116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Danny Homan, the leader of Iowa’s largest public employee union who has been an outspoken critic of the state restricting collective bargaining rights and leaving his union’s prison employees in jeopardy from understaffing, announced Wednesday he plans to end his 16-year run as president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61 next month.
In a statement, Homan, 68, an AFSCME employee for over 33 years and president since 2005, said he plans to retire at the end of his term and a new president will be elected at the union’s upcoming convention July 24.
“I am proud to have had the trust and support of the members of this council for the last 16 years,” Homan said in his announcement. “Working here has been the honor of my life. Every day I knew thousands of people were counting on me and this council to have their back, and I am proud to say that we did.”
AFSCME Council 61 represents more than 55,000 members in over 230 bargaining units across Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas.
“In both the good times and the bad, AFSCME was there fighting for the hard working men and women of the state of Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, in our cities, counties, schools, state and private sector employers,” Homan added. “While there is a lot of fight left in me, I know that now is the time for new leadership to move the council forward.”
Homan was at the helm of the union during a sometimes-tumultuous period that spanned the administrations of four governors — two Democrats and two Republicans — when he was the lead union negotiator in contract talks with state policymakers and a major player in workplace issues.
The union leader fought against changes the Republican Legislature made in 2017 to diminish the state’s collective bargaining laws that had stood since the 1970s, and led an unsuccessful legal challenge that ended with an unfavorable Iowa Supreme Court ruling upholding the law signed by former Gov. Terry Branstad.
Homan countered efforts to weaken union membership by working to retain more than 95 percent of AFSCME locals during recertification elections required by the legislation.
Homan became a member of AFSCME in 1986 when he worked as an officer with community-based corrections in Sioux City. He joined the staff of AFSCME in 1988 as a staff representative and became Council 16 president in 2005 — running unopposed for reelection as head of a union that battled for wage increases and benefits — protecting health insurance benefits in particular — during times of state budget surpluses, deficits and economic recession.
According to an AFSCME news release, Homan began his stint as president by working to unify the union after years of division. He fought for and secured new policies that helped hundreds of thousands of people across the state, including raising the minimum wage, marriage equality and expanding Iowa’s civil rights law.
In about the last two years especially, Homan has been a frequent critic of what he has described at dangerous understaffing at Iowa’s prisons that exposed corrections workers to inmate assaults. In March, two state employees at the Anamosa State Penitentiary were killed in what authorities said was a failed escape attempt. Weeks later, lawmakers agreed to a more than $20 million, or about 5 percent, increase to the Department of Corrections budget.
“But the important work done was not because of one person, it was because of our amazing members and staff who get up each day and keep the states of Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas running,” Homan said in his announcement.
“While I may be stepping down from this position, I won’t stop fighting for our members and for the policies that show them the respect they have earned,” he added.
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