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December 4, 2019

UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center for Black Culture and History

NOTE:  This is a draft agenda and is subject to change without notice.

Winter Potluck Social (9:00– 9:20 a.m.)

I.  Call to Order & Opening Remarks—Chair Shayna Hill (9:20 a.m. – 9:25 a.m.)

II.  Special Presentations (9:25 a.m. – 9:40 a.m.)

  • Robert Broome, Executive Director for the State Employees’ Association of North Carolina (SEANC)

III. Human Resources Update (9:40 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.)

  • Interim Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement Becci Menghini
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

IV. Consent Agenda (10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.)

V.  Old Business (10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.)

VI.  New Business (10:40 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)

  • Closed Session for Discussion of Honorary Resolution 19-05 (sent to delegates only)

VII. Announcements/Questions (11:00-11:30 a.m.)

VIII.  Adjournment

MINUTES

December 4, 2019 Employee Forum Minutes

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:25 a.m.  She welcomed all assembled and noted the progress Facilities Services has made in renovating the Forum Office.  Katie Musgrove noted that the Forum’s toy drive for patients at the Children’s Hospital will continue until December 18th.  Tracy Wetherby Williams reminded the Forum that the winter blood drive will take place in Fetzer Gym on December 10th.  The drive still needs volunteers.

The Chair welcomed the Executive Director of the State Employees’ Association of North Carolina (SEANC) Robert Broome.  Broome noted that SEANC is the South’s largest state employee association.  He also noted that employees at UNC System schools make up only 7% of SEANC’s membership.  He added that overall, the number of UNC-Chapel Hill employees who are SEANC members is relatively small in comparison to other State agencies.  He said that power in politics is often a matter of numbers.

Broome said that SEANC itself has around 47,000 members.  He introduced Director of Member Relations Lynn Cody and Director of Governmental Relations Ardis Watkins.  He was grateful and proud to work with these individuals.

Broome noted that SEANC has had an affiliation with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for the past eleven years.  He said that SEANC’s mission is to protect and enhance the rights and benefits of current, retired and future State employees.  Broome mentioned the many affinity partnerships available to SEANC members through various businesses that save members money.

SEANC has fought to make the State Health Plan more affordable for State employees, particularly in working with State Treasurer Dale Folwell on the Clear Pricing Project for health care providers.  He noted that the Project signed up over 27,000 providers but faced its biggest obstacle from large hospitals and health care organizations.  Broome said that he would not rest until every provider is signed up to the Clear Pricing Project with the goal to reduce employee premiums, especially family premiums.

Broome recalled the panel discussion on health care that had occurred at UNC in August.  He particularly noted the disclosure that UNC Health Care System physicians have their family health insurance premiums paid as part of their benefits package.  This benefit is not extended to most others at the University.  He was galled by the lack of transparency symbolized by this inequitable treatment.

Concerning pay raises, Broome said that a bill had set aside $45 million for University salary increases over two years, equaling approximately a 1% raise.  SEANC felt that this increase was not good enough and worked on securing approval for separate legislation securing the largest pay raise in a decade.  Broome recognized that this accomplishment is incomplete given current delays in implementation.

Governor Roy Cooper vetoed this legislation which was held up in a stalemate in Raleigh over a disagreement about Medicaid expansion.  Given this reality, SEANC worked on passing a series of mini-budgets for State employees while holding back on bills for teacher and University employee pay raises.

Senate Bill 354 would provide $120 million in additional funding for University employees but was vetoed before the Legislature adjourned.  The Legislature will return to session January 14th. Broome pledged that SEANC will not rest until it has obtained equitable pay raises for University employees.  He was proud to work with the University System on these needed increases.

Broome praised James Holman and SEANC District 25 for their work protecting employee rights and benefits.  He added that listeners could approach a SEANC representative to join the organization.

An employee noted that University employees have not been treated separately in prior budgetary negotiations.  She asked why the situation had changed this year.   Broome said that in a departure from previous practice, legislators moved directly into conference committee to discuss the State budget.  Legislators can debate but not amend the final product of the conference committee.  Broome said that SEANC was the only organization invited to these budget negotiations.  He said that Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tim Moore made a brief reference to a University System request for $25 million for pay raises.  Broome and his staff did not raise an objection to this statement, and the discussion moved to other issues.  Broome did not know who had participated in setting this figure for University salary increases.  Broome said that SEANC lobbied the UNC Board of Governors for staff pay raises.  He understood that the UNC System had requested $15 million for this purpose, to which SEANC pushed back for $120 million for this purpose.

Shane Brogan asked what percentage salary increase other State employees received this year.  Broome said most State employees will receive a 5% increase over two years in the first time ever that North Carolina has approved staff pay raises in advance.  Broome granted that this task is incomplete as retirees, community college and University employees are not included in this increase.  Broome said that Senate Bill 354 would provide staff close to a 2% increase a year for University employees.

Christine Greenberg asked if there could be a change to tax law to allow SEANC benefits to be paid pretax through NCFlex.  Broome said that such a change is not likely to occur, but he noted that SEANC benefits are portable and the enrollment for these benefits is open all year long.

The Chair welcomed Interim Vice Chancellor Becci Menghini to provide the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Menghini noted that Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler was away helping NC Central University in its search for a new Human Resources leader.

Menghini noted news from President Roper concerning the State budget.  She said that much would be revealed when the State Legislature reconvenes in January.

Menghini noted that the UNC System will now pay for parental leave options, with campus rollouts to occur between January and March.  UNC-Chapel Hill intends to roll out this proposal in early January.  The option will allow leave for stillborn events.  Rose Thorp confirmed that the leave will be available to non-married parents with no certification required.

The Governor’s Office is still rolling out the safe leave policy for those subject to sexual or domestic violence or abuse.  The Office of State Human Resources will change the workplace violence policy and UNC will keep its employees updated as to these changes.

The University has resolved to decrease the number of interim officials and will host recruiting visits for permanent position candidates in coming weeks.

Regarding the Silent Sam controversy, Menghini offered to share what she knew about this question.  She understood that the Board of Governors had removed the negotiation from UNC-Chapel Hill’s hands.  A five-member council of Board of Governors members had managed the disposition of the statue.  Chancellor Guskiewicz has emphasized that his biggest priority is to ensure that the statue does not return to campus.

The Board of Governors negotiated the settlement with the payment to an outside party to manage the statue derived from the UNC-Chapel Hill endowment.  This money comes from a litigation fund and will be stored in a third-party charitable trust.  The disposition of the statue and allocation of funds will be governed by legal agreement.  Menghini understood that part of the agreement occurred because the threat that the statue would return to campus was real.  She could not comment further on the agreement.

The Chair asked the University’s obligation in this matter beyond the $2.5 million settlement.  Menghini said that the obligation should be finished forever, as the agreement forbids placement of the statue in any county hosting a UNC System campus.  Arlene Medder emphasized that the agreement did not mention community college campuses.

The Chair said that the agreement seemed like a gut punch to University employees who are working without a raise agreement.  She said the expenditure of $2.5 million in this way when this money could go to support human beings was wasteful.  Menghini said that UNC-Chapel Hill has heard these concerns.  An employee noted that the removal of the statue has not removed the statue’s metaphorical shadow.  This employee was dismayed about the payment to a white supremacist group.

The Chair said that this discussion goes back to the question of raising staff salaries from campus endowments.  She said that the idea that staff salaries can receive increases from campus endowments needs respect and repetition.  She noted that the payment of salaries from endowments does not include pay from the State fringe pool, which led the overall fringe pool to decrease.

Christine Greenberg thought that staff morale requires solutions like a fringe benefit pool as an example of needed campus procedure reform.  She advocated loosening travel card restrictions.  She thought that Human Resources and Finance could meet in the middle to advance these reforms.  Menghini noted that a new level of cooperation between the two units has recently emerged.

Allison Standard asked about departments with available funds for raises that cannot allocate these funds due to the freeze.  She asked if there were a way to make exceptions to this general rule.  Menghini said that no new money is available for SHRA raises, although the rules are different for SHRA exempt and EHRA employees.  The salary freeze was lifted two months ago allowing departments to make raises if these funds already are within existing budgets.  These salaries cannot be allocated across the board.

Katie Musgrove asked if Menghini could discuss adverse weather and any possible responses to the Forum’s resolution.  Menghini said that there was no appetite to change current policy of adverse weather leave.  She would bring the subject up with the UNC System again.

She also noted that the allocation of additional bonus leave days has arisen in the UNC System Office.  The System has left these decisions to the various campuses, who are desperate to make these allocations occur.  The System hopes to have this policy work based on equity concerns at different UNC schools.  Jennifer DeNeal summed up that there is no appetite to change the adverse weather policy because of funds saved by this policy. She emphasized the importance of this issue to staff employees.  Menghini said that the budget rules are applied very broadly to save money.

An employee mentioned the subject of bonus vacation leave from last year.  Employees seem to have concluded that they cannot use this leave until they retire. Menghini did not know the parameters of this year’s leave.  She noted that over the years, rules governing legislative grants of leave have varied.  These changing rules present an enormous programming challenge.  An employee suggested the creation of a Benefits advisor who could provide guidance about which kind of leave available should be used.

Menghini wished all well for the upcoming extended holiday break.

Jen DeNeal moved to approve the consent agenda, seconded by Katie Musgrove.  The consent agenda was approved by acclamation.

The Chair asked for a motion to close the meeting due to a personnel issue.  Katie Musgrove made this motion, seconded by Timothy Carville.  The motion was approved.

[Closed Session]

Upon emerging from closed session, it was announced that the Forum had approved naming James B. Holman an honorary lifetime delegate of the Employee Forum.  Holman voiced his love for the work of the Forum.  Members applauded Holman for his achievements.

James Stamey moved that the meeting be adjourned, seconded by Tiffany Carver.  The meeting was adjourned by acclamation at 11:05 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

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