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SEA leaders endorse tentative contract that includes pay raises, health insurance deductibles

State Employees’ Association members will soon vote on a new contract that offers thousands of state workers their first across-the-board raises since January 2009 while instituting a first-ever deductible for their health insurance.

Negotiations between the state and the SEA have been deadlocked for months. But late last week, both sides said progress was being made, and last night the union’s Collective Bargaining Senate endorsed a two-year contract on a voice vote.

The tentative agreement, which is broadly similar to a deal rejected by the same Senate in June, now goes to the SEA’s members for ratification. Jim Nall, chairman of the union’s master bargaining team, said ballots will hopefully be mailed out by the end of the week.

“This has been a long process – longer than what either side would have wanted. . . . 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 New Hampshire residents, while supporting their own families, too,” said Diana Lacey, president of the SEA, in a statement.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, thanked negotiators on both sides for their work since the talks began in January.

“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,” Hassan said in a statement last night.

Back in June, the state announced it had reached a tentative agreement with the union on a new two-year contract. But the SEA’s bargaining Senate rejected the deal on a 56-48 vote, sending negotiators back to the table.

Those talks stalled, and four days of mediation failed to break the deadlock. The union and the state prepared for fact-finding, a process that involves presenting information to a neutral third party, but called off a scheduled session last week when they began to make progress on their own.

Last night, the Senate met for nearly an hour and a half and endorsed the tentative contract on a voice vote; “It wasn’t close,” said Peter Brunette, president of the SEA’s Chapter 41, which represents Seacoast-area employees.

The deal rejected by union leaders in June offered employees their first across-the-board raises since January 2009: 1.5 percent this year, 2.25 percent in July 2014 and 2.25 percent on Jan. 1, 2015.

It also made changes to health coverage, including a new insurance deductible of $500 for an individual and $750 for a family, with the family deductible rising to $1,000 in 2015.

“Employees really actually need the raise to pay their bills. They need a raise that they can use that way, and not have to use for more health care costs,” Lacey said in mid-September.

The deal tentatively approved last night includes the same increases in pay. Nall said the initial raise won’t be retroactive to July 1, but members instead would receive a $300 lump-sum payment.

The new deal also includes the same deductibles. But, Nall and Lacey said, money was moved around and changes were made to lessen the potential financial impact on employees.

“There are mitigating factors here that will help people when they are going to be exposed to the deductibles,” Nall said. “The last one was a major loss to our employees.”

Next, the tentative contract goes to members for an up-or-down vote.

“I wouldn’t presume to speak for the membership, but I think that all state employees benefit from this, whether they’re represented by SEA or not,” Brunette said. “I think it’s in their interest to ratify it.”

More than 7,800 state employees represented by the SEA have been working without a contract since the end of June. Three smaller unions representing state workers – the New England Police Benevolent Association, the Teamsters and the New Hampshire Troopers Association – have all ratified new contracts.

(CORRECTED, Oct. 30: An earlier version of this article misspelled Peter Brunette’s name.)

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Legacy Comments56

Wow, there is a lot of denial going on here, and spinning like the girl in the Exorcist to come up with excuses of what is actually going on with the ACA. What does the left do, they attack the messenger. You cannot accuse someone of BS if you do prove them wrong. All you are doing then, is name calling and changing the subject. I also find it unbelievable that many of the folks defending the ACA have no clue what is in it. So much so, the fall out from it is a surprise to them. When you think about it, seems like everything is a surprise to this President and the folks who support him. They know nothing, when called out they change the wording of what they said. You get the impression they have no clue what is going on. Incredibly incompetent, but very good at convincing folks they will provide everything free for them. Like the used car salesman. The Little Old Lady just drove the car on Sundays to church.

Itsa, you might be surprised to find out that Congress is not sent to Washington to spend on it's time on political payback hearings on everything the other political party does. Maybe they could pass some legislation just to make it look good once in a while.

You mean the way Democrats did when Bush was president? Please give us a break, read the newspapers, educate yourself, but please stop repeating the same stale Democrat playbook rhetoric.

Omigod, Itsa, stop repeating the same stale Republican playbook rhetoric. The Republican house and Republican senators are the anti-party. It started the day Obama was elected. They are negative, anti immigrant, anti climate change, anti women's health, ant gay, anti black. If Reagan was the positive "shinning city on a hill" Republican, the new tea party (you) Republicans and the very opposite. I know you guys don't believe in polling unless it comes from Faux but just check the polling for every other news outlet on Republicans in congress.

more of the same massive daily leftist rhetoric - not a stitch of fact in Tillies entire post

Government Workers Earn More Than Their Private-Sector Counterparts.... The CBO study shows that govt employees earned an average 16% more in total compensation, meaning pay and benefits, versus workers at private companies.

I'll just point out that this report is specifically about federal employees. There's no information here about state employees in general or NH state employees in specific. But again, I ask, if this is true, why pull public employees down to the level of private? Why not work to improve the compensation (and retirement) of all employees. I swear, we're moving close and closer to a 2-class system of wealthy and peasants every day. Do you realize how much the corporations & their wealthy directors and shareholders control our lives and our fates? Do you realize how hard they're working to keep us in our places?

Ahhhh.... the big business conspiracy theory from the leftist.

What you will find Sail is that most public employees support the left viewpoints as they are dependent on the public money to stay afloat in their jobs. Go along to "get" I call it. Wealthy directors and shareholders are those who pull the cart. Public employees are just on the wagon for the easy ride. You get paid in this world for what you produce, for your level of responsibility and for the value of the work you produce. Folks on the left don't realize that the state staple and shuffle jobs generally have little or no value.

Dont you worry...The leader of our country has just shifted his focus to global warming..or was it gun was immigration reform..or was it stand your ground was gay marriage. Well, whatever, he's been the leader for 5 years, every day you claim we're headed in the wrong direction..

It would be nice if the Republican house would shift their focus from something besides getting rid of Obamacare. They have been obsessed with it since 2010 and haven't done another damn thing except close down the government and hold Benghazi hearings.

tillie wants us to "look the other way" as Obamacare is a nightmare and Benghazi, Syria and a host of other issues should not be concentrated on, they aren't important? Hail, Hail Obama, nothing is his fault.

Dude we've been headed in the wrong direction for 30 years. At least Obamacare is a step toward equalization - putting more people on a leveler playing field for health care, at least.

Do they realize it? No they don't! That's years in the future. Half of our esteemed conservative commentators here are just figuring out that health insurance premiums get increased to help pay for the uninsured. This clearly is shown in the piece a couple of days ago about the person who successfully signed up with the ACA. Judging from this, you should figure these same people will start to understand your point sometime around 2038.

They have the worst of all minds, closed. Look how quickly they all assumed the letter writer form Portsmouth had gotten a subsidy that they were paying for. Like GWTW seeing one word in a hopeful story about Sandy survivors. Old clichés work, they don't see the forest for the trees. Closed minds. They have learned all they want to in life, made their decisions about it and nothing will ever change them. Stubbornly stupid.

Well then,,,everyone is going to be insured under shouldnt everyones premiums be going down??

Let's hear it for the cheerleaders for the race to the bottom. The CBO study and others report on a relatively recent phenomenon, one to which the public sector has been relatively immune. There would be little or no gap if historic trends had continued after the 1980's. The gap reflects the fact that wages in the private sector have stagnated for most over the last several decades. The glaring exception, of course, is for those at the very top of the income ladder. Blame it on the decline of manufacturing--due to deliberate neglect, lack of investment, and government policies that rewarded/bribed our Cold War allies with technology transfers, along with weak "free trade" agreements that resulted in out-sourcing many good jobs. Couple that with laws that have weakened the ability of unions to organize and the concomitant rise of the financial sector as the leading player in American business, and we have an economy that has for at least 2 decades been incapable of creating enough good jobs at good wages to meet demand.

Does the Obamacare website, made by a Canadian firm, count as outsourcing many good jobs?? Asking for a friend....

Here is a cheer for you! Ra! Ra! Obama's the man. If anyone can take us to the bottom....Barack can. Do you write at the Monitor or just work the presses or read propaganda all day? But anyway, there is a cheer for ya! Oh those poor unions and the dirty slugs who operate them.....I am feeling so sorry for them.

In America the piece of the pie is for ever increasing. The left will have you believe that the size of the pie is static and you are not getting your fair share. In America our form of Government is for govt to be a referee in life and not a player. What America promises you is the equality in opportunity to achieve your dream - NOT equality of outcome. People that agree with the socialist ideology of Bruce can find that in other countries - The USA is a self righting ship and in no short time it will right itself and expel the damaging influences of NObama and Bruce's kind of political thought that has infiltrated the low information democrat voter

Your response is nothing but a series of cliches strung together that might have come from a high school civics book from the 1950's. They're empty slogans that bear little or no resemblance to reality today. Case in point: "...the piece of the pie is ever increasing." Really? Your evidence? For whom has that been true for decades? Not the majority of our citizens, who've been getting a raw deal from politicians and corporations for a generation or more. Wages have been stagnant for at least a generation, while wealth has steadily accumulated at the top, to levels not reached since the Gilded Age. Over this same time, equality of opportunity has declined--it's now greater in most of the European nations you routinely deride as socialist. In the main, corporate leaders in the U.S. have focused on short term gains at the expense of long-term goals over this timeframe, boosting share-holder value at the expense of long-term value, because their own salaries and stock options depended on boosting shareholder incomes. I would submit that the shareholder "value added" often came at the expense of a company's long-term viability, at the expense of the company's employees, and with little to no regard for the communities of which those companies had been an integral part. Too often, there was no loyalty to community, state, or country--only to the bottom line. That focus on the short term--often thinly disguised (and mis-labeled) as "free trade", has resulted in the "giant sucking sound" of lost jobs over and over. I reject the notion that a company's only obligation is to make money--and many of our greatest CEO's in history did as well; they recognized an obligation to something besides the next quarter's profits. That's a concept clearly lost on many of our nation's 'best and brightest' in business and finance, who've embraced Gordon Gecko's "greed is good" motto wholeheartedly. This nation was founded "by the people" and "for the people", not by and for corporations. And there is no guarantee it will be 'self-righting' when political power is bought and sold by the highest bidder, and corporations are now given constitutional rights they neither earned nor deserve.

Preach it, Brother Currie!

More of the same massive daily leftist rhetoric. Have you been taking plagiarizing lessons from Rand Paul? Sounds like some thing I just read it a Itsa post. Have to check my link on that. Maybe in Wikipedia?

Sail - the illusion of "equality in opportunity" is one of the things that's holding us back today. There may have been a more equal playing field in the past, but it's long gone today. You cannot possibly tell me that a girl born in a poor family, who cannot concentrate in school because she's hungry, who doesn't have the grades or the money to attend a good college, (or comes out with $60,000 in debt) and then can't afford adequate health care because she lives in a state that didn't expand Medicaid, has even remotely the same opportunity for success as a boy born to a family that can send him to private school, then college (with no college loans) and connections that help him get his first good job. No, you can't. The rich stay rich and the poor stay poor generationally, and the middle class is getting pushed toward the poor end because the rich are sucking up more and more of the wealth in the country. The pie is NOT getting bigger for everyone. If it were, we would not now have 40% of the country's wealth held by 1% of its citizens.

Government Employees Work Less than Private-Sector Employees By Jason Richwine, Ph.D....... this paper uses the American Time Use Survey, which produces a detailed listing of personal activities on a given day for each respondent. Based on this dataset, government employees work around three fewer hours per week and roughly one less month per year than private-sector workers. Guess what the result is for teachers......

Correct Sail, here is the exact quote and he used ATUS so there is no question it is correct: "During a typical workweek, government employees work about three fewer hours than private employees. Over the course of a full calendar year, government employees work around one month less".

That study is from the individual who recently resigned from the Heritage Foundation. His questionable claims regarding IQ, race, and immigration led to his resignation. One might wonder whether his conclusions in the study mentioned above follow from his data, or he worked the other way around, letting his preconceptions drive the way he looked at his topic. The larger issue here is that instead of promoting a race to the bottom for all American workers, some of the posters on here might consider the benefits of raising the minimum wage, so that a 40 hour work week would provide a decent standard of living for almost anyone. The SNAP program and other programs that serve those in poverty, and tax breaks like the EITC, in effect subsidize low wage businesses that could afford to pay better wages. If, as conservatives allege, one of the unintended consequences of such programs is to make welfare more attractive than work, then one remedy is to make work more attractive by raising the minimum wage.

I'm trying to remember if the minimum wage in '79 would have provided me a decent standard of wasn't. It was $2.90...I made the necessary adjustments.

In 1972 I earned $1.60 per hour and when I got a raise to $2.00 per hour I felt rich but those were not jobs which anyone could live off of. I worked at a hotel and the desk clerks earned $3.00 per hour but all of them held two jobs to make ends meet. My dad earned $34,000 per year and that was real money back then but he still supplemented it with side work to make ends meet. Today, people want to work just 40 hours and live like kings. It isn't going to happen. I can't recall when I have worked less than 55 hours per week. I sacrificed many things to earn enough to support my family, mainly in the way of working hours and doing extra to make their life better. That is who I resent the 37 hour warriors who complain about pay for doing the minimum.

Twisted logic, but one point is that SNAP is supposed to be a "supplemental" program, not the only source of food and nutrition. When you raise the wage, those who earn more than minimum wage expect a raise. For example is the minimum wage went from $8.00 to $10.00, those now earning $10 would expect a raise to $12. That only causes inflation. Most 40 hour jobs are not upwardly mobile. 40 hours is a very short and minimal work week these days.'But nothing in Richwine’s dissertation was outside the perimeter of normal academic debate or anywhere close to it. He did what scholars are supposed to do — conducted research, analyzed data, asked questions, drew conclusions — and he did it, by all accounts, with integrity. He published his work openly and made his data available for scrutiny. In public forums, he engaged in debate and discussion. Isn’t that how the marketplace of ideas is supposed to function? Especially in academia, where the uninhibited clash of ideas and opinions is the best environment yet devised for increasing knowledge and resolving debates?"

That's the opinion of Jeff Jaccoby, the house conservative at the Globe. But many others disagree, for his dissertation concludes: “From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent.” When asked to comment, none of his 3 thesis advisors gave a ringing endorsement of the "findings", only his research methods. Conservatives are always seeking scientific justification for the status-quo, and attempts to link race and IQ are common in the netherworld of the far-right--often going hand-in-hand with anti-immigration screeds. As others have observed, the strongest link is likely that between low IQ and racism. The last word in this story goes to a study published in 2012 in the journal Psychological Science. “In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874),” the researchers wrote, “we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood.” your theory is this guy..who went on to get his PHD..must have had a low childhood IQ??

Checkmate to GWTW.... in the rules of debating Bruce is again blown out of the water. Smearing the author or demeaning it as opinion are the Saul Alinsky tactics of the left.....but never ever debate the issues.

The conclusion Richwine reached is odious: “From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent.” Nor is it supported by the data in his study, as is shown by the fact everyone from his thesis advisors to Heritage walked away from him and his thesis. I cited the thesis because it suggests that this guy is a hired gun with a Harvard Ph.D, who will gladly do a 'study' whose result will be mis-used to reach conclusions that support a continued race to the bottom for the American economy. The short-sighted conclusion the right wants us to reach is devoid of context, by failing to look at long term trends and their causes. The decline of the middle class, and wage stagnation, are the result of deliberate policies beginning in the late 1970's, and can be traced back even earlier to lack of investment in industries like machine tools and steel-making. Our hollowed-out industrial base has two basic causes: our fealty to mis-guided 'free-trade' economic theories instead of a modern mercantilist industrial policy of the sort that Germany pursued; and Cold War technology transfers and trade agreements with Japan and S. Korea.

Reply to GWTW below, in response to " your theory is this guy..who went on to get his PHD..must have had a low childhood IQ??" That's it exactly--now you're using Richwine 'logic'. Well-done!

State employees are public "servants". They received benefits that the people in the private sector, most of whom don't receive the same benefits pay for. I would think that state employees would be greatful. They work ONLY 37.5 hours and it is called full time. They have a lucrative pension program and most single task in their jobs. Now they are whining about having to pay a $500 deductible which is still far less than their counterparts in the private sector. In the real world (private sector) if you don't like the pay and benefits you go out and find a job where you do like the pay and benefits. May I suggest that to those state employees whining about this.

"Servant"? These people are employees just like us. They deal with a thankless job for the most part and get lousy wages for their trouble. The thought was the higher standard of benefit and pension if your vested made up for that wage disparity. Just like every other government promise it has been thrown by the wayside. This isn't a raise, it's a net pay cut. When the your pay goes up and your hard cost go up more that's a net loss. Sounds like indentured servitude to me. If I was a union member I'd vote NO! For all of us private sector people who think this is good for us, I'd ask how you'd respond if this was your paycheck? I'd do like the good republican here states and take my talents elsewhere.

The fact is that they would get higher pension or benefits and that is why they went into public service 20 years ago, is a canard. They went into public service for a couple of reasons.....the work was minimal and easy..........they did not do well in the public sector....that is for the most part. And if you think that those of us in the private sector get big raises, much less a cost of living wage, think again. If you think that in the private sector, we are not asked to do more for the same money, think again. I am not interested in working 60+ hours to do whatever I have to in order to support my family and pay more for folks working a part time schedule 37 hours. No one is being overworked in state government but lots of clock punching. Yes, PUBLIC SERVANTS.

Maybe it's time for all workers - public and private alike - to stand up and demand better treatment from the corporate overlords. If the private sector is not getting paid living wages and is not feeling secure about their retirement, why do we turn around and kick the public employees? It's not their fault the private sector is being paid poorly while the CEOs and the stockholders get wildly rich. Face it - trickle down does not trickle down anything except stuff you don't want dripping on you.

FYI: Not every state worker works 37.5 hours. A lot of us work 40 hours. We work at the Glencliff home and the Veteran's home and the Sununu Youth Services Center. These are 24/7 facilities. The majority of the state workers make less than $40,000 a year. Our pension program is not "lucrative". The average retiree receives $1800 month in retirement benefits. A lot of other state workers work in the public as DMV workers, Child Protective Service workers, Corrections personnel, state police, Elderly services social workers, Fish and Game officers, Department of Transportation workers(who keep our highways safe). When the State Legislature cuts the state budget, we are affected twice. Once with pay freezes or layoffs, and again when our property taxes go up because of cost shifting to city and towns. We continue to work for you, the people of NH, because we like our jobs and helping people. We don't deserve the bad mouthing every time we have new contract issues. We work just as hard as everyone else. We are not getting rich working for the state. Most of my co-workers have 2 jobs just to make ends meet. You only hear about the few who finagle large pensions by double dipping!

Does anyone know ... doesn't the current contract provide for pay increases based on Step, such that employees get a pay raise every year, even without an increase in the contract? It looks like these Step increases are 4-5% each, even without a new contract. If so, wouldn't this new contract really be a raise on top of a raise?

Step increases were frozen for quite a while and the clock stopped as well. They way they work I think is that you get anywhere from a 1-3% increase provided performance goals are met. Step increase are available every year, or every two years, or every three years depending on where the employee is at. A stae employee can maybe weigh in, but my ex worked for the State and I think it works something like that.

My state employee friend tells me that employees get step increases each year for 5 years (contingent on good employee evaluation), and that each amounts to about 4%. The next 2 increases are 2 years apart, and the last one is 3 years after that. Once an employee has been on the job 9years, they do not get any more step increases. He also reminds me that as part of the last contract, no one got a step increase during 2012. Everyone had their step increases delayed one year. This was on top of no across-the-board raises since July 2008, and a 2% cut in take-home pay due to the increase in pension deductions. They started paying a nominal amount for their health insurance as well. Seems to me this new contract is well deserved.

Your friend? Give us a break, your friend is looking back at you in the mirror. You are very funny......LOL

Um, no, I don't work for the state, and never have. However, I have spoken at length with my friend about how state employment works, as I once considered applying for a state job. I decided, in the end, that it wasn't worth the cut in pay, since I would not be able to work long enough to build up much tenure, and to get back to the money I'm currently making.

Smart move FOF but you would probably fit right in.

I would have liked the union to ask for the higher pay increase to start now and have the lesser percent of 1 1/5 in 2015, especially since no raise since 2009.

This tentative agreement is good for public services and good for the New Hampshire economy. Stagnant wages for working people means stagnant demand for consumer goods. Organized employees have long used the power of democracy in the workplace to lead the way for everyone who works for a living. As a member of the SEA Bargaining Senate, I was proud to support it last night. John Corrigan

Economics 101: seizing $1 dollar out of the pocket of the private sector and giving to Govt to spend ...... one can expect a return of perhaps sixty cents in "services," which in most cases are services that one does not want enough to be willing to pay for them voluntarily." ..... "Waste, graft, and inefficiency are bad enough, but as Milton Friedman suggested long ago, the greatest loss of wealth results from the reduction of the private-sector capital base. Lost investment in the private sector, where the multiplier effect actually does operate will necessarily reduce future GDP growth."

Another shaft from the union. If you make 35K or less and have a procedure done once at the hospital or urgent care center your on the short end of the stick. Don't forget, for the first time, you will now have to pay your dental ins. premiums. Do the math $50,000 @ 1 1/2 % first year raise =$750.00 raise Colonoscopy procedure =you pay the first $500 deductible. Not much left for you. Don't let the $300 bribe fool you. I think the example of the colonoscopy procedure says it all! Long time state employee and fed up with the union hierarchy's give aways

Which $300.00 bribe are you talking about? The first, second, third fourth, or fifth? My math says $1500.00.

There are many ways to avoid the deductible, or offset it with incentives if you shop around. The dental insurance premium ranges from $1 to $3 -- a max of $78 per year for $1,500 in benefits. There are new walk-in centers that have lower copays - shop around.

Are you aware that a colonoscopy costs between $3000 to $4000? That $500 is 15%. You want it for free? With your scenario you would still be $250 ahead.

In many other advanced nations, colonoscopies are far less costly. The fact they so much more expensive here is one reason why U.S. healthcare costs are the highest in the world.

I am not so sure that I would take a colonoscopy in a third world country or even Europe. $500 for one is a bargain, the poster obviously feels entitled to "free" services.

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