City Council very happy with new school/union deals

LACONIA — The City Council on Monday approved new contracts with the School District's three labor unions.
The collective bargaining agreements, which contain the first pay raises in three years for the teachers and workers belonging to two smaller bargaining units, were approved unanimously with no discussion.
Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) applauded the contract agreements. He also thanked the teachers and school staff members covered under the contracts for agreeing to forgo raises during the recent economic downturn.
Although the unions — the Laconia Education Association, the Education Association of Laconia and the Laconia association of Support Staff — bargain with the School Board, the City Council is required to approve the cost items associated with the contacts.
The costs of pay raises and other associated factors will total about $1.2 million, with the first real impact on the city budget occurring in the fiscal year beginning in July 2014.
The contracts call for a 2 percent cost of living raise for each of the next three years, plus salary step increases for longevity and other factors.
The LEA, the largest of the three unions, represents between 200 and 220 teachers. The Education Association represents around 50 para-educators, such as classroom aides, as well as secretaries, while the Support Staff represents about a dozen maintenance personnel.
In addition to the raises, the other major change is in the area of health insurance. Those covered by the new contracts will receive what school officials call a "consumer-driven model of health care." While the School District will pay the full cost for health insurance, employees will pay higher deductibles for treatment and procedures, a change which is expected to keep health-care costs for the district in check.
Now that the council has approved the contracts, School District Business Administrator Ed Emond said he expected the School Board would formally approve the contracts at its next meeting. The members of the three unions have already ratified the agreements.