by Dave Patterson | January 08, 2013
Iowa public service workers spoke out Friday against Gov. Terry Branstad’s hypocrisy of doling out bonuses to his political cronies while demanding freezes and cuts to bargaining unit employees.
Council 61, which represents 20,000 employees entering negotiations with the state this past weekend, coordinated six statewide press conferences to get the word out to the public that Branstad handed hundreds of thousands of dollars in political appointee bonuses during the last year while simultaneously targeting the middle class. That targeting includes demands that bargaining unit employees accept a two-year wage freeze, reductions in health coverage and increased insurance premium payments. Meanwhile, Branstad’s state has more than $1 billion in surplus.
Friday’s day of action in Des Moines, Sioux City, Council Bluffs, Mason City, Iowa City and Davenport put the governor on the defensive leading in to contract negotiations. AFSCME negotiators have called for modest raises of 1 percent in the first year and 2 percent in the second year, with no changes to the insurance and no employee premiums.
In Iowa City, Marty Hathaway, a corrections officer and AFSCME member was quoted in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, speaking about the huge bonuses paid out by Branstad, including to one appointee who raked in a $30,000 bonus each of the last three years.
“That is more than some state employees make in a year,” said Hathaway.
Branstad has also proposed huge tax incentives to an Egyptian company, offering them a $648,000 tax break for each permanent job they create.
In Council Bluffs, AFSCME member and corrections officer John Good expressed his dissatisfaction with these policies in the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil. “We believe Iowans deserve honest, open and scandal-free government,” said Good.
Added AFSCME member Paula Barker in the Sioux City Journal: “There is a double standard here, and we just want everybody to play on a fair and square board.”
Negotiations will occur every Saturday and Sunday through January.
Danny Homan, AFSCME Iowa Council 61 president, and also an AFSCME International vice president, told WHO-TV, the Des Moines Register and the Associated Press: “Today the state has a surplus and reserves over a billion dollars partly because of sacrifices made by state employees. We stand ready to work with the governor in the coming days. But we will not stand for further cuts to Iowa’s cities, towns and neighborhoods while wasting the state surplus on lavish bonuses to appointed cronies or tax giveaways to out-of-state corporations.”