AP, Guild continue to discuss news associate position

The Associated Press responded to some of the Guild’s concerns about a new position by clarifying the work that news associates could do.

However, the News Media Guild bargainers still view the 16 positions on the four regional desks as a dead-end job because the news associates would be laid off at the end of their two-year term, requiring the AP to train as many as 16 new employees.

The AP’s new proposed contract language, provided Wednesday, limits news associates to the following work: member pickups, daybooks, calendars, member exchanges, editorial roundups and the following photo work: the selection, captioning and transmission of member photo pickups, either to an AP photo desk or directly to members and customers. News associates would do no work that receives a byline, tag line or credit line.

Read the AP’s latest proposal here

The company proposal says news associates won’t be used to enable the layoff of other employees or the elimination of positions covered by this agreement. However, the Guild is concerned about what will happen when an editorial assistant or breaking news staffer quits or moves to another AP job. “Will the company fill those positions or will they quietly disappear with time?” News Media Guild President Martha Waggoner asked.

If a news associates is hired as a newsperson or other Class A job, then their two years with AP would go toward their seniority and experience level. As long as they’re new associates, they would be considered the least senior staffers on the regional desks where they’re working.

The AP brought this major proposal to the table in March, the ninth month of bargaining, saying the company was responding to concerns about short staffing that the Guild discussed in August, seven months earlier.

AP bargainers have said they intend the proposal as a positive one that allows Class A staffers to focus on more important work. The Guild remains concerned about the job security of current staffers, especially the breaking news staffers and editorial assistants.

Bargaining resumes Tuesday, May 27.