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The Guild represents workers at The Associated Press, United Press International, and employees of the Spanish EFE News Service

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To mark the one-year anniversary of difficult contract talks with The Associated Press, staffers covered by the News Media Guild will participate in multiple protests Tuesday.

The News Media Guild has pushed for affordable health care and job security during a year of bargaining that began July 22, 2013, while the company continues to demand major concessions. Bargaining is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, July 22 and 23.

Union-covered staffers in dozens of bureaus from Honolulu to Portland, Maine, will participate in various protests to support NMG bargainers.

Guild-covered staffers in the Chicago bureau mark the one-year anniversary of bargaining by blowing out a candle on one cupcake.

Guild-covered staffers in the Chicago bureau mark the one-year anniversary of bargaining by blowing out a candle on one cupcake.


 NMG activists Linda Johnson, Bruce Shipkowski and Geoff Mulvihill blow out a candle as bargaining with The Associated Press reaches its one-year anniversary.

NMG activists Linda Johnson, Bruce Shipkowski and Geoff Mulvihill blow out a candle as bargaining with The Associated Press reaches its one-year anniversary.

Highlights include:

_ Writers and photographers across the country will hold a four-day byline and credit boycott, from 12:01 a.m. EDT Tuesday through 12:01 a.m. EDT Saturday. They have the contractual right to withhold their name from their work, and doing so en masse for days is a sacrifice meant to show AP they oppose its giveback demands.

_In bureaus and departments nationwide, as well as AP’s sports and photography national verticals, staffers are signing Happy Anniversary cards to their bosses and top AP management, rejecting the worst of AP’s current proposals and saying “it's time for AP to start bargaining in good faith."

_In New York City, NMG will hold a rally outside AP’s headquarters at 450 W. 33rd St., from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
_Staffers will wear their bright red Guild T-shirts and lanyards all day on July 22.
_They’ll take group photos for our social media and web sites (www.facebook.com/supportAPworkers, @NMGAP, www.newsmediaguild.org), with protest signs and messages about the anniversary. (Note prior protest photos are available there.)
And staffers will send Tweets/Facebook updates noting that AP is financially strong again, so it's time to give staff a #fairAPcontract.

Staffers have done similar protests, with a couple of actions each time, every three weeks or so to coincide with bargaining sessions. They also sent Happy Labor Day cards to CEO Gary Pruitt, asking him for a fair deal, picketed outside AP’s New York headquarters in April, and sent petitions declaring the opposition to AP’s proposals.
AP’s proposals include shifting $8 million in health costs to employees, being able to force staffers to transfer to another location, halving severance pay for new hires, giving a below-inflation raise and creating a second-tier class of reporters called news associates.
The company is pushing hard for these cost-cutting measures even though it recently sold Stats Inc. for what sources have said was at least $100 million, all of which AP executives have said will go toward paying down the pension debt.
AP’s current offer would significantly reduce the living standard of its Guild-covered journalists, technicians and support staffers, who have all been working without a contract since the last one expired Nov. 30, 2013.
The News Media Guild represents more than 1,000 staffers at The Associated Press. NMG is part of The Newspaper Guild and Communications Workers of America.

News Media Guild member Garance Burke won last week's AP Best of the States award for uncovering multimillion dollar profits being made by some water owners amid California’s historic drought.

The San Francisco-based investigative reporter, a one-time Fresno correspondent who covered agricultural issues, discovered the price of water had jumped from $200 an acre-foot in 2009 to $2,200.

She persuaded several water districts and landowners who were legally selling their surplus to the highest bidders to talk to her about it. She also asked state and federal water managers about the sales, which included auctions, and learned they knew little about California’s private water sales.

Read more ...

The News Media Guild proposed Wednesday three pay raises of 3 percent each for workers at The Associated Press, with the first to take effect on the date a tentative agreement is reached.

The next raise would be effective the same date in 2015, and the third, the same date in 2016. The contract would expire three years after a tentative agreement is reached, the Guild proposed. The AP has proposed increases of 2 percent, 1.75 percent and 1.5 percent with a ratification bonus of $500.

The Guild also proposed changes to health insurance to bring the Guild proposal and the company proposal closer. Among the changes the Guild proposed: a 10 percent increase in premiums in 2014; 10 percent in 2015; and 8 percent in 2016.

AP has proposed an average increase of 19 percent in 2014, with the actual amount depending on the tier.

The Guild also proposed specialist copays of $40. That would be an increase from the current $30 and less than the AP's proposal of $45.

Read more ...

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan declares June 18th Norma Love Day as Love and her partner, Merry Fortier, look on. (photo by Jim Cole)

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan declares June 18th Norma Love Day as Love and her partner, Merry Fortier, look on. (photo by Jim Cole)


Norma Love, a News Media Guild member who worked for The Associated Press for more than 30 years and who was instrumental in forcing the company to provide benefits for domestic partners, was described as “a consummate professional who holds herself to the highest standards of journalism” in a tribute that’s part of the Congressional Record.

normatribute
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., read the tribute to Love, who covered the statehouse in Concord for 29 years. Love's last day on the job was Friday, June 27.

Retiree Adolphe Bernotas, a former member of the the News Media Guild's Executive Council and longtime bargainer who worked with Love in AP's bureau in Concord, said Love "was as stalwart as stalwarts come in the News Media Guild." She was a pioneer, he said, in securing domestic partner benefits in NMG-AP contracts.

"She would become outraged at the company's casually dismissive response that 'we will follow the law' on the Guild's demand for gender equality," Bernotas said. "Conveniently, there was no domestic partner law at the time. Norma acted against AP's stonewalling more than once as she would join the union's negotiating team. Facing AP executives across the table one afternoon, she spoke for gender fairness with such grace, quiet passion, logic and heart that it moved me to tears. I predicted accurately to her that day it would be but a matter of time before the Guild would win gender equality for AP employees."

The Guild and AP agreed to domestic partner benefits in the contract that took effect December 2002.

Love, recalling her days at the bargaining table, said she came to New York City twice to get the AP "to recognize us as equals. The day after each presentation AP turned us down. The first time, I knew I was outing myself to AP management but It was a fight like all our fights to be treated with respect and dignity that had to be fought regardless of any consequences _ and the only consequence was rejection despite any of my fears. I like to think we moved AP forward. Union members should always take heart that all efforts for the values that are dear come in increments, important increments.

"I wish you all the best in the difficult days ahead."

(photo by Jim Cole)

(photo by Jim Cole)

normalove

In her Congressional Record tribute last week, Ayotte said "the people of New Hampshire are so fortunate that Norma Love has been asking hard questions on their behalf for the past 31 years. Norma brings tremendous credit to the profession that she loves, and she will leave behind big shoes to fill in the statehouse press room.”

In addition, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan and the Executive Council declared June 18th as Norma Love Day.

The Guild also thanks Love for being a dedicated union member. Here’s to a long and happy retirement, Norma!

The Associated Press gave its Beat of the Week award to News Media Guild member Garance Burke for her story about the treatment of female veterans in the troubled Department of Veteran Affairs.

Burke received the weekly $500 award for her story. The AP said editors assigned Burke, a member of the U.S. investigative team based in San Francisco, to look for new angles on a much-reported story.

She found that the VA was neglecting female-specific medical needs even though the VA has spent more than $1.3 billion since 2008 to address gender specific shortcomings.
Issues included a lack of staff gynecologists and designated women’s health care providers, along with delays in reporting mammogram results.

The Guild congratulates Burke on her award and her appointment to the investigative team.