After 15 months of bargaining, the News Media Guild and The Associated Press have reached a tentative agreement that includes pay raises, lump sum payments, higher health insurance costs and greater protections for news associates than the company originally proposed.
Pay raises of 2 percent, 1.75 percent and 1.5 percent, with lump sum payments of $500, $300 and $300 are included in the agreement. The raises are effective on Sept. 25, 2014; Nov. 15, 2015; and Jan.1, 2017, respectively, with the lump sums payable on March 1, 2015; June 1, 2016, and Sept. 1, 2017.
The AP rejected key Guild proposals, including modified Guild shop and clarification of independent contractor language. We pushed forced transfers off the table, along with an AP proposal to halve dismissal pay for 10 years for new hires. The company held fast to its proposal to kick working spouses and domestic partners off health insurance, although that doesn't take effect until 2017.
"The bargainers know that all your mobilizing actions last week helped push some of the worst proposals off the table," Guild President Martha Waggoner said. "It's not the contract we had hoped to get when negotiations began; however, the bargainers believe it's the best we can get at the table. It's up to members to decide whether they will support it."
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The plan designs for health insurance are big, including co-insurance for Guild-covered staffers for the first time and out-of-pocket maximums. Health insurance premiums, which had been static for six years, increase about 10 percent in 2015, 11 percent in 2016 and 10.8 percent in 2017, which our health consultant says is about on market trend.
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