Fairfield's nurses will receive raises and agreed to several concessions in a contract approved by the nurses' union last month, should the RTM ratify the agreement.
The contract was reviewed at Wednesday's Board of Selectmen meeting by Attorney Patrick McHale, who represents the town in labor negotiations. He introduced the contract's changes as "analogous" to the ones made in the .
The contract covers 35 nurses employed by the town.
The agreement expired in June 2010, so the town's public nurses have not received a raise in more than two years. In the new four-year contract, which expires in June 2014, nurses will receive a 4 percent general wage increase upon ratification of the contract and an additional 2.25 percent raise increase in July 2013 -- a total 6.25 percent increase over the life of the agreement.
As for concessions, nurses agreed to change the way they contribute to their health insurance premiums, McHale said. Instead of paying a flat $31 a week for single, couple, or family coverage, they will be 12 percent of the premium costs for the coverage they elect -- a "significant increase they've agreed to," McHale said.
Nurses hired after the start of the new contract will not be added to town's defined benefit pension plan. Instead, they will go to a defined contribution 401(a) plan for retirement coverage.
The town will match up to 5 percent of the base pay for each nurse enrolled in the new plan, which represents a payroll savings of up approximately 4 percent, McHale said.
Nurses also agreed to reduce the number of paid sick days. Nurses with 10 years or more of service will receive 20 paid sick days instead of 30; those with five to 10 years of service will receive 15 days instead of 20; those who have worked between one and five years will receive 10 days instead of 15. New hires will accrue one day per month for a maximum of six days in their first year of service, according to McHale.
Fairfield will no longer provide more than the statutory allotment for workers' compensation should a nurse be injured on duty. Instead, according to McHale, nurses will have to debit their sick leave days if they need more supplemental compensation.
Finally, the agreement allows the town to assign nurses based on skills, abilities, and experience, instead of seniority.
"The nurses should be applauded for working with the town," McHale said.
First Selectman Michael Tetreau agreed. "This is another example of employees trying to work with the town."