State workers who are members of the AFSCME union will be given a chance to ratify an “understanding” that would see about 20,000 state workers take five unpaid days off over the next seven months.
The move not only would save nearly $23 million in state worker salaries, it would help save the jobs of 479 members of the AFSCME union according to AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan.
“This means there will not be any layoffs between now and June 30th of 2010,” Homan said. “If there are layoffs, they will be done outside the AFSCME bargaining unit.”
Homan held a news conference at union headquarters early this afternoon. Listen to the entire news conference here: Homan 14:00 MP3
Homan called the proposed deal a “Memorandum of Understanding” and he said it would save AFSCME jobs throughout the executive branch, not just in the Departments of Corrections and Public Safety. Not only will there be five of what Homan and others have begun calling MUD — Mandatory Unpaid Days, state workers would agree to forgo the state’s contribution to their IPERS pension funds for the remainder of the state fiscal year.
“In this uncertain economy, these measures were necessary,” Homan said, reading from a prepared statement.
Dues-paying AFSCME members who are part of the state workforce will vote between November 19 and 25th on the deal.
“If our membership doesn’t accept this, I can only assume the governor will order layoffs, as he said he would and that means some of our folks are going out the door,” Homan said. “And, yeah, I guess that bothers me.”
Homan argues as legislators and the governor consider cuts in next year’s budget that a tax increase or an end to some tax breaks be considered as options.
“State employees should not have to step up to the plate, again, to balance the state budget. We’ve done it, again. It’s time that we put everything on the table,” Homan said. “I’m not telling the governor or the legislature what to do. I’m asking that we truly put everything on the table.”
Homan openly admitted his frustration during this afternoon’s news conference.
“I’m very frustrated that 500 people’s jobs are on the line,” Homan said. “…I remember the day I was hired by the State of Iowa. June 24, 1984 is when I thought a good job and it meant the world to me. There are 500 people that are looking at having their world come to an end — single moms…young, married folks with kids. We’re not talking about six-month employees here. Some of the folks on these layoff lists have been state employees for 33 years. That’s a career. That’s a lifetime.”
The governor is traveling out of state today. Culver released a written statement, calling the potential deal a “positive step” that will “help preserve vital services for Iowans while meeting (the) obligation to balance the state budget.”
Republican legislators have been criticizing the Democratic governor’s handling of the state budget for months. Senate Republican Leader Paul McKinley issued a statement today, suggesting state workers were “living with the consequences of Governor Culver’s severe lack of leadership and mismanagement.”