|IPERS Tries to Ease Concerns About Frozen Assets - Page 2|
|Commentary/Politics - Iowa Politics|
|Written by Lynn Campbell|
|Friday, 06 March 2009 14:48|
Page 2 of 6
State Works Ratify Two-Year Contract
Members of Iowa's largest union for state workers have by an overwhelming 95.3 percent ratified a new two-year contract in voting that closed at 11 p.m. on Friday, February 27, union President Danny Homan said this week.
The new contract for the nearly 22,000 members of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Iowa Council 61 calls for a zero-percent increase in base pay in the first year that begins July 1. Workers would see a 2-percent across-the-board increase July 1, 2010, and a 1-percent increase January 1, 2011.
"The state has some financial issues, none of which was caused by state employees," Homan said. "We hope this settlement will be beneficial to reduce the number of layoffs."
Every percentage-point increase would have cost the state $32.2 million, so Homan believes the union saved the state about $100 million by agreeing to the first-year wage freeze. Homan said this is the third time in a decade the union has agreed to a wage freeze, and he believes state workers deserve some credit instead of criticism for their sacrifice. "State employees have stepped up to the plate again," he said.
AFSCME initially asked for a 5-percent raise in base pay when it began negotiations with the state in November, while the state started by calling for no raises. Homan acknowledged that in a normal year, the two sides would have probably ended up at about 3 percent.
Despite the first-year freeze in base wages, state workers will still qualify for step or merit increases of up to 4.5 percent. Homan said about half the workers qualify for such increases, while the other half have topped out at the top of their pay scales.