The company has stonewalled News Media Guild representatives on how much it has saved to date in labor savings costs within the AP worldwide. The union received reports from members that managers have reported savings as high as 8 percent.
The company said late last year it needs to achieve a 10 percent reduction in its labor associated costs or the balance would be achieved through staff cuts.
When asked Oct. 16 how much AP has saved to date, Michelle Ehrlich, the company’s director of global labor relations, said the company has no official numbers. The company said that nothing regarding the savings has been communicated to field managers, adding the information they provide should not be trusted.
The Guild asked AP how much it has achieved in savings overseas and the non-union segment of the United States. Again, Ehrlich said she had nothing official she could share. The union asked AP if there have been reductions in staff among those groups.
The union said it was aware that the company changed its cost-of-living adjustments overseas resulting in some savings and heard that home leaves have been reduced to once every three years instead of two.
The company asked the union for specifics because it said it had no knowledge about those matters.
The Guild told AP that the company said during the bargaining that the labor-savings pain would be shared equally among Guild, overseas and administrative staff.
Guild president Tony Winton asked if there will be editorial cuts before the end of the year or will they occur in 2010? AP said it couldn’t say “for sure” if there would be cuts in 2009, although shortly after the meeting the union received reports from New York City members that some administrative positions in the Finance Department were cut that morning. The union has an active grievance claiming a large number of administrative positions in that department should be union covered. The union is seeking to confirm those reports. The union office received notice from AP that a job was cut in Cranbury, N.J., while the Guild-AP meeting was in progress.
The Guild asked the company if its relationship with its members has improved since late last year when many were threatening to end their relationships with AP while demanding cuts in rates. Ehrlich reported things are going smoothly.
Winton asked AP how it will determine the amount of work to be produced by a smaller staff. Ehrlich reported that the issue was discussed at the Lake Placid management meeting. AP will evaluate content usage to make that determination, although it said it had not developed any methodology to reduce workload where cuts take place.
The union asked for the target date to move from satellite to Internet delivery of content to members, adding the union understands video content will continue to be delivered by satellite. AP said it didn’t know but would look into it.
The union asked how the company intends to handle the work of the two New York City operators who were terminated the day before the meeting. AP again said it had no information but said it would look into it.