AP: Pension plan freeze is ‘essential’

The Associated Press told News Media Guild negotiators Friday that its proposal to freeze staffers’ pension plans “is essential” for the company’s continued growth. 

AP Chief Financial Officer Ken Dale told bargainers that while AP has been “outperforming most of its members” financially, the $75 million dollar rate cuts have left a revenue hole that the cooperative will not be able to fill easily.

AP’s traditional membership — newspapers — now only provides 19 percent of AP’s revenue, the company said. AP said revenue from other sources is turning around, but slowly. 

The union’s actuaries will review the information.

NMG President Tony Winton asked AP if the member’s eventual goal was to “pay zero” for the work that Guild members do, essentially having them “work for free.” Dale said that was a “good question” to which he didn’t have an answer. 

The Guild told the AP that while it understood the company’s concerns about holding on to a pension plan that’s volatile, it doesn’t like the idea of passing all that volatility to staffers as the company’s proposal would do. The AP wants to freeze the pension plan and move to a defined contribution plan that’s not insured, as the pension plan is.

Talks will resume Monday. The Guild told AP it will make a wide-ranging counterproposal to the company at that time.

Representing the Guild were Winton, Martha Waggoner, John Braunreiter, and Kevin Keane. 

Representing AP were Dale, Jessica Bruce, Michelle Ehrlich, Carole Feldman, Sue Gilkey, Hilda Auguste, Alison Quan and attorney Steve Macri.