DES MOINES — Negotiators for Iowa and its largest public employees union Thursday asked an independent arbitrator to resolve an impasse over wages and health benefits that prevented the two sides from reaching a voluntary settlement on a new two-year collective bargaining agreement.
Danny Homan, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61, said talks broke off with the two sides close to agreement on a wage provision that would boost pay for 18,000 AFSCME members by about 6 percent over the two-year agreement that would begin July 1 and run through June 30, 2017. For the first time, he said, his union agreed to pay a share of their health insurance premiums but could not accept significant concessions sought by state negotiators that would have saved $48 million for the state but would have clawed back 4 percent of the wage gains from his members in the process.
AFSCME began negotiations in November seeking a 2 percent wage increase at six-month intervals over the life of the contract and wanted status quo on health benefits. The state opened talks offering a 1 percent across-the board wage boost each of the two fiscal years. Current 4 percent “step” increases for eligible employees would carry over to the new contract.