Issues in Progress

University Senate

The question of who is a University retiree, and can consequently receive retiree benefits, became somewhat clearer at the March 26 Senate meeting.

At a previous Senate meeting, Fringe Benefits Committee Chair Sid Stein submitted a proposal from his committee that recommended the University identify a list of specific retiree benefits available to faculty and staff retirees. The Senate sent the proposal back to Fringe Benefits for clarification after confusion over the question of what exactly constitutes a retiree.

After meeting with Vice President and General Counsel Joseph Crooks and Associate Vice President for Human Resources Alice Miller, Stein reported that all retirees must: 1) be at least 55 years old with at least 15 years of service to the University, or 2) be at least 60 years old with at least 10 years of service. Benefits available to those who retire under those terms (partial benefits) include access to health insurance at a much higher cost than premiums for active employees, and basic term life insurance.

For those who retire at 65 with 10 years of service or at 60 with 15 years, Stein said more benefits (full benefits) are available: less expensive health insurance, life insurance, Courtesy Scholarships, library and P.E. Center access, parking privileges and tuition discounts. Stein said most of what is currently available for this group of retirees is contained in the original proposal from Fringe Benefits.

"No retiree gets the same health care premiums as active employees," Stein said. "Those rates are based on separate actuarial analyses." Stein said that for individual retirees with full benefits, the EmoryCare premium is $84 per month from ages 60-64 and $41 per month after age 65 (when Medicare becomes available). The PruCare rate is $35 per month after age 60 regardless of age. EmoryCare premiums for those receiving partial benefits are $399 per month for ages 55-64 and $124 per month after age 65. The PruCare rate is $161 per month for all ages after age 55. Stein said the difference between these rates and the cheaper rates for active employees is the University contribution made for active employees.

Stein said his sense of the current situation is that the University would not object to the vast majority of the benefits listed in the Fringe Benefits proposal because they would not have a significant fiscal impact on the University. As far as retiree health benefits are concerned, Stein said he doesn't know what the University will approve, but knows of at least two things it will not approve: retirement before age 55 regardless of years of service, and a permanent guarantee of health coverage for retirees.

Stein said Fringe Benefits will revise its proposal and resubmit it at the April Senate meeting.

In other business, the Senate voted to recommend approval of a proposal from the Committee on the Environment that calls on the University to organize a community awareness campaign about bicycle safety, and establish central campus bike routes to make the campus more biker friendly.

Bill Cody of the political science faculty at Oxford College was elected Senate president for 1996-97; he also will serve as Faculty Council president. Ann Rouse of Emory Hospital's radiology department was elected secretary.

Employee Council

At the Council's March 20 meeting, President-elect Joy Burnette reported that the University Senate Safety and Security Committee had responded to the Council's Special Issues Committee request to review Emory's Inclement Weather Policy.

The request was made following confusion over the University's closing after Hurricane Opal last Oct. 5. The University was closed until noon that day. At the Council's October meeting, several members said that driving conditions remained unsafe for many employees for the entire day, and that the University should not have reopened until the following day so that a greater number of trees and power lines could have been cleared from roadways. Concern also was expressed at that time over the time at which the closing announcement was made. Some employees left for work before the announcement was made on radio and television stations and were not aware that the University was delaying opening until noon.

Burnette said the Safety and Security Committee "feels the current policy is adequate and needs no revision at this time," but agreed to review the policy again in the future if new concerns emerge.

Later in the meeting, Burnette was installed as Council president for 1996-97, along with other new officers. Their one-year terms begin April 1.

--Dan Treadaway

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