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January 6, 2022 Employee Forum Vice Chancellors’ Representatives’ Meeting

Attending: Vanessa Blake, Phil Edwards, Stephanie Forman, Jessi Hill, Keith Hines, Brigitte Ironside, Becci Menghini, Katie Musgrove, Kelly Scurlock-Cross, James Stamey, Tracey Wiley, Anna Wu

The meeting was brought to order at 11 a.m. Katie Musgrove wished all present “Happy New Year” and noted that this meeting was rescheduled from December. She thanked Becci Menghini and Anna Wu for providing responses to the questions scheduled for that meeting. James Stamey asked if the 20% cap issue would be resolved when Governor Cooper signs the budget. Menghini had responded that the matter was connected to BOG policy and would require BOG action to be changed, hopefully in the new year. Menghini added that the Board seems likely to address the question later in January.

Stamey asked if removing the 20% cap on salaries and raises would address the salary compression for Housekeeping crew leaders. Anna Wu said that the department plans to address salary compression but could not yet give a date for this work on this priority. She noted compression affects crew leaders and other positions in Housekeeping and Grounds across a broad range of pay differentials.

A question was raised about the third phase of legislative salary increases beyond the bonus and the salary raise of 2.5% a year. The third part was discretionary increases. Menghini noted that these increases are based on whether the institution has available funds. A priority for funds available would be to address salary compression.

James Holman asked about the length of time to fill housekeeping positions. Anna Wu said that this question has been discussed at length previously. She noted that the department requires at least three applicants for every vacant position posted. She said that it did not make sense to post all the University’s fifty or so vacancies at once, because the number of applicants would never match the number of positions posted.

Stephanie Forman read question five concerning data requests for Housekeeping Services. She said that the question asked about the vacancy rate for Housekeeping Services from 2005 to 2019 and then the current rate, with the response to the current rate being 15%. Forman asked if it would a problem to obtain the rate for 2005-2019. Becci Menghini asked how pulling this data a would help the conversation because the same people working on recruiting would do analysis on the vacancy rate. She said historically, the University has run a 10% vacancy rate.

Forman said that the goal of these questions is to understand how much of the current vacancy rate and current vacancies are specific to this moment in time for the University. Menghini granted the Forum’s leveraging these questions as an advisory group but did not want an assumption that departmental officials are not studying these things as well. She did not think it was her department’s responsibility to pull data for the Forum’s use to tell leadership how to do things differently.

Menghini recalled a statistic from NPR stating that a 44% vacancy rate exists in facilities and housekeeping jobs nationally. Comparatively, UNC-Chapel Hill currently has a 15% vacancy rate for these positions. Menghini reiterated that she did not want to pull data that leads to conclusions without greater context. Wu affirmed that Facilities leadership gets the Forum concerns about hiring, wages, and salary compression in Housekeeping. She said that leadership are studying the same questions from a different viewpoint than the Forum but with the same concern. She noted the staff time required to address Forum questions and asked if it was an effective use of time to concentrate on a 5% difference in vacancy rates during a pandemic combined with an HR pause.

Wu thought that the real question was how many staff are present daily. She noted the pandemic but also things like the Family & Medical Leave Act absences. Wu said that Housekeeping management is working creatively to move staff to where needs are greatest. This situation asks employees to be more flexible in the work locations, but their tasks will remain the same.

Menghini did not know of any update regarding University assistance to Afghan refugee families.

Musgrove noted a submitted question on the University’s childcare center moving to management under the Bright Horizons corporate group. She said that employees have reached out to the Forum with concerns about the University not using the stakeholders at hand to make these decisions. Stakeholders such as parents care a lot about childcare management at the center. Musgrove noted concerns that the management changeover occurred from out of nowhere. She noted a difference between this situation and the Student Stores transition. She said that the latter process happened in a very transparent way, with committees formed of employees affected. Musgrove thought that the childcare center’s management situation could benefit from similar transparency.

Menghini replied that historically faculty and staff governance groups have not been involved with the Victory Village daycare beyond the fact that parents serve on the board. She recalled that the Victory Village board was a separate entity from the University, with a separate authority to operate the center. The University and UNC Health have simply been sponsors of the center, providing the building that the center uses and Victory Village has served as the operator.

So, this has not been a shared governance process historically. Victory Village board members have been difficult to recruit given the real challenges facing the center. Recent board members have donated as many as 40 hours a week on top of their regular jobs to keep the center running.

The center has faced financial and other concerns, to the point that the University and UNC Health had been in discussions with the board about whether the center structure was sustainable moving forward. The center also faced issues related to a safety concern on-site, which forced Victory Village to close for a week. These issues placed the center’s license at risk, demanding a longer-term solution. The board identified an opportunity to bring in Bright Horizons in a short-term center obligation, but the concerns led to a need for a longer-term solution. The board unanimously voted to pass the license on to Bright Horizons in the short-term and give up Victory Village as the operating entity.

As part of a cooperation agreement with the board, the University communicated with parents and teachers to ensure that teachers were transitioned in without a loss of jobs. In fact, Bright Horizons will provide teachers an extra 80 hours of leave, along with other benefits improvements such as the chance to take classes. The University and UNC Health were stuck previously trying to get the center out of the red, as both entities have had to subsidize expenses to keep it going.

Menghini said that the childcare center is not a part of the University. The University makes some decisions regarding its actions as it is an employer sponsored benefit. Nonetheless, the center must have an operator who can meet the complicated North Carolina licensure responsibilities. With the critical nature of the recent situation, there was little opportunity to pick and choose among vendors to ensure the center’s continued existence. The University worked to ensure that the one hundred and sixty families had coverage and that the center’s governing board was comfortable with the move to Bright Horizons. Menghini had heard from the three people upset with this action but noted consistent engagement between Bright Horizons staff with parents directly impacted.

Menghini granted that this process was not perfect but noted the center’s small community and governing board. She said that the center license has been continued and parents providing the first feedback were happy. Menghini said that the operating contract is a short-term one allowing movement to another vendor in 18-20 months if necessary. The biggest concern had been to pass the licensure process to ensure continued childcare.

Musgrove thanked Menghini for her immensely helpful overview of the process. She said that many people are hearing about the issue indirectly through Daily Tar Heel articles. Musgrove appreciated all the information and context that Menghini provided to depict the timeline and emphasize licensure concerns.

Menghini said it can be difficult to respond to people without perfect knowledge. She added that the center’s safety concerns had transformed into personnel issues which were not within the boundaries of this conversation. She noted that these situations often lead to speculation. She would not respond to the Daily Tar Heel because of the personnel concerns raised. She hoped that this historical context was helpful to delegates.

Menghini praised members of the center’s governing board who often did work way outside the purview of their regular work to protect the center’s long-term livelihood and the well-being of the children. She thought that the board will now transition to a parents’ advisory council as the mechanism to provide feedback from center parents. As Victory Village is no longer the operator, there will no longer be a Victory Village governing board. Musgrove once again thanked Menghini for her comprehensive overview of this issue.

Musgrove asked about progress on the employee appreciation and wellness event in March. Menghini said she had not heard much conversation on this topic yet but would circle back with Sherene Jenkins regarding relevant questions like the “no meetings” day possibility. The drive-through biscuit possibility might not occur this year due to COVID concerns.

Stephanie Forman noted employee concerns about a recent Alert Carolina message. She proposed inviting Derek Jeter of Emergency Management and Jen Scott of Clery Act Compliance to a Personnel Issues committee meeting to discuss the steps leading to this message.

Musgrove asked about updating the University dashboard depicting COVID illness and vaccination rates. She hoped that the University could update this information to allow coordination of staffing levels in buildings. Menghini said that much remains to be done in consultation with Orange County Health to update this data. Participants discussed methods of interpretation of different variants.

Forman asked what case counts would mean as departments have some staff work remotely. Wu noted differences between frontline and support employees. There is no set number by which the University would rule that all on campus go home. Absences will likely mean it takes longer waits for food or housekeeping or building services. Wu hoped that data from South Africa will hold related to the Omicron variant, in that cases would peak quickly then go away quickly.

An employee asked about the third phase salary increases, discretionary increases. This employee did not understand how these would be implemented. Menghini noted that there are three parts of the ARP. The first is the covid bonus, which was paid in December. The second is the mandatory two and a half percent salary increases, which will be paid in lump sum from July this month and continue moving forward.

The third part of the ARP are discretionary increases which are at the will of the campus to decide whether to implement. Campuses must pay for these increases themselves without reliance on State funds. Menghini outlined the approval process for discretionary requests. Discretionary increases would not occur across the board. These increases will be for equity and for compression issues as well.

Keith Hines confirmed that the two and a half percent salary increase will depend on an employee’s salary on June 30, 2021. If the employee moves to a new position prior to December 31, 2021, the second, new two and a half percent increase would start January 1, 2022. Hines explored eventualities associated with this hypothetical employee’s pay increases with Menghini and the group.

James Holman confirmed the dates for transmission of bonuses and lump sum increases for SHRA employees.

Tracey Wiley asked if guidance would go out to schools regarding flexible work arrangements. Menghini said that this guidance is close but is not quite ready.

Musgrove asked about the possible University provision of K95 and KN95 masks for students, staff, and faculty. Wu imagined that more guidance would emerge on this question shortly.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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