March 16, 2006

Present: William Baker, Radha Balamuralikrishna, Terry Borg, Virginia Cassidy, Abby Chemers, Dennis Davito, Michael Duffy, Ray Foster, Deborah Haliczer, Pamela Rosenberg, Jerry Zar

Guests: Shey Lowman, Paul Stoddard

The meeting was called to order by Chair Deborah Haliczer. Minutes and agenda as amended were approved.

Old Business:

A. Domestic Partner Insurance Reimbursement and Domestic Partner Benefits

Discussions are still in process with Board of Trustee members concerning the proposal.

B. Domestic Partner Dependent Tuition Waiver Status

1. No new updates.

2. Will find from March 22, 2006 meeting with CMS what will change and how domestic partner benefits will be handled for FY07. The Committee will be update at the next meeting

3. There is still no one to sponsor the bill to change the state legislation with respect to CMS.

C. Update on 403(b) and 457 Review

1. The main question that is at the root of this review is, “How do we educate university employees on financial options”.

2. Terry Borg presented the issues as related to this review:

a. Legal is reviewing contracts. This process is slow. b. Determining what vendors are appropriate. An RFP is drafted but it cannot be done until Legal approves the plan document and contract. Could advocate for a push for review of performance and out put of the RFP.
c. Advocate for a plan document for NIU. Need to resolve the problem with Legal. They do not agree with the wording in some of the vendors’ plan documents. NIU wants a unified plan document for all vendors but vendors won’t approve our plan document as they want their own information included.
d. Technical PeopleSoft issue. We are limited in the number of 457 plan expansions that PeopleSoft can handle.

3. Action steps for this review

a. Consider recommending closing plans with less than 10 people in them.
b. Recommend to continue and enhance orientation education about these plans.
c. Communicate about these plans at the Benefits Fair
d. Consider creating a process whereby the university assists employees in retirement planning.
e. Raise vendor awareness
f. Clarify existing defined contribution types
g. Evaluate vendor products. Problem here is how to be fair and equitable in the evaluation.
h. Adding a SURS supplement. Who is still eligible for money purchase?
i. Consider auto enrollment in a retirement plan
j. Utilize annuitant resources to prepare employees for the retirement process.

D. Vacation Accrual and Loss Proposal

1. There was a suggest from a committee member to have a written statement put on payroll stubs informing employees that they are reaching their maximum number of vacation accruals and that they will start to lose these accruals the following month if they are not used.

2. There was also a suggestion to change the vacation accrual loss to be quarterly rather than monthly as a compromise.

3. Promotion of education about vacation accruals and loss if needed.

4. A committee member raised the point that supervisors are not automatically told how much vacation their employees have and feels the committee should promote reading the pay stub and recognizing when a loss will occur.

5. Jerry Zar motioned that we use every means possible to communicate to employees the rules of vacation accrual and loss. Virginia Cassidy seconded this motion.

6. The committee decided to create a subcommittee consisting of Abby Chemers, Deborah Haliczer, and Pam Rosenberg. These parties will draft a notice to Human Resources about venues for communicating information about vacation rules, i.e. orientation, Northern Today, pay stub, web site, etc. This notice will also contain suggestions concerning dialog with employees to ensure that they manage their vacation time.

E. Parity for Vacation Accrual Rate across Employee Groups

1. It was noted that this issue is recruitment point for SPS employees as they would receive an additional 4 days of vacation.
2. It was also presented that this is an issue for employees who go from exempt civil service status to SPS status as these employees lose vacation days, and this could be looked at as a reduction in benefits.
3. Abby Chemers made a motion to draft a memo from the Benefits Committe in support of changing the vacation accrual to be the same for exempt civil service and SPS employees. Michael Duffy seconded the motion.
4. Virginia Cassidy raised concerns about the impact of this change. She asked the committee to consider that this could mean a reduction in vacation benefits for exempt civil service employees to make the accruals equal. In addition, she is concerned about the cost impact of this change. She would like to have a cost/benefit analysis to see how much this would cost the university.
5. It was decided to table the motion pending further research from Human Resources as this change is a local decision.

F. Pension Issues

No updates at this time.

G. Summer Work Schedules

1. A letter written to President Peters in support of advance notice of summer work schedules was presented and amended.

2. William Baker made a motion to approve the letter as amended, and Radha Balamuralikrishna seconded the motion.

H. Medicare “Election”/”Referendum” and March 27 Medicare Informational Meeting

1. A meeting will be held on March 27 in the Carl Sandberg Auditorium to discuss this individual election.

2. Everyone who is eligible to make this election received a packet from SURS and Social Security with locations and times of meetings.

3. There are 550 NIU employees who are eligible. Many people who should have been on the NIU list were not. The initial query missed the hourly employees, so another 200 people received their letters and packets. All have their information now.

4. The meeting will be videotaped and CD copies will be available for those who are unable to attend the meeting.

I. Wellness Fair, March 29

The wellness fair will be held in the Duke Ellington Ballroom on March 29

J. Benefits Choice Fair, May 11

1. The Benefits Choice Fair will be held in the Capitol Room of the Holmes Student Center on May 11 from 10:30-2:00.

2. This event will allow employees to meet with the vendors during the Choice Period. Health plan vendors and others will be there to talk with employees about their specific questions.

K. Retirement Seminar, March 30

A retirement seminar will be held on March 30 to discuss all aspects of retirement, including medical and pension benefits.

L. Other Retirement Events

A meeting is being planned that will help employees understand retirement planning and how to project how much you will need at retirement. A vendor will host this event. Flyers will be sent.

M Social Security Issues


New Business:

A. Benefits Choice (May 1-May 31)
Benefits Choice will be held May 1-May 31.

B. Roth 403(b)
See Item C under Old Business.

Next meeting:

April 27, 2006, 10:00 a.m., Faraday West 300

Respectfully submitted,
Pamela Rosenberg, Co-Secretary, University Benefits Committee