The SEA and other unions officially opened negotiations on a new contract in a session Thursday in Concord.
The meeting included members of the SEA’s master bargaining team and Bargaining Administrator John Howard, along with representatives from the NEPBA, State Troopers, Teamsters and the state negotiating team. Also in attendance Thursday was new Gov. Maggie Hassan.
Dick de Séve, a member of the SEA’s master bargaining team and an environmentalist at the DES, thought the governor’s attendance helped set the right tone as negotiations began.
“I thought it was a very professional, cordial opening day of negotiations,” de Séve said. “And actually we got a good bit more work done than we have in past years. I think everybody was very frank and honest in their discussions and I think it set a very professional tone.”
Because the SEA represents the largest number of workers, its team was the largest at the meeting Thursday. de Séve said all of the unions in attendance showed a willingness to work together.
“I thought that the tone was set early on that the other unions are willing to work with us in a collaborative effort, which has not been the case in past years,” he said. “I would think that would certainly move the process forward more quickly.”
Negotiating sessions are set for Tuesdays and Thursdays, and alternately meet at the Dept. of Safety facility on Hazen Drive and Delta Dental’s headquarters also in Concord. After all sides agreed to ground rules on Thursday, the SEA’s team submitted the first of its proposals, starting with non-economic issues. The team will submit more on Tuesday and Thursday of next week, eventually moving into economic issues. Proposals from the other unions will come in the weeks to follow.
Through SEA News and Master Bargaining Updates, we’ll keep you informed as the negotiating process continues.