The issue of employee benefits has taken center stage on the UI campus this spring and it likely won't be going away anytime soon.
On April 30, the Urbana Academic Senate lent its support to a University Senates Conference resolution asking Illinois lawmakers to carefully consider proposed changes in employee pension benefits.
And on May 1, traditionally the first day of the state's health-insurance choice period, the University Payroll and Benefits Office sent a massmail indicating "ongoing contract issues" had left university officials with scant information to share and no determined enrollment end date.
"The FY2013 health plans are unknown at this time," said the email. "As plan and premium information becomes available from Central Management Services, the NESSIE announcement page will be updated and mass emails will be sent to all eligible employees."
Updates on the health-insurance enrollment period is online.
When it comes to making changes in employee pension plans, senators offered unanimous support to the USC resolution, which calls on legislators to enact "sensible, equitable reforms."
The resolution places the blame for the pension problem on the state for underfunding it for so long - but it also argues that the entire state, not just employees, needs to share the burden of correcting it.
"Today we face a reality in which sensible, equitable reforms are needed," the resolution said. "All stakeholders, participants, the universities and the state have a necessary role to play in such reforms."
The resolution refers to solutions outlined in an Institute of Government and Public Affairs report issued in February.
The IGPA reports calls on the state to:
- Protect already-accrued employee benefits per the Illinois Constitution.
- Make timely payments to the pension and health care systems in the future.
- Phase in any transfer of costs from the state to employees.
- Improve the "Tier II" pension program now offered to new employees.
- Consult with those affected by the changes.