In preperation for Branstad’s attack on state workers during this year’s negotiation process

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.

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2 Comments on “In preperation for Branstad’s attack on state workers during this year’s negotiation process”

  1. Rich says:

    Cuts to earned health insurance benefits is definitely painful for those who really depend on it. Branstad is not on the side of the working class.

  2. Rich says:

    From DailyKos.com, August 26th, 2012:
    It’s no wonder that fears about benefit cuts have consistently topped responses to this question since the first time Gallup asked it in 1997. You only have to look at any story about a union’s contract negotiations—companies are overwhelmingly demanding cuts to health insurance and pensions, and they didn’t come for union members’ health insurance and pensions first. Companies worked their way methodically through, cutting benefits to the most vulnerable workers first, selling middle-class professionals on the idea that 401(k) plans would make them investor-class masters of the universe and make pensions obsolete and undesirable.

    Union members’ benefits only started getting hit after enough other people’s benefits had been cut that companies could play divide-and-conquer, stoking resentment against workers who still had good benefits, promoting the question “why does my neighbor have a pension when I don’t?” rather than “why did my boss take my pension?” And even as too many people still fall prey to that corporate campaign of division, it may be starting to sink in that once pensions are gone for everyone in the 99 percent, and once even people who have employer-provided health care are paying a bigger chunk of the costs every year until they can’t afford it at all, businesses are coming for something else next. So, yeah. American workers should be worried about benefits. And they should be doing something about that worry—voting, organizing, taking to the fucking streets—before there are no more benefits to be worried about.


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