The state opened negotiations Monday with the largest state employee union and health insurance is again an issue. The president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 61, requested an 8-percent increase in salaries over a two-year period, and wants the state to continue paying 100-percent of health insurance.
The state is proposing a 1 percent pay increase with state employees picking up 20 percent of the cost of insurance.
Governor Terry Branstad told reporters Monday that state workers should pay part of their insurance costs. “I have been on record for a long time in feeling that everybody ought to have some skin in the game, ought to make some contribution,” Branstad says.
Branstad sought the same thing during negotiations two years ago and ultimately an arbitrator ruled the state should continue to pay 100 percent of the health insurance, but denied the employees a pay raise.
Branstad says the union representing state law officers has agreed to pick up part of the cost of their insurance, and non-contract employees do as well. He says other state employees should also contribute. “Frankly we are paying a price for it not happening,” Branstad says. “The executive council had to approve a 40-million dollar increase in cost in our health care. And I think if people have some skin in and we work in a collaborative way together, we can do a better job of controlling health care costs for state employees.”
The negotiations on the new contract will resume in January behind closed doors.