From the Worldwide Faith News archives

LCMS - WBP 'tightens belt,' eliminates 17 staff positions

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Mon, 30 Dec 2002 11:39:33 -0800

The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod
Board for Communication Services

LCMSNews -- No. 83
December 27, 2002

WBP 'tightens belt,' eliminates 17 staff positions

The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod's Worker Benefit Plans (WBP) cut 17 of
its 105 staff positions Dec. 18 in what Plans President and CEO Dan Leeman
termed "a belt-tightening measure to keep costs to our 31,000 members as low
as possible."

Dec. 20 was the last day of work at the WBP's International Center offices
for the 17 employees, who Leeman said were in all five of the Plans'

Of the positions eliminated, nine were full-time, five part-time and three
on a contract basis.

The Worker Benefit Plans are the health, disability, survivor and retirement
programs provided for church workers through Synod congregations, schools
and other organizations.

"We regret the need to make such a decision at this time of the year,"
Leeman said.  "However, our customers -- the employers and the members of
the Worker Benefit Plans -- are in difficult financial situations due to the
national economy, and we felt it necessary to carefully reevaluate budgeting
and spending to keep our costs as low as possible."

Leeman said that the 11-member Board of Managers for the Worker Benefit
Plans, at its Dec. 9-11 meeting in Irvine, Calif., asked the staff to
reevaluate the proposed 2003 Plans budget, particularly administrative

The budget of the Plans is separate from the Synod's; it is funded by
payments from employers and members participating in its benefits programs.

"Although the Plans are not directly impacted by the decrease in the Synod's
income," Leeman added, "the Board of Managers knows that the rising cost of
the health plan in recent years has been a burden for the Synod's 6,100
employing organizations."

Healthcare costs nationally have been rising at double-digit rates -- three
to five times as fast as the Consumer Price Index -- for four consecutive
years, according to WBP staff.

Leeman said the staff cuts are part of a budget reevaluation process.  "All
line items in the budget are being evaluated to determine whether further
reductions in expenses might be made, such as reducing travel and
renegotiating contracts with vendors," he said.

He estimated that elimination of the 17 staff positions will amount to
salary and benefit cost savings of about $1 million, out of an $11 million
budget in 2002.

"The quality of service that our members have come to expect from the Plans
will not be affected," Leeman said.

In 2002, six percent of the contributions paid to WBP were used for
administrative expenses, Leeman said, with the remainder used to pay

"We will continue to strive to provide the best possible benefits and
service at the lowest cost by wringing every cent out of every dollar
entrusted to the Plans," he said.


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