JOHNSTON, Iowa — Gov. Terry Branstad called a new contract agreement with the union representing state peace officers a fair agreement that he hopes will serve as a pattern for the two other state employees’ collective bargaining units still negotiating two-year pacts.

The roughly 600 members of the State Police Officers Council bargaining unit recently ratified a contract that calls for them to pay more of their health insurance costs and provides for one-time base salary increases totaling 1.5  percent for each of the next two fiscal years

running from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015.

Under the new agreement, all members of the bargaining unit will pay

20 percent of their health insurance premiums, but those participating in a wellness program could lower their insurance rates through financial incentives. The new contract does not give any across-the-board wages increases, but provides for a 1 percent bonus in July and January in both fiscal years, as well as implementing merit-based step pay increases.

“We think that’s a good pattern,” the governor told reporters after a taping of Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press” show Friday. “We hope the other unions will consider that kind of agreement as well. This was negotiated in good faith. I want to commend the SPOC union for working with us and for reaching that kind of voluntary agreement. I hope we can see the other unions agree to something similar.”

State negotiators currently are in private talks with officials from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61 and Iowa United Professionals aimed at reaching new two-year contracts with those bargaining units.

AFSCME is Iowa’s largest state employees’ union with 20,000


Its bargaining team made an initial offer that requested a 1 percent across-the-board pay increase in the contract’s first year and 2 percent in the following year. The union also asked to maintain annual 4.5 percent step increases for employees who qualify based on their date of hire but did not propose any changes to its health-care coverage.

State negotiators countered by proposing a freeze in base pay and wage “steps” for AFSCME members the next two fiscal years, as well as requiring them to pay a greater share of their health insurance costs and make other concessions in current contract provisions.

AFSCME officials did not respond to requests for comment on Friday.