May 14. 2013 10:35PM

Police union contracts rejected in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA — Following two years of negotiations, three collective bargaining agreements tentatively reached by city police unions were rejected Tuesday by aldermen who cited preferential treatment.

The three police unions will now have to go back to the negotiating table in an attempt to ratify the contracts that expired in July 2011. Despite rejection of three police union contracts, the Board of Aldermen did authorize one contract with the Teamsters Local 633 police union.

Regarding the other three contracts, seven aldermen had concerns with the proposals.

“When I look at these contracts, a couple of things bother me,” said Alderman Richard Dowd, noting some of the union contracts do not include retroactive health care concessions from the last two years.

In addition, Dowd said at least one of the unions — the supervisors association — was recommending significant salary increases throughout the next three years while other city unions have had .5 or .6 percent increases.

“I can’t support this. I won’t support this,” agreed Alderman Arthur Craffey, who urged his fellow board members to reject the contracts and send them back for further negotiations because the wage increases are too high.

Under the proposed supervisors union contract, police lieutenants would have received a 5.2 percent wage increase over three years, and sergeants would have received a wage increase of 4.2 percent. The Teamsters’ contract, which was approved on Tuesday, provides a wage increase of $600 for each of the first two years and $925 for the third year.

Under the proposed UAW and communications union contracts, employees would not receive wage increases during the first two years, but would obtain 3.5 and 1.5 percent pay increases, respectively, in fiscal year 2014.

Aldermen James Donchess and Lori Wilshire voiced support for the contracts.

Donchess contended that the supervisors union will likely take home less pay under the proposed contract — even with the wage increases — because of significant health care concessions.

“I think it is unwise to walk away from that concession,” said Donchess, maintaining re-negotiations could last indefinitely, making the retroactive pay in health care concessions even less likely in the future.

Alderman Brian McCarthy, board president, said earlier that 1,700 other city employees previously agreed to retroactive health care concessions, but two of the four police unions have not.

Recently, Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas maintained that each union is unique with its own dynamics and history. While it would be nice to have all of the unions the same, Pappas said that is not always feasible.

Although two police unions are not including retroactive pay — the Nashua Police Department’s communication and United Auto Workers unions — the groups have agreed to no pay increases in the first two years of the three-year contracts.

Previously, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau spoke out against the contracts, saying police employees will receive preferential treatment if the agreements are ratified.

She stressed that other city unions previously came to the bargaining table and reached agreements with wage increase of about .5 percent per year, while doubling their health care insurance premium contributions since Oct. 1, 2011.

The supervisors contract failed on 5-7 vote. Aldermen Mark Cookson, Barbara Pressly, David Deane, James Donchess and Lori Wilshire voted in favor, while Richard Dowd, Paul Chasse, June Caron, Dan Moriarty, Kathy Vitale, Arthur Craffey and Brian McCarthy opposed the agreement. Three aldermen were absent from the meeting, and Cookson joined via telephone conference.

The police communications contract failed 6-6, while the UAW contract failed 5-7 and the Teamsters’ contract passed 11-1.