DERRY — After some heated discussions, town councilors approved a three-year collective bargaining agreement Tuesday night between the town and 29 technical and management employees.
Councilors voted, 3-2, with councilor Phyllis Katsakiores abstaining, to approve the new contract that was developed after about three years of negotiations between the town and the union. Councilors Mark Osborne and Al Dimmock voted against the plan.
Members of the Professional Administrative and Technical Employees Union, or PATE, will receive a 2.5 percent raise this fiscal year, according to the town. Under the new contract, employees will also receive raises in fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017 of 1.5 percent, 2 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Before the vote, Councilor Mark Osborne asked for more time in the wake of a detailed presentation by Acting Town Administrator Larry Budreau. Because the presentation was so thorough, the council and public should have more time to digest the information, and the vote should be postponed until the next council meeting, Osborne said.
“We’ve been talking about trying to get a contract approved for three years,” Osborne said, adding, “if it is a good thing then I don’t think that another two weeks would cause any irreversible harm.”
But the motion to postpone was rejected by the council in a 4-2 vote, with Dimmock joining Osborne in voting for postponement.
Osborne then tried to halt the roll call vote on the contract through a rarely used “charter objection.” But that attempt also failed after the council voted, 3-2, with Fairbanks abstaining, to reject an appeal by Osborne. Osborne was again joined by Dimmock in voting for the appeal.
The council then voted to approve the agreement, ending the highly contentious meeting.
In his approximately hour-long presentation, Budreau outlined why he thought the agreement was a good deal for the town. Budreau said the contract met the goals of Derry in having employees shoulder more of the burden for health care costs, while providing conservative wage increases and clarifying language.
“We have met your goals; we have hit a home run,” Budreau said.
The agreement incorporates more than 40 changes and is similar to recent agreements between the town and support staff, the Derry Police Patrolman’s Association and the Teamsters, Budreau said.
The workers’ last raise was in 2010. The last collective bargaining agreement between the Town and the union expired on June 30, 2011.
The two groups negotiated over the next three years, before reaching a tentative agreement on Jan. 21, Budreau said.
Among the changes, the union has agreed to increase the employee contribution toward conventional health plan premiums from 14.5 percent to 18 percent in March, 19 percent in July, and 20 percent in July 2015. The present $5 co-pay health plan would be eliminated with the new agreement.
In addition, the obligation to provide fully paid health insurance for up to four years in case of disability has been shortened to 3½ years.
Budreau said that the proposed wage increases are conservative and in line with other comparable New Hampshire municipalities.