The Select Board announced on Wednesday that the town had reached new collective bargaining agreements with four municipal employee unions.
The town is in the midst of a flurry of collective bargaining negoitations with various unions representing hundreds of town employees, and Wednesday's announcement was trumpeted by Select Board chair Jason Bridges as a breakthrough.
"A lot of work goes into that," Bridges said. "I've not seen it done this fast, ahead of time. So kudos to everyone involved, on all sides."
The unions that reached agreements with the town are: the Massachusetts Coalition of Police Local Union 330 (representing Nantucket Police Department patrol officers) and Local Union 330A (representing superior officers); the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) representing Our Island Home staff; and the American Federation of State, City and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) which represents Nantucket’s DPW and Sewer Department workers.
Nantucket Current obtained the memorandums of agreement for each of the new contracts, and while they are not the full agreements (which are still being drafted) they do disclose the significant terms of each deal.
Each union agreed to the following percentage wage increases over the next three years, as outlined in the MOAs linked below:
The SEIU and AFSCME employees will receive one-time "market adjustment" payments of $2,500 each, while the members of the police unions will each receive one-time market adjustments of $10,000 each.
Each union also had new provisions for step increases, longevity pay, education incentives, and other forms of compensation.
The increases and market adjustments were notably larger than in previous cycles, which Select Board member Matt Fee said was due to a combination of factors that coincided.
"I feel comfortable that it's analyzed and we’re doing it in a fair manner," Fee said. "We’ve had two years of high inflation, and we’re having trouble hiring and retaining people, so it kind of hit all at once. We hit critical mass."
All four collective bargaining agreements contain a new and nearly identical provision regarding housing, which reads as follows:
"The parties agree that the process of placement and offer of housing to employees in the (name of union) by the Town of Nantucket is not subject to further negotiations or grievance and arbitration. The parties agree that all members in housing units provided by the Town of Nantucket are subject to the terms and conditions of the license agreement."
Select Board member Matt Fee said the new housing provision was an important aspect of the new collective bargaining agreements which acknowledges the town will be doing more to be providing housing for town employees, but also that it cannot accommodate all municipal staff equally when it comes to town-owned or managed housing units.
"The housing language is there and it's an important aspect," Fee said. "It's how we're going to staff the school and get firemen. We want to be able to rent to town employees without having it become a problem."
We asked Town Manger Libby Gibson about the disparity in the average annual wage increases between the unions - noting that each has different considerations - but that there seemed to be greater raises for the police unions. Here is her response:
"You are correct in saying that each union has different considerations and we would add they each tend to have their own strategy to achieve their desired outcome, as does the Town," Gibson wrote in an e-mail. "In this specific example you mention, there were perhaps other items, monetary or non-monetary, that one union prioritized over another. To understand that, you would need to talk to the unions themselves. At times we see unions negotiate for absolute dollar increases instead of percentage increases as that tends to help the less senior staff cope with increasing cost of living. You will have seen that sort of approach in the actions we took in the Classification and Compensation Study presented to the Select Board on May 10th. In that case, we upwardly adjusted those employees who were paid toward the lower end of a pay band to direct help where most needed. Other examples where a union makes choices might include prioritizing education stipends over wage increases because they believe it will result in improved departmental results or prioritizing a scheduling change or shift differential over a broad-based wage adjustment. There are many, many trade-offs made in arriving at a settlement agreeable to all parties. In the end, unions and the Town tend to look at the entire package and typically, achieving the overall goal means they don’t settle each specific detail the same as other unions."
Other major employee unions that remain in negotiations with the town including the Nantucket Teachers Association and the International Association of Firefighters Local 2509.