October 3, 2008
Associate Vice Chancellor, Campus Services
305 South Building, CB# 1000
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1000
Dear Ms. Elfland:
Today’s Daily Tar Heel indicates that you are unaware of the intimidation some supervisors under your chain-of-command are employing against some housekeepers.
To be specific, I have been told that the supervisor who addressed the housekeepers as “you people” and told them that they are all replaceable was [name redacted].
I have also been told that [name redacted] and possibly others have warned the housekeepers not to speak to the media, to students, or to union representatives about the content of the meetings of the Housing Housekeeping Committee (HHC). As I am sure you are aware, this is a violation of public employees’ 1st Amendment rights. The Employee Forum conveyed these same concerns in their letter to the Chancellor, approved Wednesday.
I have been told that the publicly available minutes of the HHC are not an accurate reflection of discussions.
I have been told that housekeepers have been interrogated about their contacts with Student Action with Workers, their union representative, and others. In this case, I use the word “interrogated” in its negative connotation, deliberately and without exaggeration.
I have over the years received numerous reports about intimidation and mismanagement of housekeepers by [name redacted], including recent reports about his/her behavior in meetings of the HHC.
It is my expectation that you will conduct a thorough investigation of these allegations, of all supervisors connected with HHC, and take appropriate action.
As you may recall, I copied you on a letter dated 8/6/2007, in which I raised numerous concerns about the practice of harsh discipline in Facilities Services. In the last year, I have seen no effort to modify this practice. Should the allegations against these supervisors prove correct, it is my expectation that disciplinary actions against them be equally harsh.
Additionally, it is clear that most of these supervisors require remedial training appropriate to their misconduct.
It has also been reported to me that a housekeeper who signed up for grievance training in September, was denied the opportunity to attend on that day. I have not talked to this housekeeper yet, but I presume it was because the workload in housekeeping did not permit it.
Historically, housekeeping has run with little or no organizational slack. This denies many housekeepers the opportunity that most other employees have to participate in university affairs and training programs. In January, I spoke to Brenda Malone about the dearth of African-American men who participate in the grievance process as panelists and support persons. Prior to this September’s training, I made a concerted effort to encourage African-American men to enroll. I understand four enrolled and three attended. We must do better than this.
I realize that Housing and Residential Education (HRE) has funding problems. I know these problems are in part the result of managerial misestimates and the fact that our revolving Board of Governors and Board of Trustees cannot make up their minds about how many students should be enrolled. The legislature appears strapped to fund those enrollment increases that are approved.
Nevertheless, we cannot allow “budget constraints” or “the indebtedness of receipt-funded operations” to be excuses for this pattern of visiting their consequences in a disparate manner on the lowest paid employees. The ongoing failure of management to provide enough organizational slack in housekeeping is an example of historic, institutional racism and sexism. The failure to provide equitable treatment to African-Americans and women is well-documented in reports from the Office of State Personnel.
Since October is National Work and Family Month, and the Work/Life Office in the Office of Human Resources is offering a variety of seminars to aid employees in easing the conflict between work and personal time, I would hope that you and Ms. Malone would make a concerted effort to ensure that all employees have equal opportunity to avail themselves of these seminars.
Finally, I request that at least two students who are knowledgeable about housekeeping operations in HRE be appointed to the HHC. Students are stakeholders and are impacted by the proposed changes to staffing levels. I will be happy to provide the names of qualified candidates.
I further request that meetings of the HHC be open to the public. Some of your supervisors are apparently incapable of decent behavior at this time without public oversight.
Very truly yours,
Employee Relations Chair
SEANC District 25