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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Modest raise for NH community college faculty, but still lowest paid in New England

NASHUA – Community college faculty are getting a $1,000 pay bump, but the raises are offset by increases in employee health care expenses.

A union representing faculty at the state’s seven community colleges, including Nashua Community College, agreed to a new one-year contract with the Community College System of New Hampshire on Tuesday after 10 months of negotiation.

Once the contract goes into effect May 4, union officials said they will still earn less than their New England counterparts. The union, an affiliate of the State Employees’ Association, is fairly new and formed after a majority vote last February.

The contract approved Tuesday is its second collective bargaining agreement.

The one-year contract expires June 30, 2013. It covers about 850 full-time employees.

Every labor grade in the salary matrix received a $1,000 increase, while co-pay costs doubled for doctor’s visits and prescriptions and biweekly contributions also increased and will rise again slightly in January 2013.

The union was willing to make concessions due to the difficult economy and came to an agreement, said Beth D’Ovidio, a spokeswoman for the union.

“They thought it was fair,” D’Ovidio said. “Members of the bargaining team said it was a good experience, and they would do it again.”

President Lucille Jordan at Nashua Community College said the end result is good for everyone involved.

“While it took some time to negotiate, it will allow us to really look forward as far as health insurance and benefits,” she said.

There are about 120 full-time employees who are part of the union in Nashua, Jordan said. There are other adjunct faculty as well, but their union contract is still in negotiations.

“Both sides worked hard for the past 10 months and have hammered out a fair and responsible contract that the bargaining team stands behind,” said Becky Clerkin, library director at Great Bay Community College and member of the union’s negotiating team, in a statement. “While it would have been nice if we could have brought our compensation up to the same level as the other New England community colleges and had no increase to the health insurance, that is not realistic in these economic times.”

In addition to Nashua Community College and Great Bay Community College, the state system includes Manchester Community College, Lakes Region Community College, NHTI-Concord, River Valley Community College, and White Mountains Community College.

Cameron Kittle can be reached at 594-6523 or ckittle@nashuatelegraph.com. Also check out Kittle (@Telegraph_CamK) on Twitter.