July 12, 2024

Supervisors open to supplemental wage increase for union workers

Dialogue between county and union re-established, MOU to be drafted by staff

From left: AFSCME Local 2840 President Craig Keith and AFSCME Union Representative Adam Swihart speak to the Jasper County Board of Supervisors during its meeting on Feb. 27 at the Jasper County Courthouse.

Jasper County union employees who have contracts negotiated by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2840 and Public Professional and Maintenance Local 2003 (PPME) may yet see a supplemental wage increase, which was first attempted back in spring this year.

When union representatives first reached out to discuss the subject, the meeting got heated with the board of supervisors. Disagreements over past concessions and who reached out to who first threatened to stymie the union’s request. But recent comments from supervisors indicate there is still an open dialogue.

Supervisor Brandon Talsma said during the July 2 work session that he wanted to see if his fellow elected officials were interested in continuing the conversation with the union about a 2 percent supplemental wage package. Talsma said a 2 percent raise for all union employees could amount to less than $200,000.

“I want to say that was high,” Talsma said of his initial $189,000 estimate. “It might only be $150,000 or something now that I think about it. So we’ll just say $140,000 to $180,000. One of the things I think we can accomplish by doing this is … bridge the gap (between union and non-union wage scales).”

Talsma also did not think highly of the union contract negotiated for employees. But there are individuals who have union positions that are not dues-paying members of the union. Nevertheless, they are locked in to that same contract. Talsma said the supplemental wage increase will help those workers.

If the supervisors were in consensus, Talsma said the auditor’s office and Dennis Simon of human resources could work up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to have the wage increase go into effect July 27. Supervisor Doug Cupples suggested the supervisors tried to discuss this once before to no avail.

Talsma said, “I think there was a break down in communication between county and union people sitting up in Des Moines.”

Supervisor Denny Stevenson said it is the right thing to do, but he still struggled with it for a couple different reasons. But to him it certainly can’t hurt retention to provide a supplement wage package. In the end, supervisors were in consensus to have an MOU be drafted and considered for approval in the near future.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.