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Friday, July 25, 2014

Nashua firefighters’ longevity pay dispute headed to arbitration

NASHUA – A grievance filed this summer by the union representing Nashua firefighters over a change in the method through which firefighters receive a stipend called “longevity pay” is headed to arbitration, city and union officials said.

City attorney Stephen Bennett said last week that he and Richard Boland, the attorney representing the union, are in the process of compiling their respective briefs to submit to an arbitrator, a step the sides agreed on because, Bennett said, “there aren’t a lot of disputed facts in the case.” ...

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NASHUA – A grievance filed this summer by the union representing Nashua firefighters over a change in the method through which firefighters receive a stipend called “longevity pay” is headed to arbitration, city and union officials said.

City attorney Stephen Bennett said last week that he and Richard Boland, the attorney representing the union, are in the process of compiling their respective briefs to submit to an arbitrator, a step the sides agreed on because, Bennett said, “there aren’t a lot of disputed facts in the case.”

Bennett said a recent technological upgrade to the city’s payroll system now allows the payroll department to include longevity stipends in firefighters’ regular paychecks, thereby saving the time and cost of issuing a separate set of paychecks.

Until now, members of the union, Nashua Firefighters Local 789, received their longevity paychecks separately at the end of each November.

Bennett said wrapping longevity pay into firefighters’ regular checks doesn’t change the net amount they receive.

“They would get exactly the same amount they would have gotten (in a separate paycheck),” he said.

Local 789 president John McAllister, who recently succeeded former president Capt. Jim Kirk, said last week the case “is at the lawyers’ level,” and discussion is ongoing.

Longevity bonuses were discontinued in 2005, but all department members hired before mid-2005 were “grandfathered,” meaning they continued to receive the stipend. Several other city departments, such as police and teachers, also receive longevity pay.

The current firefighters’ contract states that employees with 7-9 years of uninterrupted service are eligible for $200 annually, while those with 10-16 years receive one week’s base pay and members with 17 or more years of service get 11⁄2 weeks base pay.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).