June 2, 2004
Agenda — June 2, 2004
9:30 a.m.—-Meeting: Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library
I. Call to Order
II. Welcome Guests & Members of the Press
III. Opening Remarks
IV. Special Presentations
V. Employee Presentations or Questions
VI. May 5, 2004 Minutes
VII. Old Business
VIII. New Business
IX. Stretch Time 6
X. Forum Committee Reports
· Nominating: Patti Prentice
Þ Forum Elections
· Orientation: Meredith Clason
· Personnel Issues: Delita Wright
· University Assignments: Tom Arnel
· Career Development: Curtis Helfrich
· Communications: Brian White
Þ Forum Newsletter
· Community Affairs, Recognition and Awards: Dixie Bloom
· Employee Presentations: Katherine Graves
XI. Chair’s Report (Executive Committee): Tommy Griffin
XII. Task Force/University Committee Reports
· Advisory Committee on Transportation—Tommy Griffin
· Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace—Tommy Griffin
· University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee—Tommy Griffin
· Carolina North Project—Tommy Griffin
XIII. Special Presentation: Bobbi Owen on SACS QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) (Reaccreditation)
XIV. “Go Around the Room”
P = Included in Agenda Packet
June 2, 2004 Employee Forum meeting minutes (abridged)
Chair Tommy Griffin called the meeting to order at 9:34 a.m. and welcomed Forum members and Human Resources generalists to the assembly. He also acknowledged Scott Ragland of the University Gazette as well as other reporters and guests.
The Chair thanked all who attended the State Employees’ rally on May 26, and he said he had enjoyed the chance to speak with senators and representatives about issues facing Employees. He then introduced John Adams to do a presentation on comparative parking rates at peer institutions. Adams said that he had not done an exhaustive or scientifically rigorous comparison of rates, but had thought that the numbers would provide an initial basis of comparison. Figures in the survey are influenced by the range of parking fees and the combination of lower fees on satellite campuses with park and ride buses. The comparisons also did not differentiate between faculty and staff or come from the same school year. Still, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ranked second highest in parking fees on this list of peer institutions.
Chuck Brink asked if the Chair could press this information upon the Advisory Committee on Transportation (ACT) to take action on the data this summer. The Chair said that the ACT is not scheduled to meet this summer but might possibly hold a special meeting on the subject. He would have to check with other members of the ACT, some of whom are students and thus away for the summer.
Human Resources Update
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Laurie Charest introduced Vicki Bradley who is beginning her second day as senior director of Human Resources programs. Charest thanked Forum members who served on the search committees and participated in the interview process for the position. She also announced that Chris Chiron had assumed the position of Policy Administrator for the University. The University will begin recruitment for its communications position presently.
Charest reported that the University had received official approval from the Office of State Personnel for the career banding system for law enforcement and information technology positions. This final approval will allow the University to move forward with the formal aspects of the proposal. She added that compentency assessment sheets for these areas were almost completely submitted. Finally, she noted that the monitoring subcommittee of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace had received responses for each of the report’s 34 areas of concentration.
Charest noted that one-third of the proposals do not require additional resources while another two-thirds do. She said that some of the revenue-based proposals had been combined such as in the case of the ombudsperson’s office. Charest reported that the University had received over 100 applications for this position. She added that the computer loan program would purchase ten laptops from funds donated by Chancellor Moeser from the bonus he declined. Employees will be able to check out these laptops for up to six months.
Additionally, Charest said that the new emergency loan program for Employees had received a large gift that would be announced shortly.
Charest reported that a Human Resources memorandum encouraging the use of flexible scheduling for Employees had gone into the mail that week. She also noted that SPA WPPR evaluations should have been completed in the last week.
The Carolina Kids’ Camp will begin its first session June 14. There are still spaces available in latter camp sessions; interested Employees should contact Leslie Bock in Employee Services for an application.
Human Resources hosted the Carolina 20 Years’ Service banquet at the end of May, welcoming those Employees along with others boasting up to 45 years of service.
Katherine Graves handed out fliers on the new excellence in management award. She asked Employees to think about outstanding supervisors they had known who deserve recognition.
Briefly, Charest said that the House had entered the final stages of talks on its State budget proposal. She did not know what the House would recommend for State salary increases. She had heard that the House would recommend budget cuts beyond the 1.7% that Governor Easley requested. She recalled that the House and Senate alternate turns in drafting the first budget for discussion.
Charest said that proposals for salary increases are rolled into the larger State budget bill. She reported that legislators have introduced bills to improve the retirement system, to establish a committee to study possible modifications of the State Personnel Act, among other changes.
John Adams asked whether the University had considered expanding the Carolina Kids’ Camp to 13- and 14-year old children. Charest said that space has become a major consideration as well as specially trained counselors for this age group. Charest said that the need for these children does exist and said that Human Resources was studying ways to meet it.
The Chair said that he had advocated a ten-hour, four-day work week with rotating days off to keep the University running. Some departments with fewer Employees might find this difficult to accomplish, but he hoped that other departments will work to accommodate their Employees in this time of rising gas prices and parking costs.
The Chair asked for a motion ot approve the minutes of the May meeting. Cynthia Cowan noted that she was not listed as one of the members of the ombudsperson search committee. Curtis Helfrich moved to approve the minutes as amended, seconded by Cowan. The minutes were thereby approved.
In the absence of any old business, Delita Wright introduced a resolution concerning the State Health Care plan. She noted that this resolution presented members with options for action, as the Personnel Issues committee had not settled on a final draft of the resolution. She hoped that the Forum would see fit to act on the resolution on first reading in an effort to influence the current legislative session. She then read the resolution with the four clauses in question.
Discussion arose as to whether the third and fourth clauses, those calling for Employee representation on all boards and committees related to the Health Plan and publication of all information related to the Plan would dilute the resolution’s impact.
The Chair asked members to go around the room with their opinions. Dale Bailey said that he had recently been laid off and so hoped that provisions related to severance from the Plan had gained importance to him. Several Employees stated their positions in favor and against leaving the third and fourth clauses in the resolution, with those against worrying that the Forum might look less than prepared if it could not justify its position with research on the latter two clauses. Others thought that all of the clauses were necessary to preserve the resolution’s full impact. Delita Wright preferred to feature the latter two clauses in a separate resolution.
Most all speakers agreed with the need to approve the first two clauses immediately in time to influence the current legislative session. Chuck Brink pointed out that much of the communication problem has resulted from the lack of consumer representation on State Plan boards and committees. David Brannigan thought that the four clauses should be passed together and saw them as a reflection on the abject failings of State Plan administrator Jack Walker.
The question arose as to how the Forum knew which boards served and for what purpose. This person thought that the Forum would need this information before pressing for representation. Brannigan noted that the resolution calls for representation on all committees, saving the Forum from worries about selectivity.
Shanna Fleenor asked why the nine different HMOs which had offered services under the State plan had since declined to bid. Charest thought that the HMOs had declined to offer coverage because they thought they could not turn a profit under rules set by the State Plan. Brink asked if these losses occurred after Walker had changed rules for enrollment. Charest said that the rules led to the decline in HMO participation given that all enrolled plans must offer all that the State Comprehensive Plan does in all service areas, including rural areas. If Employees expect better prices, they must accept compromises in coverage. Charest did not think that the rules governing HMO enrollment had changed, but rather the world of HMOs and American health care have changed these last ten years or so.
Chuck Brink commented that the State is increasing the amount of money it takes in as it increases deductibles. Charest said that the State did not make any money at all from the Plan.
Patti Prentice and Katherine Graves called for Walker’s departure. Graves noted that he seemed to stress weight loss as a means to lower premiums after having lost a great deal of weight in a new exercise regimen. She urged passage of two resolutions. Brink said that passing one resolution now could influence current legislative discussions, much as how last month’s salary resolution had influenced the content of legislative budget talks. He urged that the Forum follow through now with its momentum. Cynthia Cowan recalled that she was unable to find a central location for State Plan records during her time in Raleigh May 26, although she found it easy to find other data thanks to the State records office.
Delita Wright introduced a friendly amendment to the fourth clause of the resolution in the form of a wording change. As Wright introduced the resolution, she can immediately make changes without a vote on the question.
Martha Fowler called the question, seconded by Camilla Crampton. The Forum voted by a healthy majority to end discussion and to approve the resolution on first reading. Wright then asked for a motion to suspend the rules to allow consideration of the resolution on second reading (requires 2/3 vote). The Forum voted 32-5 to suspend the rules allowing consideration. Finally, the Forum approved resolution 04-02 (amended) with the four main clauses by majority vote.
At this point, the Forum took a ten minute stretch break.
Patti Prentice, chair of the Nominating committee, said that group planned to send out letters to eligible Delegates and alternates encouraging them to run for a delegate position for 2005.
There was no report from the Personnel Issues and Orientation committees.
Tom Arnel, chair of the University Assignments committee, reported that the proposed merger with the Nominating committee had been voted down. The committee will meet again June 22 at noon in the Forum Office.
Curtis Helfrich, chair of the Career Development committee, said that only a couple of members attended the May meeting. He asked members to commit to attending scheduled meetings in the future, with the next one to take place June 23 from 9:30-10:30 a.m. in the Campus Y.
Brian White, chair of the Communications committee, reported that the group had met May 6 to assign stories for the May InTouch and to develop plans for the July University Gazette insert. The committee would meet June 3 at 1 p.m. in the University Gazette office to consult with Gazette officials on the process to complete the insert.
Darryl Harris, reporting for the Community Affairs, Recognition & Awards committee, said that the University Gazette had published the first articles for the Shining Heels awards in its last issue. The nomination form for the peer recognition forms will go out to all Employees in the second week of July.
Katherine Graves, chair of the Employee Presentations committee, said that the group now planned to hold its community meeting with Chancellor Moeser and Provost Shelton this September. Cynthia Cowan asked what happened with the proposed speaker from the State Retirement system. Graves replied that the Executive Committee had voted this suggestion down at a recent meeting.
The Chair reported that the Executive Committee had planned for the voter registration, voter turnout and State Employee rallies at its last meeting. He noted that the Advisory Committee on Transportation was not scheduled to meet until the fall, but said that he would see about scheduling an earlier meeting during the summer.
The Chair said that the monitoring committee of the Chancellor’s Task Force for a Better Workplace had progressed well. The committee should produce a report by the end of the month on initiative progress. Delita Wright asked if there was a salary grade limit for Employees applying for the computer loan program. The Chair said that Employees up to grade 61 are eligible, compared to grade 56 for ECU employees.
Syed Mustafa asked how many computers the loan program had procured and the Chair said that it had around 16 in all, donated from different departments as well as from the School of Library Science and from the Chancellor’s gift. He said that others with spare computers could contact the House Undergraduate Library to make a donation. Dale Bailey commented that departments must make a donation before they enter them into the surplus system. He also speculated that the program could receive dozens of computers if properly publicized. Delegates discussed ways to publicize the idea.
The Chair said that the University Priorities and Budget Advisory Committee had not met much this semester. He hoped that the Legislature would reconsider plans for a general budget cut given the amount of cuts the University had already absorbed. He said that its premier standing stood in some difficulty if it continued to absorb cuts.
The Chair was pleased to note the general participation in the Statewide video conference, although the participation in the event was less than the first one. He said that the councils share many of the same issues and many of the Forums have questions about how UNC-Chapel Hill’s Employee Forum had accomplished what it had.
Dr. Bobbi Owen spoke on the upcoming reaccreditation process and quality enhancement plan that the University would undergo by the end of 2006. Over the next 18 months, the University would prepare for the compliance process. She emphasized the need to make critical connections among campus units, particularly to strengthen the international role of the University, to revise the undergraduate curriculum and enhance the campus research experience.
Owen said that the study would form three subgroups to address these topics, with a senior and junior chair to produce continuity for the next reaccreditation in 2016. She asked Delagates to volunteer their ideas or their time as volunteers for the study committees.
David Brannigan reported that a Facilities Services temporary employee had received a great amount of trouble getting paid following temporary work as the temporary agency had no record of his timesheet. He was particularly shocked that the payroll department proved unresponsive to requests that it produce a check for the temporary employee to allow him to cover bills on the supervisor’s word. He called for an institutional process to make sure that a temporary employee would not have to go without earned and due income in situations of bureaucratic snafu. In addition, he found the situation particularly galling given the recent University emphasis on worker relations.
Charest noted that the payroll department is a separate unit from Human Resources and said that she did not know the details about cutting manual checks. Brannigan said that it required a concerted involvement from the Facilities Services Human Resources generalist to persuade the payroll department to cut the check.
Dale Bailey recalled his difficulties as a temporary employee, being strung along for almost three and a half years until finally being hired in a downgraded position, illegally, as it emerged. He recalled the traditional position of the temporary employee as the lowest person on the totem pole. He also said that through his three-plus years as a temporary employee he had no benefits or health insurance and had to obtain special permission to get an ID for access necessary for his job. He said it would be nice if the Forum could take up the question of temporary employees at the University generally.
Penny Ward said that in her department, ranking personnel have sometimes written checks from departmental funds to cover Employees when needed checks are delayed. Brannigan stressed that the University should develop institutional procedures in these situations rather than relying on ad hoc generosity. He said that the University could easily track down delinquent employees given its possession of social security numbers and other information. Brannigan thought that the University should not put its employees through the stress of wondering whether power will be cut off in the absence of an earned and due check.
John Adams said that procedures are in place for these situation but he could not account for callousness. He said that a fundamental problem lies with managerial supervision that considers the temporary employee a part of the work team.
Delita Wright asked if the new emergency loan program would extend to temporary employees. The Chair thought that the fund was available only to permanent Employees.
The Chair made a special point to thank Dale Bailey for his service to the University and the Forum upon the occasion of his departure. Wright praised Bailey for his great enthusiasm for service with the Personnel Issues committee.
David Brannigan asked about the rescinding of an invitation to Bill Schuler to speak to the Forum at its June meeting on issues related to use of harsh cleaning chemicals in the Housekeeping department. The Chair said that the invitation was only temporarily rescinded as one must be a full-time Employee to address the Forum and moreover, the Forum was not charged to involve itself in individual grievances. He wanted to make sure that Schuler had every chance at a fair hearing in his grievance.
Sherrie Settle commented that she was disappointed how some Delegates responded in the discussion about perceived changes in the way the Chair would interact with University officials, following the announcement of his senatorial campaign. She noted that Delegates have a responsibility to exercise a healthy skepticism but she thought the Forum should elevate itself to a thoughtful discussion on such questions, in spite of individual speculation. The Chair said that he would not give up the work of 32 years for the University and its Employees given his outside activities.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:34 a.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary