It is not uncommon for a public employer and a labour organization not to be able to agree on a collective succession agreement before an existing collective agreement expires. RSA Chapter 273-A anticipated this problem. While strikes and lockouts, the usual economic weapons in the private sector, are prohibited, the statute offers a process of mediation and fact-finding that should allow negotiations to be negotiated after a deadlock in negotiations. However, the status remains silent on workers` rights and employer obligations during the transitional period between the expiry of the contract and the agreement on a successor. Since its inception in 1975, the New Hampshire Labour Relations Act, RSA Chapter 273-A, has undergone little change. The legislature merely gave the Public Employee Labor Relations Board (PELRB) and the New Hampshire Supreme Court the opportunity to interpret the law and provide guidance to public employers and labour organizations on a wide range of collective bargaining. However, at the last meeting, the legislature adopted two amendments in Chapter 273-A, which can have a profound impact on all public employers. This new legislation is likely to have a profound impact on collective bargaining. The risk of a delay in the adoption of a measure and a general increase in wages is often the greatest incentive for work to make concessions in negotiations.
The guaranteed maintenance of a step-by-step increase will certainly reduce the bargaining leverage of public employers and complicate negotiations. The tax memo attached to the law indicates the position of the New Hampshire Municipal Association and the New Hampshire Counties Association, both of which expressed concerns that the legislation would lead to lengthy labor negotiations. Bill 1436 of the House of Representatives is likely to be legally challenged. In its 1990 decision in the Sanborn Regional School Board`s Appeal, the New Hampshire Supreme Court found that a public employer is bound by a multi-year collective agreement only to the extent that the legislative institution is warned that the cost items contained in the RSA 273-A:3 agreement are authorized by the costs of each year of the agreement. To the extent that this legislation imposes payments that have not been «sanbornized» by the legislature, it may be unenforceable or constitute an unfunded mandate under the financial responsibility of the state. The law will also make it more difficult for public employers to use the grace period in recent New Hampshire Reprocessing Reform Acts (NHRS). Under House Bill 1645, public employers must pay an increase to the NHRS after the expiry of existing collective agreements to offset the effects of certain payments to workers after the separation of employment, including the «payment» of leave, sickness or other accrued benefits. Employers are exempt from the increase as long as their current employment contracts remain in effect.
It appears that this grace period should allow employers to negotiate with labour organizations to limit the tax impact of these delimitation systems.