Current Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:02:00 -0400
The University will hire an external consultant to address a range of complaints raised by housekeepers in recent months, Chancellor Holden Thorp said at the Employee Forum meeting Wednesday.
“I want to help everybody who’s had difficulty in this situation, and I’m happy to make this investment of time and some money to pay an external consultant to see if we can come up with some new ideas,” Thorp said.
Jackie Overton, chairwoman of the forum, said four themes were expressed at the meetings with Thorp: retaliation, intimidation, management issues and inconsistent application of rules.
Housekeepers presented their complaints to Thorp in a previous meeting. The meeting followed weeks of controversy within the housekeeping ranks that began with a debate over the Wage-Hour Policy, which prohibits employees from taking additional breaks without prior approval from their supervisors.
“He heard quite an earful,” Overton said. “And after that meeting, we had three others, because the chancellor really wanted their concerns to be heard fully.
“So the decision was, after much discussion, bring in an outside source,” Overton added. “Let’s not let anybody at the University handle this, because there can always be the accusation that it’s tainted.”
Brenda Malone, vice chancellor for human resources, said each employee will be able to voice concerns to the consultant.
“One of the things that is absolutely a requirement for the successful bidder is that they will engage and give the opportunity to every single individual in housekeeping services, whether they are staff or management or whoever, the opportunity to have some one-on-one engagement,” she said.
Malone described the ideal consultant as understanding the importance of an equitable environment.
“We have no incentive to get anyone other than someone who can help us straighten out the communication and understand the various problems,” she said, adding that the consultant will not evaluate of the structure or functionality of housekeeping services, but rather offer means to address problems with the work environment.
Thorp also addressed budget concerns, saying a 6.5 percent tuition increase has been forwarded to the UNC Board of Governors.
The University has been asked to provide proposals that include 10 percent cuts.
“We have resisted being super specific about how we’d do that, because we believe we can fight to keep from having the cuts be at that magnitude,” Thorp said.
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