Judicial Branch, State of New Hampshire
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Court Employees Ratify Contract
CONCORD, March 18-Members of the State Employees Association have ratified a contract with the Judicial Branch that will allow for system-wide furloughs in order to help meet a $3.1 million spending reduction requested by Gov. Lynch. The vote, counted tonight at SEA headquarters in Concord, was 149-4 in favor of ratification. Terms of the contract are in force immediately.
In response to the vote, Chief Justice John T. Broderick Jr. said "I congratulate the union on their vote which allows us to go forward as one court system and deal with the budget challenges ahead."
The contract covers two collective bargaining units composed of 363 court assistants and court monitors.
The Judicial Branch took the action toward the furlough plan in order to meet a request from Gov. John Lynch to reduce spending by $3.1 million over the biennium which ends June 30, 2011.
"This is the first time a large number of court staff have been part of this process. Both groups sat down as equals at the bargaining table and worked together to resolve differences," the SEA's director of organizing, Brad Asbury said last night.
Broderick and the Judicial Branch Administrative Council announced in January implementation of a furlough plan for non-judicial employees not subject to a collective bargaining agreement and for court security officers. System-wide implementation of the furlough plan however hinged on the contract ratification because non-judicial employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement cannot be required to take unpaid furlough days.
The first furlough day is April 2. On system-wide furlough days, the New Hampshire courts and administrative offices would be closed.
The full Supreme Court, the Administrative Judges, all marital masters and virtually all trial judges and marital masters throughout the court system have voluntarily agreed to take the same number of furlough days as the non-judicial staff.
The SEA members approval of the contract means 101 fulltime and part-time judges and marital masters and 740 non-judicial employees, including court security officers, would be furloughed over the FY 10-FY 11 biennium.