April 4, 2012
Employee Forum Agenda
April 4, 2012
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
IV. Human Resources Update—Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone
V. Approval of February minutes
VI. Old Business
VII. New Business
- Resolution 12-01 Concerning Compensation and Benefits for Staff (First Reading)
- Proposed Letter Regarding Amendment One
VIII. Forum Committee Reports
- Carolina Community Garden Advisory: Sarah Poteete (March minutes)
- Communications and Public Relations: Jerry Waller
- Education and Career Development: Gene Burns
- Legislative Action: Ellen Donna Brooks
- Membership & Assignments: Myra Quick
- Recognition & Awards: Chris Meinecke
- Staff Relations, Policies & Practices/Compensation & Benefits: James Holman/Dan Barmmer (March minutes)
- UNC System Staff Assembly: Danny Nguyen/John Gullo
- Executive Committee: Jackie Overton (January February minutes)
April 4, 2012 Employee Forum minutes
Attending: Kittie Allen, Teri Augustine, Dan Barmmer, Olga Baza, Jennie Brooks, Ellen Donna Brooks, Tim Burke, Elizabeth Craig, Jill Crowder, Brenda Denzler, David Fraley, John Gullo, James Holman, Todd Hux, George James, Denise Mabe, Chris Meinecke, Jessica O’Hara, Jackie Overton, Sarah Poteete, Myra Quick, David Schwartz, Renee Sherman, Charles Sockell, Charles Streeter, Marc ter Horst, Nihlei Tial, Clifton Webb
Chair Jackie Overton called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m. She welcomed members of the media and the Forum’s partners in Human Resources. She then introduced Vice Chancellor Brenda Malone to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update. Malone said that Human Resources is accepting applications for the ULEAD program. Malone noted that she had shared a draft of the General Administration’s Guiding Principles on personnel flexibility. She said that there have been several revisions to this document. Around 67 employees submitted comments on the document, with 23 in favor, 4 neutral, 15 unfavorable, and 25 with questions. She would speak with the Executive Committee on this question later in the month. She looked to continue the dialogue on this question and said that General Administration has worked hard to address concerns. She praised the number of diverse points of view that UNC-Chapel Hill supports. Todd Hux said that it is hard to comment on the proposal given that people are not sure what’s in it. Malone said that she did not know what the new system would have. General Administration has made this a System-wide initiative which all of the System chancellors have supported. She said that there is no intent to disenfranchise employees or to withdraw due process rights. She said that it is not the intention of General Administration to make all employees at-will employees. Hux said that four System presidents have pressed for personnel flexibility but he did not see what was wrong with the current system. Malone said that the System’s lack of control over the compensation and classification system is one source of problems. She said that the University cannot create classifications without pigeonholing their work with other State agencies. She said that the interest of General Administration is in increasing the nimbleness of the University System. She said that the System must adapt personnel flexibility completely or not at all. Brenda Denzler asked about employees maintaining a legal property interest in their jobs as granted by State law. Malone said that the revised draft from the Board of Governors does not change that. She said that this is not a statutory provision, however. Jennie Brooks commented that as an EPA non-faculty employee, she was comfortable with her current status. Malone said that her office had shared multiple points of view with General Administration. She said that UNC-Chapel Hill has the best environment she had ever worked in previously. She said it is not the kind of place to take negative actions versus individuals and will not act to disenfranchise employees. She said that the University has been extraordinarily patient and she felt comfortable that the leadership is not working to disenfranchise employees. Each System campus has provided input. She said that if the initiative receives approval, there will be some changes that take place. David Schwartz asked about conferring property rights to at-will employees. Malone said that there are already exempt SPA employees. She noted that she has worked as an at-will employee since she was 20 years old. She emphasized the point that due process is critically important to University operations under personnel flexibility. She said that State jobs do not constitute lifetime tenure. She said that at-will employees serve at the pleasure of the Chancellor, in order to make administrative decisions more focused and quicker.
James Holman asked about the future of career banding. Malone did not know about this effort given that the State had proposed a new system when the University had worked to implement the older system. Holman said that things might calm down if the personnel flexibility initiative left State protections in place. Malone said that the level of distrust is very high. She said that the initiative is to put the University System into the hands of those running it. She said that the issue of trust was paramount. Marc ter Horst praised the engagement of President Tom Ross in this matter. He noted that the Forum had been given assignments from the Staff Assembly that have seemed to change targets and deadlines. Malone said that the fact-finding process of the Staff Assembly was useful as a self-education exercise, as employees learned together of the needs of higher education institutions. She noted that peer institutions like the University of Michigan have almost complete autonomy. Ter Horst said that the issue of transparency was lost given the moving targets. She said that the Staff Assembly was only 5-6 years old and was still getting its feet wet. Chris Meinecke noted worries that the University System will fast track changes if the Legislature approves personnel flexibility. Malone said that nothing will occur immediately as of July 1. She did not think that anything drastic would occur right away at all. Brenda Denzler tried to understand better what was specifically broken with the current personnel system. She proposed that the University solicit comments as to what was broken with the current system. Malone thought that this step would take the process sideways, although it might be therapeutic. She recalled the pushback from the Office of State Personnel when Chancellor Thorp sought to increase the minimum salary to $25,000/year. UNC-Chapel Hill Human Resources had researched career banding and had found nothing to preclude this step, but had faced pushback from the Office of State Personnel. She said that the University faces difficulties when it has so many masters to serve. She thanked the Forum for the rich opportunity for engagement.
The Chair called for a motion to approve the minutes of the February meeting. She had two changes to the minutes. Myra Quick made this motion seconded by Clifton Webb. The motion was approved by acclamation.
Dan Barmmer introduced resolution 12-01 concerning compensation and benefits for staff for first reading. Given time constraints, Brenda Denzler moved that the Forum suspend the rules and consider the resolution on second reading. Kittie Allen raised questions about the forty hours probationary period mentioned in the resolution. Chris Chiron noted that probationary periods last as long as nine months in some areas. Malone asked what the expectation of the Forum if the resolution is approved. Would the Chancellor be expected to advocate for increases for all State employees? Barmmer thought that the Chancellor would be asked to ask the Legislature for the increases. Malone asked if Barmmer acknowledged that this could be beyond the Chancellor’s power. Jessica O’Hara thought that there should not be a salary cap on proposed increases. She said that Information Technology personnel are already underpaid in comparison with their private sector counterparts. Schwartz thought that the intent of the resolution is to give money to those who need it most. Marc ter Horst proposed that the $80,000 limit be removed unless a money limit is available. Chris Chiron noted that the State will not penalize employees if their disciplinary action is not active. Poteete seconded Denzler’s motion to suspend the rules and consider the resolution on second reading. The motion was not approved, with four delegates abstaining. The resolution will be considered once again on second reading at the Forum’s May meeting.
Sarah Poteete read a letter concerning Amendment One with regard to defining marriage in the State constitution. The Chair noted that State employees cannot use their positions to advocate for or against any issue on the ballot. Poteete’s letter outlined the effects of Amendment One on campus faculty and staff. Jennie Brooks moved that the Forum send this letter to the Chancellor. Myra Quick seconded this motion. Brooks moved that the Forum suspend the rules to consider the motion on second reading, seconded by ter Horst. The motion to suspend the rules was approved by two-thirds vote with two voting against and two abstentions. Brooks then moved on second reading to approve the letter, seconded by ter Horst. The Chair said that she would send the letter to Chancellor Thorp.
Poteete noted that the Carolina Campus Community Garden was working on a strategic plan for the next five years. She noted that 11 and 18 people had attended the two cooking demonstrations held by the Garden. She recalled that Carol Tresolini had pledged the Garden would be supported in the campus budget on a continuing basis as a result of Clair Lorch’s remarks in the Vice Chancellor/Provost meeting. Charles Streeter said that the Communications and Public Relations committee was working with Sharon Glover to use the Sharepoint site service to confer on documents. Poteete asked if this site can handle huge files. Streeter said that the site was not meant for huge files. Sharon Glover reported that the Education and Career Development committee would meet the next week to work on reconstituting that group. The Legislative Action committee had not met that month. Myra Quick reported that the Membership & Assignments committee had put together the March 7 20th anniversary celebration. The Chair noted that there had been a great deal of positive feedback about the celebration and the celebration had been required to use an overflow room for the number of attendees. She noted that Brenda Denzler will work on the complete history of the Forum in time for the June retreat. Chris Meinecke reported that the Recognition & Awards committee had received 96 nominations forms in comparison to 183 forms last year. The committee will hold the peer recognition event on May 31 from 2-4 p.m. in Hyde Hall. Nominations will close April 20. Meinecke noted that winners will receive a $35 prize in their paychecks. Dan Barmmer said that the Staff Relations, Policies, and Practices committee will discuss the demise of UNC Printing at the Vice Chancellor/Provost meeting. The committee also hopes to commission a community meeting on personnel flexibility with speakers both in favor and against the initiative. The committee has created a resolution on job mobility which it had sent to Noreen Montgomery to seek comment from Human Resources. John Gullo said that employees can contact him on the Governance committee of the Staff Assembly. The Chair said that the Executive Committee will move its meeting to April 23 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. to discuss personnel flexibility with Vice Chancellor Malone. The Chair said that the Housekeeping director search committee will extend an offer this week. She praised Todd Hux for his successful leadership in the food drive collection process that month.
Chris Meinecke praised an Opening Doors workshop on diversity that he attended the previous week. Clifton Webb noted the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination and offered that this was a chance to work together. He praised the Chair for winning the C. Knox Massey award. The Chair said that the announcement had been a great shock and had occurred during the reaccreditation process for Public Safety. She said that the bigger picture is that the Forum serves employees on this campus. She said that the Forum offers a chance to do right and be right as employees and human beings.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:07 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary