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Menino Says Deal Struck With Unions On Health Care

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino says conditional agreement has been reached with the city's three dozen public employee unions that would save the city $70 million in health care costs over the next four years.

The mayor says the deal would raise employee contributions to their health care premiums by 2 1/2 percent, and also increase co-payments for doctor's office and emergency room visits, and prescription drugs.

The agreement is contingent upon the Legislature approving a municipal health care reform bill by the end of the year. The House of Representatives included in its state budget proposal unveiled on Wednesday a plan to give cities and towns more power to make changes in employee health insurance plans.

The deal also needs approval from the Boston City Council and from the rank-and-file of the 36 city unions.

Richard Stutman, president of the Boston Teachers Union, says he's happy with the agreement, although teachers will be paying an extra $300 or $400 more in health costs the first year.

"It'll be a hardship," he said. "On the other hand, everyone recognizes that the hardship is facing the city as well, so we're trying to work with the city.

"Both sides had an interest in showing that we could work this out together, we didn't need the state to take away collective bargaining, which is what the [House budget] proposes to do."

With reporting from The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom.

This program aired on April 14, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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