AP advances economic offer

The Associated Press advanced an economic offer Tuesday that’s contingent on union members agreeing to the company’s proposal to freeze the pension plan and reaching a contract agreement by Dec. 15.

The company offered a 2 percent wage increase effective Dec. 1, along with a lump sum payment of $500 and another lump sum payment of $500 on July 1, 2011. The $1,000 payments would go only to active employees and not those on inactive status.

The AP also said its proposal also is contingent on a contract that expires June 30, 2012. The company said it wanted to get away from the traditional November expiration so that the AP and the Guild would have a contract before the company begins its budget process.

 The Guild has proposed a pay raise of 6 percent for each year of a three-year contract and continuation of the basic defined benefit pension plan.

The company pension proposal would freeze the plan and replace it with a 3 percent contribution to a new defined contribution plan. AP says it will for five years add an additional 1 percent to the plan for employees with less than 10 years service and 2 percent for those with more than 10 years service.

The Guild asked the AP about the possibility of ending the company’s internship program. AP said all programs are being reviewed based on financial concerns, but no final decision has been made on the fate of the internship program. The Guild said the threat has sparked concerns among members, some of whom want to come to the table to ask the company to keep the program.

The company accepted a few minor changes to the ethics policy. The AP indicated it will accept gifts language so that employees can accept gifts of “about” $25”. The company asked the union to accept some minor changes it earlier suggested. The union is reviewing the proposal.

Bargaining resumes Monday and continues Tuesday. Guild bargainers will meet Wednesday with pension consultants. On Thursday, staffers concerned about evaluations and seniority for people win small bureaus will come to the table. And on Friday, the two sides will discuss a training initiative proposed by the Guild.

Representing the Guild were: Kevin Keane, Martha Waggoner, John Braunreiter, Vin Cherwoo and Don Ryan.

Representing the AP were: Michelle Ehrlich, Kristin Gazlay, Sue Gilkey, Alison Quan, Hilda Auguste and attorney Steve Marcri.