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March 05. 2013 11:17PM

Five labor contracts on ballot in Hudson

HUDSON - Voters in Hudson will decide the fate of several labor contracts at next week's Town Meeting, with collective bargaining agreements between the town and its fire, police, highway department, department supervisors and administrative support staff all up for consideration.

The Hudson Board of Selectmen is supporting all five of the proposed contracts. If all of them pass at the March 12 polls, the combined contracts would represent a tax increase of 10 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value.

Article 4, the proposed contract with the town's highway workers, would cost the town $5,772 in the coming fiscal year, increasing to $36,025 in 2016, the final year of the agreement.

Article 5, the proposed contract with the town's support staff, would cost the town $27,411 next year, and $41,062 in the year to follow.

Article 6, a contract with the town's department supervisors, would cost the town $70,024 in the coming fiscal year and $57,348 the following year.

Article 7, a contract with the firefighter's union, would cost the town $103,069 next year and $66,413 the following year.

Article 8, a contract with the police union, would cost the town $145,141 next year and $128,183 the following year.

Local selectmen said they attempted to control the rising costs of health benefits while providing a modest cost of living wage increase for employees, many of whom haven't had a raise in four years.

Depending on the contract and year, some employees stand to gain a maximum 2.5 percent raise annually during the life of the contracts.

Savings from switching employees' health care plans alone would save the town around $270,000 over the next few years, town officials said.

Hudson Fire Chief Shawn Murray urged voters to support the new contracts, noting that three of those contracts involve his departments personnel - the Hudson Police, Fire and Tax Supervisors Association, Professional Firefighters of Hudson IAFF Local 3154 and the Town of Hudson Support Staff Union AFSCME Local 1801.

Murray said the ultimate goal of contract negotiations is "to bring together management and labor in order to harmoniously come to agreement on fair equitable pay, benefits and working conditions."

The town spends roughly $17,000 each year on labor negotiations, he said.

"Through the negotiating process and when a contract is presented to you the taxpayer, you can be assured that it is brought forward after much deliberation and scrutiny at a number of levels," Murray said.

Voting on all town and school warrant items will take place Tuesday, March 12, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Hudson Community Center, located at 12 Lions Avenue.

aguilmet@newstote.com


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