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Resolution 20-02, Regarding the need to explore all other options before impacting Staff income.

RESOLUTION OF THE EMPLOYEE FORUM
THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL

September 2, 2020

WHEREAS, it is the stated mission of the Employee Forum to seek out and address constructively issues affecting Staff, Faculty and Students of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and

WHEREAS, the staff are exerting extraordinary efforts to implement Roadmap for Fall 2020 initiatives during the 2020 COVID 19 global pandemic; and

WHEREAS, the Board of Governors Chairman Randy Ramsey has solicited plans from the 17 University system institutions for their plans to reduce budgets due to a possible decrease in enrollments by between 25% and 50% as reported in NC Policy Watch and the News and Observer; and

WHEREAS, Chairman Ramsey requested information including “which programs will be shuttered, which positions will be furloughed, laid off or eliminated entirely and all other details of how a 25% to 50% spending reduction will be handled”; and

WHEREAS, as of August 19th all undergraduate classes were moved on-line, which will further impact the university’s precarious financial situation; and

WHEREAS, we acknowledge and appreciate the response from Chancellor Guskiewicz in his letter dated August 4, 2020 wherein he stated that “the UNC System asked us to project budget impacts based on various enrollment decreases of up to 25% and 50%, not overall income, revenue or spending” and “we anticipate there will be additional financial implications as a result of the pandemic”; and

WHEREAS, we appreciate the opportunity to formally make suggestions to lessen the financial impact on Faculty and Staff, and to prepare and brace ourselves for this worst-case scenario,

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Employee Forum hereby requests the following be considered when making these difficult decisions:

  • Non-personnel cuts – Please exhaust all other options before cutting funding for personnel. We understand that the cuts requested will be for recurring dollars; however, sustaining cuts to non-personnel items can achieve the same goal.  A few non-personnel budget areas that could potentially sustain cuts might include: Meetings and Amenities, Travel, Food, In-Person Continuing Education Options, Furniture, and Non-Critical Renovations.
  • Exempt lower wage employees from across-the-board pay cuts – In the event that across-the-board pay cuts are applied, please consider exempting employees who earn below a certain threshold. Some institutions have set this threshold at below $100,000.   A 10% pay cut is much more harmful for someone living paycheck to paycheck than for someone earning six figures.
  • Race, Equity and Inclusion – We ask that the planned cuts not disproportionately affect our Black employees, our employees of color, or any other vulnerable communities on campus. We ask that the plan ensures that these communities not be subjected to discrimination or bias during this process as these communities are already disproportionately affected by the pandemic.  We ask that this plan minimize further disruption due to economic volatility, and include protection from retaliatory acts or intimidation for choices based on personal and community safety.
  • Discretionary funds – Leverage discretionary funds, trust funds or endowment funds before cutting personnel. Use these funds for administrative stipends or portions of salary lines.
  • Decision-making team – Include rank-and-file employees in the discussions regarding cuts to create a more balanced conversation around operationalizing a plan to keep programs running with fewer employees. These would include active members of the working group during the entire decision-making process.
  • Transparent timeline – The loss of livelihood is devastating, and we ask that there be transparency in the timeline for any detrimental employment actions. These conversations will be difficult, but if we are candid with one-another, we can better plan for the worst-case scenario.  This transparency will also benefit the institution by demonstrating that we do not believe in making decisions in such a way as to leave people feeling blind-sided.
  • An early retirement package – If an employee is within 5 years of retirement, provide an early retirement package so that these employees can choose to retire early to minimize the negative financial impact. This would also reduce the number of potential layoffs.
  • Layoff/RIF policy – We respectfully request that no modifications to the current layoff/RIF policy be made. However, if modifications are made, we request that those changes be communicated as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary surprises or inaccurate assumptions, and that those changes benefit the employee.
  • Communication – In the event that there is a written plan, please communicate that plan as widely as possible so that people can appropriately respond and adjust to a possible new employment reality.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Employee Forum appreciates the opportunity to engage and continue our important partnership.

Signed on behalf of the Delegates of the Employee Forum

 

Shayna Hill, Chair

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