GOV. CHRIS Sununu and the State Employees Association remain at loggerheads over a new collective bargaining agreement despite a factfinder’s report that prompted the governor to reach an agreement with two smaller unions that represent state prison guards, probation officers and Fish and Game employees.
Factfinder Mary Ellen Shea recently announced she was recommending the parties grant SEA-SEIU Local 1984 workers a 2.86% pay raise in the first year and a nearly 1.2% pay raise in the second.
The union’s last offer had been for 4% raises in each year.
Sununu’s team countered with a one-time, $250-million payment in the first year and a 1% raise in the second.
“It shocks me that the union leadership is standing in the way of these salary and benefit increases,” Sununu said.
The Democratically led Legislature had set aside $6 million for the four union contracts and Sununu said he’s agreed to spend nearly twice that much.
“We went that far beyond what the Legislature offered and they still say no,” Sununu said.
Sununu said the only provision in the factfinder’s report he did not agree to was to approve a cost-of-living increase contained in a previous factfinder’s report that the parties did not adopt at that time.
“I don’t like to set the precedent of reopening a previous agreement. Once we were to do that then something that was agreed to could be opened back up in the future,” Sununu explained.
SEA officials stressed the governor was not offering the union all that was contained in the report.
“As we said from the very beginning, we will not accept a concessionary contract. We are thrilled to see that the factfinder agrees with protecting our members,” said Leah McKenna, co-chairman of the negotiating team and and SEA member, in a statement.
“The governor’s paltry wage proposal is not aligned with the report’s findings.”
The Troopers Association, representing the rank and file troopers for New Hampshire State Police, also have yet to reach an agreement with Sununu and his negotiating team.
HHS nominee could be named soon
A search committee Sununu created to replace outgoing Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeffrey Meyers has recently interviewed about a half dozen candidates, according to sources.
Among those who have had a sit down with the panel include State Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield, and Richard Kellogg, the state’s past director of community-based services for HHS, who also has held executive posts for the states of Virginia and Tennessee.
There are also current senior HHS staffers who have expressed an interest in the post.
The search committee is made up of Donnalee Lozeau, executive director of Southern New Hampshire Services, Inc. and former Nashua mayor, former HHS Commissioners Donald Shumway and Nicholas Toumpas and Amoskeag Health President/CEO Kris McCracken.
Sununu said he remains confident the group will complete its work this month and get him some recommendations by the end of 2019.
Lottery chief: With sports betting, less = more $$
New Hampshire Lottery Executive Director Charles McIntyre pushed back last week at critics who maintain that the state’s decision to grant the sports betting management to single vendors will lead to less profit for taxpayers and gamblers.
The Executive Council agreed with McIntyre, voting 3-1 to give the mobile and retail sports book betting businesses to DraftKings while letting Intralot Inc. become the sole vendor of betting that takes place at the lottery’s own ticket selling machines.
McIntyre noted New Jersey has 14 separate operators for their games and made $44 million in profit.
Meanwhile, Delaware had a single operator and produced $14 million in profit.
So Delaware got one-third of the profit New Jersey earned, even though it has only 10% of the population of New Jersey, he pointed out.
“We thought we would have multiple skins (vendors) but when we started the request-for-proposal process we came to a place where a single vendor was much more lucrative to the state,” McIntyre said.
Another advantage with a single vendor, McIntyre said, is cross-pollination of customers.
It allows the lottery to market its own lottery winning-number games to DraftKings customers and, in turn, DraftKings can use the lottery’s customer base to expand its sports betting prospects.
“You can’t do this if you have multiple vendors,” McIntyre said.
Councilor Andru Volinsky, D-Concord, was the only councilor to oppose the six-year contract for DraftKings, which can be extended to 10 years if both parties agree.
Councilor Debora Pignatelli, D-Nashua, abstained from voting because her husband’s law firm lobbies for DraftKings.