December 20, 2014

Governor seeks two-year pay freeze for state employees

Governor Terry Branstad is asking state workers to accept a pay freeze for the next two years — and to cover more of their own health insurance costs.

Branstad’s lead negotiator in contract talks presented the pay and benefit proposal today. In mid-November AFSCME — the union that represents the largest share of state workers — launched the latest round of contract talks by asking for wage increases of one percent next year and two percent the following year.

Not only is the Republican governor asking for a two-year pay freeze, he wants employees to give up four holidays and pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums.

The governor’s lead labor negotiator says union leaders have done “an outstanding job” in the past decade in bargaining, but he suggests state worker pay is too high and state workers have too much power when it comes to workplace grievances and “bumping rights” during layoffs. Long-time employees who’re laid off can take jobs still held by workers with less seniority. The governor is seeking changes in those areas, too.

AFSCME’s leader calls the governor’s proposal “appalling” and an attack on “basic union rights.”