UNC-Chapel Hill Employee Forum

Hitchcock Multipurpose Room, Sonja H. Stone Center

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

I. Call to Order—Chair Shayna Hill (9:15 a.m. – 9:25 a.m.)

  • Welcome to Guests & Members of the Press

II.  Special Presentations (9:25 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.)

  • Holly Lovern and Cassidy Johnson, Gender Violence Service Coordinators
  • Michele Bowen, Training Specialist for Facilities Services
  • Chuka Akpom on Carolina Closet
  • Chief Information Security Officer Kevin Lanning on Equifax Breach (10 a.m.)

III. Human Resources Update (10:15 a.m. – 10:35 a.m.)

  • Vice Chancellor for Workforce Strategy, Equity, and Engagement Felicia Washington
  • Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler

IV. Consent Agenda (10:35 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.)

V. Old Business (10:45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)

VI. New Business (11:00 a.m. – 11:25 a.m.)

VIII. Announcements/Question (11:25 -11:30 a.m.)

IX.  Adjournment

MINUTES

October 4, 2017 Employee Forum minutes

Attending:  Bryan Andregg, Dzenita Blackwell, Sharon Brinson, Bonita Brown, Tiffany Carver, Jackie Copeland, Clare Counihan, Mariel Eaves, David Fraley, Lori Haight, Shayna Hill, James Holman, Lakethia Jefferies, Arlene Medder, Alan Moran, Katie Musgrove, Natiaya Neal, Dustin Norris, Jim Potts, Kathy Ramsey, Ricky Roach, David Rogers, Summer Saadah, Kewana Smith, James Stamey, Rose Thorp, Chris Van Vleek, K.D. Ann Welsh, Tyler Yon

Excused Absences:  Mary Dahlsten, Naquan Hill, Mary King, Alyssa LaFaro, Greg Smith, Katie Turner, Richard Wright

Chair Shayna Hill called the meeting to order at 9:15 a.m.  Vice Chair Kathy Ramsey and Secretary Tiffany Carver conducted the monthly roll call.  Bryan Andregg moved that the September minutes be approved, seconded by Alan Moran.  The minutes were approved with one abstention.

David Rogers said that the training course originally planned for the November 1st meeting would need to be delayed due to delays in course construction.  The Forum agreed to postpone the course until March 2018.

Gender Violence Services Coordinators Holly Lovern and Cassidy Johnson provided an update on assistance available to those affected by gender-based violence.  They thanked the Forum for getting word out regarding this problem, which includes stalking, harassment, indecent exposure, catcalling, and peeping.  Their office provides emotional support and help deciding survivors’ next steps following these incidents.  Lovern noted that her office serves to translate policies and procedures related to the Equal Opportunity Commission.  She said that the office provides referrals to survivors for help from different non-profit organizations in the community.  She emphasized that her office serves people with all gender identities.  Interested employees can contact Lovern and Johnson at 919-962-1343 or via gvsc@unc.edu.

Alan Moran asked what is being done to reach out to various departments across campus.  Johnson said that her office has been invited to staff meetings and has worked with people in departments.  She said that her office could do short introductory sessions or more in-depth presentations on healthy versus unhealthy relationships.  Clare Counihan vouched for the work of the office and the quality of Lovern and Johnson.

Michele Bowen, the training specialist for Facilities Services, wished the Forum well.  She noted that Facilities Services employees work as called upon when needed, in a range of tasks across campus.  She spoke on behalf of community outreach regarding skilled trades intern positions.  Bowen recalled that Alan Moran had approached her stating that the University needs a program to alleviate aging-out in skilled trades positions.  She said that younger workers are needed for these positions to receive advice from older, more established skilled trades-workers before they leave the University.

Bowen said that Facilities Services has reached out to the Durham Public Schools system, particularly Hillside High School for assistance in finding candidates.  Her office has also reached out to Southern Durham High School and Alamance Community College, as well as Durham Technical Community College.

Bowen said that the skilled trades internship program needs financial support.  She noted that the University’s skilled trades shops tend to skew white and male, whereas University Housekeeping is mainly African-American and Burmese.  She said that Housekeeping has been very supportive of this effort to train young people in green cleaning and other techniques.

Bowen said that other skilled trades shops may need more diversity training to help relations with people who “do not look like you.”  She urged shops to face the worker shortage which has resulted in overwork and departure for the private sector among current employees.  She said that Facilities Services has examined practices at other schools such as NC State’s brick construction school.  Bowen said that UNC can establish similar programs but cannot do so without infrastructure and financial support.  She offered to consult with departments and employees via  michele.bowen@fac.unc.edu.

Ricky Roach said that as a power plant mechanic his pay was drastically affected by increases in State Health Plan costs.  He said that young people will not work to take jobs with the University under these circumstances.  Bowen said that UNC-Chapel Hill will pay the training for hired employees.  She recalled that the University had just lost an HVAC supervisor to the private sector.  She noted the level of experience needed for entry and contributory level positions.  She emphasized the need for improved pay and benefits in these areas.  Clare Counihan confirmed that employees who know prospective employees in high school or community college should contact their career and technical education (CTE) instructors to contact Bowen in turn.

Bryan Andregg asked what Bowen would request of the Forum to take to the Chancellor’s Office from her presentation.  Bowen said that money is the main factor affecting her office.  She said that shops need money to provide training for prospective workers.  Andregg asked if Bowen’s office has a budget for this effort yet.  Bowen said that there is no budget yet, adding that her office does not want to offer a bare bones program to these prospective employees.

Chuka Akpom spoke on the Carolina Closet program at UNC.  Akpom said that the program is designed to provide students with access to business clothing to reduce barriers in the way of their professional opportunities.  He said that Carolina Closet will partner with Carolina Cupboard and should begin clothing students in late January or early February.  The organization is collecting donations in partnership with Housing and the Residence Hall Association.  The first clothing drive will take place from October 23-November 19th.  Carolina Services has also been very helpful as a partner in this effort.  Akpom noted that similar programs have been successful at NC State, Columbia, the University of Kentucky, UCLA, and the University of South Carolina.  He encouraged interested parties to access thecarolinacloset.web.unc.edu for more information.

Tiffany Carver asked if the Carolina Closet program will be open to faculty and staff.  Akpom said that the effort is open to all.  Clare Counihan offered to donate clothes hangers.  Lori Haight asked how the Closet will distribute clothing.  Akpom said that clients will make an appointment with the Closet to obtain information about what they need and why.  Clothing will be lent for one week.  Akpom said that the organization is working to obtain unincorporated non-profit status.

Chief Information Security Officer Kevin Lanning updated the Forum on the Equifax breach, which is said to affect 45% of American citizens.  Lanning said that each one of us can work to reduce risk and exposure to harm.  He said that freezing one’s credit is a first step, but added that one should ask for a freeze from all four credit bureaus.  He emphasized that one must create and retain a password to unfreeze credit applications, a process which can take three to five days.

On campus, Lanning said that the two-step verification process for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) is now in place.  He said that having two-step verification enacted for other campus logins is desirable.  Lanning also cautioned delegates about phishing e-mails designed to obtain login credits surreptitiously.  He urged listeners to forward suspected phishing e-mails to phish@unc.edu.  He said that the University defeats thousands of phishing attacks a day.  Bryan Andregg thanked Lanning for his remarks and noted the number of challenges facing the University in these areas.

The Chair welcomed Vice Chancellor for Workplace Strategy, Equity and Engagement Felicia Washington to present the Forum’s customary Human Resources update.  Washington complimented the Forum on its robust and informative meeting.  She was pleased to note that Workplace Strategy, Equity and Engagement would partner with the Carolina Closet initiative as part of the Chancellor’s professional development initiative.  She also thanked Kevin Lanning for his remarks concerning the Equifax data breach.  Bryan Andregg commented that employees can use password management applications to improve their on-line security.  He said that new users of these applications need not change all their passwords in one session, but rather can go slowly.  He said that where he had previously had one hundred passwords in use, now he has only three to memorize.

Washington noted the September 27th Thinkposium which featured attendees from across the University.  She said that October is Hispanic Heritage month, and reminded delegates to consult the Diversity and Multicultural Affairs newsletter for information on activities and professional development.  She also praised the Human Resources newsletter, WorkWell, for its relevant and helpful content.  She reminded listeners about the opportunity for public comment before the development of the University’s Title IX revisions.

Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Linc Butler reminded the Forum about the Rock ‘N Roll State health plan enrollment session running from September 30-October 31st.  He said that plan changes will affect employee paychecks starting January 1st.  He urged employees to complete their tobacco attestation as this item must be completed every year to maintain the resultant lower premium.  Butler said that Human Resources will conduct campus information sessions about enrollment for employees.  He thanked Benefits and Information Technology for their support of these efforts.

Butler also noted that Employee Appreciation Day will take place October 20th.  He invited all employees to attend this event in the Great Hall of the Student Union.  He also noted that Human Resources will offer a free lunch to employees from 12:30-2 p.m. that day.  Butler also invited delegates to attend the upcoming Equal Opportunity Commission meeting entitled Empowering Carolina on October 10th.

Kathy Bryant, Senior Director of Communications for Workforce Strategy, Equity and Engagement, said that her office is looking for stories related to Carolina Cares/Carolina Shares.  She said that this is the program’s first full week.  She challenged delegates to give via carolinacares.unc.edu that day to avoid subsequent e-mail reminders.  Bryan also asked that donors share the reason for their donation with her to tweet to encourage others.  She said that increased participation is necessary to maintain the University’s number one status among the State’s donor agencies.

The Chair related that eleven years ago a friend was murdered by a domestic partner.  She was able to commemorate her loss through the Carolina Cares/Carolina Shares donation category for “parents of murdered children.”  She urged employees to find a category that speaks to them and to give generously.

The Chair called for a motion to approve the Forum’s consent agenda for October.  Bryan Andregg made this motion, seconded by Arlene Medder, with exceptions made for the Education and Career Development, Personnel Issues, and Communication and Public Relations committee reports.

Clare Counihan made a plea for volunteers for the Education and Career Development committee.  She offered to stick around following the meeting to speak with interested employees.

Bryan Andregg reported that the Personnel Issues committee had asked Human Resources for information on employees working second and third shifts.  In addition, the committee has sought information on proposed changes in FLSA status for information technology personnel.

Lori Haight noted that the next InTouch deadline is October 27th.  The Forum will hold its fourth annual scavenger hunt in tandem with the October 20th Employee Appreciation Fair.  She asked delegates to disperse envelopes on the day of the event.  Matt Banks asked for volunteers to work the Forum table during the Fair.  Katie Musgrove noted that the Carolina Blood Drive committee will host a table nearby the Forum’s table.

Clare Counihan introduced resolution 2017-03 on first reading regarding interpersonal violence.  She noted that this is the fifth time, Bryan Andregg moved that the Forum suspend its rules and consider this resolution on first reading for passage.  Natiaya Neal seconded this motion.  Arlene Medder asked how the resolution will impact employees.  Counihan said that the resolution asks the University to continue to provide training in this area as paid work time.

The motion to suspend the rules was approved via a two-thirds majority of members present.  The Forum then voted in favor of approving resolution 2017-03.  The Chair thanked the authors of the resolution for their work.

The Chair said that the Forum Executive Committee had discussed rules of engagement for discussion, noting that these conversations are layered and complex.  She noted the Forum’s position on the University organizational chart as advisory to the Chancellor.  She was saddened to report an attitude among some employees that others “do not care what I think when bringing issues and do not think my voice matters,” along with worries about supervisory retaliation for remarks during Forum meetings.  She said that this impression is important because vocal people can feel retaliated against or ostracized.

The Chair recalled the limited feedback she received in response to a request for input on the Employee Forum University Day speech.  Natiaya Neal said that delegates might have needed a polite nudge as a reminder.  Arlene Medder suggested providing a deadline reminder so that delegates could set a date to accomplish this task.  Lori Haight thought she did not have anything to add to the Chair’s initial draft.  The Chair asked how to counter this general feeling.  Bryan Andregg urged her to keep asking for input.  Alan Moran said that he had mistakenly failed to respond.  He worried that everyone thought someone else would respond.

The Chair urged delegates to feel more confident and not be deterred by the possibility of making mistakes, and suggested that the “gold” is usually in the mistakes.  Arlene Medder urged delegates to speak from the heart.  Natiaya Neal thought that delegates should use this opportunity to voice their opinion on University matters.  The Chair commented that the presence of media seems to undercut the perceived ability to speak candidly.  Kewana Smith recalled that previous Forum Chair Charles Streeter had been more hands-on which had possibly led delegates to rest on their laurels a bit.  Clare Counihan suggested that the Chair could be more specific when asking for feedback.  Jim Potts was surprised not to see a resolution on the Board of Governors question from the September meeting.  He asked that the Forum find a way to maintain continuity from meeting to meeting in its treatment of issues.  The Chair asked that delegates submit issues two weeks in advance of meetings so that these are included in the monthly agenda packet.

The Chair said that there have been several discussions regarding how the Forum’s electoral divisions work.  She suggested that the Forum send one introductory e-mail to all staff with information from every Forum delegate.  She gave delegates one week to submit this information.

Mariel Eaves suggested that Forum delegates collaborate on a form related to how delegates speak to one another.  Clare Counihan noted the need to treat people and ideas respectfully.  The Chair said that respectful dialogue does not include eyerolling or talking while others talk.  She said that delegates who are not listening miss the opportunity to learn something during meetings.

The Chair asked how delegates could respectfully disagree.  Arlene Medder said that asking delegates to restate potentially disruptive comments could promote understanding.  David Rogers said that exploring conflict resolution techniques could assist delegates in obtaining important shifts of perspective resulting from discussion.

The Chair recalled a CNN panel debating the Colin Kaepernick issue in which both panelists, who previously had little understanding of the other’s perspective, found a way to talk through the issue and come to a better understanding.  University Ombuds officer Wayne Blair commented that the UNC-Chapel Hill community has difficulty disagreeing on issues in open meetings.  He said that the Forum provides a model for discussions in the greater UNC community.  The Chair hoped that Forum service would soon become a professional development opportunity for employees in this area, among others.  Chris van Vleek said that increasing publicity about Forum activities in departments could contribute to an increased public profile.

Mariel Eaves said that a reason that she does not speak often is that the Forum does not seem to acknowledge the power differential at the University and in society.  She said that society implicitly tells some of its members that their opinion does not matter.  She said that some issues at the University are deemed non-political when they are in fact political to those employees whose lives are impacted by these questions.  Eaves said that the impetus is put on the person with less social power to make those in power feel better.  She said that a person affected negatively by eyerolling during discussions likely does not face the same amount of implied, life-threatening violence resultant from current legislative attacks on parts of the University.  She said that the stakes are higher when one’s values are under scrutiny in what is considered a political job.

The Chair thanked Eaves for her remarks.  She understood that different levels of power are involved and suppressed in campus discussions.  Clare Counihan drew a distinction between individual supervisors and outside legislators designating Eaves’ job an improper use of University resources.  She said that Eaves’ position makes her job by nature political.

Felicia Washington noted that when delegates first are elected to the Forum, their supervisors receive a communication stating the importance of Forum service from her office.  She said it would be very easy to send out another communication, reminding supervisors that retaliation for Forum discussions is not permissible.

The Chair noted that some rules regarding discussions are available in the Forum handbook on the website.  She pledged to distribute this information further.

In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:25 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Matt Banks, Recording Secretary

 

 

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