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Manchester teachers say no to contract — again

Staff Report
October 07. 2014 10:59PM

MANCHESTER — The city teachers union on Tuesday rejected a proposed four-year contract that would have provided for wage increases in exchange for increased employee contributions to their health care plans, Mayor Ted Gatsas said.

Gatsas said he was “disappointed” in the result and said the stalemate stems from half the teachers being veterans who are off the salary scale.

“When you have a disparity of 50 percent on steps and 50 percent off, there’s no way to come to a common understanding to satisfy both groups,” he said. “I don’t know what the school board is going to do.”

The proposed contract would have steadily increased the contribution rate for health insurance over four years to between 15 and 22.5 percent, depending on the health plan, while restoring a 14-step schedule of salary raises.

Teacher wages have been frozen since last fall, as have contribution rates for health insurance plans, which currently range from approximately 7 to 14.5 percent.

The school board and aldermen indicated support for the deal, though some raised concerns that it would still be too costly and leave the city exposed to the “Cadillac tax,” the excise fee on expensive health care plans under the Affordable Care Act set to go into effect in 2018.

The vote was scheduled after some members of the union complained about a vote held earlier this month that narrowly approved a contract. The vote was initially hailed as a breakthrough after several rounds of negotiations between the union and the district over the last year-and-a-half failed to produce a final agreement.

Some members of the union argued that the time they had to vote earlier this month was at least a half-hour shorter than it should have been under the group’s bylaws.

Union Leader Staff Writers Ted Siefer and Tim Buckland contributed to this report.

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