|AFSCME Iowa Council 61 - Every Day. Everywhere. Making Iowa Better.|
August 21, 2015
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Kathleen O’Leary, one of our retired AFSCME sisters, has started a petition regarding Governor Branstad’s plan to outsource Medicaid to Managed Care. Kathleen states in her petition that:
“Governor Branstad's plan to privatize Medicaid is very disconcerting and raises many questions; therefore Iowa needs to slow down on transformation of state Medicaid to Managed Care Medicaid by private, for-profit providers. At a minimum, there has to be legislative oversight to monitor Managed Care Medicaid before any transformation can occur.”
We agree and encourage AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members to sign Kathleen’s petition. Please make sure to sign using a personal computer/phone and personal contact information from a location outside of work during non-work hours.
August 19, 2015
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We need to keep up the pressure on Governor Branstad and Lt. Governor Reynolds over the vetoes of the Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda Mental Health Institutes and education funding! We are having an impact on public opinion: a recent poll showed that 63% of Iowans disapproved of the mental health veto and more Iowans now disapprove of the governor than approve of him.
We will be marching in the Des Moines Labor Day Parade with our “Branstad-Reynolds: Don’t VETO Our Future” signs to further raise awareness of how this administration’s decisions that have hurt Iowa. We want to have a big crowd to show that AFSCME Iowa Council 61 is proud to stand up to Branstad-Reynolds! Everyone who joins us will get a free AFSCME T-Shirt!
The parade will be held on Monday, September 7, 2015. Lineup is at the corner of East 12th and East Grand (east of the State Capitol). We are asking our members to arrive at 10:00 AM for line up. Please RSVP using this page. Please make sure to RSVP using personal contact information and from a personal computer or phone outside of work during non-work hours.
If you are unable to make it to Des Moines for the parade, we encourage you to show your Union pride by taking part in Labor Day activities in your area. We will be sending out a list of activities around the state closer to Labor Day.
Danny Homan, President
AFSCME Women’s Conference
AFSCME Iowa Council 61 is organizing a bus to the AFSCME Women’s Conference that will depart for Indianapolis on Thursday, October 8, 2015 with the following stops:
If you are interested in taking the bus:
The AFSCME Women’s Conference is open to all AFSCME members, women and men.
Ten years after the storm, we can still say about our AFSCME sisters and brothers: They rose to the challenge.
6 out of every 10 Americans now supports labor unions – a phenomenal five-point jump over the previous year. That’s the latest from a Gallup poll showing that during the past year, Americans’ approval of unions skyrocketed to its highest point in 7 years.
August 16, 2015
The Summer Issue of our newsletter, the Iowa Unionist, is available for download. This issue includes 36 photos from the 19th Biennial Convention of AFSCME Iowa Council 61!
The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa “celebrates religious freedom by championing the rights of individuals, by promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and by empowering diverse voices to challenge extremism.”
Click "Read more" to see some potential volunteer opportunities (in Marion, Marshalltown, Mount Pleasant, Burlington, Danville, Davenport, Eldridge, Fort Madison, Council Bluffs, Oelwein, and Charles City) and opportunities to attend candidate meet and greets (in Des Moines).Read more >>>
August 6, 2015
DES MOINES –AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding the legal filings made by the governor on Wednesday in the Mental Health Institutes lawsuit:
“Our attorneys are currently preparing a response to the legal filings made by the governor Wednesday. They hope to be able to make that filing by the end of the week. Based on quick review of the governor’s filings, they appear similar to claims that the governor has made in prior cases. We hope that the Iowa District Court of Polk County, after reviewing the governor’s filings, will dismiss them and allow the case to continue.”
July 25, 2015
DES MOINES, IA – Yesterday, at the 19th Biennial Convention of AFSCME Iowa Council 61, Danny Homan was re-elected as President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 by acclamation.
“I am honored by our membership’s decision to place their trust in me. AFSCME Iowa Council 61 will continue to strongly advocate for our members and all working families,” said Homan.
“AFSCME Iowa Council 61 members provide the services that make Iowa safer, fairer, and more prosperous. We are a Union that knows that by working together in solidarity, we can make a difference for our families and our communities,” added Homan.
Homan was first elected in 2005 and will now begin his 6th term. Danny Homan was born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa. He proudly served in the United States Army from October 1971 until August 1973 as an Atomic Weapons Specialist. Danny Homan started his public employee career in June 1984 with the Third Judicial District Department of Correctional Services as a Residential Advisor at the Residential Treatment Facility in Sioux City.
Danny Homan started his career with AFSCME Iowa Council 61 in December 1987 as a Political Organizer. In February 1988, Homan was hired as a Union Representative serving AFSCME members in Northwest Iowa until July of 2005. In July 2005, Homan was elected President of AFSCME Iowa Council 61.
Susie Baker, a Drafter at the University of Northern Iowa, was re-elected as Executive Vice President by acclamation. Jerry Jones, a Correctional Officer at the Newton Correctional Facility, was re-elected as Secretary-Treasurer by acclamation.
The Iowa Department of Human Services has put out a request for public comment on changes to Medicaid Waivers. This could potentially be far reaching and affect almost anything connected to Medicaid. We encourage anyone who has input to comment.
Here is the information provided by the Iowa Department of Human Services:
July 20, 2015
DES MOINES –AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding recent news coverage by Lee Newspapers’ Erin Murphy showing that work release escapes had surged under the Branstad Administration:
“These work release escape numbers confirm what our members have long known based on the facts on the ground that they see every day. Our state’s correctional system, both in our prisons and community based corrections, is severely understaffed.
“Rather than address understaffing in our prisons, the governor and former Department of Corrections Director Baldwin implemented a broken inmate classification system that pushes inmates into the community based corrections system before they are ready. When you combine this with understaffing in the community based corrections system, the result is soaring work release escapes.
“Our correctional system staff work hard every day to protect the public and promote rehabilitation; however, there simply aren’t enough staff to properly do the job. The governor’s correctional policies are failing Iowans by not putting proper rehabilitation and public safety first and foremost.”
WHY IS 1ST DISTRICT DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONAL SERVICES DIRECTOR KAREN HERKELMAN PUTTING EXCESSIVE MANAGEMENT PERKS FIRST?
July 14, 2015
DES MOINES –AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement about the 1st District Department of Correctional Services (covering Allamakee, Black Hawk, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Grundy, Howard, and Winneshiek Counties) failing to cut management perks while proceeding with layoffs:
“1st District Department of Correctional Services Director Karen Herkelman has decided to put excessive perks for management ahead of providing community based corrections services.
“The state auditor has said these management perks are improper. Not one penny should be spent on these improper perks; especially when layoffs are occurring.
“Director Herkelman clearly has a conflict of interest. As a management employee, she will benefit financially from these excessive benefits when she retires in the near future if these excessive benefits are not reclaimed before that happens.
“These improprieties must end. In addition to the First District, the Auditor’s report also found improper leave for managers was awarded in Districts 5 and 6 and improper classification of managers as field staff occurred in Districts 7 and 8. All of these districts, if they have no done so already, must stop awarding improper leave for managers and revoke leave that was previously issued in an improper manner.”
AFSCME IOWA COUNCIL 61 PRESIDENT DANNY HOMAN AND 20 LEGISLATORS FILE SUIT REGARDING GOVERNOR BRANSTAD’S ILLEGAL CLOSURES OF MENTAL HEALTH INSTITUTES
July 13, 2015
DES MOINES –AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan and 20 legislators have filed suit in the Iowa District Court for Polk County regarding Governor Branstad’s illegal closure of the Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Institute and Clarinda Mental Health Institute. The legislators taking part in the suit are Senator Rich Taylor, Representative Jerry Kearns, Representative Mark Smith, Senator Thomas Courtney, Senator Janet Petersen, Representative Bruce Hunter, Representative Curt Hanson, Senator Tony Bisignano, Senator Herman Quirmbach, Senator Dick Dearden, Representative Art Staed, Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, Representative Jo Oldson, Representative Ruth Ann Gaines, Representative Sharon Steckman, Representative Todd Taylor, Representative Mary Gaskill, Representative Kirsten Running-Marquardt, Representative Timi Brown-Powers, and Representative Dave Jacoby.
The lawsuit, which was filed against Governor Terry Branstad and Director Charles Palmer, seeks to compel the governor and his administration to comply with Iowa law and reopen the Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda Mental Health Institutes.
“Iowa law clearly states that the State of Iowa shall operate Mental Health Institutes in Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda. This was the law when the governor announced his decision to close these facilities. This was the law when the legislature passed, with bipartisan support, the funding to keep these facilities open. This was the law when he closed these two facilities. It is still the law today,” said AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan.
“No one is above the law. That includes the governor. We are filing this lawsuit to hold him accountable for breaking the law,” added Homan.
“I am pleased that 20 legislators are joining with me in filing this lawsuit. We are proud to stand together in support of the rule of law and mental health services,” added Homan.
AFSCME IOWA COUNCIL 61: END EXCESSIVE LEAVE BENEFITS RECEIVED BY SOME COMMUNITY BASED CORRECTIONS MANAGERS
July 6, 2015
DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement regarding the State Auditor’s report that there are some judicial districts of correctional services that are awarding excessive vacation and sick leave to managers:
“At a time when Iowa’s entire correctional system, including our prisons and community based corrections, is severely understaffed, it is highly disturbing to find out about these excessive vacation and sick leave benefits for management employees in some of the judicial district departments of correctional services.
“I want to make it clear that these excessive vacation and sick leave policies benefited only management employees; the employees covered under the AFSCME contract did not receive excessive leave.
“The Auditor found that Districts 1, 5, and 6 had awarded excessive vacation leave to management employees; Districts 1 and 6 had awarded excessive sick leave to management employees; and that Districts 7 and 8 had classified some management employees as field staff, which resulted in excessive vacation leave.
“If they have not already done so, management and the District Boards of Directors should immediately take action to correct their policies and bring them into compliance with state law regarding vacation and sick leave payouts. All excessive vacation and sick leave should be immediately removed from the management employees’ vacation and sick leave accounts.
“This situation illustrates the need for complete and full oversight of community based corrections. Clearly, multiple District Directors and management employees have taken advantage of the current weak levels of oversight to inappropriately benefit themselves. Public safety, not padding management employees’ benefits, must be the top priority of our community based corrections system. Our Union is ready and eager to assist District Boards of Directors, the Iowa Department of Corrections, and legislators as they examine ways to strengthen oversight of community based corrections.”
July 2, 2015
As per President Homan, this is being posted so that everyone can see the wickedness and the meanness of the actions the governor of the State of Iowa took today:
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
Gov. Branstad takes action on 14 bills
(DES MOINES) – Iowa Gov. Terry E. Branstad today took action on 14 bills. The action taken represents the conclusion of bill action resulting from the 2015 legislative session. The action comes before the deadline of July 6, 2015.
The following bills were signed into law in their entirety:
House File 632: an Act relating to various matters involving insurance and the insurance division of the Department of Commerce and including effective date provisions.
House File 658: an Act relating to the funding of, the operation of, and the appropriation of moneys in the college student aid commission, the Department for the Blind, the Department of Education, and the state board of regents, providing for related matters, and providing effective date and retroactive and other applicability provisions.
House File 659: an Act relating to and making appropriations to certain state departments, agencies, funds, and certain other entities, providing for regulatory authority, and other properly related matters and including effective and retroactive applicability date provisions.
Senate File 171: an Act establishing the state percent of growth and including effective date provisions
Senate File 172: an Act establishing the categorical state percent growth and including effective date provisions.
Senate File 496: an Act relating to appropriations to the judicial branch and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions.
The following bills were signed into law with item vetoes:
House File 650: an Act relating to and making appropriations to state departments and agencies from the rebuild Iowa infrastructure fund and the revenue bonds capitols II fund, providing for related matters, and including effective date provisions. – Read Gov. Branstad’s veto message here.
House File 651: an Act relating to expenditures of moneys from the E911 emergency communications fund, other duties of the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and other properly related matters. – Read Gov. Branstad’s veto message here.
House File 666: an Act relating to state and local finances by making transfers and appropriations, providing for properly related matters, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions. – Read Gov. Branstad’s veto message here.
Gov. Branstad’s item veto message read in part:
“I am unable to approve the item designated as Section 11, in its entirety. I recommended a two-year budget on the second day of this legislative session including an increase in supplemental state aid for both years. Throughout the session, I encouraged the legislature to provide supplemental state aid for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade for the next two years as required by law. By using one-time money and not providing supplemental state aid for the second fiscal year, the legislature compounded the uncertainty that school districts faced this entire legislative session.
“My administration’s commitment to giving Iowa students a world-class education is demonstrated by significant, targeted growth in funding for initiatives to raise achievement. Iowa’s new Teacher Leadership System is the single largest reform measure, with an investment of more than $150 million when fully phased in during the 2016-2017 school year. With many of our best teachers serving in leadership roles, such as instructional coaches and mentors, Iowa can better support the more demanding work teachers must do today to prepare all students for a knowledge-driven economy.
“Other targeted education reform measures my administration proposed for the next fiscal year at a cost of more than $18 million include: an initiative to ensure children are able to read by the end of third grade, ongoing expansion of Iowa Learning Online program to offer more course options to high school students, and the Teach Iowa Scholars Program which provides up to $20,000 to top graduates of Iowa teacher preparation programs who teach hard-to-fill subjects in Iowa schools for five years.
“With any budget, it is important to look at the entire picture. For fiscal year 2016, Iowa schools will receive over $3 billion, by far the biggest item in the state budget.”
“As the Chief Executive of this state, it is my responsibility to have a long term vision that maintains stability and predictability in our state’s budget. I made the decisions today in order to prevent across the board cuts that occurred under the previous administration. Maintaining the fiscal health of Iowa over the long term is my top budgeting priority.”
Senate File 499: an Act making appropriations to the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Economic Development Authority, the Iowa Finance Authority, the Public Employment Relations Board, the Department of Workforce Development, the State Board of Regents and certain regents institutions, modifying programs and duties of the Economic Development Authority, providing for other properly related matters, and including effective date and retroactive applicability provisions. – Read Gov. Branstad’s veto message here.
Senate File 505: an Act relating to appropriations for health and human services and veterans and including other related provisions and appropriations, and including effective date and retroactive and other applicability date provisions. – Read Gov. Branstad’s veto message here.
Gov. Branstad’s item veto message for Senate File 505 read in part:
“Senate File 505 as passed by the Iowa Legislature gives counties the ability to increase property taxes, enlarges entitlement programs and fails to take critical steps in modernizing Iowa’s mental health system. It is even more concerning to me and to the thousands of Iowans who depend on Medicaid that it appears the Iowa Legislature may have underfunded Medicaid. The budget I proposed in January 2015 fully funded Medicaid. We have embarked on efforts to modernize our administration of Medicaid. It is my hope that these efforts will not only improve the quality of health care outcomes our Medicaid patients receive but also provide much needed budget predictability and stability for taxpayers who make the program possible.”
“I am unable to approve the designated portion of the item designated as Section 23, subsection 3. Today, more Iowans than ever before have access to mental health treatment. Through the bi-partisan Mental Health Redesign signed into law in 2012, Iowans are accessing care locally through mental health regions. The mental health regions are investing substantial resources into increased access to home and community based substance abuse and mental health services. In the 1800s, Iowa opened four mental health institutions. At their peak, they served more than 6,600 people on any given day combined. However, modern mental health care has come a long way and best practices rightfully no longer include the warehousing of mental health patients. In fact, the average daily bed census at the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute over the past four years is only 61 patients. In fiscal year 2014, this came at the high cost to state taxpayers of $126,791 per patient. These resources can best be used to provide better, more modern mental health services to more Iowans. Other states have already gone down this path by closing their outdated institutions and offering innovative mental healthcare options. Minnesota once operated eleven mental health institutes. Today they operate one. Wisconsin operates two. Over the past 18 years, states adjacent to Iowa have closed 13 institutes like Mount Pleasant and Clarinda (Illinois closed four state psychiatric hospitals, Minnesota closed four, Missouri closed three, and Nebraska closed two). Like Iowa, these neighboring states have modernized their mental health systems and reduced their use of institutionalization. In 2009, a Department of Human Services report and Governor Culver recommended closure of the Mount Pleasant Mental Health Institute. The Legislature has taken the first steps and closed the Clarinda Mental Health Institute. We can keep moving forward and serve Iowans with two mental health institutions rather than four. Therefore, in keeping with modern best practices and the utilization of our system, it is not in the best interests of our patients, the taxpayers or the mental health system to continue operating an aging, antiquated mental health institution lacking key clinical staff, particularly a psychiatrist.”
“I am unable to approve of the item designated as Section 159 in its entirety. This item calls for Iowa, after closure of the Clarinda Mental Health Institute by the Iowa Legislature, to request proposals to operate a private, specialized nursing facility on the grounds at Clarinda. As I stated above, more Iowans are receiving mental health care than ever before. And increasingly, they are receiving it locally through mental health regions throughout our state. This holds true for adult in-patient psychiatry as well as geriatric psychiatric patients. Geriatric psychiatric patients are best served in nursing facilities with special services rather than being warehoused in costly and outmoded 19th century mental health institutes. Facilities exist today to provide these services, delivering higher quality for patients at lower costs to taxpayers. The Department of Human Services recommends allowing our mental health system to continue moving forward and giving facilities the flexibility to develop their own settings for care rather than restricting them to the campus at Clarinda. In Southwest Iowa, mental health regions are on track to open residential and community crisis services as well as jail diversion services. However, I recognize the importance of the Clarinda and Mount Pleasant facilities to their communities. It is important to note that the prisons located at Mount Pleasant and Clarinda will continue in full operation. Additionally, Clarinda will continue hosting the Clarinda Youth Academy and private substance abuse services on the campus without interruption. I am committed to working with these communities to repurpose and redevelop the campuses formerly occupied by the mental health institutes. To that end, I am convening a workgroup consisting of members from the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the Department of Corrections (who control the campuses), and the Department of Human Services to work with communities and allow for the easiest most efficient transition of the campuses into new development and jobs.”
Senate File 510: an Act relating to state and local finances by making appropriations, providing for fees, providing for legal responsibilities, providing for certain employee benefits, and providing for regulatory, taxation, and properly related matters, and including penalties, and effective date and retroactive and other applicability provisions. – Read Gov. Branstad’s veto message here.
The following bill was vetoed in its entirety:
House File 652: an Act relating to underground storage tanks, including by establishing an underground storage tank cost share grants program and fund and making an appropriation. – Read Gov. Branstad’s veto message here.
July 2, 2015
DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement about the item-vetoes announced by Governor Branstad today:
“Governor Branstad shamefully announced these disastrous item-vetoes at 4:45 PM on the day before a holiday weekend. He’s clearly hoping Iowans will not notice the decisions he has made.
“The governor’s decision to veto a bipartisan agreement on Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda Mental Health Institutes harms Iowa’s mental health safety net. Patients, their families, legislators, mental health professionals, community leaders, employees, and the public at large all told Governor Branstad to keep these facilities open. The governor simply refused to listen anyone. He ignored both the views of Iowans and the laws of Iowa and decided to close these facilities.
“Governor Branstad has turned his back on Iowa students by item-vetoing funding for school districts, community colleges, and Iowa’s public universities. Education is clearly not a priority for this governor.
“These item-vetoes are wrong for those struggling with mental illness, wrong for Iowa’s students, and wrong for Iowa.”
AFSCME IOWA COUNCIL 61 STATEMENT ON MT. PLEASANT AND CLARINDA MENTAL HEALTH INSTITUTE LAYOFFS AND SHUTDOWNS
July 1, 2015
DES MOINES – AFSCME Iowa Council 61 President Danny Homan issued the following statement about the shutdown of Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda Mental Health Institutes:
“Last night, at midnight, the Mt. Pleasant and Clarinda Mental Health Institutes closed their doors and the entire staff was laid off. This is a sad moment for the people of Iowa, especially those patients and families that need the services provided by these two facilities.
"The real losers here are the patients and the citizens of the state of Iowa. Residents of southern Iowa no longer have these two excellent facilities as an option for the care of their loved ones facing mental health challenges. Iowa’s mental health safety net has been made weaker by the choices the governor has made.
“To the employees of these facilities, who have provided excellent treatment to patients for many years, I'm very sorry the governor has decided to take this action. I believe not only has he violated the collective bargaining agreement by his actions of laying everyone off effective at the end of June, but I also believe he is in violation of a state law and we will take the appropriate action and attempt to fix this situation.
“The governor has chosen to ignore the advice of patients, their families, mental health professionals, legislators, employees, and community leaders. He should be ashamed of the decision he made to shut down these facilities.”
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