To The Daily Sun,
Now that the Ashland Board of Selectman and the SEIU Local 1984 Union have been able to reach a negotiated contract agreement, it is time for the voters to vote "yes" on Warrant Article 19 to finish what both sides have worked hard on accomplishing. Article 19 is important not only for the union employees but to the town as well. The last union contract was ratified in 2012.
One might ask, what is the importance of the contract to the Town of Ashland? Cost. Cost. And cost. It is more cost-effective to keep employees than it is to spend money on hiring and training employees, especially when you have employees that have been with you a long time.
I am not one for using scare tactics but do like pointing out the facts. In 2016 I did a wage study for police departments in our area to find out how competitive Ashland is with other departments around us. As I did my comparisons, I was totally astonished to find that Ashland was at the bottom of the wage scale. I currently have two officers in the union, one with eight years of employment with the town and another with 13 years. I feel that if Article 19 does not pass I might possibly lose both of them to higher-paying departments in the area, which would be a major disruption to the Police Department and would certainly affect our police coverage.
The way things are currently, I have little to offer in the way of pay and benefits to attract certified, experienced and knowledgeable help to fill those positions. With the way the union contract is currently, the best I could hope for at this point would be hiring an uncertified person and putting them through a 16-week State of New Hampshire Police Academy, followed up with 14 more weeks of departmental field training.
This would be 30 weeks of training costs with no benefit to the town for shift coverage. During the training of the new recruit, the vacancies for shift coverage would have to be filled at an overtime rate by the full-time officers. Keep in mind that this is just from the Police Department's prospective and that the union is comprised of other employees from other departments as well.
We need to be mindful that this union contract is not just all a "plus" for the union employees. It is important to know that they gave up current benefits that they had with the old contract in order to get this agreement done. I think one of the biggest concessions the union employees made was to start contributing to the health insurance costs, something that the existing contract does not require them to do.
So please join me in voting "yes" on Article 19 on March 14, as I hope you will show your support to me, the selectmen and town employees.
Anthony L. Randall
Chief of Police
- Category: Letters
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