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defined HR system as “a seat at the table”. In spring 2011, Ross requested an informal survey of University system staff. Staff were asked to respond to the legislative initiatives, in particular, on Personnel Flexibility. The 42 pages of replies supported existing Employee Forum resolutions opposing the removal of staff from the oversight of the State Personnel Commission. In the November 2011 Staff Assembly newsletter, the current Chair, Chuck Brink, wrote about a plan he proposed to gather feedback from staff on the bill and the Personnel Flexibility proposal. At a Nov. 18 meeting, Brink and Vice-Chair Pernell Bartlett met with campus Chairs to “give details and instructions on how the Staff Assembly will develop best practices and/or principles for a list of categories that would comprise Human Resource polices.” Jackie Overton, UNC-CH Employee Forum Chair, has provided information on this plan and the initial process of gathering input from staff across the UNC system. The approach is to identify the various HR topics of concern to staff and to assign different topics to the individual campus staff organizations for review. More than 30 items were distributed to campuses and General Administration. The Employee Forum at UNC-CH has been assigned the topics of “Due Process” and “At will.” Based on the informal survey and the resolutions related to Personnel Flexibility, the Employee Forum has essentially completed its review of these items. Other campuses are collecting information in anticipation of a Feb. 27 deadline. It is possible the information will be available at either the March 14 Executive Committee Meeting, or the March 23 Campus Chairs Meeting. Perhaps this review process is part of the staff’s “seat at the table.” Details on the overall plan for defining staff involvement in developing criteria for

Staffers: now is time to weigh in You are cordially on system ‘personnel flexibility’ invited to a milestone
By Marc



The UNC-system Staff Assembly is seeking employee feedback on a legislative proposal to create a human resources system for the university separate from other state employees. Senate Bill 575 contains legislative initiatives proposed by the General Administration of the UNC system. Items span a range of issues based on input from across the UNC-system schools. The Personnel Flexibility initiative recommends the development of a separate human resource system under the oversight of the Board of Governors. Details on the nature of a proposed new HR system were not included, but UNC-system President Thomas Ross (and others) has stated that staff will have a voice in the development of the separate HR system. you may have heard of this participation in the yet-to-be

Keep up with Forum news on the InTouch blog
If you are looking for Employee Forum news in between print editions of InTouch, make sure to visit our blog. Go to intouch. for photos, links to interesting articles and to learn ways to get involved with the Forum and the UNC community.



| r E A D U S o N l I N E : F o r U m .U N C . E D U | JA N UA ry 2012

Who: All staff employees Why: To observe the 20th
year of the Employee Forum When: 10:30 a.m. March 7 Where: Trillium A&B, Friday Center

The Employee Forum celebrates 20 years of service to staff
In March, the Employee Forum will observe its 20th year of service to the staff employees of UNC-Chapel Hill. We’d like to invite staff employees to join us for a morning of celebration at 10:30 a.m. March 7 at the Friday Center. The Forum was chartered in 1992 by former Chancellor Paul Hardin, who saw the importance of having an organization that could evaluate and speak to the interests and concerns of staff employees, without whose daily labors the University could not function. In the 20 years since that day, the Forum has become a powerful presence helping to guide Carolina policies and actions. The theme of the March celebration, “A United Force for Change,” reflects this proud history of achievement. The celebration will feature several special guests, including all of the chancellors since the Forum’s inception and many of our past Forum chairs. During a short program, our poet laureate, Jeffrey Beam, will recite the Forum’s officially adopted poem, “Song of the University Worker.” There will be games, door prizes, give-aways and a special look-back at highlights in the Forum’s history. And, of course, what milestone could be properly celebrated without cake and punch! We hope you will join us in Trillium A&B at the Friday Center on March 7th to celebrate the Forum and the staff it has so ably represented all these years.

see HR cHanges, page 4


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Helpful Carolina Kids Camp a victim of budget cuts
By Dan BarMMer

Nearly 20 years of affordable, quality summer childcare for the children of UNC employees came to an end last year when Carolina Kids Camp was closed due to budget cuts. In 1991, Dr. John Billing, former chair of the University’s D e p a r t me nt of P hys i c a l Education, Exercise and Sport Science, recognized the insufficient number of quality summer programs available for schoolage children in the Chapel Hill area. He contacted the Office of Human Resources to propose joint sponsorship of a summer camp program on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill. A proposal for the establishment of such a program was submitted to the Chancellor’s Administrative Council in October 1991. It was approved in January 1992, and the pilot program, Carolina Kids Camp, launched that summer. The mission of Carolina Kids Camp was to provide a safe,

enjoyable and exciting experience for campers. Carolina Kids Camp was open to the children of UNC-Chapel Hill’s permanent employees and students, as well as employees of UNC Healthcare and employees of the General Alumni Association. For nearly two decades, the camp served a diverse community and focused on spontaneity, fun, and building relationships. Recently, state budget pressures resulted in a decision to close Carolina Kids Camp. According to HR, much of the staff time required to administer the camp wasn’t reflected in its budget; thus, the budget didn’t accurately reflect the full financial cost to the university. HR staff felt that increasing the tuition for campers without offering more services was not a viable solution. In addition, the continuing lack of dedicated space for the camp meant that each year, HR staff was required to negotiate appropriate space for camp activities, a task complicated by construction and renovation efforts on campus. Each summer, CKC served an average of 130 families, 5 days a week, for 10 weeks, thus pro-

viding 6,500 days of care. The camp’s closure creates a hardship for Carolina families who relied on it to provide highquality, affordable, summer childcare. Its cancellation presents significant logistical and financial challenges for Carolina employees and student parents who had planned to enroll their children. The Chancellor’s Childcare Advisory Committee is encouraged to learn that HR is in conversation with Campus Recreation and others about possible avenues to re-establish this program at some point. Others with an interest in reestablishing the camp are conFile photo courtesy oF the Daily tar heel sidering options. Although they arguably do Campers and counselors have fun during a Summer 2008 session of not offer the same level of serCarolina Kids Camp, which provided summer care for children of employees. vice for the price as Carolina Kids Camp, other camps in the area to and major contributions to this story may suffice for some parents. include a reference to “CKC” in from members of The Chancellor’s Childcare Advisory Committee. HR has a list of these alterna- the subject line. Thanks! Source Note: I appreciate the tives: If you were using the camp or had planned to use it in the future, AND will face hardship as a result of the closure, the Employee Forum would appreBy Dan BarMMer ciate hearing your story. Please CHAIR, COMPENSATION AND BENEFITS COMMITTEE send your thoughts via email

Grappling with gas prices

Open letter to Chancellor Thorp
In May of 2010, NC Senators linda Garrou, David Hoyle and A. B. Swindell sponsored General Assembly Senate Bill 1450, which sought “to establish a [minimum] retirement age for members of the teachers’ and state employees’ retirement system,…to eliminate longevity pay for state employees and officers who begin service on or after January 1, 2011, to make changes in the State Health Plan for new employees, and to change the definition of ‘law enforcement officer’ for purposes of benefits for new employees.” After learning about Senate Bill 1450, the Employee Forum’s Compensation & Benefits committee wrote the following letter (unanimously supported by the Forum’s Executive Committee) to Chancellor Holden Thorp: Dear Chancellor Thorp, The Employee Forum and the Staff of the University of North Carolina are distressed by the contents of proposed Senate Bill 1450. Among other things, this bill seeks to eliminate longevity Pay and establish a minimum age of 60 years for retirement benefits for new employees, effective January 1, 2011. With a culture of legislation that is eroding benefits, making healthcare unaffordable and causing negative salary growth, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as the University System as a whole, will not be able to recruit and retain qualified staff. Recently, you shared with us the results of the Bain & Company Employee Survey, which revealed that employee benefits is the top concern of employees and that 56% of the staff believe the University needs to change significantly if it wishes to be successful in the next five years. Chancellor Thorp, we do not believe that Senate Bill 1450 is the kind of change the University System wants or needs to be successful, to compete with our peer institutions and the private sector. If Senate Bill 1450 passes and longevity Pay becomes another great thing of the past, coupled with a minimum retirement age, it will make it increasingly difficult for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the State of North Carolina to hire career staff employees. By this letter we, the Employee Forum, trust that you and your administration will understand the commitment and pride we have in the people that make this University the institution it is. We think it is important that you open a dialogue on this matter within the University community as soon as possible. In closing, the Employee Forum requests that your administration support the staff in this matter and that you convey to the General administration our position on Senate Bill 1450. The bill was dropped for the most recent session, but may be introduced again for the next one. you may read the bill here: http:// Contact information for NC Senators may be found here: http://www.



Dan BarMMer

With gas prices now at $3.50 and above in parts of our area, an additional 4-cent per gallon gas tax increase on January 1st, and another increase in gas prices looming, the Employee Forum’s Compensation & Benefits Committee is again seeking input on how departments and units currently assist employees since gas skyrocked around 2005. The cost of living has kept rising over the years, yet salaries remain stagnant. To reduce the effect of the financial hardship caused by increasingly expensive commuting costs, the Employee Forum believes departments should work with employees to offer options to the traditional 5-day, 40-hour workweek. When gas reached nearly $4 per gallon in 2008, more University managers worked with employees to offer flexible scheduling and telecommuting options. This accommodation was the Employee Forum’s formal recommendation to the Chancellors in September of 2005, April of 2006, June of 2007 and again in June of 2008. Several departments continue to offer flexible scheduling and/or telecommuting options, but many do not. Some have since rescinded. According to HR, some departments are unable to do so, partly because of a reduced workforce and increased work demands within offices hit by recent budget cuts. Does your department or unit offer flexible scheduling or telecommuting options? Vanpooling or carpooling with subsidies? If not, why? We’d like to know if having/not having these options currently affects you. Please send your responses to the Compensation & Benefits Committee Chair at and include the word “GAS” in the subject line.

inTouch is a publication of the Employee Forum at UNCChapel Hill. Contributors: Jerry Waller, editor; Brenda Denzler, guest

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assistant editor; Steve Hutton, Dan Barmmer, James Holman, Marc ter Horst. Production: The Daily Tar Heel

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Pros and cons: two sides of personnel act debate
eDItorIal opInIon By steve Hutton
Thirteen Halloweens ago, UNC Healthcare was fashioned by the General Assembly from UNC Hospitals and the clinical components of UNC’s School of Medicine. At the same time, the legislature granted this new entity (and the Medical Faculty Practice at East Carolina University) greater autonomy over their personnel. These institutions were no longer subject to most policies set by the Office of State Personnel or the State Personnel Commission. Employee compensation was no longer stipulated by the General Assembly. After 13 years, most employees of these institutions are “at-will,” meaning they can be terminated without any reason being given, that is, without “just cause.” While these institutions have policies for the filing and disposition of grievances, there is no legal requirement that they do so. An “at-will” employee is not legally entitled to “due process,” except for situations covered by federal or state law, such as race, age, or gender discrimination. If the grievance process is otherwise flawed and results in unfair outcomes, no legal remedy is available to employees. In 2001, the UNC System began consideration of “Personnel Flexibility,” meaning that the UNC General Administration wanted much the same autonomy over all university employees that UNC Healthcare had been granted. UNC Chapel Hill was selected to study the concept. A task force divided into two groups, one to survey employee opinion, and the second to research human resource “best practices” at peer institutions. In August, 2002, the Employee Forum issued the first of its resolutions on the matter, essentially stating that the issue needed careful consideration. In 2007, General Administration, under the direction of President Bowles and his Tomorrow Commission initiative, resurrected the proposal, this time calling it “management flexibility.” In regards to those sections of the Tomorrow Commission report that dealt with university employees, I found the report to be very anti-publicemployee. Since then, the Employee Forum has issued four additional resolutions on this subject. The last, in June 2011, was in response to General Administration’s legislative initiative, Senate Bill 575, the Higher Education Efficiency and Flexibility Act. The resolution explicitly states that UNC Chapel Hill employees want a grievance process that requires due process and, for employees covered under the State Personnel Act, that management must provide a just cause for disciplinary actions. The resolution further delineates many of the terms of employment currently provided by law that employees want to retain in law. These include career status after two years of employment, paid holidays, paid vacation and sick leave, longevity pay, severance pay, voluntary shared leave, re-employment rights subsequent to a layoff, veteran’s preference, whistleblower protection and freedom from political coercion, and the right to communicate with legislators. During consideration of this resolution, many Forum delegates were swayed by the fact that the terms and conditions of employment at most of UNC’s peer institutions are stipulated by collective bargaining agreements. Such contractual arrangements are superior under the law than policies, the enforcement of which is at the discretion of management. The only way to provide guarantees equal to those found in peer contracts is to retain North Carolina’s statutes that govern the conditions of employment. SB575 was referred to the legislature’s Education/Higher Education Committee. It is expected to be taken up again by that committee during the short session, beginning next May. In the meantime, the UNC Staff Assembly will also consider SB575. The Assembly’s Chairperson, Chuck Brink, has asked the Human Resources Diversity and Benefits committee to research best practices at peer institutions. That committee is chaired by Danny Nguyen, a delegate from Chapel Hill. Brink has also asked the Chapel Hill Employee Forum to continue its research on due process rights. Some observers have noted a potential bias in the Staff Assembly, in that it includes delegates who are EPA (Exempt from the State Personnel Act), as do the various staff forums and senates at the constituent institutions. These delegates will be considering broad changes to the rights and conditions of employment of SPA employees (Subject to the State Personnel Act), changes that are likely to have little or no effect on EPA employees. One proposed solution is for the Staff Assembly to record any votes it may take on these issues separately by EPA and SPA delegates. As the issue moves into its fourteenth year, it is clear that the opinions of employees and of management regarding “flexibility” are more divergent than ever. Proposed Section 18.1 of Senate Bill 575 The Board of Governors shall adopt policies concerning the terms and conditions of employment of employees of The University of North Carolina, including employee compensation, benefits, work and office hours, holidays, leave, disability benefits, temporary and supplemental pay for injured employees, position classification, appraisals, service and incentive awards, grievances, discipline, and any other human resources policy the Board deems appropriate to promote the recruitment and retention of capable, diligent, and effective employees. Employees of The University of North Carolina are deemed State employees who are exempt from the State Personnel Act, but subject to the provisions of Articles 6 and 7 of Chapter 126 of the General Statutes. (Note: Article 6 covers equal employment and compensation opportunity, and Article 7 covers privacy of personnel records.) If the accompanying table of “Arguments For and Against” seems more weighted on the “Against” side, this is because to date General Administration has chosen not to support their case in writing. Arguments For Employee due process rights can be provided in policies set by the UNC Board of Governors. These rights will have as much force as under current law. Employees will still be protected by other federal and state laws governing discrimination. Arguments Against The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states have the right to determine how to establish due process rights for their employees. NC case law is definitive in that such rights can only be granted to state employees by statute or contract, not by policies or employee handbooks. There are frequently situations of unjust discipline that aren’t covered by federal or state laws. Being covered by laws doesn’t mean that the universities will automatically abide by them. For example, during the current economic downturn, many older employees have been forced out of their jobs. We need legal assurances and specifics in advance… not a pig in a poke.

We d o n ’ t w a n t t o promulgate specific policies in advance, because we don’t want the legislature to modify our proposals. We will still have a grievance process.

Yes, but there will be no law that allows employees to appeal unjust dismissal to the Office of Administrative Hearings and the State Personnel Commission. The universities have numerous categories of employment. For faculty there are tenure and nontenure tracks; there are research only positions; there are instructors, lecturers, and teaching assistants. Some have fixed-term contracts. Some have 9 month and others 12 month contracts. There are student employees and temps. If there can be these many categories for 30% of employees, then having two broad categories for the other 70% cannot be overly burdensome. Career-banding has not benefitted most employees. Those who were already making higher incomes were the ones who received raises. Most staff jobs are similar across state agencies. The legislature’s recent government performance report (GPAC II) provides specific, concrete proposals for updating and improving the system proposals that everyone can know and evaluate in advance. Another advantage: The improvements would affect all state employees - not just university employees. The BOG as a group, while successful and politically connected, does not have credentials in higher education that are any better than those held by the General Assembly. For decades staff has been denied even non-voting seats on the BOG and the Boards of Trustees of the separate universities. But staff has had a voice with legislators, and negotiating the terms and conditions of employment with the legislature has historically been more successful than negotiations with the BOG or the Boards of Trustees. General Administration only has a handful of HR employees, and they are not capable of performing the functions of OSP. Either OSP employees will have to be split off to work within the university system, or there will have to be a substantial number of new hires. Both OSP and UNC HR could end up totally incapable of providing adequate services. This will be a duplication of function that creates bigger government.

It is cumbersome and inefficient to operate an HR system for both SPA and EPA employees. (SPA: subject to the State Personnel Act, General Statute 126. EPA: exempt from most provisions of the State Personnel Act) We will maintain careerbanding, while other agencies appear likely to abandon it. Operating a university system is different from other state agencies. We need a system tailored to the specific needs of universities and their employees. The UNC BOG is more capable of regulating university human resources than the legislature.

General Administration is capable of handling the functions of OSP.


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‘Team cleaning’ not good for housekeepers, cleanliness


n March 2011, the University retained PRM Consulting Group to assess the climate and culture of the UNC Housekeeping Department. T h e Fa c i l i t i e s S e r v i c e s Department, a division of campus services within the University, manages the housekeeping services along with grounds, building maintenance and other ancillary services. Approximately 400 housekeeping employees have the expectation of being treated respectfully and fairly, of working in an environment free from threats, intimidation and harassment, and of being enabled to do their best job for the University. Unfortunately, some housekeeping employees have an especially difficult time doing their best work due to the ways that they are forced to do it. The department is operating what is known as a “team cleaning” (or OS1) process that reduces the UNC housekeeping employee to a less-than-respected cipher in the system, rather than supporting them as intelligent, hard-working and conscientious employees. This team cleaning system specifies the exact quantities of supplies and the exact techniques that should be used to do each individual task during a work day—and the exact number of minutes it should take to do each task. Worker productivity is evaluated based on adherence to the time and supply restrictions that this system specifies. Problems with team cleaning were mentioned in the PRM report. The problems with team cleaning fall into three broad categories: cleanliness, cost and implementation. The requirements of the team cleaning system force housekeepers to move very swiftly through their assigned areas, often doing the minimum amount of work to make the area seem “clean” on the surface. Many employees who have been forced to use this system feel that it ignores the basic cleaning techniques that would allow them to produce a good quality of work, making areas safe, sanitary and suitable for the faculty and student populations that we serve. Currently, team cleaning (as it is being implemented) does not allow time for the amount of proper cleaning that would leave an area fresh and ready to be used again. In academic buildings, it does not allow time for cleaning classroom boards; for the removal of trash; or for

James Holman Chair, staff Relations, Policies and Practices Committee Grievances support Person and Panelist moving, wiping and repositioning chairs, tables and desks in rooms that have been left in disarray. Under team cleaning, these tasks are considered to be infrequently needed and only marginal in importance. However, they are important according to APPA standards, and failure to do them results in work that is below the standards required under green cleaning. The most critical areas where team cleaning is affecting the quality of work are in housing, where employees work from 7:00 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. in public areas (lounges and laundry rooms) and from 9:15 a.m. until 3:45 p.m. in assigned area blocks (for instance, bathrooms). They are given only short periods of 3 minutes for certain cleaning procedures. There is no allotted time for: n Cleaning bathrooms and showers efficiently and effectively n Cleaning kitchen areas well n Cleaning lounges after 9:15 a.m. n Changing and refreshing cleaning solutions during the workday n Traveling from suite to suite n Traveling from floor to floor when, in some cases, no elevators exist n Carrying buckets, mops and other cleaning supplies and equipment from floor to floor without elevators n Collecting and properly disposing of trash Some areas in housing are also cleaned once a week with acidbased chemicals that are unsafe to the students and the employees — chemicals that are then disposed of through our drains and into the city sewer system. Despite the fact that team cleaning was promoted as a cost-neutral process, it appears that this has not in fact happened. Team cleaning requires
File photo courtesy oF the Daily tar heel

Housekeepers and their student supporters hold a demonstration in front of South Building in Fall 2010. They asked Chancellor Holden Thorp for improved working conditions for housekeepers. that the University buy all of its cleaning supplies (cleaners and equipment) from the one vendor who sells the “team cleaning” brand. Employees say that the costs of the system exceed what the University used to pay for the supplies and equipment to do the same tasks. Perhaps the cost of the teamcleaning system combined with the ever-growing number of layoffs of the past several years help to explain the third serious defect of the system: its implementation. Team cleaning is built on the premise that there is a specified number of employees who work together in an area, with each one assigned to do very specific, limited tasks, using very specific techniques and supplies/equipment, within precisely calculated lengths of time for each task—over and over and over again all day. When team cleaning was originally proposed just a few years ago, housekeeping employees and the Employee Forum were repeatedly assured that there would always be a full team of workers. Otherwise, of course, the system would not work. Despite these reassurances, there are seldom full teams of housekeeping employees operating in areas where team cleaning is used, which causes a great deal of stress and hardship for those few who do comprise the “team.” They wind up being expected to do the tasks that the system specifies for them plus the tasks that would have been assigned to the non-existent team member(s). It is requested that in the process of implementing recommendations from the PRM report there will be an intervention to discourage all of the restrictive cleaning processes mentioned above. These processes are not working: They disadvantage employees who really want to do their best work in the areas they serve. They reduce morale by setting up an environment where employees are micro-managed to the point that they become mere ciphers in a system—all in the name of “efficiency.” They are more costly than what they were supposed to be. And most importantly, they disallow safe, sanitary conditions. As time goes on, these conditions may cause student discomfort and dissatisfaction, especially in view of the fact that their fees, which are increasing, are supposed to help cover these services. Ultimately, the team cleaning process has not allowed the University to be a good steward of the taxpayer’s dollars. Terminating the team cleaning process will, ironically, result in greater efficiency, less cost and a cleaner University.

HR Changes, from page 1
an alternative HR system remain undeveloped. Regardless, this review process has the potential to best represent input from all SPA and EPA-Non Faculty staff in the university system across the state. Using the individual campus organizations to channel information to General Administration through the Staff Assembly provides a systematic, transparent approach to address these complex issues. It is thus critical for staff to participate in forums, respond to emails and otherwise submit information and perspectives to representatives in campus staff organizations. Once the staff organizations review the information, it is imperative that Staff Assembly delegates, as a duly elected representative advisory body, represent the overall will, opinions and perspectives of their campus organization. Once presented to the SA, the information may be distributed to the other campuses for further review. The inclusion of thousands of staff across the UNC system in the discussion of Personnel Flexibility is not a trivial matter. Considering the many perspectives and different demands on our time, we must prepare to engage in discussions and remain receptive and respectful of others. As Ross has stated, it is best for the discussion to progress in an open, transparent manner. If you are unable to locate information on the Staff Assembly website, the Employee Forum will continue to provide information through its listservs and website. For More Information: n See a complete listing of issues related to personnel flexibility and the campus tasked with exploring them on the Employee Forum blog: http: n See the resolutions at http://forum.unc. edu/resolutions.htm n Scheduling information is available at n The UNC-CH Employee Forum website is