The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa City’s unionized employees receive bonus, wage increase

After discussions with the city council and staff, city employees received a bonus as well as an increase in pay for the next fiscal year.
The+Iowa+City+Council+holds+a+meeting+in+Iowa+City+on+Tuesday%2C+Aug.+15%2C+2023.+
Cody Blissett
The Iowa City Council holds a meeting in Iowa City on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023.

The City of Iowa City’s unionized employees received a $1,600 bonus as well as a 3.5 percent pay raise after approval by the city council on Dec. 12.

In mid-September, several members of Local 183, a union that represents eligible employees of Coralville, Iowa City, Tiffin, and Johnson County, spoke to the city council about
how their current wages are not keeping up with post-pandemic inflation.

A report by the National Bureau of Economic Research says total inflation went from 1.3 percent in 2020 to 8.2 percent in September 2022.

Members said these conditions added stress to their personal lives as well as their work lives because of employees leaving the city to work in places that paid better.

At its Dec. 12 meeting, the Iowa City City Council answered the concerns of these employees by passing a series of
resolutions that modified these employees’ pay for the next fiscal year.

According to the meeting’s agenda, eligible unionized city employees will receive a 3.5 percent raise for fiscal 2025, beginning on July 1 of this year. Before the passage of these resolutions, employees were due to receive a 2.25 percent
wage increase.

To put this increase into perspective, if an employee was making $50,000 per year, a 2.25 percent wage increase would make their annual earnings amount to $51,125. With a 3.5 percent increase, that employee would now earn $51,750 yearly, which is a $625 annual increase from a 2.25 percent raise.

Also on the Dec. 12 agenda was a one-time incentive bonus for unionized employees. The agenda states the $1.2 million in funding for this bonus came from COVID-19 relief funds the city received through the American Rescue Plan Act. Iowa City received $18.3 million from this act.

This bonus was meant to encourage worker retention and was paid out to employees on their Dec. 22 payroll, the agenda states. The $1.2 million was divided evenly among employees and amounted to approximately $1,600 per person.

During the public comment session for the incentive bonus, David Sterling, an employee of the city and member of Local 183, said they plan on using this bonus to purchase the second vehicle they have ever owned in their life.

Later on in the meeting, Sterling said the pay they have received in their current job in the city’s revenue department has changed their life compared to jobs they have held in the past. However, they said they still struggle to afford even the cheapest rent in Iowa City.

Sterling said they are appreciative of the wage raise and bonus but hopes the council does not stop thinking of ways in which it can better the lives of the city’s employees in the future.

“I hope that going forward, this helps start a broader discussion of what it is like to actually be an employee here, to desire to put more time into the city and really just improve the quality of life for the people that we serve,” Sterling said.

Also at the meeting was Megan Vollenweider, an Iowa City employee and the vice president of Local 183. Vollenweider said the bonus and pay raise will have a big impact on city employees.

“I think it will make a huge difference for existing employees, especially as we head into — for many employees — the holiday season,” Vollenweider said. “Then next year, with the across-the-board increase, it’s something that builds for the future. It’s very forward-thinking.”

All items related to the bonus and pay raise were passed unanimously. Several councilors thanked the city’s employees for bringing this issue to their attention as well as for the work they do for the city.

The union was chartered 50 years ago in 1973, and is part of approximately 3,400 other local unions in the U.S. across 46 states, according to the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees.

At the meeting, Mayor Bruce Teague said the city’s employees are essential to the day-to-day operations of
the community.

“I just want to say thanks again to all of the city workers,” Teague said. “You all really are the boots on the ground and make living in Iowa City, on so many levels, a place where, to people that I’ve talked to, many are very happy with the services
you provide.”

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About the Contributors
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
(she/her)
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
he/him/his
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.