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Derry officials unhappy with small turnout on workshop for negotiation information

Union Leader Correspondent

October 16. 2013 9:08PM

DERRY — Some Town Councilors Tuesday night said they were disappointed at the small turnout for a workshop held for the public to give input on collective bargaining negotiations.

Five out of the seven town employee unions don’t have a contract and the workshop was established at the public’s request for residents to offer suggestions about the town’s future collective bargaining goals, said Acting Administrator Larry Budreau.

But looking out to the number of empty chairs before him, Councilor Mark Osborne commented on the number of people who turned out for the meeting.

“I think we all thought that having this workshop would be a good idea,” Osborne said. “I was very hopeful that it would bring out folks who I know are concerned about contracts, and I see eight people in here . . . it just occurs to me that the apathy in this town at times is disgusting.”

Councilor Al Dimmock said he was also disappointed that so few residents attended. Dimmock said that he believes the council wants the public’s input.“In the future, if we come up with a workshop I hope these people that are complaining behind the scenes will come and discuss it with us so that we can actually know how the pulse of the town is operating,” Dimmock said.” I think tonight is a disappointment to this whole council that we didn’t have people here to speak out.”

But Councilor Brad Benson said he didn’t share this view, and that the small turnout could also be considered a positive indicator that the council is doing its job in negotiations.“I look at it differently,” Benson said.” I think that what you just heard is that you are doing the right things holding the line, that you are negotiating good contracts, that our negotiator has done what he’s empowered to do, and that the people are not dissatisfied with what you are doing. So I don’t think that’s a negative.

Before the public was invited to speak, Budreau discussed how the town had taken steps to invite the public to the workshop. He said residents were encouraged at the last several council meetings and through recent press releases to review the town’s contracts and provide input by calling or emailing councilors “and/or by attending tonight’s workshop.”

Of the eight people attending, only one resident, Kelley Martin, offered input to councilors.

Martin said she only wanted to offer a comment to “ensure that when you are looking at offering a contract that care is taken to compare what’s available in the private sector to that which would be provided to municipal employees.”Martin added that she didn’t have any specific concerns but it “seems to me that we don’t always compare it to the private sector, so I just ask that that be done.”

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