The union representing the largest share of state employees in Iowa held six news conferences around the state Friday, taking Governor Terry Branstad to task.
Danny Homan, president of AFSCME, says Branstad has "demonized" state workers by suggesting their health care benefits are too generous:
Homan objects to bonuses Branstad has given to several state agency directors, including his economic development chief:
Local union member Paula Barker of Sioux City says employees are asking for a one percent pay raise this year and two per cent next year. Barker says Branstad has granted agency managers a four percent pay raise, while asking state union workers to accept a pay freeze, agree to pay 20 percent of their health care premium and pay a higher deductible.
Saturday, Homan and other representatives of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union will start bargaining with the state over a two-year contract.
A spokesman for the governor says Homan is "a union boss desperately trying to prevent his members from paying their fair share."
If a deal can't be cut, an arbitrator will be called in the week of February 11th. March 1st is the deadline for the arbitrator to rule on what wages and benefits state workers should receive.
Radio Iowa contributed to this report.