State police union seeks raises

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DES MOINES | Members of a union representing state law enforcement employees Thursday requested 4 percent across-the-board pay increases for each of the next two fiscal years for a new contract effective next July 1.

Sue Brown, executive director of State Police Officers Council, said the 590 members of the bargaining unit also want one-time bonus pay totaling 2 percent they received under the current contract to be rolled into their salary base before the new proposed raise is applied to their yearly pay.

Without that provision, Brown said the Iowa State Troopers, special agents with the Division of Criminal Investigation and the Division of Narcotics Enforcement, state fire inspectors and agents, Iowa conservation officers, and Iowa park rangers covered by the state contract effectively would start the new fiscal year with lower pay if the one-time raises are not plowed into the salary base.

“Our proposal, we think, is very reasonable,” said Brown, who noted, over the past decade or so, state law officers’ pay has not kept pace when compared with the consumer price index, Social Security cost-of-living adjustments and the average percentage increase of personal income in Iowa.

“For many years when it’s been lean times for the state, our officers have stepped up and not taken the pay increases and helped out with the state. That’s why we’ve fallen so far behind cost of living increases and inflation even,” Brown said.

“Now that the state is in a better financial position, we think it’s time to step up and help the officers that are out there protecting and serving every day,” the SPOC representative added.

State officers in the bargaining unit who have reached their maximum pay levels would receive a 3.5 percent pay hike July 1, 2015, and other bargaining unit members not at maximum levels within their classification would be eligible for 3.5 percent step increases as is the case under the current contract.

The SPOC also proposed changes to provisions covering health insurance and other benefits, work schedules, standby time, call-back time, college incentive pay and other employment issues in the proposed contract beginning July 1, 2015, and running through June 30, 2017.

SPOC is the smallest of three bargaining units representing state employees but was the only one in the last round of contract talks that agreed to pay 20 percent of their health insurance premiums as requested by Gov. Terry Branstad. Brown said she was hoping the state would consider that when approaching this latest round of contract talks.

“We’re hoping that the state keeps in mind all of our past with them and our willingness to work with them during the lean times and recognizes that and comes through this time for their officers,” she said.

Janet Phipps, director of the Iowa Department of Administrative Services and lead state negotiator, said the state would give the SPOC proposal “due consideration.” The state will outline its position when negotiators meet again Nov. 24.

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