NASHUA — City officials on Tuesday ratified a new bargaining agreement that offers more than 1,000 local teachers steady pay increases throughout the next three years.
The Board of Aldermen adopted the proposed three-year contract between the Nashua Board of Education and the Nashua Teachers' Union Local 1044 with little debate.
According to the new contract, city teachers will be receiving an increase to their base pay of 2 percent in the first year, 2.7 percent in the second year, and 3.1 percent in the third year. The agreement will be in effect from Sept. 1, 2013, to Aug. 31, 2016.
"The contract is probably one of the better ones we have had come before us by the teachers' union," said Alderman Richard Dowd, Ward 2, while asking his fellow board members to support the proposal.
In addition to the wage increases, the agreement also limits severance pay to 40 percent of funded salaries, eliminates longevity payments for new hires and implements extra steps to prolong the amount of time it takes for a veteran teacher to reach the maximum pay level, Dowd said.
"This is an important contract for the city, and for a very important group of employees," said Alderman-at-Large Jim Donchess, who also supported the proposed agreement.
Currently, the combined base pay for the city's 1,005 teachers in the union is about $55.5 million. Now that the contract is approved, the combined base pay will jump to $56.7 million in fiscal year 2014, $58.2 million in fiscal year 2015 and nearly $60 million in fiscal year 2016.
Alderman Dan Moriarty, Ward 9, was the only board member to vote in opposition of the proposal. While studying the step table, Moriarty said select teachers could experience significant pay increases averaging 4 percent.
"Really, really high pay increases given today's economy," said Moriarty, who said he would rather see that money prioritized for other educational benefits such as summer school initiatives or better pay for new teachers.
Bob Sherman, president of the Nashua Teachers' Union, said he believes that the salary projections are high in the cost analysis. Not everyone who retires is eligible for severance, said Sherman, noting that when retirees are replaced, the positions are filled with lower salary teachers, which is not reflected in the cost projections.
City officials will now transfer about $788,000 from the contingency account in the current budget cycle to accommodate the cost item changes in the bargaining agreement, while an additional $348,000 from the school retirement expendable trust fund will also have to be transferred.
Aldermen also voted in favor of two additional bargaining agreements with two other city unions — the International Association of Firefighters Local 789 and the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America Professional Employees Local 2232 of the Nashua Police Department.
The two-year contract with firefighters provides a base salary increase of 2.5 percent each year for 166 city firefighters.
The four-year collective bargaining agreement with the police department's UAW union will run from July 2011 to June 2015, and include a combined wage increase of 4.3 percent over the four-year period.
The 15 members of the police union will not receive any pay increases for the first two years of the contract, but will earn a 1.8 percent increase in fiscal year 2014 and a 2.5 percent increase for fiscal year 2015.