As noted in the Bargaining Update we sent this morning (click here to view it online), at 3:30 p.m., we released the independent fact-finder’s report. You can find the report on our website. Below, you can find the press release we’ve submitted to New Hampshire media.
Melissa Moriarty; 603-505-7135
Third-Party Report Slams Governor’s Proposals to Unions
Concord, NH – After receiving an extremely favorable fact-finder’s report, the State Employees’ Association continued negotiations with the governor’s bargaining team that ultimately refused to offer state employees fair wages.
“As we said from the very beginning, we will not accept a concessionary contract. We are thrilled to see that the fact-finder agrees with protecting our members,” said Leah McKenna, co-chair of the negotiating team and SEA member.
Mary Ellen Shea, the neutral fact-finder, tasked with reviewing the myriad of issues before the two parties, sided with the SEA on a majority of issues. For example, in regards to the State’s attempt to short-change wages due to rising healthcare costs, she wrote “There is no reason the increased costs should be shouldered entirely by the employees. If the employees are expected to absorb all increased costs associated with a basic benefit such as healthcare, what incentive does the State have to manage or control cost increases?”
The report further recommends that wage increases for employees “must be 2.86% for the first year and 1.16% for the second year” and cited previous wage recommendations that used verified economic data as part of her assessment. The governor’s paltry wage proposal is not aligned with the report’s findings.
The fact-finder also recommended the following items in favor of the SEA:
Access to benefits under the existing Connor’s Law for state employees who have autistic children and dependents. Currently, the law does not cover state employees and it is reasonable for them to enjoy the same benefits as other Granite Staters.
Increases of hazardous duty and direct care pay and codifies it in the contract
The fact-finder did not recommend changes the state’s proposed changes to time worked language which would have lowered wages for employees who work overtime and use leave in the same pay period
The fact-finder did not recommend the governor’s Family Medical Leave Insurance proposal asserting that the program “must have some cost…the State did not refute the union’s evidence and has not demonstrated that its proposal will not create a financial burden that, down the road, might require limits on other benefits or employee wages.”
Union negotiators stress their willingness to reach an agreement that does not sacrifice wages. “We are always willing to negotiate at the table, working with this report as the basis to achieve a contract,” concluded Jim Nall, co-chair of the negotiating team and union member.
Due to New Hampshire’s booming economy often cited by the governor, the coalition of unions (NEPBA,
NH Troopers Association, NH Troopers Association Command Staff, and SEA/SEIU Local 1984) are standing in solidarity with the fact-finder’s report and refusing to concede to the governor’s inadequate wage proposal. A full copy of the fact-finder’s report can be found here.