CONCORD, N.H. – The union representing most New Hampshire state workers on Monday declared an impasse in contract talks with the state, saying negotiations are stalled largely over health care issues.

Spokesman Mike Barwell said it is the first time in 33 years that the State Employees’ Association will ask a federal mediator to step in.

Colin Manning, spokesman for Gov. John Lynch, questioned whether union leaders seriously wanted to make a deal.

“What the state had put on the table were some very minor changes to the health care plan that would have resulted in money going into the pockets of state employees and savings for taxpayers,” he said.

For example, the state’s proposal included incentives for workers to participate in wellness programs, such as for smoking cessation or to join a gym and exercise.

The state and union tentatively agreed on a contract last fall that called for mandatory furloughs, but the union failed to ratify the contract.

Talks later resumed, but Barwell said negotiations are now at an impasse.

“Our state is facing unprecedented challenges, with critical public services in jeopardy and families at risk, and yet the state’s negotiating team still refuses to bargain in good faith,” said Diana Lacey, chair of the union’s bargaining team.


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