State, unions agree on new 4-year contract

Gov. Lincoln Chafee says Rhode Island has reached a tentative agreement with its public employee unions for a new contract that includes a 6 percent pay increase.

The governor announced the agreement with Council 94 and the Coalition of Unions on Thursday. It provides for a four-year contract retroactive to July 2013.

Union members will get a 2 percent increase now, then another 2 percent increase this October and next October. There's a provision to reopen wage discussions in the contract's fourth year. There hasn't been an increase since 2011.

Chafee's office says the unions agreed, for the first time, to "fair and reasonable" deductibles for health insurance, which is expected to yield substantial savings for the state. The contract also increases co-payments.