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November 21. 2013 11:19PM

Nashua police supervisor talks in limbo

NASHUA — With city officials about to review two newly proposed union contracts, the controversial bargaining agreement with the Nashua Police Supervisors Association is still in limbo.

Although the Board of Aldermen approved the police supervisors contract last week, it eliminated a provision that would have allowed members to pay for retroactive health care costs using sick days, essentially changing the language of the agreement.

“It is not a ratified contract at this point,” Stephen Bennett, corporation counsel for the city, said on Thursday. “They have several options before them.”

Bennett admits this is new territory for the city.

Police Commissioner Thomas Pappas agreed, saying some of the logistics are confusing.

“I am not sure it is entirely clear where to go from here,” said Pappas, admitting the 32 police supervisors are aware of the situation since many were in attendance when aldermen voted on the contract last week.

Pappas said he has reached out to the union, and is waiting for a response. The members can either agree to leave the contract as it now stands, without the sick day provision, or they can reject the new contract entirely.

“If that happens, we are back to negotiations,” said Pappas. “This is not the same contract the union approved.”

To date, union members have neither accepted nor rejected the newest version of the bargaining agreement.

“I think it is fair to say they are frustrated,” Pappas said of the police supervisors, noting this is the same union that had its original contract rejected by aldermen earlier this year. “They were quite hopeful that this would pass, but this is now a new setback for them.”

Bennett said the union can opt to leave the agreement as it now stands, add a different element to the contract or even put the sick day provision back into the proposal.

“I don’t think that would be very successful though,” Bennett said of the latter option, stressing the board has already voted in opposition to the concept of allowing sick days to fund retroactive health care costs.

However, he explained that any cost item changes made to the tentative agreement would have to go back to the Board of Aldermen for authorization.

“They could propose something entirely new, but that wouldn’t happen until after Jan. 1,” said Bennett, adding unresolved legislation will die on Dec. 31, and the membership of the Board of Aldermen will be different in the new year. It is up to the union to take the next step, he said.

The original agreement with the police supervisors included a combined 6.7 percent wage increase for sergeants and a combined 7.7 percent pay hike for lieutenants over a four-year period.

Meanwhile, an aldermanic committee will soon review a separate agreement that has been reached between the Nashua Police Commission and the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America Professional Employees Local 2232 of the Nashua Police Department.

The four-year collective bargaining agreement will run from July of 2011 to June of 2015, and include a combined wage increase of 4.3 percent over the four-year period.

In addition, aldermen will also be presented with another union contract involving Nashua firefighters, which would increase their wages by about five percent over two years.

khoughton@newstote.com


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