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Mayor vetoes contract with Manchester Water Works personnel

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 05. 2017 9:50PM

MANCHESTER — Aldermen passed a new labor contract with city Water Works personnel Tuesday night, then failed to generate enough support to override a veto by Mayor Ted Gatsas, effectively sending both sides back to the negotiating table.

Agreements with three other city departments remain tabled, with board Chairman Pat Long of Ward 3 saying the votes just aren’t there to support them.

The tentative agreement between Manchester Water Works and United Steelworkers 8938 contained two percent cost-of-living raises for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, along with a one percent cost-of-living raise retroactive to fiscal year 2017.

According to a cost analysis by the city finance department, the Water Works contract would cost the city an additional $42,000 in salaries and benefits in retroactive pay to fiscal year 2017, while tacking on an additional $134,000 in fiscal year 2018 and $88,000 in fiscal year 2019.

The tentative agreement also does away with employees achieving longevity after five years. Instead, the first year an employee would be eligible for longevity would be 10 years, though employees hired before the new contract is ratified would be grandfathered.

The contract includes changes to standby and night shift premium pay, as well as vacation accrual policies.

“I think there’s some good movement in this contract, and I would support this contract, except for the retroactivity,” said Alderman At Large Joseph Kelly Levasseur.

The contract passed on an 8-3 vote, with Aldermen Kevin Cavanaugh, Ron Ludwig, Pat Long, Chris Herbert, Dan O’Neil, Barbara Shaw, Bill Barry and Normand Gamache in favor. Levasseur, Bill Shea and Keith Hirschmann were opposed. Tony Sapienza of Ward 5 abstained, and Tom Katsiantonis of Ward 8 was absent for the vote.

Gatsas vetoed the agreement, saying he disagreed with retroactive pay going back to fiscal year 2017.

“It’s an awful precedent to set as a city,” said Gatsas. “I don’t think it’s fair to the other city employees. We have never gone back a full year. Maybe five or six months, but never a full year.”

O’Neil moved to override the veto, but his motion failed to generate the needed 10 votes. The move to override failed, 8-3.

The three contracts tabled by board members last month — which cover police support workers such as dispatchers and workers in the welfare department and library — remain on the table.

Labor Local and County Government Manchester

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