TRENTON — After three years of negotiations with two administrations, one of the unions for state employees has reached an agreement on a new contract.

The deal will mean 2 percent back pay for 35,000 state workers plus another 2 percent raise going forward.

Both the Communications Workers of America and Gov. Phil Murphy released statements announcing that not only had the union ratified a new agreement, but that they have settled legal issues stemming from previous negotiations with former Gov. Chris Christie.

"This contract finally closes the book on the Christie Administration," union director Hetty Rosenstein said. "CWA was unwilling to permit Chris Christie to flout the law and destroy collective bargaining. We held our ground, and are heartened that the terrible Christie chapter of New Jersey is now over."

For his part, Murphy said the ratification came after "three long years," and "represents a responsible agreement" between the state and the union.

"Moving forward, we have established a solid foundation for future negotiations that considers fairness for our middle class and working families."

As part of the agreement, union members will receive a 2 percent raise retroactive to the first full pay period after Aug. 15, 2017, and a raise effective the first full pay period after July 1 of this year. While retirees are not eligible for retroactive payments, they will receive a "one-time lump sum, non-pensionable payment of $650," according to Murphy, whose gubernatorial campaign received contributions from CWA affiliates.

State employees at the top of their respective salary guides will also get a one-time payment of $650.

The new contract comes after the two sides went to court after Christie froze pay increments when the last contract expired in June 2015. Murphy said the new contract also resolves close to 1,300 grievances that were filed as far back as 2011, and "allows the state to refocus its resources on labor-management relations rather than litigation preparation.

The union said employees who worked for the state as of April of this year will receive "back pay for all of the increments they were denied and will be placed on step as if they had received those increments on time."

There was no word on how much the agreement would cost, but Murphy said the costs have been included in the budgets for this year and next year.

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