Ninety-eight percent of the members in the union which represents the largest share of state workers has ratified a new two-year contract negotiated by outgoing Governor Chet Culver. Incoming Governor Terry Branstad says he’ll investigate all options to challenge the deal.
“We’re going to go in and try to analyze the whole situation and look at it from a perspective of managing it as best we can, looking at all options and alternatives and we want to try to find the most efficient and economical way to deliver services,” Branstad says. “There are other ways to do things and we are going to try to look outside the box.”
The two-year deal includes a three percent pay increase in each year, and is projected to cost the state $100 million in the first year alone. Governor-elect Branstad is considering state worker layoffs, as well as outsourcing some state functions to the private sector. Branstad also intends to ask the AFSCME union to reopen contract talks in hopes of changing the deal it struck with Culver.
“The fiscal year doesn’t begin until July 1 and so we want to be very thoughtful. We want to be very deliberative. We want to consider all options,” Branstad says. “We want to have a very open, honest and frank discussion.”
Earlier this week the president of AFSCME Council 61 issued a written statement, saying he was “deeply troubled” by Branstad’s repeated call to reopen contract talks. AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan said Branstad “has made attacking state employees his top priority” and Homan said Branstad’s behavior was “totally unacceptable.”
Homan called the wage increase “fair and modest” and pointed to the pay cuts state workers agreed to take over the past year.