Both Sides Gain in Arbitrator’s Decision on Iowa State Employee Contracts
An arbitrator has issued what amounts to a “split decision” on the new contracts for Iowa’s state employees, granting them the 6% percent raise they had sought over the next two years, but also requiring them to contribute to their healthcare costs, as the state had requested.
The arbitration decision is binding, and requires that members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) pay at least $20 monthly towards their health insurance. This is the first time since 1965 state employees have paid for health coverage in Iowa, and was a major sticking point in the contract talks.
At the same time, the arbitrator awarded workers raises along the following schedule provided by the union: 2.5% in 2015, 2.25% in 2016, and 1.25% in 2017. The new contract also allows for step increases for some employees totaling 4.5%.
Many Iowans have expressed the belief that state workers should pay for their health coverage in the same way all other workers do. The union has fought tenaciously over the last few decades to avoid contributing anything at all to health insurance. The pay increases are the first for Iowa’s workers since 2013.
The state has announced it will not seek to fund the pay raises from new taxes or budget reductions elsewhere, but will order state agencies to find the money in their own budgets to cover the raises. This is seen by some as a way of casting a negative light on the pay increases with voters.