CONCORD — A mediator has been unsuccessful in helping state employees reach a compromise with Gov. Chris Sununu on a new contract, so the process now moves to fact-finding.
Leaders of state employees’ unions declared an impasse on Feb. 19 in their ongoing 2020 and 2021 contract negotiations with the state, resulting in the appointment of a mediator.
After the first mediation session, the unions notified the state that they want to move to fact-finding.
Fact-finding is a more formal process in which each party presents data and documentation to support its case. A fact-finding panel then deliberates and issues a fact-finding report with non-binding recommendations.
Sununu accused the unions of playing politics.
“Although state employees have received two raises in the past 12 months, union leaders are refusing to negotiate and have walked away from the table on day one of mediation,” he said. “It is unfortunate that state employees have been caught in the middle of these union politics.”
Sununu said the state has proposed a number of enhanced benefits and additional wage increases, but his office declined to provide any details.
Jim Nall, co-chair of the State Employees’ Association bargaining team, said wages, overtime pay and prescription drug benefits are among the key issues.
“Gov. Sununu is seeking another concessionary contract, when the state workforce continues to suffer from concessions made during the recession,” said Nall.
“The economy is booming, yet the state wants us to accept a small, deferred wage increase, along with changes to overtime and prescription benefits that would do real harm to the people who keep this state running. It would be a massive disservice to them to accept what the governor is proposing.”
The deal currently in place was reached in April of 2018. Under that agreement, workers represented by the State Employees Association, the New England Police Benevolent Association and the New Hampshire Troopers Association got 1.5 percent raises in 2018 and another 1.5 percent in 2019.
Corrections workers, represented by the Teamsters, got a 9.1 percent raise in the hope of easing recruiting and retention problems because of higher pay in other states.