Nashua police unions agree to contracts
NASHUA - All but one of the city's police unions have reached tentative collective bargaining agreements with the Nashua Police Commission.
"We're pleased the department has been able to reach a tentative agreement with four of the five unions in the police department," said Thomas Pappas, chairman of the Nashua Police Commission.
Tentative agreements with the three civilian employee unions and with the Nashua Police Supervisors Association will be sent to the Board of Aldermen for final approval. Talks are ongoing with the Nashua Police Patrolman's Association.
The unions have been working without a contract for about two years. If approved, the new agreements will bring them current and extend through June 30, 2014, Pappas said.
"Sometimes negotiations don't happen overnight," said Police Chief John Seusing.
Negotiating with five unions at the same time may have slowed things down, as well as discussion surrounding a 10 percent increase in health care costs and other health plan changes, Seusing said. Wages also played a large role in the negotiations.
Under the tentative agreements, members of the Nashua Police Communications Employees union will receive step increases starting at 1.5 percent in 2014. Those employees will also be allowed to wear "business casual" dress on Friday through Sunday.
Members of the Teamsters Local 633 union will see $600 increases for fiscal years 2012 and 2013 and a $925 increase in 2014 if the agreement is approved.
The tentative agreement with the U.A.W. Professional Employees of Nashua Police Department includes a 3.5 percent increase in 2013 and the addition of step-grandchildren to bereavement leave.
The tentative agreement with the Police Supervisors Association includes wage increases in fiscal years 2012 through 2014. The increases range from 1 percent to 2.2 percent depending on rank.
All of the bargaining agreements include health care concessions.
The police union contracts are the last five of the city's 15 union contracts and represent 10 percent of the city's employees, according to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.
Following suggested guidelines, 90 percent of city employees represented in the 10 settled contracts were willing to pay more for health care and take home less salary to deliver an affordable budget to the community, which was her hope for all the unions, Lozeau said.
She was concerned that some of the tentative police agreements are different in regard to salary increases, health care cost amounts and retroactivity.
"It's very important that we be fair and be consistent," Lozeau said.
Maintaining consistency is important to maintain employee trust and have credibility during future negotiations, Lozeau said.
The four agreements ratified between the police commission and the unions are fair and reasonable, Seusing said, and he's hopeful they will be approved by the Board of Aldermen.
The tentative agreements will be brought to the board after the city costs them out, Seusing said.
"I anticipate that will be sooner rather than later," Seusing said.