The Branstad administration has reached an agreement with one of the three bargaining units negotiating new contracts with the State of Iowa. The State Police Officers Council (SPOC), which represents about 600 law enforcement officers, has ratified a two-year deal which provides a one percent bonus in July and January in both fiscal years 2014 and 2015 in lieu of increases in base pay.
Tim Albrecht, spokesperson for Governor Terry Branstad, says the contract also requires employees pay 20 percent of their health insurance premium. Members of the SPOC currently cover 15 percent of their premiums and many could continue to do so. “What (the contract) does is implements a wellness program that will allow employees to decrease their contribution toward their health insurance premium as they participate in the wellness program,” Albrecht said.
Participation in the wellness program, to be established by the State, would lower an employee’s insurance rate to not above 15 percent of the health insurance premium costs. Albrecht calls it a “win win” situation.
“The governor believes state employees do a great job and they’re compensated well for that job, but the taxpayers are footing this bill,” Albrecht said. “The idea of (state employees) paying even just a small portion of their health insurance premiums, like countless Iowans in the private sector already do, is a fair and equitable thing to do.” Governor Branstad has called on other state employees covered by union contracts to pay 20 percent of their health care premiums.
The officers covered by the SPOC contract, which goes into effect on July 1, include Iowa State Troopers, Special Agents with the Divisions of Criminal Investigation and Narcotics Enforcement, State of Iowa Fire Inspectors and Agents, Iowa Conservation Officers and Iowa Park Rangers.
According to the governor’s office, the total cost of the contract is estimated at $5.9 million, with $4 million of that amount coming from the state’s general fund. Mark Bowlin, President of SPOC, said voting members “overwhelmingly” ratified the contract.
State officials remain in contract talks with Iowa United Professionals and the union which represents the largest share of state workers – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.