AP makes initial wage offer to News Media Guild staffers

Saying it’s aware of the additional costs in its health insurance proposal, the Associated Press made an initial economic offer Monday that includes three pay raises and one bonus for staffers covered by the News Media Guild contract.

The company offered across-the-board raises of 1.5 percent on Sept. 1, 2013; 1.75 percent on Sept. 1, 2014; and 2 percent on Sept. 1, 2015. The proposal includes a one-time bonus of $500 on Jan. 1, 2015.

Bonuses are one-time payments that are not part of base pay and aren’t used to calculate overtime and other benefits.

“Considering the company’s proposals to significantly increase health insurance costs, decrease severance, eliminate the weekly car allowance and other reductions, we have a lot of work to do to reach an agreement our members will support,” Guild President Martha Waggoner said.

Last week, the company provided information to the Guild on the savings it would achieve if its health insurance proposals were accepted. The company said its proposed health insurance changes would save the AP $3.3 million in 2014 and $1.2 million in 2015.

A 1 percent raise now costs the AP $976,000.

In 2012, inflation was 2.1 percent, and it was 3.2 percent in 2011. “We need to insist at a minimum that raises keep pace with inflation,” one member said. “And the word ‘bonus’ should be a nonstarter. It’s just a gimmick to keep from raising salaries.”

Representing the Guild were Waggoner, John Braunreiter and Kevin Keane. Representing the AP were Ellen Fegan, Sally Buzbee, Jessica Bruce, Jean Maye, Sue Gilkey, Alison Quan, Keisa Caesar and attorney Steve Macri.