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Friday, June 28, 2013

Police contract talks continue, many employees working without new contract for two years

NASHUA – Despite aldermen turning down contract proposals with three of the city’s police unions more than a month ago, Police Chief John Seusing remains optimistic the sides can reach an agreement.

“We’re still working to get them resolved,” Seusing said. “We’re hoping to get these resolved here very soon. Our game plan is still to actively negotiate.” ...

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NASHUA – Despite aldermen turning down contract proposals with three of the city’s police unions more than a month ago, Police Chief John Seusing remains optimistic the sides can reach an agreement.

“We’re still working to get them resolved,” Seusing said. “We’re hoping to get these resolved here very soon. Our game plan is still to actively negotiate.”

Many police employees have been working for close to two years without a new contract. In May, aldermen voted down contracts with the Nashua Police Supervisors’ Association, the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America and a contract with the department’s communication employees.

Aldermen approved a contract with the Teamsters Local 633 members.

While some union groups proposed pay raises, Nashua Police Department communications employees, along with other department workers, had proposed to not take a pay raise in fiscal year 2012 or 2013.

Seusing said he has been involved in the contract negotiations, a role usually filled by the department’s deputy chiefs, along with the Police Commission. He said he still hopes to avoid arbitration.

Police Commission Chairman Thomas Pappas said these negotiations are the toughest he’s been a part of since joining the commission six years ago for a number of reasons, including the general slowdown in the economy, the impact of health care concessions and the fact that all of the contracts were negotiated simultaneously.

“It’s just a difficult environment and a more difficult environment than in years past,” Pappas said.

Pappas said all sides are “actively talking” and are not approaching an impasse or discussing going to arbitration. He said it’s possible new proposals could be ready for aldermanic review in the near future.

“We’re hopeful that within the next several weeks, we’ll have something to propose, but that’s on the optimistic side,” he said. “We’re talking. We’re not at an impasse with any of them. We’re continuing to talk.”

Seusing said he doesn’t think the extended time without a contract has affected employees’ morale, but said there is a definite sense of frustration.

“I’m hopeful we get those resolved before it does affect morale. I don’t think going years and years without a contract is going to do anyone any good,” he said. “It’s time that we get these resolved for everybody’s sake.”

Joseph G. Cote can be reached at 594-6415 or jcote@nashua
telegraph.com. Also, follow Cote on Twitter (@Telegraph_JoeC).