NH Labor Leaders Speak Out On Harris vs Quinn Ruling

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Home Care Workers Vow to Stand Up for Good Jobs and Quality Services in Wake of Harris v. Quinn Ruling

Work with States and Consumers to Ensure a Strong Voice Will Continue

Concord, NH, June 30, 2014 – Today, the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Harris v. Quinn. In a 5-4 decision drafted by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, the conservative majority of the Court dealt a blow to the partnership forged between the State of Illinois and homecare workers through their union, SEIU Health Care Illinois-Indiana (SEIU HCII). In a closely divided ruling, the conservative wing of the Court overruled the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and held that the First Amendment bars Illinois homecare workers from adopting a fair share requirement (also known as ‘agency fee’) to ensure that everyone shares in the costs of the bargaining. The particular workers affected by this decision have a non-traditional relationship with their employer in Illinois and the court used the term “partial public employees” when referring to them. The workers are jointly employed by the state of Illinois and individual patients for whom they provide care.

This means that traditional public employees can continue to join together in a union and retain the right to negotiate a fair share contract provision.

While there are no such “partial employee” organized workers in New Hampshire, NH labor leaders agree that this is a about attacking workers’ rights.

This case was brought by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an extreme anti-worker group. It is the latest in a decades-long attack on the rights of working people to join together to improve their jobs and the quality of services they provide.

SEIU 1984 Logo“Any decision that infringes on the rights of homecare workers to join together and make decisions regarding their workplace is bad for the economy, bad for workers and the people they serve, and bad for America,” said Diana Lacey, president of SEIU Local 1984. “As our population ages, providing a stable, qualified workforce that meets the growing need for healthcare is critical to ensuring that New Hampshire seniors receive adequate care. Home care jobs are one of America’s fastest growing industries, yet the average wage for workers is around $21,000 a year.”

AFSCME_Logo-2Color“This ruling to allow state-based challenges to the legality of agency fees skirts the question of whether these workers deserve dignity and basic rights on the job and exposes taxpayers to footing the bill for future challenges and litigation,” said Harriett Spencer, Coordinator for AFSCME Council 93.

aft sqaure“AFT-NH members want great neighborhood public schools that are safe welcoming and are fully funded. We want all public schools to have teachers who are well-prepared, well-supported, and who have manageable class sizes and time to collaborate,” said Laura Hainey President of AFT-New Hampshire. “We want our schools to be centers of our communities and to ensure that children and families have access to wraparound services to meet their social, emotional and health needs. We want curriculum that focuses on teaching and learning, not just testing, and that includes art, music and the sciences.”

“When workers can come together and negotiate for better pay, more benefits, and necessary training, turnover goes down, and our elderly receive better care,” said Mark NH AFL-CIO LogoMacKenNH AFL-CIO Logozie, president of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO. “Ensuring that this workforce has a voice on the job and is not mired in poverty is the single best way to guarantee that seniors and people with disabilities can get safe, quality care in their homes.”

“New Hampshire’s workers will not be discouraged,” President MacKenzie continued. “We will continue to fight for improvements in our workplaces. The fate of workers cannot be decided by one Supreme Court decision. It will be decided at workplaces and industries across the country by those who get up every morning and make our country run.”

NH State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) Opposes Privatization Takeover Of USPS, Joins Staples Boycott

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Concord, NH, June 9, 2014 – At the quarterly meeting of the SEA/SEIU 1984 Council, members unanimously resolved to support U.S. Postal workers and enter into a boycott of Staples, the office supply retailer.  Staples has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Postal Service to operate postal counters in more than 82 “test sites” throughout the country.  The Postal Service plans to expand this operation to more than 1,500 Staples store across the United States.

Staples plans to replace good-paying union jobs with non-union low-wage jobs held by workers who have no accountability for the safety and security of the mail. This is nothing less than a direct assault on good middle class jobs and on public postal workers.

“It’s clear the battle lines have been drawn in Corporate America’s plan to take over not just our politicians, but core governmental services.  And that’s why it’s also clear that more union brothers and sisters must step forward on that battlefield!  I will gladly stand with our US Postal Workers in their effort to stop Staples, the office supply retailer, from taking over trusted public services to boost corporate profit margins at the expense of hard working taxpayers, and I ask you to as well,” said Diana Lacey, President SEA/SEIU Local 1984 in an announcement of the boycott to members earlier today.

“We cannot thank SEIU local #1984 enough for joining our boycott of Staples. On behalf of Manchester Area Local President, Dana Coletti, and all people who believe in keeping the U.S. Postal Service as a public service, we appreciate this show of solidarity. Together we can and will end this drive to privatize all public services,” said Janice Kelble, Legislative Director, NH Postal Workers Union.

SEA/SEIU 1984 is latest labor union to join the cause to preserve this essential service.  SEA/SEIU 1984 joins NH AFL-CIO and AFT-New Hampshire in support of the postal workers.

SEA/SEIU 1984 is the exclusive representative of most state of NH employees, as well as county and municipal workers across the state.  The labor organization also represents workers at Hampstead Hospital.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 Responds to Governor Hassan’s Executive Order for Spending Freeze

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SEIU 1984 LogoA Statement from the SEIU Local 1984

Concord, NH, May 22, 2014 – Earlier today, the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee unanimously approved Gov. Maggie Hassan’s plan to issue an Executive Order to immediately freeze state hiring, equipment purchases and out-of-state travel. This comes on the heels of last week’s disappointing news that April’s revenue came in at $22 million less than projected in the state budget.

Last week the Governor wrote in her request that “we should act prudently, responsibly, and expeditiously to continue to ensure a balanced budget.” The Governor’s response to the shortfall was sensible and necessary to deliver a balanced budget for the biennium.

We assert that it is not this governor or the state employees who are holding NH back from being the best it can be.

April revenue projections were approved by the Legislature, as is the entire budget. While we are disappointed the actual revenues fell short, we aren’t surprised, given the corporate tax breaks the O’Brien legislature implemented two years ago.

When you combine the tax code changes and more businesses applying for tax credits with the state’s recent bond outlook warning from Standard & Poor’s; the dispute over the Medicaid Enhancement Tax; and class action lawsuits still pending; it is apparent that longstanding and risky legislative behavior is undermining NH’s future, rather than strengthening it.

Since 2006, the budgets passed by the Legislature have eliminated 2,000 good full-time jobs from the state employee workforce. Currently, including vacancies – some of which are intentionally held vacant to meet budget mandated cuts – we are operating with a workforce 27 percent smaller than it was pre-recession.

The freeze Gov. Hassan is now forced to impose will only further delay and diminish the delivery of critical services and leave more citizens with unmet needs.  This will also leave state employees and the people relying on the services they provide in a constant state of uncertainty.  Such uncertainty is damaging to the state’s economy and future. We need strong budgets with well-developed and funded priorities to put a stop to all the uncertainty NH taxpayers and businesses are experiencing.

SEA/SEIU Local 1984 stands ready to support and advocate for the employees who are once again being asked to serve and do more with less.

Arbitrator Orders State to Make Workers Whole

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Justice for state employees – hundreds of workers will finally be compensated 

Concord, NH, March 18, 2014 – Yesterday, an independent arbitrator ruled in favor of more than 1,000 NH state employees in a key victory that reversed a unilateral change the state made to lower employee pay.  The decision directed the state to make the affected employees whole with back pay. The ruling corrects a violation of state law and the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the State and the Executive Branch workers represented by SEA/SEIU Local 1984.

The dispute began in August of 2012, when Matthew Newland, Manager of Employee Relations and a Governor John Lynch appointee, issued a memo to state human resource and payroll representatives rescinding a long standing practice related to shift differential payments that apply to more than 1,000 state workers.

State agencies with continuous operations face the challenge of recruiting and staffing employees to work beyond standard day shifts. An effective practice used by many employers to meet this challenge, including the State, is to adjust employees’ hourly pay. There are many state functions that require round the clock staffing, such as correctional law enforcement, emergency services, and providing direct care in health facilities, including New Hampshire Hospital and Veterans’ Homes.

After the state stalled for months a resolution that could come from less formal remedies, SEA/SEIU Local 1984 filed an Unfair Labor Practice petition with the Public Employees Labor Relations Board (PELRB), and then a subsequent ULP after the state further stalled progress.  Ultimately, the PELRB ordered the parties to go to arbitration and the state finally abided. After more than a year of wrangling, the arbitration took place in January of this year.

In yesterday’s decision, the arbitrator found the practice of paying shift differential was established through a state memo issued in 1989, and there was no evidence that the practice had been rescinded since. The practice had been in place and “occurred with such regularity and frequency that employees could reasonably expect the practice to continue on a regular or consistent basis.” Therefore, the practice could not be rescinded through a memo; the differential pay is subject to collective bargaining.

During the arbitration, the state asserted that ordering payment of the back shift differential pay would require a legislative appropriation and thus the arbitration decision would be advisory only. The arbitrator, however, addressed this in the decision saying that funds to cover shift differential came from the agency’s overtime budget. “When overtime accounts were deficient, the agencies reallocated funds to ensure that employees were paid their respective wages, including overtime pay and shift differentials….The agencies certainly have the discretion to reallocate resources and funds to comply with the make whole remedy in this Decision.”

“Making the affected employees whole was the desired outcome,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA/SEIU Local 1984.  “For affected workers paying rent, buying food and heating their home is more challenging now than ever.  These employees work hard providing critical services such as caring for veterans, the elderly and the mentally ill; watching over prisoners and responding to emergencies. It is only fair that they be compensated for their time,” she said.  “This situation began under the Lynch administration. Governor Hassan inherited it. We hope she will fully uphold the arbitrator’s decision and make sure the funds are available to truly make the workers whole.”

The application of the shift differential payments has not been consistent in the various facilities; as each facility has unique practices and needs.  Each facility had handled its own payroll processing and there were provisions in each process to accommodate the shift differential payments.

In 2012, the state rolled out an off the shelf software product to consolidate payroll and leave accrual processing.  During arbitration, Newland acknowledged that the new computerized payroll system was incapable of processing the various benefits and payments for all agencies in a consistent manner. It was far easier to simply end the practice of paying shift differential than to admit the costly software was not compatible with the state’s payroll needs.

In his decision, the arbitrator wrote that “the fact that determining the overtime rates is complicated does not justify the unilateral elimination of the payment of shift differentials to employees” and “moving to a new computerized payroll process does not authorize the state to have unilaterally eliminated a two decade long practice of paying shift differentials.

The Video That Could Change Your Entire Outlook On The Casino Gambling Bill And The Gas Tax

Diana Lacey Screen Shot Video

Once a week the State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) sends out their Statehouse Bulletin. The bulletin highlights what the SEA is doing legislatively in Concord.  Every week they post a summary of what bills passed, what bills failed, and what bills are coming in the next week.  This week had all of that, and a little more.

This week’s bulletin had a special video message from SEA President Diana Lacey.  The video is a ‘call to arms’ for all of the SEA members to help convince their state legislators to pass two very important bills, the Gas Tax bill (SB 367), and the Casino bill (HB1633).

While this video was intended for the SEA membership, I feel that everyone in New Hampshire should listen to what President Lacey has to say.

Whether you support expanded gambling and the gas tax increase or not you should know what this will mean to hundreds of state workers. Will it mean more devastating cuts, and more layoffs, or will it mean new jobs for public and private workers?

Please take five minutes to listen to Diana’s message.

Share this post with your friends and family throughout the Granite State to ensure that everyone knows exactly what is at stake if these two bills do not pass this week.

The SEA has started a ‘Save Our Roads’ petition, which you can sign here.

Use this link to find your State Senator and ask them to support the gas tax increase (SB 367).

Use this link to find your State Representative and ask them to support the expanded casino gambling bill (HB 1633).

 

 

The State Employees Association Endorses Mike Cryans For Executive Council

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SEIU 1984 LogoConcord, NH, February 20, 2014 – The State Employees’ Association/SEIU Local 1984 (SEA) has endorsed Mike Cryans as their Executive Council candidate of choice in the special election in Executive Council District One taking place on March 11, 2014. This special election is to determine who will succeed NH icon and longtime Councilor, Ray Burton.

Cryans served alongside the late Ray Burton on the Grafton County Commission where the two developed a close friendship in the 16 years they served together on the commission.

“I like the relationship we had, because it was a Democrat and a Republican who proved that party lines don’t always make the difference,” Cryans told SEA members at a meeting last month. “A lot of times, it’s how you view things. Our view was to get things done.”

Through his work as a Grafton County Commissioner, Cryans has a successful history of completing projects that invest in the local economy and create jobs. His priorities as a member of the Executive Council are protecting taxpayers’ interests, investing in the state’s economy and strengthening the middle class.

“Mike has demonstrated the commitment the people of district one deserve and we are proud to support his candidacy,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA.

Cryans, the father of two said he’s spent most of his life, except for his college years, living Council District One, which encompasses the northernmost two-thirds of the state – everything north of Claremont to the west and Milton to the east. He currently lives in Hanover with his wife and youngest son.

Cryans said he’s driven to do well, something that will serve him well if he’s elected. At a meeting of the SEA Political Education committee Cryans told members, “I’m not trying to fill Ray Burton’s shoes, I’m just trying to do the best I can do,” he said. “I will try to do the very best I can if I’m elected.”

“I am confident that Mike Cryans will continue to advocate for residents of this district,” said SEA member Cheryl Towne who resides and works in Executive District One. “I work at Glencliff Home.  I’m confident that Mike Cryans will continue to remember the good work done at our facility and that he will represent the ‘little guys,’ like me. His dad was a union carpenter who taught him the value of hard work and the importance of treating everyone with respect and dignity. I think he will not forget his constituents who are ‘the little guy.’ I don’t think he will cave to special interest groups – he’ll do what’s right for his district.”

The SEA encourages all District residents to vote in the special election being held on March 11, 2014.

About The State Employees’ Association/ SEIU Local 1984

The State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire represents about 11,500 public and private-sector employees across the Granite State.  First formed in 1940 as a social organization, the SEA won passage of New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations Law in 1975.  Since then, the union has negotiated hundreds of contracts with state, county, municipal and private-sector employers.  The SEA affiliated with the Service Employees’ International Union in 1984.  With 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.

All I Want for Christmas Is Health Insurance; SEIU 1984 Hosts ACA Enrollment Fair

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The State Employees’ Association of NH (SEA) and Manchester Community Health Center are jointly hosting an Affordable Care Act enrollment fair Thursday, December 19 from 3:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Manchester Community College in Room 300. The enrollment fair is designed to help educate SEA members, students and working people about how to access new health care options available through the ACA Marketplace.

Trained representatives from the sponsor organizations will be onsite to help individuals research their plan options, determine if they are eligible for tax credits that will reduce their healthcare costs and enroll.

While the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act got off to a bumpy start, the process is now running smoothly. “It is so rewarding to help someone who has not had access to health insurance become enrolled,” said Joe Cicirelli, an SEA field representative. “The SEA remains dedicated to its plan to make sure all Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health care. In pursuit of that goal, we have been hosting health care enrollment fairs across the state since the beginning of November,” said Cicirelli.

“Every one of our members has family, neighbors, or friends who do not have health insurance,” said Diana Lacey, President of SEA. “We believe that everyone should be able to visit a doctor when they are sick, or have the medicine they need to help manage chronic disease. We are pleased to be working with Manchester Community Health Center on this important campaign.”  The SEA has a long history of advocating for a healthy and financially secure middle class.  “That extends beyond our membership.  In lifting up all families, we will have a stronger and more vibrant NH population and economy,” said Lacey.

For more information, contact John Thyng at 603-271-3411 x106 or jthyng@seiu1984.org.

Nothing is more important than your health. Join us. Ask Questions. Get Answers. Get Covered.

Plymouth State University Educators Win First Contract

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lymouth, NH, December 14, 2013 – Earlier this morning and two years after Plymouth State University (PSU) adjunct faculty members voted to unionize, the State Employees’ Association (SEA/SEIU 1984), announced that the ‘Teaching Lecturers’ have ratified their first union contract by a 97% vote. “The path to obtain the rights necessary for empowered workers to level the playing field, as equally valuable partners in the workplace, including higher education, can be a long one that takes real commitment,” said SEA/SEIU 1984 President Diana Lacey. “We are so proud of the members’ work!”

The contract provides job stability, annual wage increases, access to health benefits and intellectual property rights over the next three years. Up until this point, the part-time faculty members were employees at will, did not have access to benefits, were not compensated well for their contributions, and were not treated respectfully. “Before we unionized, I was unable to see a career track, let alone our place at the university,” said the Teaching Lecturers Chapter President, Krisan Evenson.  “’How did we fit in here?’ was a question I asked myself. As we united our community through our union, I knew we could begin making changes.”

Members of the Teaching Lecturers’ bargaining unit believe their contract will encourage the university administration to preserve teachers, help keep Lecturers out of poverty and improve the quality of public higher education. This contract is one of two recent agreements in the NH higher education community that changes the standard of living for part-time teachers. Earlier this year, SEA/NH-SEIU Local 1984 won a contract for over 1,000 adjunct faculty members that teach for the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH).

“We are excited to join our colleagues who teach at CCSNH,” said Phil Inwood, Teaching Lecturer of Art at PSU. Our contract was designed to change standards for Lecturers and the university. This is the first time our voices really made a difference. “

The organization of part-time higher education faculty members is a growing trend across the nation. It is in response to years of sub-standard treatment and lack of appreciation. A 2010 survey of non-tenure-track faculty members by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce showed low median compensation rates for adjunct faculty, with little, if any, compensation based on credentials and minimal support for work or professional development outside the classroom.

Adjunct faculty now make up the majority of the higher education work force. As recently as 1969, 78 percent of instructional staff comprised tenured or tenure-track professors, with adjunct faculty making up the rest, according to information from the Pullias Center for Higher Education at the University of Southern California. By 2009, the figures had nearly flipped, with a third of faculty tenured or on the tenure track and two-thirds ineligible for tenure. Of those non-tenure-track positions, just 19 percent were full-time.

About The State Employees’ Association/ SEIU Local 1984

The State Employees’ Association of New Hampshire represents approximately 11,500 public and private-sector employees across the Granite State.  First formed in 1940 as a social organization, the SEA won passage of New Hampshire’s Public Employee Labor Relations Law in 1975.  Since then, the union has negotiated hundreds of contracts with state, county, municipal and private-sector employers.  The SEA affiliated with the Service Employees’ International Union in 1984.  With 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas.

NH State Employees’ Association (SEIU 1984) Help North Country Residents Get Healthcare

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Berlin, New Hampshire,– Last Saturday, approximately 50 North Country residents took steps to get quality, affordable health insurance, some for the very first time. They attended the most recent of a series of Affordable Care Act (ACA) market place enrollment fairs sponsored by the State Employee’s Association (SEA). The event took place at White Mountains Community College in Berlin, an area of the state that has been especially hard hit since the great recession.

“The turnout was fantastic,” said Joe Cicirelli, a certified application counselor and SEA employee. “Many families enrolled in plans and everyone left with something tangible. From establishing a Healthcare.gov account to receiving an eligibility determination, all attendees moved forward in the process. The SEA is proud to have a role in making the ACA successful in NH.”

Almost unbelievably, a number of individuals were unable to obtain coverage because they earn too little to qualify for subsidies for ACA Marketplace plans. “Unfortunately, because the New Hampshire Senate Republicans refused to compromise and expand Medicaid, we were forced to tell our neighbors who were below the poverty line, that there were no affordable coverage options available to them.”

Last week, during a special session of the Legislature, the state Senate did not deliver a deal for expanding Medicaid to an additional 50,000 low-income adults, despite leaders on both sides of the political aisle saying they remain willing and eager to reach a compromise.

The Republican-controlled Senate voted on three amendments to its original bill, ultimately approving one, 13-11 along party lines, before tabling the bill in the early afternoon. Many expect the issue will come up again during the next legislative session that will begin in January 2014.

The State Employees’ Association of NH (SEA), working with community partners, has been hosting Affordable Care Act enrollment fairs around the state. The fairs are designed to help educate SEA members and the general public about how to access the new health care options. SEA members are moving forward and having worker-to-worker conversations, hosting events, and helping working people access the information about what their new options are. Attendees may receive assistance completing the application process.

While the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has clearly not gone as smoothly as one would like, the SEA remains dedicated to its plan to make sure all Granite Staters have access to quality, affordable health care. While most SEA members have insurance through their employers, thousands of part-time state workers and adjunct professors must purchase their own.

To learn more about enrollment, contact Chris Porter at cporter@seiu1984.org. For information about upcoming enrollment fairs open to the public, contact Brian Hawkins at bhawkins@seiu1984.org.

After Months Of Delay, The State Employees Association and The State Reach A Tentative Agreement

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Following an explanation of the Hassan administration’s proposal for a new employment contract with over 7800 employees, the State Employees’ Association’s (SEA) Collective Bargaining Senate voted to accept this proposal as a tentative agreement (TA). They will now send this TA to the full membership for a vote with a recommendation to approve.

The state and employee contract bargaining teams began meeting in January 2013. On June 20, the SEA Bargaining Team presented an initial proposal to the SEA Bargaining Senate that produced a number of questions and concerns. Due to the complexities and uncertainties of proposed provisions, the Bargaining Senate asked the team to return to the bargaining table.

The main sticking points, a new health care plan design and dramatic changes to sick leave provisions, have been addressed and an amicable compromise has been met.  The State withdrew its proposed changes to sick leave accruals and SEA members will receive a 6% wage increase in three increments between now and 2015. The most significant change came from the members’ commitment to be “all in to win.”

“Throughout the recession, New Hampshire’s dedicated and hard-working state employees pitched in by giving up pay raises, paying more for their health care and doing more with less as the state workforce dropped by 1100 positions,” said Governor Hassan. “This is a fair agreement for both employees and taxpayers that will provide the first cost-of-living raises for employees in five years and provide important healthcare savings to the state.”

The employees’ health benefits will now include first ever deductibles for individual and family plans and a new site of service provision that is designed to further curtail medical costs.  The agreement includes a new health promotions program designed to encourage employees to adopt healthier behaviors. The settlement also includes a stand-alone dental benefit for which employees will pay monthly premiums. “We have long recognized the need to take a more active role in managing our own health and the associated costs,” said Linda Huard, a member of the SEA’s bargaining team. “The steps we have already taken over the last few years have netted more than $60 million in savings for the state.” Both the state and the SEA representatives agree that the institution of new contractual incentives for preventive care in the contract will result in better health outcomes.

“Encouraging preventive care, through basic measures like flu shots and physicals, and improving the coordination of health care will strengthen the well-being of state employees and help generate significant savings for the state,” said Governor Hassan.  “By coming together and working constructively, we have successfully achieved our shared goals of providing additional support to our state employees while strengthening the state’s long-term financial outlook through an innovative approach to reducing healthcare costs.“

“I (Governor Hassan) thank the SEA leadership team and state negotiators for their good-faith efforts to find common ground and reach a deal, within the constraints of the state budget, that is fair to all parties.”

“This has been a long process – longer than what either side would have wanted,” said Diana Lacey, president of the SEA. “The state experienced significant challenges with new software and staff shortages. It delayed their ability to produce the data we needed to analyze in order to reach this compromise. In the end, after five years without a raise, I think we have arrived at a proposal that is fair and will allow the state employees to continue to provide critical services for NH residents, while supporting their own families, too.”

“We know it took us longer to get here than the rest of the unions, but in our “all in” spirit, we have struck a deal that will better benefit the people of NH, and the rest of the employees covered by our health plan,” said Jim Nall, chair of the Executive Branch Master Bargaining Team. “The settlement gives both the employees and employer a solid stake at further lowering health costs and frees up money for wages that employees desperately need.”

SEA representatives will begin visiting worksites to discuss the proposed changes in more detail with rank and file members.  The union and the state hope to have a ratified contract in time for the health insurance provider’s open enrollment period, later in November.