The largest union of state workers today asked for a 34-million-dollar pay boost for its members. AFSCME Council 61 represents over 20,000 state workers, and the union’s asking for a five percent pay boost in 2003 and another five percent the next year. The union also wants the state to pay more of the health insurance costs of workers and is asking for no manditory overtime unless it’s a matter of public safety. AFSCME Council 61 president Jan Corderman expects bargaining to be tough given the state’s financial condition. Corderman says eight percent of the executive branch workforce has been laid off, and another 700 retired early, which means increased workloads for those who remain. Corderman says on top of that, state workers have been required to take unpaid days off, and she says those furloughs are equivalent to a four percent pay cut. During remarks in the opening round of contract talks with state negotiators, Corderman said other states pay a higher-proportion of health care premiums for workers and their families, and it’s time Iowa did, too. Corderman says in January, 60 percent of state workers who’re on what they call a “benchmark” insurance plan for families will pay a $243 per month premium. The union’s suggesting that monthly premium be pared to $113 per month. That alone would cost the state $10.5 million. State officials will make a counter-offer next Wednesday.
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