hill has a number of talented agencies such as the School of Public Health, the EPA and the School of Education that could assist in such an endeavor.
McQuown asked if Alty knew of any housekeeper who had worked under both systems. Alty said that his office plans to send Employees to OS1 sites to talk with housekeepers to get their opinion. Massey suggested using Davis Library as a pilot building given its complexity and busy schedule. Burston said that if the Bioinformatics pilot works well the pilot would move to other buildings. Alty said that the Bioinformatics building was large and very visible. Graves confirmed that the Division would survey housekeepers and pilot building occupants about the new system.
Tom Arnel asked if those resistant to the OS1 process had the opportunity to volunteer for the pilot. Brannigan recalled that a Dr. Walker of the OS1 team had referred to dealing with saboteurs. He asked how Alty would objectively quantify dissent to preconceived notions of success. Alty said that the idea is to arrive at consensus through surveys and pictures of buildings pre- and post-OS1.
Alty noted that the OS1 process had reduced lost work days in one institution from 106 in 2000 to 44 in 2001 and had reduced accidents from 65 to 16 over the same period. Alty said that zone managers had received training in Salt Lake City and would receive further in-house training in the system. The pilot program would proceed for 90-120 days and would move to other buildings as warranted. Three line housekeepers are scheduled to visit work sites at the University of Texas and Sandia National Laboratories. The Chair suggested that Alty include a Forum delegate on one of these trips. Arnel confirmed that Alty was open to skeptics participating in these site visits.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest described the salary increases that SPA Employees will receive this year. SPA Employees will receive a salary increase of $850 or 2.5%, whichever is higher and would see these increases in their September 16 paycheck, retroactive to July 1. EPA Employees will see their increases at the end of October. Employees will also receive 5 days of bonus leave if employed on September 1, 2005.
After November 1, Employees retiring must wait six months before resuming part-time work with the State or risk suspension of their retirement benefits. Health insurance premiums will rise 12.3% this year. The Legislature enacted a provision allowing the State health plan to create a preferred provider organization similar to that advocated by the University health care task force. The task force is committed to continuing to work for a proposal on behalf of UNC System employees.
The North Carolina Flex plan will allow Employees to contribute up to $4200/year in flexible health care spending accounts.
Applicants for the University Managers’ Development Program will receive notifications of acceptance or denial by October 21. The Employee Appreciation Event will take place the first week in October.
The Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace has issued an update on all 34 recommendations. Charest cited successes with the ombudsoffice, the grievance procedure revision and elimination of backlogs, the reinvigorated clerical skills program, the eight new training programs, the pilot part-time degree program, the computer loan program, the tiered parking plan, the vanpool subsidies, the encouragement of flexible work schedules, the subsidies to Employee child care and the Employee loan program as examples of the Task Force’s success.
Charest reported that the Chancellor’s Office had approved flexible work schedules, telecommuting and four ten-hour work weeks as a response to the gas crisis. Human Resources is available to work with departments to manage these changes. Additionally, Public Safety is recommending commuting alternatives and has estabished a carpool matching service. The Chancellor has sent a letter to all Employees outlining this response.
The Forum approved a resolution in favor of a living wage campaign on second reading. Brannigan asked that the Forum office work with University officials to create a press release.
The Forum heard a resolution on creation of an adverse gas price plan on first reading. Bradley Bone introduced a successful amendment to include vanpool subsidies in the resolution, pointing out that TTA bus riders receive a $50/month subsidy whereas vanpool riders receive only $10/month. The Chair said he would take that particular idea directly to the Advisory Committee on Transportation meeting later that month.
The Forum moved to table an idea to include the time on buses commuting to and from park and ride lots as work time in the resolution. Ernie Patterson asked if Claire Miller could study the idea of defining the park and ride lot as part of the University worksite for time coding purposes. Prentice made the motion to call the question seconded by Brannigan.
Brannigan moved to moved to suspend its rules and consider the resolution on second reading. White seconded this motion which was approved by more than two-thirds majority. The resolution itself was then approved.
The Chair reminded delegates to attend the Chancellor’s University Day address October 12 in the Great Hall.
In the absence of further discussion the meeting was adjourned at 11:44 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary