Sinclair approves domestic partner benefits

The Board of Trustees approved a resolution Tuesday that will give partners of employees and their children in domestic partnerships the same benefits as employees’ spouses and children in marriages recognized in Ohio. The new policy will cover healthcare options like medical, dental and vision coverage, as well as life insurance, tuition waivers, and sick leave.

The faculty and administration say the changes will make the college a fair workplace and more competitive employer.

“We are pleased with the board’s vote today. We appreciate the serious consideration given this issue. We felt it was the right thing to do,” said Mike Oaster, Sinclair’s Faculty Senate president. “This will serve to strengthen our ability to attract and retain excellent faculty and staff.”

Madeline Iseli, vice president for advancement at Sinclair, said Faculty Senate initially requested the changes. The college surveyed practices at more than 30 Ohio colleges and universities during the past six months while shaping the new policy.

“In the interest of being as competitive as possible in the employment sector, both in recruiting and retaining high-quality faculty and staff, the institution decided this was the right time,” Iseli said.

Iseli said the college may have moved slower than some institutions to grant benefits to partners in same-sex domestic relationships, but is among the minority of institutions surveyed that have adopted opposite sex domestic partner benefits.

The new coverage will directly help Barb Tollinger, 60, and her wife Denise Moore, 63. Together for 33 years, they married last May in Hawaii. Tollinger is a professor and current chair of the Business Information Systems department. Moore formerly chair of the Radiologic Technology Department, had to purchase her own health insurance when she retired after 35 years from Sinclair.

“It will greatly benefit the two of us because she’s paying a lot more money for her health insurance than if we could be on a policy together as a family,” Tollinger said. “We would have the advantage of only having to pay for one.”

Sinclair spends $8-10 million annually on healthcare for about 1,000 benefit-eligible , according to the college.

Wright State University offers domestic partner benefits for both same-sex and opposite sex couples. The university has 2,371 benefit-eligible employees. Of those, 38, or 1.6 percent, have enrolled a domestic partner, according to university records.

Miami University implemented domestic partner benefits for same sex couples in 2004 but has no plans to offer coverage for opposite sex couples, said Kate Stoss, interim associate vice president for human resources.

“When we first reviewed the policy, we looked at both same sex and opposite sex couples,” Stoss said. “We ended up going with just same sex because those other individuals have the option to marry.”

The University of Dayton offers only domestic partner benefits required by federal law, such as those proscribed in the Family Medical Leave Act and flexible spending accounts. UD will continue to provide all benefits required by law as laws change, according to Teri Rizvi, UD’s executive director of strategic communications.

Tollinger said it’s a relief to know the coverage will be there on Jan. 1.

“It’s like one less thing you have to worry about. And other people haven’t had to worry about it. It’s very nice to know you can finally have that peace of mind,” Tollinger said.

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