Benefits to be cut for faculty, staff

By Lauren Reilly
February 24, 2005

Shawn Rice

Reduction in benefits for Cabrini faculty and staff, effective March 1, 2005, will leave many employees $2,748.72 poorer.

During a meeting last November, Lisa Shimada, the director of Human Resources, presented the proposed change in benefits-a change that will affect a considerable portion of the college’s faculty and staff.

In a letter addressed to President Iadarola from the Faculty Senate on Feb. 11, 2005, Dr. Rocco Paolucci, an associate professor of IST, and Dr. Brian Metz, an assistant professor of business administration, state that although the changes had been discussed in the November meeting, employees did not receive official documentation or reasoning regarding the cutbacks.

However, a release dated Nov. 14, 2001, does reveal the college’s intentions to reduce the benefit plans. Iadarola stated that “The Executive Committee re-examined current allocation of funds and identical areas that exceed the parameters of the College’s budget. It found the College’s allocation of funds to employee benefits surpassed amounts that would contribute to the future financial health of the institution.”

According to a professor, who requested to remain nameless, these numbers have never been released to the faculty. “You’d be more likely to get a forthcoming answer from President Bush about the real costs of the Iraq war than you would from President Iadarola about the financial issues that necessitate cutting our benefits at the expense of every single employee and their families,” the professor said.

Changes in benefits began in March 2002 with all new employees receiving the benefits plan in question, while “grandfathered” employees, or those hired before March 2002, remained under the flex benefit plan. Therefore, the benefits for the “grandfathered” employees will be amended to that of any employee hired after March 2002.

The new benefits plan will allow each full-time, eligible employee $1,460 in coverage annually, potentially costing faculty member anywhere from $2,748.72 for a single employee without children to $11,132.64 for full family coverage. These figures are in reference to employees who chose the Personal Choice 5 insurance option, the best plan offered by Cabrini; cheaper alternatives, like Keystone HMO, can be chosen instead, but most faculty decline this option because, as stated by the anonymous professor, it’s “a plan notorious for denying coverage.”

Iadarola maintains that the benefits plan, in contrast to other schools, is “very competitive.” Compared to other schools in the area, Cabrini remains to be part of the few institutions that offer opt out medical coverage for their eligible employees; however, many of the insurance company options at these other colleges are of higher quality.

Shimada said that these changes apply to every full-time, eligible individual employed by the college, including the administration-Iadarola herself stands to lose the $2, 748.72, which in the academic year of 2002 to 2003, as documented by the Chronicle of Higher Education, would bring her total compensation down to $180,453.

Faculty Senate members state that it was originally the administrations ideas to adjust the former family benefits plan because flex dollars would provide a reasonable arrangement that was not affected by a faculty or staff member’s marital status. According to the Faculty Senate, “The new system will move back to what the administration saw as an inequitable system.”

The Middle States Evaluation, the reaccredidation process that all institutions participate in every 10 years, states that based upon comparable institutions nationwide, Cabrini’s faculty salaries for full-time and associate professors rank between the 50th and 60th percentile, while salaries for assistant professors ranges between the 40th and 50th percentile.

Figures compiled by the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) revealed that in 2004, the average salary for a Cabrini professor was approximately $65,000, an associate professor earned $53,100, an assistant professor pocketed $43,200 and instructors made $35,000. With these changes, a married professor with children would now make $54,468.

This brings up concerns from the Faculty Senate who believe that the decrease in benefit finances could result in “difficulty recruiting and retaining faculty.” In addition to this, the Senate feels that “employees are not valued, they are treated as ‘expense’ rather than ‘valuable resources,’ and that the College’s financial resources are being drained from personnel and put into bricks and mortar.”

Many members of the faculty and staff still remain indignant. “We are, in essence, blue-collar PhDs, ununionized and locked out of any governance model that gives us a voice. We’re like the students in that regard: we’re told to shut up and accept the way things are, which is hardly a community based on vision, excellence or respect,” the anonymous professor said.

Posted to the web by Shawn Rice

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Lauren Reilly

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