Gov. Terry Branstad’s negotiators are asking the state’s largest employees’ union to take a wage freeze for the next two years, pay a greater share of their health insurance costs and make major concessions that the union’s leader called “appalling,” politically motivated and a “slap in the face” to rank-and-file members that will not be accepted.
The state’s proposal seeks to freeze wages across the board for two years, freeze step increases for qualifying workers for two years, and require all state employees to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums along with higher deductibles, higher maximum out-of-pocket expenses, higher dental insurance premiums and higher co-payments for prescription medications.
Two weeks ago, AFSCME negotiators made an initial offer that requested a 1 percent across-the-board pay increase in the contract’s first year and 2 percent in the following year for the roughly 20,000 workers it represents. The union also asked to maintain annual 4.5 percent step increases for employees who qualify based on their date of hire. The AFSCME proposal did not include any changes to its health-care coverage.
State Department of Management officials calculated that AFSCME’s initial offer would cost the state $122 million more in fiscal year 2014 and $159 million more in fiscal year 2015 if the union proposal was accepted and applied to all state employees – including noncontract, management and confidential classifications.
However, AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan blasted that report as inaccurate and misleading because the cost of providing the AFSCME request solely to the union’s employees would be significantly less. He also said the calculation included health insurance and retirement costs that state negotiators could not explain because they said the information came from the Department of Management, not them.
Which side do you support in contract negotiations? How do you think the contract negotiations will be resolved?