CONCORD - Unions representing more than 10,000 state workers have begun negotiating with the administration of Gov. Maggie Hassan for new contracts that workers hope will provide wage increases for the first time in four years.
Diana Lacey, president of the State Employees Association, which represents about 90 percent of the Executive Branch employees whose contracts expire June 30, said workers will have gone four and a half years without a general wage increase. In addition, step increases were frozen for one of those years and employees took the equivalent of a pay cut when pensions were overhauled by the Legislature two years ago, she said.
Lacey said wages will be a topic of focus as negotiating meetings are held "a couple times a week" to produce a deal.
"They don't live in a bubble," she said of employees. "They've been hit very hard by the recession. They just want to be able to feed their families, keep roofs over their heads and have reliable transportation."
She said the other unions involved in the negotiations are the New Hampshire Troopers' Association, the New England Police Benevolent Association and the Teamsters Union.
Lacey said introductory remarks last week by Hassan, in which she thanked employees for their service, was "just a nice way start the tone off good."email@example.com