Sep 052007
 
Authors: Johnny Hart

CSU is looking at changing its cafeteria-style employee benefits program in favor of a more standard model.

There is no question that the new employee benefit program is the only reasonable choice for CSU, said Physics Department Chair Hans Hochheimer.

“It is the right thing to do and the fair thing to do,” Hochheimer said.

The second installment of forums covering employee benefits was held in the Grey Rock Room of the Lory Student Center Wednesday. The forum, open to all faculty and staff, was organized to inform about the program and allow for comments.

The new benefits proposal has been in the works for more than two months and Human Resources have been collecting feedback from faculty and staff.

“The feedback has been ultimately positive,” said Vickie Bajtelsmit, a benefits committee representative

A switch from the current Ben Pay program to a cost-share model could cause some high-salary faculty members to lose benefits. Despite this, Bajtelsmit said she has heard very little flack from her above-average salaried colleagues.

Hochheimer also supports the cost-share program despite his inevitable losses due to its implementation.

“[Some employees] didn’t like it because they would lose money,” Hochheimer said. “Fairness and justice are things that the university should promote.”

One issue touched on during the forum was whether or not benefits would cover domestic partnerships or different sex partnerships without marriage.

“The university plan does not cover domestic partnerships,” said Human Resource Services Director Carol Shirey.

“While it’s not perfect . for unmarried couples, either same sexed or differently sexed people, the desire to have equity is there,” said CSU staff member Foula Dimopoulos.

Supporting the change as a whole, Dimopoulos believes any change in the benefits system is a cause for hope.

“The reality is that people have worked for that over the years and worked very diligently and very hard,” Dimopoulos said. “While it doesn’t necessarily always feel good, if you can take a 20-year system of Ben Pay and move it to a cost share system and move the university toward a place more full of equity around healthcare, then I think it’s a means for hope.”

The decision on whether or not to proceed with implementation of the new benefits program will be made within the next few weeks, before benefits open enrollment starts.

Staff writer Johnny Hart can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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