BARGAINING: AP revises wage offer

The Associated Press introduced a revised wages proposal Thursday that would give employees a 1.5 percent raise upon ratification of a new contract.

The company proposal would then include a $1,000 lump sum payment on July 1, 2019; and a 1.5 percent raise on July 1, 2020. AP did not present a revised health insurance proposal, which would sharply increase premiums in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The AP’s previous wages proposal called for a $1,000 lump sum payment upon ratification, followed by a 1.5 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2019; and a 1.5 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2020.

Also Thursday, the AP introduced a revised proposal on job security for the editorial unit. The company proposal would assign employees into “organizational units” rather than relying just on geographic location. Now, the company has separate verticals for business, sports and entertainment. AP’s new proposal world create additional vertical-like operations.

The proposed organizational units are: US News, International News, Washington News, Global Enterprise (including Global Investigations), Sports News, Business News, Health & Science News, Entertainment News, Religion News, News Operations (including Data Center), Digital News (including Nerve Center and News Research), Broadcast and Photos.

The AP said the new language would reflect current operations.

The Guild’s negotiating committee believes that the proposal has the greatest potential impact on job reductions _ as in, who can bump whom in the event of layoffs. It does not affect how employees are credited for their years of service, and it also preserves language that says an employee cannot bump an employee in a different geographic location.

Several rounds of layoffs have occurred since the existing job security language was written into the contract more than a decade ago. Guild bargainers told the AP that any changes must be carefully reviewed because AP has shown its willingness to lay off workers.

The Guild team is reviewing the company counter-proposal closely with its attorney and plans a formal response later this month.

The company also advanced a proposal on Article 1, Coverage. The article describes what union-covered work is and defines which jobs are part of the bargaining unit and which jobs are management.

Also Thursday, the Guild relayed concerns from employees in Philadelphia who have been told that the East regional desk may be moved to New York City. The AP responded that no decisions have been made yet on the potential move.

Bargaining will resume May 22.

Representing the Guild were Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports, technician Dave Herron of Seattle and Guild administrator Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were managing editor Brian Carovillano, Jessica Bruce, senior vice president for human resources and corporate communications; and AP’s attorney Steve Macri.