Iowa Ordered To Refund State Workers' Meals

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By Richard Pratt

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa is in the process of reimbursing public employees for meals dating back to 2011 after an arbitrator ruled that Gov. Terry Branstad's administration improperly slashed the travel allowances.

The measure by the Department of Administrative Services cut out most reimbursements for employee meals in 2011, a change that saved $900,000 in expenses in one year.

But unions filed grievances, claiming the cut was illegal under their contracts since it took away a benefit without negotiation.

Arbitrator Ellen Alexander agreed in January, ordering the state to rescind the cut and pay back employees for meals that should have been covered since Aug. 15, 2011.

DAS spokesman Caleb Hunter says reimbursements costing $134,000 have gone to 549 employees so far, and more are likely on the way.

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