September 24. 2013 9:53PM

Nashua Mayor blasts police contract proposal

Union Leader Correspondent

NASHUA — While police officials believe a newly proposed union contract is reasonable, the mayor said Tuesday she is disappointed with the revised agreement.

"I am mostly disappointed because more time continues to pass," said Mayor Donnalee Lozeau, noting several police union contracts expired in 2011.

Since that time, other union employees in the city have been paying higher health insurance deductibles and co-pays, according to Lozeau.

"You can't go back and get that money," she said. "Other employees have given up tuition and changed their (compensation) times and given up personal time. When I look at this new contract, I am concerned because (police) have increased their pay for education, added days for some things and included a fourth year of wage increases."

Lozeau also expressed concerns about the initial contract introduced by the Police Supervisors Association four months ago.

"Nothing has changed. I have the exact same concerns I had then," she said.

On Tuesday, aldermen were presented with the new agreement from the Police Supervisors Association that proposes a combined 6.7 percent wage increase for sergeants and a combined 7.7 pay hike for lieutenants over a four-year period.

Earlier this summer, aldermen failed to approve a similar contract with the same union that recommended a 5.2 percent wage increase over three years, and sergeants would have received a wage increase of 4.2 percent over that same time frame.

At the time, a few aldermen and the mayor cited preferential treatment in the agreements, noting some of the union contracts did not include retroactive health care concessions from the past two years.

Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas said Tuesday that he is hopeful the Board of Aldermen will support the newly proposed contract, which he says will benefit the city because it adds an additional fourth year compared to the original agreement that covered three years.

"We think it is a reasonable contract," said Pappas. "The wage amounts in the third and fourth years are equal to or less than what other unions are now negotiating."

Pappas maintained that the final year, with a proposed salary increase of 2.5 percent for both lieutenants and sergeants, is in line with salary rates for other city unions.

The newly proposed contract suggests that sergeants receive a 1 percent pay increase in fiscal years 2012 and 2013, a 2.2 percent increase in 2014 and a 2.5 percent increase in 2015.

The lieutenants, under the newly proposed agreement, would obtain a 2 percent pay increase in 2012, a 1 percent increase in 2013, a 2.2 percent increase in 2014 and a 2.5 percent increase in 2015.

The contract covers 23 sergeants and nine lieutenants. Currently, the total base pay for all 32 positions is about $2.5 million annually. If the new agreement is adopted, a combined $181,609 (throughout the next four years) will be necessary to pay for the wage increases that will result in a new base pay of $2.7 million for the 32 police supervisor contracts, according to the drafted agreement.

In addition to the Police Supervisors Association, there are three other police unions that are operating with expired contracts. Pappas said those three unions are in various stages of negotiations.

He is hopeful that the three remaining unions will have newly proposed contract agreements to present to the Board of Aldermen soon, with at least one of those contracts expected to be ready next month.Lozeau said that while the majority of the police union contracts have been expired since 2011, there are other city unions that are now beginning negotiations for their second contract since then.

Aldermen had their first reading of the proposal but did not discuss the contract as of press time on Tuesday. The agreement is expected to be reviewed by an aldermanic committee before a vote is taken.