AP makes revised wage offer

The Associated Press made a revised wage proposal Wednesday that calls for three wage increases of 1.5 percent each over a 33-month contract.

AP said its offer to increase wages on March 1, 2011; Sept. 1, 2011; and Sept. 1, 2012, was contingent on the Guild agreeing to freeze the pension and replace it with its defined contribution proposal. The company agreed that its DC plan proposal is inferior to the staffers’ current pension plan as well as the fixed cost plan the Guild has proposed.

The AP’s prior wage proposal called for a 2 percent raise and two $500 bonuses.

The AP acknowledged that the union’s fixed cost proposal addresses future volatility concerns. Among its objections to the Guild’s pension proposal are mortality and longevity risks, although the union’s actuary disagrees.

 “AP’s economic offer still will hurt employees in the wallet,” said NMG President Tony Winton. “We’re befuddled by the company’s main objection to the Guild’s innovative pension proposal, which appears to be that retirees are living too long.”

AP said it could afford to accept the Guild’s pension proposal, which it described as a discretionary expense, but said doing so would interfere with buying equipment and other company initiatives.

The AP suggested that staffers could take the second 1.5 percent increase and invest it in the 401(k) plan as a way to take the sting out of freezing the pension.

The AP’s proposal did not address many economic concerns, including health insurance premiums, vacations, training, holidays, expenses and shift differentials. The AP has proposed increasing health insurance premiums by as much as 50 percent for the editorial unit and 150 percent for the technology unit.

Other proposals that remain open include: job and union security, health and safety, human rights and positions that are covered by the union contract.

The AP proposed a contract expiration date of Aug. 31, 2013.

In addition to Winton, those representing the Guild were: Martha Waggoner, John Braunreiter, Don Ryan and Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were: Michelle Ehrlich, Sue Gilkey, Carole Feldman, Hilda Auguste, Alison Quan and attorney Steve Macri.