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Informed Choice at The University of Vermont

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Benefits

Employee Benefits

Is it accurate to say that contract negotiations always begin with a blank slate, and therefore the benefits we currently enjoy might be in or out?

Yes. Other than rights established by federal and state statute, all terms and conditions of employment, including compensation and benefit plan components are open for negotiation in a unionized environment. This is especially true when negotiating a first contract with a new bargaining unit. Collective bargaining is a give-and-take process which requires both parties to bargain in good faith. Whether current benefits will stay the same or change cannot be predicted prior to the conclusion of the bargaining process and adoption of the collectively-bargained contract.

[Photo from UVM Campus]

With a union, would the University’s benefits be enhanced?

During collective bargaining, benefits can be affected. As a result of negotiations, benefits could be enhanced, reduced or stay the same. It is accurate to say that in a unionized environment, benefits are negotiable. It is not accurate to say that benefits cannot be reduced or eliminated with a union.


Do benefits negotiations begin with the current level of benefits?

The law does not require that bargaining begin from the current level of benefits. During collective bargaining for a first contract all terms and conditions of employment, including benefits, are on the table for negotiation and are subject to change.


Do unionized organizations provide better benefits than those without unions?

Whether a unionized employer has better benefits can only be determined by comparing them head to head and point by point. Negotiations concerning salary and benefits will require a give and take of resources which may add up to fewer benefits with higher salaries or vice versa. Balancing the total compensation package with a finite source of funds is the essence of negotiations. No one can predict the outcome in advance of the actual negotiations.


How does the University’s benefits package compare with those offered by other Vermont employers?

While UVM cannot compete point for point with every employer on every piece of the benefits package, the total array of UVM benefits is highly competitive. For example, University employees’ cost contribution to health insurance premiums is often substantially lower than what other Vermont employees are required to pay. The University also offers tuition remission for employees and their dependent children, free basic dental coverage (with a modest cost to upgrade to high option coverage), a generous employer contribution to individuals' retirement savings plans, unlimited accrual of sick leave, and post-retirement benefits, including access to health insurance coverage. Even with recent changes to the post-retirement medical benefit, the University is able to provide coverage to its longest-serving employees. All of these benefits are part of the University’s total compensation package, and it is unlikely, when taken as a whole, that the UVM benefits package is surpassed by employers elsewhere in Vermont. (See page 32 and following in the 2012 UVM Sourcebook for more information.)


UVM's Benefits Package for Non-Represented Employees

Non-Represented vs. Represented Staff Benefits

Benefit Plan
Description
Non-Represented Staff
United Electrical
Teamsters
Medical Coverage
(BCBSVT Open Access)
Employer/Employee Cost Share
Based on Annual Salary
Same
Same

Dental Coverage
(NE Delta Dental)

Base Coverage
No Cost to Employee and Family
Same
Same
Optional High Option Coverage
Employee pays actual cost difference beyond base coverage
Same
Same
Life Insurance
Base Coverage ($6,000)
UVM pays the cost of coverage
Same
Same
$50,000 or Two Times Salary
UVM pays the cost of the first $17,000
Same
Same
Long-Term Disability
Base Benefit (60% of salary)
UVM pays 70%
Same
Same
Optional Benefit (70% of salary)
Employee pays actual cost difference beyond base coverage
Same
Same
Retirement Savings Account
Employee Cost Share
2%
Same
Same
Employer Contribution
10%
Same
Same
Years to attain employer contribution
3 years
Same
Same
Tuition Remission
Employee
15 credit hours per academic year
Same
Same
Spouse
15 audit hours per academic year
Same
Same
Dependents
150 credits
Same
Same

Health Insurance

The University health insurance plan provides complete hospital and medical coverage with employee premiums based on base pay. The copay is $10 for an office visit to a primary care provider and $20 for a visit to a specialist.

Prescription Drugs

After a $100 deductible, a three-tiered [generic/preferred/non-preferred] prescription drug plan provides low-cost prescription coverage for generic drugs, with flexibility for preferred and non-preferred drug coverage.

Dental Insurance

Base dental insurance coverage for individuals and their families is provided at no cost. Staff may elect to increase their coverage limits by selecting the high option plan and paying the difference between the base and high option plans.

Flexible Spending Accounts

A flexible spending account allows staff to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for qualified unreimbursed medical or dental expenses as well as qualifying dependent care expenses. The money set aside in a flexible spending account may result in substantial tax savings.

Retirement Savings Plan

After three years of continuous service, staff are eligible for University contributions to their retirement savings plans. The University contributes 10% of an employee's base salary in response to a minimal 2% contribution from the employee. All contributions are fully vested immediately.

Long-Term Disability Coverage

The University’s long-term disability insurance (LTD) plan will pay 60% or 70% of an individual's monthly base salary (depending on the plan/premium selected) should an individual become totally and permanently disabled.

Group Life Insurance

All full-time staff are eligible to enroll in the University’s group term life insurance plan. There are many different options available for individuals, including coverage for spouses and children.

Post-Retirement Benefits

Based on years of service and age, post-retirement benefits include tuition remission and the continuation of medical, dental and life insurance benefits.

Paid Medical Leave

UVM allows for unlimited accumulation of paid medical leave days at the rate of one day per month of service.

Paid Vacation

The amount of vacation provided depends on length of service and type of employee. Non-exempt employees earn between 10 and 25 days per year with additional personal days. Exempt employees earn between 17 and 27 days per year, with two personal days added upon reaching the 20th year of service.

Paid Holidays

The University recognizes 12 holidays during the year by providing designated days off with pay. (One of those 12 is an employee-designated cultural holiday.) Employees may also designate up to two additional non-paid cultural holidays.

Tuition Remission

Full-time staff members who enroll in UVM courses for credit or audit may request a waiver of the tuition charge up to a maximum of 15 credits per academic year. Employee spouses may audit up to a maximum of 15 audit hours per year. After staff complete one year of full-time employment, their dependent children who meet the eligibility requirements are eligible for full remission of tuition for enrollment in the UVM regular session or evening division as long as the student is pursuing an acceptable full-time undergraduate course of study leading to a degree.

Wellness and Employee Assistance Programs

The University offers a full-featured wellness program that includes health and wellness coaching, legal and financial consultations, and variety of work/life resources. In addition, all employees have access to free and confidential counseling through the University’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provided through The Wellness Corporation.

Workers’ Compensation

The University pays the cost of insurance that protects employees for work-connected injury or illness.

Alternative Work Schedules

Flexible scheduling, job sharing, work-at-home and other alternative work schedules are an option for many employees, with the approval of their supervisor.


Total Compensation: The Surprising Value of UVM Benefits

UVM employment provides an impressive array of benefits in recognition of the fact that wages and salaries are only part of the total compensation picture. Depending on the choices staff make, benefits enhance their compensation substantially. The University offers these benefits and pays the lion’s share to attract and retain a talented and engaged workforce. Many individuals choose to work at UVM because specific benefits are extremely important to them. Tuition remission, the retirement savings plan, and the health insurance plan are especially notable. (See page 32 and following in the 2012 UVM Sourcebook for more information.)

Depending on the benefit choices each person makes, additional costs are paid by the University or shared with the individual:

  • Social Security and Medicare taxes are shared 50-50 by law.
  • State unemployment and workers’ compensation are paid for by UVM.
  • Medical coverage is paid for largely by the University, and the premium paid by the employee is based on a percentage of salary.
  • Dental, life, and long-term disability insurance are shared expenses depending on the choices made by the individual.
  • Tuition remission is paid for by UVM.

Take a closer look at the idea of total compensation by viewing the following three illustrations:

Example 1: Sarah, non-exempt, non-represented employee earning $20,000 per year

Example 2: Ronald, exempt, non-represented employee earning $35,000 per year

Example 3: Chris, exempt, non-represented employee earning $50,000 per year

Considering the value of UVM’s benefits, it makes good sense to maximize your own benefits package and increase your total compensation. For more information, consult an Employee Advisor in Human Resource Services at 802-656-3150.

Contact UVM © 2014 The University of Vermont - Burlington, VT 05405 - (802) 656-3131