State Employees’ Association bargaining officials vote against two-year contract
Late last night, State Employees’ Association bargaining officials voted, 56-48, against a proposed two-year contract for state employees reached this week with state negotiators. They then voted to send union negotiators back to the state for further talks.
The proposed deal would give state workers their first cost-of-living raises in 4½ years but also introduce a deductible for health care costs.
The union’s Collective Bargaining Senate, which must approve a contract before it can be sent to members for consideration, gathered at 7 p.m. and took questions from union members about the contract changes until about 10 p.m. Then they voted against passing the contract on to rank and file union members for consideration.
The meeting, for union members only, was well attended, according to people there.
Earlier yesterday, the New England Police Benevolent Association, which represents the state Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Corrections and the Liquor Commission law enforcement division, ratified the contract.
State negotiators reached the tentative two-year contract deal Tuesday with the negotiators for four unions: The State Employees’ Association, the New Hampshire State Troopers Association, the New Hampshire Police Benevolent Association and the Teamsters. The State Employees’ Association is by far the largest union of the four.
The tentative contract would give state workers a 1.5 percent raise in July, a 2.25 percent raise next July and another 2.5 percent raise in January 2015.
Accompanying those raises would be a new deductible for health care costs, something state workers have never had. The deductible would be $500 for an individual plan and $750 for a family plan in fiscal year 2014, with the family deductible rising to $1,000 in fiscal year 2015.
Workers would continue to pay their current insurance premiums with each paycheck: $20 for an individual, $40 for a two-person plan and $60 for a family plan.
Certain expenses like lab work or ambulatory surgery done at an approved site that charges lower rates would be exempt from the deductible. Preventive care, screenings and surgeries that can be done in a doctor’s office would also be exempt.
Hospital stays would have been subject to the deductible.
The proposed contract would also allow workers suffering financial hardship to apply for a reimbursement of deductible expenses.
Under the proposed contract, state workers would also begin contributing to their dental insurance. The cost per pay period would be $1 for an individual, $2 for two people and $3 for a family.
In announcing the New England Police Benevolent Association’s approval yesterday, Gov. Maggie Hassan’s spokesman said the proposed contract encourages employee health.
“In exchange for working to improve their own health through activities such as taking a health assessment test, getting a physical, getting a flu shot or having their blood pressure checked, employees earn up to $500 a year through a health reimbursement account and a wellness reimbursement program,” Marc Goldberg said in a statement. “This money can be used for health care expenses such as deductibles or eye glasses.”
Ron Scaccia, the chief negotiator for the New England Police Benevolent Association, also issued a statement yesterday.
“Once again the state of New Hampshire has come to its employees and asked them for assistance in battling the ever increasing costs associated with health care, and once again the loyal employees who work for the State have agreed,” he said. “In accepting the changes in health care which will cost the employees higher deductibles . . . the state will realize over $10 million in savings while the employees will receive very modest increases in salaries.”
(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323,
email@example.com or on Twitter @annmarietimmins.)