Employee Relations Council Meeting Minutes
December 1, 2004
I. Phil Bright opened the meeting with a welcome and introduction of those present*:
Sheryl Breeden - Gooch/School of Business/McCombs Center
Phillip Bright - Director, Human Resources
Cathy Brown - University Center
Tenna Bynum - Gooch/School of Business/McCombs Center
Mickey Chappell - Housing Custodial
Kristy Crocker - Gooch/School of Business/McCombs Center
Lt. Ray Coleman - Guest, Dept. of Public Safety
Dr. Nick Dunagan - Chancellor
Cherie Edwards - Administration Building
Lana Ferrell - EPS/Fine Arts/Brehm
Johnny Henderson - Building Services
Trudy Henderson - Elam Center/Fieldhouse/Football/Children's Center
Al Hooten - Vice Chancellor, Finance & Administration
Karen Hussey - Administration Building
Judy Jones - Humanities/Sociology/Student Health & Housing Receptionist
Avery Lawson - Building Services
Tony Maisano - HVAC
Amy Mistric - Administration Building
Nan Murphey - Library
Judy Sandefer - Employee Relations Board Representative
Sarae Seratt - Administration Building
Susan Waterfield - Humanities/Sociology/Student Health/Housing Receptionist
*Since the recent Employee Relations Council election, this group represented a combination of members from 2004 and 2005.
II. Christmas Breakfast Update
Nan Murphey presented a brief update on preparations for the Chancellor's Christmas Breakfast which will be held on December 21 in the Boling University Center Ballroom from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. She informed the group that a fruit, juice and coffee bar would be available this year beginning at 7:00 a.m.; an effort to encourage everyone to visit with co-workers rather than stand in line until time to eat. The breakfast will be followed by a brief period of entertainment. RSVP's need to be called in as soon as possible. Nan asked for volunteers to assist in handing out nametags that morning. Trudy Henderson, Johnny Henderson, Karen Hussey, and Judy Sandefer volunteered to arrive shortly after 6:00 a.m. to help with this. She stated that if someone had not received an invitation, they should let her know or contact Mr. Bright if there were questions about who should attend the breakfast.
III. Selection of the Jennifer L. Bennett Career Development Fund Committee
Mr. Bright asked for five volunteers or nominations for ERC Representatives to serve on the Jennifer L. Bennett Career Development Fund Committee in 2005. This committee wasn't staffed last year, but Phil has received several requests this year. The fund was established to assist non-exempt employees in their efforts to further their education through training, professional development conferences, etc., for which their department could not lend financial assistance. A common use of this fund is to help pay the registration fee to sit for the CPS exam. Kristy Crocker, Cathy Brown, Nan Murphey, Tenna Bynum, and Cherie Edwards volunteered to serve in 2005. Membership on this committee begins this month and Phil will be in contact soon to set up a meeting to begin reviewing requests.
IV. Selection of the UT Martin Employee Relations Board Representative
Mr. Bright explained that the appointment to the Employee Relations Board is a two-year appointment which starts in January 2005 and asked Judy Sandefer, as the current ERB representative, to expound on what duties the appointment entails. Judy related her experience on the ERB had been much like how things are handled on campus through the ERC, except that it was a system-wide board with representatives from every UT campus. She stated that she had enjoyed the meetings and had learned a lot about the University system and met many interesting folks from the other campuses. Mr. Hooten commented that the chief business officers often look for feedback from this group concerning policy issues and changes. Mr. Bright asked if there were any volunteers, and Karen Hussey volunteered. Cathy Brown was nominated but declined the nomination; therefore, Karen Hussey will be the ERB representative for our campus for 2005-06.
V. Discussion of Charges for Staff Parking
Lt. Ray Coleman of the Department of Public Safety attended the meeting to address this issue. Steve Jahr was slated to attend the meeting but was unable to attend. Lt. Coleman stated that the parking lots are not funded by state dollars and must therefore be self-generating. It costs approximately $1000 per space to build and maintain a parking lot. The $26 per year equates to $0.10 per day to park. In comparison to the much larger vehicle registration fees to park on other UT campuses, the traffic committee for our campus feels this price is more than fair. The traffic committee handles regulations and proposals and deals with parking policies. Parking fines have also been increased to help generate funding for our lots.
Other parking and registration issues were also discussed:
- Someone suggested that the parking fee be removed for staff and that staff could make a monetary donation to help fund the parking lots. The traffic committee feels that the people who use the lots (including students and staff members) should pay a vehicle registration fee to help generate the needed funding.
- The group discussed the problem that arises when a registered vehicle isn't working properly and an unregistered vehicle must be driven to campus. Lt. Coleman stated that the staff member could obtain a temporary tag from the Department of Public Safety or that the second vehicle could be registered as well.
- It was also suggested that second and successive vehicles be allowed to register for only $5 rather than paying full price for registering each vehicle. This could pose a problem because many faculty and staff have children who are students here and have staff stickers and could lend to possible abuse.
- If there is a safety issue with a parking lot, Lt. Coleman suggested that it be reported to the Department of Public Safety, and that they would work with maintenance staff to correct it.
- Another suggestion was to use hang tags vs. stickers. Lt. Coleman stated that there were problems with lost tags and with remembering to transfer the hang tags from vehicle to vehicle. There are also greater problems with theft of hang tags. Also, the stickers which are fastened to a registered vehicle assist officers in assessing the identity of the owner of a vehicle, whereas a hang tag would not necessarily denote ownership of a particular vehicle.
- Putting the adhesive on the picture side of the sticker so that it could be affixed to the inside of a vehicle was suggested to help avoid theft. Lt. Coleman stated that some people don't like to attach them to their vehicle and the stickers could just be taped to the window in a visible location.
VI. Automatic Cost of Living Allowances
The question was raised of why UT does not have automatic Cost of Living Allowances (COLA) as a part of the pay raise process. Mr. Hooten stated that with raises, we are often given a specific amount to provide as a raise as well as how it is to be distributed. We try to get the legislature to provide us the flexibility to direct the increase in whatever way we can best help our employees. In this manner, we are able to allocate the raise to lessen the impact on employees from increased costs such as health care increases. This year, the raise amount allowed was 3%, but it wasn't funded by the legislature, so we had to raise tuition to fund the raise. COLA is just not always practical for us in light of the state mandates concerning raises.
Questions were posed about merit raises, how decisions are made concerning merit pay, and why merit wasn't distributed evenly among all employees. It has been several years since there was an actual merit increase given. Mr. Hooten discussed the PDQ process which was just recently completed which was established to help monitor positions and salaries.
VII. Status of Sick Leave Proposals
At the June 30 meeting, a motion was made that two proposals be carried to the Employee Relations Advisory Board for consideration and recommendation. The first proposal submitted suggested that sick leave bank coverage be given to a caregiver who is caring for a seriously ill family member. (The Hastings' recent case was cited as an example of the request.) A second proposal was suggested to allow the transfer of sick leave to designated employees deemed in need as a gift from one employee to another without regard to sick leave bank membership. [Note: Proposals are listed at the end of the minutes.]
In a meeting with the UT Vice President for Administration and Finance on these issues, she pointed out that a mechanism (a committee) would have to be in place to serve as reviewer through which all requests of this type would be funneled and that such committee would have to support these proposals before taking them before the Employee Relations Advisory Board for approval and recommendation. In a meeting with the UTM Sick Leave Bank Trustees to discuss these proposals, they realized that they are not the individuals who would administer a sick leave program outside the Sick Leave Bank policy. As the State currently administers leave, any leave time donated is given through the Sick Leave Bank. The Trustees felt that they could not easily define the limitations of donating and granting the use of leave of any kind outside of those guidelines and limitations already set forth by the State and the Sick Leave Bank policy. Therefore, the second proposal cannot be supported by the Sick Leave Bank Trustees at this time, and only Parts 1 and 2 of Proposal 1 were submitted to the Employee Relations Advisory Board agenda for its meeting on December 22, 2004. (Proposal 1 is attached to these Minutes.)
A motion was made and seconded that the ERC support these findings and move forward with Proposal 1 as described above.
VIII. Dr. Dunagan's Comments
IX. There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
Proposal 1, Part 1: Allowing Sick Leave Bank use by employees who are primary caregivers:
Proposal 1, Part 2: Allowing the transfer of sick leave between University employees to include donations to a caregiver as outlined in Part 1.