The Town of Londonderry has added a second group of employees to its petition for a special meeting in order to approve a collective bargaining agreement.
The Town Council originally planned to ask Rockingham Superior Court for permission to hold the meeting, which would ask residents to approve raising and appropriating $42,905 for a collective bargaining agreement between the town and the AFSCME (American Federation of State, Council and Municipal Employees) group of administrative personnel, Council 93, Unit B. This group includes Town Hall middle-management staff such as the Planning Director, Geographic Information Services Manager, Assessor and Appraiser. They have been working without a contract since June 30, 2015, according to Town Manager Kevin Smith.
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 town meeting vote would be three months later. The town is petitioning to hold the meeting before the March 2017 vote in order to take advantage of the savings, and will ask to hold the special meeting under the “emergency” clause.
The town has since asked to amend the pending petition to add another group of employees, AFSCME Local 1801. The town could not include this group in the original petition because it had not come to a collective bargaining agreement.
Smith said the second group of employees includes staff members at the Town Clerk’s office and at the Department of Public Works. Their last contract expired July 1, 2015.
The warrant for the special meeting would ask the town to raise and appropriate $51,114 to approve the cost items in the second collective bargaining agreement.
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.
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 at www.londonderrynh.org.
A public hearing on the contracts is scheduled for July 21, and the Special Meeting itself will be part of the Primary Election Sept. 13, according to Smith.