Iowa workers' union reaches tentative labor deal

2013-01-07T15:16:00Z 2013-01-24T21:22:47Z Iowa workers' union reaches tentative labor dealROD BOSHART Journal Des Moines bureau Sioux City Journal
January 07, 2013 3:16 pm  • 

DES MOINES | The leader of one of the three unions representing state workers confirmed Monday that the State Police Officers Council has reached a tentative deal on a new, two-year collective bargaining agreement.

Iowa state trooper Mark Bowlin said his roughly 600 SPOC members will hold ratification votes on Tuesday and Wednesday. The new contract would run from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015.

Bowlin declined to discuss details of the tentative deal finalized last Friday, saying “we’d like a chance to explain it to our members first and then be able to tell everybody else.”

Earlier Monday, Gov. Terry Branstad told reporters during his weekly news conference that he believes state negotiators are close to reaching a voluntary agreement on a new collective bargaining contract with one of the three state employees bargaining units.

“We’re very hopeful that one of those contracts may well be finalized very soon,” he said.

The governor declined to identify the union or provide any other details during his weekly news conference.

Last fall, state officials exchanged opening bargaining positions with representatives from SPOC, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), and Iowa United Professionals (IUP) with the state seeking a freeze on across-the-board and “step” wage increases. State negotiators also proposed that all state employees pay a greater share of their health insurance costs. SPOC sought a 2 percent salary increase beginning in July 2013 and another 2 percent boost in July 2014 in its initial offer.

Branstad brought up the topic of contract talks in defending actions by his administration to pay bonuses and moving expenses to some state department directors and to hire back state employees who had been fired for misconduct but returned to the job after winning appeals through the grievance procedures.

Responding to a Des Moines Register report indicating that at least 33 state employees who have been fired for misconduct during the past five years are back on the state payroll, the governor said “it is a concern” but noted that “some of management’s rights have been basically bargained away over years” and the state is obligated to “abide by decisions made by outside arbitrators and others” in cases of discipline and discharge.

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