Culver strikes deal with AFSCME; GOP reacts

Not-for-much-longer-Governor Chet Culver has struck a deal with AFSCME, the union which represents the largest share of executive branch workers.   It would give those roughly 21,000 workers a two percent boost in their base pay on July 1.

Republicans aren’t happy.  They point to the so-called “step” increases which allow workers who have not risen to the top of their pay grade to, perhaps, get a raise of up to 15 percent.

House Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha talked about the deal at the beginning of this weekend’s edition of Iowa Press on IPTV

AFSCME state president Danny Homan talked with Radio Iowa this afternoon.  Read what Homan and Paulsen had to say here.

Rod Boshart of The Cedar Rapids Gazette has this story about today’s developments (and mention of another state workers’ union which has struck a deal with Culver).  Gazette columnist Todd Dorman blogged these observations.

Jason Clayworth of The Des Moines Register has this wrap-up of the storyRegister columnist Kathie Obradovich was at the Iowa Press taping and has written a blog post about Paulsen’s comments.

At 1:47 p.m. this afternoon, I asked Angel Albert in Governor Culver’s office if the governor had a prepared statement to issue on the contract talks.   At 1:57 p.m. she replied:

We do not. We are waiting to release a statement once the union members vote on the agreement. Because this is not final and now back to the union for approval, we do not want to issue a statement…

An hour later, at 2:52 p.m., Culver issued a statement:

Governor Culver Issues Statement on AFSCME Agreement

DES MOINES – Governor Chet Culver issued the following statement regarding the State’s acceptance of a new two-year agreement with American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Council 61:

“Like all hardworking Iowans, state employees have struggled through a historic recession. They agreed to take unpaid furloughs and suspension of employer deferred compensation contributions in Fiscal Year 2010 so the State could better adjust to economic conditions and lower revenues. These people are on the front lines of delivering vital services and information to the people of Iowa and deserve to be paid in accordance with their qualifications and efforts.”

Branstad’s communications director had issued a statement an hour and a half earlier, at about 1:30 p.m. this afternoon:

Culver’s backroom deal on salaries is reckless and irresponsible

Agreement leaves taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in salary increases
(URBANDALE) – The transition team of Gov.-elect Terry Branstad today released the following statement from chief of staff Jeff Boeyink, in response to the new agreement between Gov. Culver and the unions.

The contract would put Iowa taxpayers on the hook for $103.5 million the first year alone, and hundreds of millions in subsequent fiscal years.

Boeyink’s statement is as follows:

“Taxpayers are the losers in this backroom deal.

“Governor Culver’s decision to rush through a collective bargaining deal with state employee unions before he leaves office is reckless and irresponsible. This will cost Iowa taxpayers $103.5 million the first year alone, and hundreds of millions in subsequent fiscal years.
“At a time 113,000 Iowans are out of work and thousands more are seeing significant pay reductions, it is the wrong time to ask taxpayers to pick up the enormous cost of these pay raises.
“Iowans elected Terry Branstad on a promise to reduce the size of Iowa’s budget and Governor Culver has taken the unprecedented step of effectively removing to voice of the taxpayers from this process.
“This is unaffordable, and we will review all of our options.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

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