|By Dean Shalhoup, The Telegraph, Nashua, N.H.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
The contract, a seven-year agreement that is retroactive to
Lozeau said in her notice of veto that while she stands by her long-held concern that the "price of this collective bargaining agreement exceeds what the city has budgeted for this contract," she recognized there is a benefit to bringing the lengthy negotiations to a close.
Still, she said, she can't let stand the provision that allows the 57 bargaining unit members "to avoid the actual cost of paying back their health care premium increases using accrued sick or vacation leave."
The police contract would allow members to use their retroactive raises to repay what they owe the city under the payback clause. Lozeau takes issue with the language that allows members who exhaust their retroactive pay to then dip into their accrued sick or vacation fund.
"No other city employee utilizing a city health care plan had this opportunity," Lozeau said.
Further, she said, she assured other city employees who agreed to pay a greater share of their premiums that "I would not accept any contracts that did not require all employees to share the same costs."
Lozeau reminded aldermen in her veto statement that the board "has recognized, up to now, that all our employees should share the same cost when utilizing city health care plans.
"It was the fair thing to do, and it remains the only fair way to address this issue."
The language, Lozeau said, would cost the 57 members with accrued sick and vacation time nothing to "pay off" their remaining health care premiums "while other, less well-paid, city employees (will have) paid for their increased premiums with weekly wage deductions."
The contract, which runs through
The total cost of the contract per employee, including salary, insurance, retirement and other benefits, ranges from a low of 1.2 percent to a high of 8.7 percent, with an average per-year cost of about 5.2 percent.
The measure, sponsored by Alderman-at-Large
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