NASHUA — Before aldermen approved a controversial police supervisors contract on Tuesday, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau again voiced strong opposition to the agreement that includes wage increases for the next four years.
"Like you, when I look at contracts, I put a lot of thought and consideration into what I think is in the best interest of the city," said Lozeau. "… The contract before you tonight exceeds what other unions have done."
While the Police Supervisors Association has agreed to pay retroactive health care costs back to 2011, Lozeau said the union members will be utilizing 15 sick days toward those retroactive payments.
"We have Monopoly money being used. That is how I see it," said the mayor, who prefers the retroactive pay be deducted from wages rather than sick days.
City employees in others unions are still experiencing payroll deductions since making significant health care concessions two years ago, Lozeau said.
The new agreement with the police union includes a combined 6.7 percent wage increase for sergeants and a combined 7.7 percent pay hike for lieutenants over a four-year period.
Earlier this summer, aldermen failed to approve a similar contract with the same union that recommended a 5.2 percent wage increase over three years, and sergeants would have received a wage increase of 4.2 percent over that same time frame.
Lozeau described the new contract as unacceptable.
"It is not easy having this conversation," she said while addressing aldermen and a crowd of at least 10 uniformed police officers. "I don't take this conversation lightly."
Still, she warned aldermen about approving a collective bargaining agreement that could set a precedent for other city police unions that still have expired contracts.
Alderman-at-Large Lori Wilshire disagreed, saying there is value to sick time, and it should be an option for police officers to pay back their retroactive health care costs.
"I think it is good for the morale … to get some of these union contracts in the police department behind us and move forward," said Wilshire.
Alderman Dan Moriarty, Ward 9, argued that the union chose to ignore the desire of city officials expressed when the contract was originally rejected several months ago, and instead proceeded to tack on a fourth year in the contract and ignore recommended adjustments to wages.
Alderman-at-Large James Donchess said he supports the contract, contending other unions have received similar wage increases throughout a four-year period, although perhaps not the same four-year time frame.
"In the name of consistency and fairness, how do we look these officers in the eye?" said Donchess, adding the perception in the community is that crime needs to be addressed.
Police supervisors are on the front line fighting crime, Donchess said.
Although the Police Supervisors Association contract was approved with a vote of 14-1, there are still three other police unions that are operating with expired contracts. Moriarty was the sole board member in opposition.