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SEA members ratify contract giving N.H. state workers raises, deductibles

Members of the State Employees’ Association have endorsed, by a 4-to-1 margin, a new contract that will give state workers their first across-the-board raises in five years.

The union announced last night that members voted, 1,574 to 385, to ratify a new contract that will be in effect through the end of June 2015. Ballots were due Friday, and more than 36 percent of eligible members voted, the union said.

“It took a lot of work to get here but the members have spoken and are now ready to move forward,” said Diana Lacey, the SEA’s president, in a statement.

The more than 7,800 state employees represented by the SEA have been working without a contract since July 1.

A tentative agreement in June was rejected by the SEA’s Collective Bargaining Senate, and negotiations between the union and the state deadlocked for months until a new deal emerged in late October.

That contract, endorsed by the bargaining Senate on a voice vote Oct. 29 and now ratified by SEA members, provides across-the-board raises of 1.5 percent this year, 2.25 percent in July 2014 and 2.25 percent on Jan. 1, 2015 – the first since January 2009.

This year, in lieu of the salary increase being retroactive to July 1, workers will receive a $300 lump-sum payment.

The contract also introduces a first-ever deductible for state workers’ health insurance: $500 for an individual and $750 for a family, with the family deductible rising to $1,000 in 2015.

The deductibles had been a sticking point in negotiations, and union leaders have said the latest deal includes several provisions designed to lessen their potential financial impact on workers.

“I am pleased that SEA members have ratified this agreement that provides the first cost of living increase in five years to our hard working state employees while securing important health care savings for the state,” said Gov. Maggie Hassan in a statement. “I thank SEA members and leadership, as well as state negotiators, for working in good faith to reach a deal that’s fair to all parties.”

Three smaller unions representing state employees – the New England Police Benevolent Association, the Teamsters and the New Hampshire Troopers Association – all ratified new contracts with the state earlier this year.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com.)

(CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the terms of the new contract. It includes a 1.5 percent raise this year, and a $300 lump-sum payment in lieu of the raise being retroactive to July 1.)

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