Human resources professionals discussed “costing out contracts” in preparation for negotiations with unions. Presenters included (clockwise from top left) Chatham Town Manager Jill Goldsmith, Southborough Assistant Town Administrator Vanessa Hale (moderator), Attorney Melissa Murray and Arlington Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler.

During its Annual Meeting webinar on June 17, Massachusetts Municipal Human Resources discussed “costing out contracts” in preparation for negotiations with unions.

Following the association’s business meeting, Arlington Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler began the panel discussion by covering three key elements of contract negotiations: identifying comparable communities, conducting a salary study, and the negotiation process.

Pooler also discussed the pros and cons of establishing a salary reserve account to set aside resources to fund collective bargaining agreements and/or non-union salary adjustments.

Attorney Melissa Murray, a partner at Norris, Murray and Peloquin, discussed strategies and preparation before getting to the contract negotiation table, important tips and ground rules to adhere to once negotiations begin, the importance of record keeping, and when to involve labor counsel in negotiations.

Chatham Town Manager Jill Goldsmith closed out the panel with a discussion about how to arrive prepared for a hearing with the Joint Labor-Management Committee. Goldsmith discussed the point at which the JLMC becomes involved in negotiations, and gave an overview of the legal background, mission, and makeup of the JLMC. She also discussed the JLMC process and what should be done to prepare for the JLMC.

Also at the meeting, MMA Legislative Director John Robertson gave a legislative update, covering the fiscal 2022 state budget, a new law extending certain provisions from the state of emergency, the mandatory paid sick leave law that was passed last month, and a number of other personnel bills that are currently making their way through the legislative process.

The webinar closed with a “mental health moment” led by mental health consultant and former Needham Director of Youth Services Jon Mattleman. Mattleman acknowledged the incredible challenges that HR professionals have faced over the past year, and provided some tips for managing stress and anxiety and prioritizing self-care.

More than 100 human resources professionals participated in the two-hour webinar.

Costing the Contract: Know Your Negotiation Numbers – Arlington Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler (1M PDF)
Costing Out Contracts: The Key to Successful Negotiations – Attorney Melissa Murray (890K PDF)
Preparing for Collective Bargaining Negotiations – Chatham Town Manager Jill Goldsmith (370K PDF)
Kudos to HR Professionals: You Survived and Thrived During COVID – mental health consultant Jon Mattleman (2M PDF)

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