Security jobs will be lost to outside agency
Nonunion employees will pay 25 percent of their health-insurance premiums.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- An outside agency will provide security services at Forum Health facilities, effective April 1, putting the current security employees out of their jobs.
Forum Health would not reveal the number of employees who will lose their jobs. Officials said the decision to hire the OSS Security Agency was based "primarily on cost savings and does not in any way reflect on the performance and service of the current security staff or their leadership."
The Forum statement, released late Tuesday, contains no information about OSS Security, not even where the company is based.
"The severity of our financial challenges requires that we make difficult decisions as part of our vital effort to ensure Forum Health's survival and help bring our costs in line with those of our competitors," Forum officials said.
In a separate statement Tuesday, Forum Health explained a new benefit package, announced Monday, under which all nonunion and salaried employees will contribute to their health care and pension plans.
The new health-care plan, under which employees pay 25 percent of their health-insurance premiums, has two options: one with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, but higher monthly premiums; and one with higher deductibles and out-of-pocket premiums, but lower monthly premiums.
The plan also has an expanded network of preferred providers for employees and their dependents who live outside the five-county region, officials said.
Pensions will also change. Effective May 13, the defined benefit pension plan will be frozen. An individual's account balance will not grow after that date, but will remain payable upon retirement for vested employees.
The defined benefit plan is being replaced with an enhanced 401(k) retirement plan, to which Forum will contribute the equivalent of 1.75 percent of an employee's gross salary. That employee contribution vests after three years. In addition, Forum will match 50 percent of an employee's contribution up to the first 8 percent of those contributions, officials said.
The new employee benefit package also contains a paid time off program, which lumps sick, vacation and personal time into a single "bank." Forum says the program is designed to increase productivity and give participating employees more control over how they use their time. Under the system, some employees will have fewer paid days off, while others will gain time, officials said.
Depending on their number of years of service, nonunion and salaried employees receive a minimum of 17 days to a maximum of 32 days of paid time off, plus six holidays, per year. In addition, there is an extended illness bank option that can be used to bridge the gap to long-term disability coverage.
Forum said it took the actions because of "soaring health and pension costs in recent years" similar to those experienced by other companies.
Forum said its cost for employee health coverage grew from $32.3 million in 2003 to $38.1 million in 2005, an increase of 18 percent; and its pension costs increased from $6.8 million in 2002 to $17.7 million in 2005, up 160 percent.
However, Forum said a key difference between it and its competitors is that most Forum employees did not previously pay a share of their insurance premiums, which put Forum at a significant cost disadvantage.