The battle between Governor Branstad and the state’s largest union of public employees continues.
Friday afternoon the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) held six simultaneous press conferences across the state to speak out against the Governor.
The union says Governor Branstad has double standards when it comes to pay.
They believe state employees stepped up and made big sacrifices in pay during the recession, now that there is a surplus in the budget and plenty in reserves they would like to see that reflected in their pay.
In November AFSCME laid out an offer for a new contract which called for a total of 3 percent in salary increases in addition to the nearly 5 percent raises based on tenure, and did not include workers paying any portion of health care premiums.
The state made a counter offer in early December which called for a freeze in pay during the length of the 2 year contract and requires union members to pay 20 percent of health care premiums, in addition to eliminating four vacation days for field workers.
In their Friday press conferences AFSCME claimed that Governor Branstad is using the state’s budget surplus to pay big bonuses to department directors and give big tax breaks to corporations.
One example they used was Brian London. The group claims as the new head of the Department of Public Safety he received a $16,000 recruitment bonus.
AFSCME also says Branstad gave the Director of the Economic Development Authority Debi Durham a $30,000 bonus for each of the last three fiscal years.
Union President Danny Homan said, “Some of the bonuses given out by the Governor exceed what many state employees make in a year. Let’s be clear, no one recognizes the economic hardship of Iowans more than we do.”
In response to the accusations the Governor’s office released this statement:
“Nobody is fighting harder for middle class Iowans than Terry Branstad. While Danny Homan may not want to recognize the governor’s successes – in moving from 6.1 percent unemployment to 4.9 percent, the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the country, and securing the largest capital investments in the state’s history at a total of $5.3 billion in just his first two years – these are the measures of success even Danny Homan cannot deny. Governor Branstad will continue growing Iowa’s economy and creating jobs, and will not be dissuaded because a union boss is desperately trying to prevent his members from paying their fair share.
The governor is proud of our state employees, and they are well-compensated as a result of their great work. Iowa taxpayers should expect that everyone working for them should pay their fair share when it comes to expensive employee benefits.”
Their current contract expires at the end of June, but a deal must be reached by March 15.