AFSCME news conference

AFSCME Council 61 president Danny Homan is due to speak at a one p.m.  news conference to discuss details of the “understanding” between AFSCME and state managers that would avoid the layoff of 479 state workers.  The greatest concession would be a salary reduction of $22.7 million achieved by having 20,000 state workers take furlough days (unpaid days off).

At 1:06 p.m. the assembled reporters in the room see Homan emerge from his office, stide to a lectern and beginning reading from a prepared statement.  “After long discussions with the State of Iowa we believe we have reachecd an understanding…The only reason AFSCME Iowa Council 61 engaged in these discussions was to save bargaining unit jobs….We feel we have done our best to achieve that goal.

“In this uncertain economy, these measures were necessary…and we do not expect to engage in any further talks….AFSCME Council 61 will continue to look for long(term) solutions….As I have repeatedly said….this is not a spending issue.  This is a revenue issue and that is the bottom line. 

“…I want to be clear that this action will not lead to the reopening of the AFSCME collective bargaining (contract)….(The) Memorandum of Understanding…will save bargaining unit jobs.”

From November 19-25, AFSCME state membership will vote on whether to accept this understanding, not to open the contract.  If AFSCME  membership rejects the “understanding,” Homan says layoffs will be ordered.

“This understanding is not final until AFSCME state membership has had an opportunity to accept or reject (it),” Homan says. 

Any dues-paying member who is a state employee is eligible to vote.  There are 30 locations for the voting, and Homan says they’re having employees join “in droves” in order to be able to vote.

“After the vote is complete, we’ll issue a statement announcing the outcome,” Homan said.

“…If there are layoffs, they will be done outside the AFSCME bargaining unit,” Homan said.  

Homan was asked to specifically talk about his call for additional revenue, or taxes:

“It’s time that we put everything on the table,” Homan said.

Homan seemed frustrated as he answered the next question, so I asked him if he is frustrated.

“I’m very frustrated that 500 people’s jobs are on the line. I’ve said this before.  I remember the day I was hired by the State of Iowa…when I thought I got a good job and it meant the world to me.  There are 500 people who are looking at their world coming to an end…We’re not talking about 6 month employees here. 

“Yeah, I’m frustrated.  I’m concerned, because if our membership doesn’t acccept this…that means some folks are going out the door.”

Homan is hopeful AFSCME members will ratify the understanding.

“I can only hope.  It is now in the hands of the membership of this union,” Homan said.

Homan indicated the 479 jobs which will be saved by this will be across ALL agencies, not just in the Departments of Public Safety & Corrections.

After the news conference, Homan said another AFSCME unit in another state have coined a new acronym for the furlough days:  Manditory Unpaid Days — MUD.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.