Manchester State Master Contract Bargaining Info Meeting is Wednesday

SEA state master contract members in southern New Hampshire are encouraged to attend the upcoming collective bargaining informational meeting set for this Wednesday, April 17, from 5-6:30 p.m. at Teamsters Local 633 Hall, 53 Goffstown Road, Manchester. Pizza and beverages will be provided for attendees.

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SEA members begin filing in before the bargaining information meeting on Wednesday in Berlin. Another meeting will be held this Wednesday in Manchester.

Before the Berlin meeting, bargaining chair Jim Nall said these meetings are about getting in contact with as many members as possible. Around 30 members came out for the Berlin meeting, including Verna White, of the Department of Transportation. She said the event was helpful, and was pleased with the turnout, though she’d hoped for more DOT members in attendance.

“What they’re really pushing for is more member involvement, and the need to push the personal side of the state employees,” she said. “We need to make it known what the needs of the employees are, and why it’s so important to keep benefits.”

For her part, she said the state employee health benefit plan was immensely important for her in the last year, as her husband fought a battle he ultimately lost against cancer. She said she, like many, wants a raise, but not if it means deep cuts in benefits. That said, she noted wages are so low for some that they qualify for government assistance.

“We have quite a few guys that qualify for fuel assistance or food stamps,” she said. “The state can’t pay them a living wage, but they end up spending money through those programs.”

Bargaining chair Jim Nall listens during the presentation by SEA Bargaining Administrator John Howard.

Bargaining chair Jim Nall listens during the presentation by SEA Bargaining Administrator John Howard.

Points such as that are important to bring up, because many may not be aware. Members’ voices can help drive the current contract campaign, and informational meetings such as the one in Berlin and the one this week in Manchester are a great opportunity to share your concerns.

There is much about the state of negotiations that can’t be broadcast publicly that can be shared between members. Nall noted that these informational meetings provide an opportunity for a more frank discussion of the issues facing negotiators.
 
“What’s disclosed in the public arena is often very different than what takes place in closed negotiations,” Nall said. “While we can’t publicize what’s happening in negotiations, we can discuss that among members. This is a perfect opportunity for that.”
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