Iowa labor leaders criticized Gov. Terry Branstad Friday for giving bonuses to directors while asking many state workers to accept a wage freeze and start paying health insurance premiums.
“I don’t know what we did to the governor,” said Marty Hathaway, a correctional officer at the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Coralville and a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61. “I don’t know why he hates us this much.”
Hathaway was one of six AFSCME members who spoke across the state Friday, one day before union leaders start meeting with state negotiators in an attempt to reach new two-year agreements slated to start July 1.
Hathaway cited Gazette reports detailing $128,000 in bonuses Branstad paid to three state agency heads since January 2011.
The bonuses included $30,000 in each of three fiscal years to Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority; a $20,000 housing allowance to Revenue Director Courtney Kay-Decker and a $16,000 recruitment bonus paid to Public Safety Commissioner K. Brian London.
“That is more than some state employees make in a year,” Hathaway said of Durham’s annual bonuses.
The news conference highlights the different images the union and Branstad seek to cast about state workers as they go into contract talks.
Do you think the state of Iowa should give bonuses to department heads as a recruiting tool?