FIU to Negotiate Health Insurance Plan for Adjunct Faculty, Temporary and Contract Workers
MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 24, 2006--Today Florida International University announced a challenge to health insurance companies: Design a plan that covers hundreds of temporary employees and contract workers who currently do not have access to affordable health care.
This innovative plan, which is the latest in a series of progressive human resources initiatives adopted in recent months, would need to carry an affordable price tag for the insured and be portable. The Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) is open to all insurance companies doing business in Florida.
"We hope to serve as the conduit that would enable our employees and the employees of our small business partners access to affordable health care through group rates," said Senior Vice President Vivian Sanchez. "The idea is to structure plans and negotiate rates which individuals or small companies could not otherwise afford."
The university would then give more than 2,000 individuals direct access to these deals. Some of the potential beneficiaries are adjunct faculty members and other temporary/part-time employees of the university (sometimes referred to as OPS) who are not covered by regular university benefits. Others work at FIU as janitors, grounds keepers, bus drivers, and security personnel but who don't have access to health care plans because they are not FIU employees, but rather are employed by university contractors who often do not offer health benefits.
Sanchez said the idea builds on innovative plans already in place at other institutions but would, for the first time, be available to contractors. The plan is expected to be in place by January of 2007.
"This plan has great potential for success because it addresses the needs of the temporary employees and contracted workers while working within the public university's fiscal limitations," said Sanchez, who also serves as the university's CFO.
"I'm proud of this move," said Faculty Senate Chair Bruce Hauptli. "We are taking the lead here as we endeavor to become known as an 'employer of choice' concerned with the well-being of all our employees and with those who work on our campuses and enrich our community."
Three years ago, the state granted its universities the authority to negotiate contracts, determine employee benefits and establish terms and conditions of employment. This process, typically referred to as devolution, set in motion a series of changes, including new human resources practices. Since that process started, many employees have gained benefits, better working conditions and higher pay. Also as part of this process, long-term FIU employees are being offered the opportunity to convert from temporary to permanent employment with full benefits. A plan is being developed for this transition.
FIU employees enjoy human resources policies that have been recognized for Progressive Workplace Innovations at the national level by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. In addition to traditional benefits such as paid leave, life insurance and retirement plans, FIU Employees have employee and family tuition waivers, paid personal development and flex-time and flex-place options.
"Our philosophy is to afford the entire FIU family the best possible working conditions," said FIU President Modesto A. Maidique. "Our Board of Trustees has clearly encouraged us to put in place contemporary, progressive measures in all areas of the institution. These actions get us closer to that goal."