CONCORD — The State Employees’ Association’s bargaining Senate has voted to recommend that the full SEA membership approve a new contract with the state, according to a release from Gov. Maggie Hassan.
“Throughout the recession, New Hampshire’s dedicated and hard-working state employees pitched in by giving up pay raises, paying more for their health care and doing more with less as the state workforce dropped by 1,100 positions,” Hassan said Tuesday night in a statement. “This is a fair agreement for both employees and taxpayers that will provide the first cost-of-living raises for employees in five years and provide important health care savings to the state.”
The contract will provide the first cost-of-living pay increases in five years and help reduce the state’s projected growth in health care costs, with employees receiving benefits if the state’s health care costs come in under projections.
In return, employees are agreeing to take a more active role in managing their health care costs, Hassan’s release said. The state will switch to a site-of-service plan, where certain services employees will have the option to go to select providers or pay a deductible. In exchange for working to improve their own health through activities such as taking a health assessment test, getting a physical, receiving a flu shot or having their blood pressure checked, employees can earn up to $500 a year through a health reimbursement account and a wellness reimbursement program, the statement said.
“In the end, after five years without a raise, I think we have arrived at a proposal that is fair and will allow the state employees to continue to provide critical services for NH residents, while supporting their own families, too,” SEA President Diana Lacey said in a statement.
Under the agreement, members of the SEA will receive a one-time payment of $300 and a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase for the remainder of fiscal year 2014. They will receive a 2.25 percent raise in July 2014 and a 2.25 percent raise in January 2015.
Hassan said projected savings reached from changes in the new contract “will be shared with all state employees” in the form of a $300 check in January 2014 and a $300 check in January 2015.
The agreement is subject to ratification by a vote of SEA membership.