LACONIA — Belknap County Nursing Home workers have voted to approve a tentative one-year collective bargaining agreement with the county which provides for a 1.5 percent pay increase.
The agreement, which would provide the first pay hike for nursing home workers in the last two years, was approved by a vast majority of workers Wednesday night according to Ricky Nedeau, a member of the SEA/SEIU Local 1984 bargaining unit.
''We haven't had a cost of living increase in two years, while the cost of everything else increases, but it moves us in the right direction,'' said Nedeau.
The agreement also mandates that all nursing home workers will be required to participate in wellness activities designed to make them healthier and more informed about their personal health.
"It's become clear that we need to think outside the box to help lower health insurance costs,'' said Tanya Phillips, treasurer of the Nursing Home union chapter.
The contract will go next to the county commissioners for their approval. If they approve it the contract will then go the Belknap County Convention, where a supplemental appropriation for 2014 would be needed to cover its costs.
County Administrator Debra Shackett says that the commissioners will take up the contract when they hold their regularly scheduled meeting on April 2 at 5:30 p.m. at the Belknap County complex.
''We understand that the delegation has been concerned with the administration of the budget,'' said Nedeau. ''We get that. But we don't want to get caught in the middle. With this supplemental appropriation the delegation has the opportunity to pinpoint the flow of funds to the lowest paid workers in the county.''
''We take care of one our county's most vulnerable populations. We care for them with full commitment and respect. We just want the delegation to show us the came consideration,'' said Phillips, who expressed hope that people in the community would make an expression of support for nursing home workers to their legislators.