Town Looks to Have Special Meeting for Union Contracts

Londonderry residents will be asked to approve a collective bargaining agreement with members of the town’s administrative staff in an upcoming special meeting.

The town has requested permission from the Rockingham Superior Court to hold the meeting.

The agreement is between the town and the AFSCME (American Federation of State, Council and Municipal Employees) group of administrative personnel. The purpose of the meeting is to see if the town will approve raising and appropriating $42,905 to approve the cost of items in the collective bargaining agreement.

This group is middle managers at the Town Hall, according to Town Manager Kevin Smith, and includes the Planning Director, GIS Manager, Assessor and Appraiser among others. They have been working without a contract since June 30, 2015, Smith said.

The contract also includes a 1 1/2 percent raise every year for four years, Smith said.

If approved the agreement would, due to a new health plan, save the town $71,000 and save the union members $96,000. However, the enrollment period for the health plan ends Jan. 1, 2017, and the town meeting vote would be three months later.

Smith explained that the savings come from a restructuring of the health plans offered to employees. “We are making a move toward Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs,” he said. The employees may still opt for a traditional health plan, but the town is “heavily incentivized” toward helping them switch. “The town will contribute more toward the HSAs than to the other plans,” Smith said. But in the long run, it is still expected to cost the town less, he said.

In order to hold the special meeting in September, three steps must be completed: petitioning Superior Court, holding a couple of public hearings, and holding a deliberative session, according to Smith.

An evidentiary hearing for those with concerns will be held July 5 at 9 a.m. in Rockingham Superior Court. “That’s when we explain the merits of the petition and why we’re asking for it,” Smith said. “It has to be deemed an emergency.”

The town insures through HealthTrust and the entity is offering a “One-time deal,” Smith said. If employees enroll in January, they get a special rate on the deductible for 18 months; if they are forced to wait until July, when the new budget goes in, it will be offered for 12 months. Smith said the special meeting is needed to appropriate the funds and if the town waits until the March town meeting vote, the program won’t be implemented until July 2017 and the opportunity will be lost.

For more information, call the Town Office at 432-1100 or visit the town’s Web site.

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