In preperation for Branstad’s attack on state workers during this year’s negotiation processPosted: July 25, 2012
As we already know, Branstad is doing what he can to get an early jump on making state workers look bad prior to this year’s contract negotiaions. His primary target is health insurance–remember how he magnaminously offered to allow state workers to voluntarily contribute 20% to their policies. The point that this would be nothing but a backhanded paycut is well explained by Mike Owen of the Iowa Policy Project in a recent blog post:
Once and for all, let’s get one thing straight: Health benefits are part of compensation for work performed. Benefits are not “free,” any more than a paycheck is “free,” and it is absurd for anyone to suggest otherwise. Public employees receive those benefits because they put in the hours and provide the services as agreed upon by both employee and employer. They are not a gift.
I am a public school teacher and a union member. Twice in the last four years our union has agreed to moving to a slightly less expensive insurance package in exchange for seeing more money put towards salaries in our district. This has, no surprise, been controversial–but the move was made each time with the understanding that any savings from the change to our insurance would be transferred to salaries. As do all unions, we negotiate the total package–not just salary with insurance tossed in as a gift!
For the record, my wife is a state employee, so I do have something of a personal stake in this. Regardless, it is a fallacy to argue that health insurance is somehow separate from salary.