By Sheena Dooley | Iowa Watchdog
DES MOINES – Union leaders in Iowa are bracing for frigid contract negotiations with the state, after officials from the two groups have already clashed, according to a Des Moines Register report.
Danny Homan, president of Iowa AFSCME Council 61, said he hasn’t spoken to Republican Gov. Terry Branstad since before he took office in 2011. That contrasts his relationship with previous governors Chet Culver and Tom Vilsack, both Democrats, with whom the states leader of the American Federation for State, County and Municipal Employees union had regular conversations, according to the report.
Homan goes as far as to say the union, which represents 40,000 Iowa public employees, is being treated as an enemy. He made his comment during an interview on “Iowa Press” on Iowa Public Television.
Branstad’s office said it will negotiate in good faith, as required by law, but the governor has made it clear that he plans to put taxpayers first during collective bargaining sessions. He has pushed for all state employees to contribute to their health insurance costs, which currently are completely covered by the state.
Branstad recently announced that he and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds voluntarily would pay a portion of their health insurance costs and said other workers could do the same under a new order from his office.
Negotiations are set to get under way this fall on new contracts that begin July 1, 2013.