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The Daily Tar Heel

Employee Forum may bring back Better Workplace task force

At Wednesday’s forum meeting, Christine Greenberg, the director of finance and human resources for the Study Abroad Office, could not hold back her frustration at how shorthanded her department has become in recent months.

“From a personal perspective of working at the University, it is just sheer frustration,” said Greenberg, who is the chairwoman of the personnel issues committee. “We are working around the clock.”

To combat the issue of low staff retention as well as what Charles Streeter called “general low morale on campus,” Streeter, the chairman of the forum, proposed looking into reviving the Chancellor’s Task Force for the Better Workplace.

“I’ve been urged by the Executive Committee (of the forum) that we do something — and do something now,” said Streeter, who works as a technology analyst for Student Affairs.

While Streeter stressed this discussion is still in the preliminary stages, the vote to consider creating a new iteration of the task force was unanimous.

The original task force was created in 2004 and was chaired by then-Chancellor James Moeser and then-Employee Forum Chairman Tommy Griffin. It included faculty, staff and even students in 2004, Streeter said Wednesday.

The task force put out a report that listed dozens of short-term and medium-term goals that would improve the University workplace for all involved, including the creation of the University Ombuds Office. However, some of the goals that addressed complaints more than a decade ago are still pertinent to staff today, including items regarding better access to parking on and around campus and affordable healthcare.

The healthcare issue rang especially true Wednesday after a presentation by Ashley Nicklis, senior director of benefits and work life for human resources, revealed the state employee health plan’s board of trustees approved a monthly premium increase of 2.83 percent.

Nicklis stressed this increase is not final until the legislature approves it, but that did not slow the audible grumbling of the forum. Nicklis also had to break the news that wellness credits — health checkpoints that, if met, reduce monthly premiums — were going to be more limited in the coming year.

Nicklis said she has also been frustrated with the increase, and her office has had daily phone calls with health plan officials to explain where UNC’s employees are coming from.

“We try to explain to them they need to step back,” Nicklis said. “They have to take the current state of affairs into consideration.”

She said she’s been most frustrated with the response from state officials when she voices her side’s concerns.

“If you’re going to invite us to the table, then listen to us,” she said.


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