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Let's make a deal: Breakthrough with state unions

April 25. 2018 6:10PM

Was all that huffing and puffing really necessary?

For most of the past year, the State Employees Association, the largest of the four unions representing state workers, has been lobbing rocks at Gov. Chris Sununu. The contracts ran out last year, and negotiations soon stalled.

Sununu rejected union calls for 3 percent annual pay raises, citing five raises in four years under the Hassan administration.

A deal reached this week includes a 1.5 percent cost- of-living adjustment once the deal is official, and another in January. That is truly meeting the union halfway.

One set of state workers would get a much larger raise. State corrections officers would receive a 9.1 percent raise in July.

State prisons have been facing a staffing shortage. New Hampshire pays to put new corrections officers through the state police academy. Once certified as law enforcement, they become tempting targets for local police departments, and for higher-paying prison systems in other states.

Bumping up salaries for corrections officers is meant to help retain staff at New Hampshire prisons, and cut down on surging overtime costs.

The new contracts would cost an additional $13.5 million in fiscal year 2019.

While we are always skeptical of higher spending, this deal includes reasonable raises, while focusing on the prison staffing problem.

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