January 8, 2020

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.

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. – 10:00 a.m.)

  • Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz

III. Human Resources Update (10:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.)

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

IV.  Consent Agenda (10:20 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.)

V.  Old Business (10:40 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.)

VI.  New Business (10:50 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.)

VII. Announcements/Questions (11:10-11:30 a.m.)

VIII.  Adjournment

MINUTES

January 8, 2020 Employee Forum minutes

Attending:  Darren Albrecht,  L.E. Alexander,  Joey Baldwin,  Ashley Belcher,  Jo-Ann Blake, Rich Brandenburg, Stephanie Brown,  Tiffany Carver,  Timothy Carville, Adrianne Cromwell,  Jen DeNeal,  Morgan Douglas,  Shakeya Ducksworth,  Phillip Edwards,  Stephanie Forman,  Adrianne Gibilisco,  Karen Gilliam, Zebadiah Harris,  Shayna Hill,  Keith Hines, Mary King,  Arlene Medder, Clinton Miller,  Kadejah Murray,  Katie Musgrove,  Ayla Ocasio, Joe Ormond,  Jim Potts,  Laura Pratt,  Kevin Robinson,  David Rogers, Kelly Scurlock-Cross, Greg Smith,  James Stamey, Allison Standard, Rose Thorp, Tracy Wetherby Williams

Excused Absences:  Dzenita Blackwell, Emma Beckham, Sarah Carrier, James Holman, Jeff McQueen

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:20 a.m.  She welcomed the University’s twelfth Chancellor, Kevin Guskiewicz, to provide opening remarks to the Forum.  Guskiewicz recalled his two previous appearances with the Forum.  He also noted that he had just returned from a trip to Vietnam.

Guskiewicz noted how much he had enjoyed getting to know the Chair in their conversations over the past half-year or so.  He looked forward to doing many great things together in future months.

Guskiewicz noted the progress of Carolina Next:  Innovations for the Public Good.  He outlined the different initiatives associated with the strategic plan and looked forward to working with staff and faculty on these opportunities.  He emphasized that diversity is a fact, inclusion a choice, and equity is a goal.  If Carolina can get diversity correct, the other things will come together.  He wants a campus in which all feel that they belong.

Guskiewicz note the announcement of the $5 million Build Community Fund that will rely on the Commission on History, Race and a Way Forward to identify opportunities for community building.  That group will hold its first meeting February 7th.  He noted the important work of rebuilding trust in the community and in the campus police force.  He acknowledged Chief of Police David Perry in the audience, saying that the University has acknowledged that it will make mistakes but will also work to call out and correct these mistakes.  The Campus Safety Commission will hold a summit on the evening of January 28th.

Guskiewicz was proud to note the appointment of George Battle as the new Vice Chancellor for Institutional Integrity and Risk Management.  Battle previously served as an attorney with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System.  Guskiewicz also noted Becci Menghini’s permanent appointment as Vice Chancellor.  He praised her for her expertise and tireless work on behalf of the University.  Menghini has served most notably analyzing the campus climate survey results and building coalitions for sexual harassment and sexual assault action plans.

There was not much movement to report regarding the budget.  Guskiewicz believed that there would be staff salary increases, noting the importance of recruiting and retaining the best people to work at Carolina.

Guskiewicz noted the upsetting decision of the Board of Governors in the Confederate Monument settlement.  He was optimistic that something would change as to the settlement.  He added that racism and injustice have no place on campus.

Moving forward, Guskiewicz said that a lot of work remains to do.  He looked forward to meeting with smaller groups and making decisions in consultation with the campus community.  He also noted that University Communications will soon issue The Well as a daily edition.  He hoped that employees will participate in the University System engagement survey which should be available around February 4th.  Finally, he wished James Holman congratulations for his achievement of the Forum’s honorary lifetime delegate award.

Allison Standard asked about prospects for increasing funding for the University’s professional development grant awards.  She noted that the program can now support only a fraction of the applicants for grants.  Guskiewicz hoped that the grant program would work through the strategic plan’s process for seeking funding opportunities.

Tiffany Carver said that every year employees seeking managerial opportunities do not find success.  She asked what could be said to help these employees.  Guskiewicz said that the strategic plan will help develop employees’ managerial skills.  The Chair commented that some employees have great untapped potential for managerial roles.  Guskiewicz added that the University must find ways to fund release time for training for this purpose.  Jen DeNeal said that ULEAD’s requirement that only formal managers can apply for that program is equally disheartening.

Rose Thorp noted the courses that will not take staff tuition waivers because they are receipt-supported.  Chancellor Guskiewicz asked that the Forum send a list of such receipt-supported courses to his office.  He noted that some of these courses seem to be part of managerial programs for which the University could possibly issue certificates of achievement.

Greg Smith said that a small percentage of employees participate in graduate programs at UNC-Chapel Hill which do not allow tuition waivers.  He recalled having to take courses at another System institution since UNC-Chapel Hill would not provide waivers for his preferred program.

Zebadiah Harris asked why, given there is no State raise for staff this year, the University has raised the cost of parking and food charges.  Guskiewicz was not aware of these price increases since the start of the year.  He said that night parking charges have been implemented after a delay of two years.  Guskiewicz hoped that the State’s salary increase would be made retroactive to July 1, 2019.

Arlene Medder asked about the state of the proposed mentor training program for tradespeople.  Becci Menghini said that this program will be studied in the University’s strategic plan.  Chancellor Guskiewicz thanked the Forum for the great questions.  He looked forward to meeting monthly with the Chair about these and other issues.

Vice Chancellor for Human Resources, and Equal Opportunity & Compliance Becci Menghini presented the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Menghini noted that UNC-Chapel Hill’s parental leave policy took effect as of January 1, 2020.  Laura Pratt confirmed that the policy will provide bonding leave, but not medical leave, to babies born to UNC-Chapel Hill employees as of September 1, 2019.

Menghini said that the 2020 version of the employee engagement survey will go out to this month.  This survey follows on the 2018 version, which was modified to remove identifiers.  Menghini emphasized that University campuses do not receive detailed information from the survey, only aggregate data.

Menghini noted general “less than positive feelings” among staff given concerns about leadership, benefits, and communication referenced in the 2018 survey.  She said that the System’s parental leave policy and the University’s new communication resource The Well are responses to that survey’s concerns.  She said the University intends to use survey results about how staff employees feel to make UNC a better place.

Menghini said that the Total Wellbeing Expo will take place at Fetzer Gym on March 11, 2020.  Jessica Pyjas noted the many wellness programs to take place in February.  She encouraged employees to visit a nutritionist, a benefit now available under the 70/30 State Health Plan.  Employees can access the Perks Connection page at https://unc.perksconnection.com/ to obtain a wide range of deals.

Menghini was gratified by her recent appointment as permanent Vice Chancellor of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity and Compliance.  She praised her team’s work to reduce time to make job offers to 45 days, a considerable improvement over previous practice.  She sought to continue this success in other areas.  She said a focus of her work would be career development, particularly finding ways to build careers and training opportunities.  She noted that some Statewide policies inhibit career expansion and there are not always openings for career development.  She said that these State policies may increase cannibalization of good managers across units.  She was not certain that of these problems could all be solved but she looked forward to defining career ladders for staff more clearly.

Menghini noted interest in increasing spending on managerial training.  She said conversations on this subject have been characterized by constructive feedback from all parties.  She recalled the continuing problem of navigating supervisory training for supervisors who have received only academic training.  This fact undercuts efforts to address this problem unilaterally.   She noted that programs like ULEAD are not universally available.  She said her office would work to do management training right.

Regarding the Equal Opportunity and Compliance space, Menghini expected new rules from the Office of Civil Rights regarding gender-based violence concerns.  She noted the President’s Executive Order on Anti-Semitism on campus, noting that campuses must consider national origin and religion in University matters.

She emphasized that the University has processes to deal with these concerns.  She believed in compliance and emphasized webinar training for concerned employees.

Menghini reported that on December 20th, the University signed a contract with the private company Cornerstone to replace the functions of PeopleAdmin.  She said that the Cornerstone software is more user-friendly and will provide tracking of data and other high functionality.

Rose Thorp asked when PeopleAdmin would finally go away.  Menghini said that system would not depart until Cornerstone is proven fully functional.

Tracy Wetherby Williams was pleased to hear about the performance management functions available in Cornerstone.  She hoped that supervisors would be able to see what courses employees have taken so that they can plan for what to offer their employees next.  Menghini did not want to oversell the program but said she has high hopes about tracking and other features.

Katie Musgrove wished Menghini congratulations for her promotion.  Menghini said that she was excited about prospects to improve opportunities for staff at the University.  She recalled that her background is atypical for someone in this position, her having driven the Oscar Mayer-mobile among other jobs.  She planned to serve as UNC staff’s greatest champion and advocate, to ensure that staff needs are fully supported as much as possible.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the consent agenda.  There was a request to pull out the Education & Career Development committee report from the consent agenda.  Arlene Medder made this motion, seconded by James Holman.  The motion was approved without opposition.

Laura Pratt noted that the Education & Career Development committee is hard at work on a survey on employee sentiment to go in a future InTouch.  She said that this survey will inform planning for the 2021 mini-conference on career development in higher education.

The Chair shared some thoughts on her time as Forum Chair given Chancellor Guskiewicz’ able assist with returning the Forum to its proper place in the University organizational chart.  She praised Guskiewicz for working assiduously to meet the Chair’s goals for the Forum.  In addition to the organizational chart restoration, she had requested renovation of the Forum Office and increased response to Forum communications and one-on-one consultations.

She now sought to construct a plan as to what will occur with staff salaries given decreased support from the General Assembly.  She senses the current Administration’s willingness to work closely and transparently on issues of mutual concern.

Rose Thorp asked about the prospects of getting an Administration response to Forum resolutions that have already been approved.  The Chair said this was a great idea and she planned to bring it up with the Chancellor when possible.  Laura Pratt asked if the Chair could share any response from the Chancellor, even if the resolution is not formally acknowledged.

Rose Thorp asked if the Chancellor planned to revisit the Silent Sam question.  The Chair did not think so, recalling Faculty Chair Lloyd Cramer’s remarks at a recent Faculty Council meeting.  Allison Standard asked if there would be a review of the Silent Sam settlement given reporting in the News & Observer that the lawsuit occurred in mid-December.  Keith Hines wanted to know why Judge Allan Baddour had signed off on the settlement.  The Chair said that the Executive Committee had authored a statement on the settlement to the Chancellor that it shared with campus last month.  She said that the Forum could continue its work in this area if it wished.

Jim Potts presented a proposal to revise the Forum’s electoral system.  This proposal had been put together by an ad hoc committee in response to concerns that many employees do not know the candidates in their electoral division.  This proposal was tentatively approved by the Executive Committee at its December meeting.

Potts said that some employees chose not to vote in Forum elections because they do not know anyone in their job classification.  He said that there has been an imbalance among electoral divisions given the uneven numbers of candidates in the different divisions.

He read the proposal:

The proposal to reform the Forum’s electoral procedures is as follows:

  • Retain the current divisional system of apportioning delegates by job category. Retaining this feature ensures that the Forum will continue to feature representation from all economic classes of the University.
  • Allow each voter, after choosing from the candidates in their division, to then vote for up to (5) additional candidates from any other electoral division. (No double-voting for the same candidate.)  This new approach allows employees to vote for candidates whom they may know but do not serve with in similar employment capacities.
  • Weigh votes equally, with no difference between divisional and at-large votes in the final tally.

The proposal will not require revision of the Forum bylaws (Section III. Employee Forum Delegates).  This approach saves administrative effort required with reapportionment into departmental- or unit-based electoral divisions.  The approach is simple to understand and closely resembles previous practice.

The Forum should work harder to advertise its electoral procedures in advance of its April elections.  The Communications & Public Relations committee has offered to create a voter guide of candidate biographies, to be distributed electronically via the InTouch newsletter before elections occur.

Potts noted that this approach would allow meaningful voting for candidates outside one’s electoral division. The new system would allow for up to five at-large votes for any candidate including those in the same division as the voter.

Rose Thorp thought that this proposal would address some of the confusion that the Forum’s electoral system creates.  She recalled that the ad hoc committee had decided not to add at-large seats to the Forum’s electoral system.  She was pleased that the proposal gave employees the at-large option.

Keith Hines thought that the proposal would lead to a popularity vote for at-large candidates that would undermine divisional representation.  Katie Musgrove recalled that co-workers in her previous department were frustrated with the electoral system because they could not vote for her as she was in a different electoral division.  Hines said that allowing at-large votes to count the same as divisional votes would undermine the representation of employees in that division.  He drew a parallel with voters in Mecklenburg County being able to vote in Alamance County elections, even though they do not live in Alamance County.

Tiffany Carver thought that the day-to-day functions of the Forum make it difficult to represent one’s own electoral division because employees are so siloed.  She granted that a voice is needed from different areas that is not captured in the current electoral system.  Shane Brogan added that he did not feel an identification with his electoral category.  He thought that the current proposal seemed a better way to address these concerns.  He thought the goal should be the same distribution of classifications.

The Chair recalled that the Forum Chair and the Chancellor each have authority under the Forum Bylaws to make up to five at-large delegate appointments each year.  Jim Potts reiterated that under the proposal in question, whoever receives the most votes, either divisional or at-large votes, in each division is elected from that division.

Keith Hines said that the power to vote in a jurisdiction comes from representation of its members and from excluding those who are not part of that jurisdiction.  He did not think that the proposal as written was how elections should work or do work.  Darren Abrecht said that the proposal needs to prevent manipulation of the election system by parties outside an electoral division.

The Chair noted that candidates must generally obtain approval from their supervisors before running for election.  James Holman said that some supervisors will not allow their delegates to serve on the Forum.  Rose Thorp thought that delegates could have participated in this process earlier before voicing complaints.

The Chair recalled that in the Student Stores discussion in 2016, former delegate Katie Turner was instrumental in organizing Division 6 employees in town halls to discuss progress.  She said that this was an example of identification with Forum electoral divisions that is not often replicated.

The Chair said that the Forum’s current system of representation ensures that employees have a voice in discussions.  She thought that the United States’ electoral college is problematic.  Arlene Medder said that the proposal may not be perfect, but the ad hoc committee wished to do something to see if it works.

Allison Standard asked if the proposal plans to list candidates on the ballot by school or in alphabetical order.  She urged that the Forum be careful in approaching this issue.  Jen DeNeal thought that the current conversation was very fruitful and noted that the proposal was only on its first of two readings.  The Chair said that location data for candidates is not available to the Forum.

Tracy Wetherby-Williams commented that now would be a good time to consult with a School of Government faculty member to find the best way to hold the Forum’s elections.  Ombuds officer Dawna Osborne-Adams agreed that contacting the School of Government represents a good first step.  Rose Thorp said that the ad hoc committee had tried to develop a proposal mindful of the Forum Bylaws.

Stephanie Forman thought that the Forum should work to increase employee knowledge of and identification with their respective electoral division.  She appreciated the new approach but worried about the opportunity for disaster if the proposal is improperly vetted.  The Chair offered to ask former Forum Chair Charles Streeter to give his insight into this question.

Greg Smith said that he did not like the proposal, but he thought it was a step towards what he sought from the election structure, a unit-based system.  Jim Potts said that the unit-based system was possible, but it presents a data-mining nightmare.  He thought that the School of Government might offer an interesting perspective on these questions.  He thought perhaps the system could increase the number of votes per division while reducing the number of at-large votes available.

Keith Hines thought that the proposal as written gave someone outside his electoral division the same power to select representatives as he holds.  He did not want that.  The Chair noted that Forum issues do not map exactly to electoral divisions.  She asked how the Forum should weigh issues.  Shane Brogan asked how many employees could influence a divisional election.  Tim Carville recalled a case in which employees in a division agreed to vote against a candidate who lost but later received an appointment anyway.  He asked what created the Forum Chair’s power to appoint delegates.

Hines thought that the current proposal would allow employees outside a division to manipulate the Forum’s electoral system to install a candidate who does not represent the division’s employees.  Shane Brogan proposed that an at-large vote count as only a half-vote for a candidate.  Alternatively, the at-large votes could establish an order by which the Forum Chair must follow to appoint at-large candidates.  Other delegates agreed with this last suggestion.  Katie Musgrove reiterated the call to ask the School of Government for advice on this question.  Tracy Wetherby-Williams would ask around the School for guidance for the Forum.

Phillip Edwards proposed instead that the ad hoc committee on election procedure reconvene considering the day’s feedback.  Rose Thorp agreed this would be a good idea.  Katie Musgrove agreed that the committee could present its revised proposal after consultation with the School of Government faculty member.  Thorp invited delegates interested in this matter to the future meetings of the committee.  The Forum agreed to this course by acclamation.

The Chair thought that the Forum had held a great first conversation on these matters.

The Chair asked for representatives to serve on the Advisory Committee on Transportation to discuss the upcoming 5-year plan.  Shane Brogan, Laura Pratt, Kevin Robinson, and James Stamey volunteered for the committee.  The Chair pledged to send out the schedule for committee meetings to these volunteers.

Shane Brogan asked about submitting comments to the Forum for feedback.  The Chair noted that the Forum listserv is typically used for that purpose.  Members could revive discussions on the listerv if they wish.  Adrianne Cromwell suggested that the Forum put together a message board for this purpose.  The Chair recalled that the Forum has used Qualtrics surveys to do this previously.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned by acclamation at 11:40 a.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

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