BARGAINING: Guild advances counterproposal on health insurance

The News Media Guild presented its counter-proposal on health insurance Thursday, telling The Associated Press that its members wouldn’t accept an increase in premiums without a pay increase, too.

But AP said bargaining unit employees aren’t paying enough of their share of health insurance costs and that steep increases in employee premiums are needed to keep pace with the growing health costs that the company incurs.

The AP has proposed increasing employees’ health insurance premiums by nearly 53 percent next year, while offering up a wages proposal that includes a $1,000 bonus upon ratification of the contract, a 1.5 percent increase on Jan. 1, 2019; and a 1.5 percent raise on Jan. 1, 2020. The AP opening proposal included no raise in 2018.

Under AP’s proposal, the annual increase in employees’ contributions for premiums range from $636 more next year for an employee-only premium plan to $2,592 more next year for an employee plus family premium plan.

The Guild’s health insurance proposal presented Thursday called for no increase in premiums in 2018, a 5 percent increase in 2019 and another 5 percent increase in 2020. Those proposals are for both the medical and dental plans. The Guild also proposed accepting some of the company’s proposed changes to the medical plan, which included:

  • Increasing the individual deductible to $500 from $400 and the family deductible to $1,000 from $800.
  • Increasing the out-of-pocket maximum for in-network service to $2,400 for individuals. It is now $1,900.
  • Increasing the out-of-pocket maximum for in-network service to $4,800 for families. It is now $3,800.
  • Eliminating the coverage of compounded prescription drugs and
  • Moving the prescription drug coverage to a national preferred formulary.

AP said the savings provided by the Guild proposal fall far short of what the company wants.

Also Thursday, both sides signed tentative agreements to leave unchanged the Life Insurance and Temporary Workers articles of the contract.

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 Hilda Auguste, human resources manager; Sue Gilkey, global director of employee benefits; Steve Macri, AP’s attorney; Jean Maye, human resources director; Ellen Fegan, vice president for internal audit; and Keisa Caesar, human resources generalist and project manager.

Bargaining resumes Jan. 9.