BARGAINING: Guild proposes counter on job security

The News Media Guild introduced a new counter-proposal on job security for the editorial unit Thursday in bargaining with The Associated Press.

The Guild negotiating team has worked closely with the union’s attorney on this counter-proposal and the bargainers believe it addresses company concerns while also preserving the job security of senior workers. The AP reviewed the counter-proposal Thursday and discussions continue on one issue.

Here are the key points of the proposal:

  • Employees will be placed in organizational units, similar to verticals. They are: Broadcast (which includes BNC), Business News, Digital News (which includes Nerve Center and News Research), Entertainment News, Global Enterprise (which includes Global Investigations), Health & Science News, International News, News Operations (which includes Data Center), News Support (which includes non-editorial jobs), Photos, Sports News, Religion News, US News and Washington News.
  • Layoffs would occur within an organizational unit in a business location. Just like current language, you can’t bump somebody in another city.
  • The company would still be required to offer buyouts within an organizational unit at a business location before laying people off.
  • Layoffs within an organizational unit would be based on seniority. If the affected person has seniority over someone with the same job title in a different organizational unit in the same bureau, he or she could bump them if the senior worker can demonstrate that they’re qualified to do the new job. The proposal defines “qualifications and skills” as being professionally competent in the subject matter of the position and being able to use the software and equipment required for the new job.
  • Under the language, an employee is automatically deemed competent in the subject matter of his or her organizational unit. (For example, a newsperson in sports is automatically qualified for the other sports newsperson jobs in his or her bureau.) If an employee outside of the US News organizational unit has done general news assignments within the past five years, he or she is automatically deemed competent in US News, which is by far the largest organizational unit. If it’s been longer than five years, than that person would still get the US News job if he or she has the skills to do it.
  • If an employee transfers into a different organizational unit (which would require a job posting), he or she would still be deemed competent to do the work of the previous organizational unit, as well as the new one. This is the one sticking point with AP as the company wants to set a five-year limit on this.
  • If a senior employee at risk of layoff has not received training on equipment or software that others in the bureau have received, then the senior employee is entitled to a four-week training period. The AP also agrees to provide a mentor or coach for the employee during the training period.
  • Severance pay remains unchanged in most circumstances (two weeks of pay for each year of service plus one additional week) but would increase for some people. If an employee is the only person in an organizational unit in a business location, he or she would be entitled to extra severance pay just like solo correspondents are. That extra severance is: four weeks of pay for fewer than five years of service; eight weeks of pay for fewer than 10 years of service; 10 weeks of pay for fewer than 15 years of service; and 12 weeks of pay for 15 or more years of service.

Representing the AP were senior vice president Jessica Bruce, attorney Steve Macri and deputy managing editor David Scott.

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

Bargaining resumes Sept. 25.