AP staffers leaflet at member newspapers, other sites as contract talks resume

Minneapolis rally with AP, Star Tribune guild members

Minneapolis rally with AP, Star Tribune guild members

Updated to note numerous additional protests held last week (in the story jump, all in bold).

AP staffers across the country are again protesting the company’s cheAP and anti-family contract proposals, including leafleting at dozens of public locations throughout the week.

From Miami to Olympia, Wash., Guild-covered workers have been passing out flyers detailing AP’s giveback commands and seeking public support. They’ve been leafleting in front of the offices of AP member newspapers and broadcasters, at state Capitols and other government buildings, outside AP bureaus and at other high-traffic public locations.

The latest round of protests coincides with the resumption Wednesday and Thursday of bargaining between the News Media Guild and The Associated Press – now in its 14th month.

Leafleting outside APME meeting in Chicago

Leafleting outside APME meeting in Chicago

Protests this week have included a big demonstration with protest signs and chanting in front of AP’s NYC base, leafleting outside the APME meeting in Chicago and a rally and leafleting at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, where the paper’s own guild members joined the AP staffers.

At the Indianapolis leafleting event at the Capitol there, one NMG member discussed contract talks with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence after giving him a flier. Atlanta staffers leafleted for the third time in 10 days, at AP member WSB-TV, after passing out flyers on Sept. 8 and 9 at a city hotel where AP managers were meeting for a training session.

“Guild-covered staffers have been escalating their protests as bargaining stretches on. This clearly shows how much they oppose AP’s anti-family demands, including kicking working spouses off AP’s health insurance and the ability to force workers to transfer to another bureau — on top of a raise that doesn’t keep pace with inflation,” said NMG President Martha Waggoner.

Rally opposite AP headquarters in Manhattan

Rally opposite AP headquarters in Manhattan

Besides the leafleting events, this week:

_AP journalists, technicians and support staff have been taking repetitive-strain-injury (RSI) breaks to rest their bodies, and sending their managers a message: “I am taking an RSI break, as guaranteed by our contract. I support News Media Guild and want a #fairAPcontract.”

_Guild members are sharing photos and very personal stories about how AP kicking their working spouse off its health insurance would affect them, at http://fairapcontract.tumblr.com.

_Working spouses who face the prospect of being kicked off AP’s health plan discuss concerns about how much that could hurt their families, in a new video on the union’s website: www.newsmediaguild.org.

_Staffers have been tweeting, “AP is anti-family. It wants to make our health costs unaffordable and kick working spouses off the plan. We deserve a #fairAPcontract!

In addition to the protests above, NMG-covered staff leafleted last week at AP member papers including the Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, Omaha World-Herald, Miami Herald, Denver Post, Arizona Republic, (Albany) Times Union, Tennessean, Seattle Times, Des Moines Register, New Orleans Advocate, The State (S.C.), Sacramento Bee, Reading (Pa.) Eagle, News & Observer of Raleigh, (Cheyenne) Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Milwaukee Journal, the New Britain Herald and three other newspapers in Connecticut, Reno Gazette-Journal, KFGO and seven other radio stations based in Fargo, N.D., and the Olympia (Wash.) Statehouse offices of the Seattle Times, Olympian, Everett Herald, Spokesman Review, Tacoma News Tribune and NPR stations KUOW and KPLU.

Kansas City, Mo., staffers passed out leaflets at a World War I monument, while staffers in Boise and Baltimore leafleted near their office. And in New Orleans, Columbus, Philadelphia and Springfield, Ill., staffers took photos to show they were taking their RSI breaks or protesting AP’s harsh proposals. One even took an on-the-job photo, while covering wildfires in California, to show support for the News Media Guild.

Negotiations have been going on since July 2013, with the Guild pushing for 3 percent annual pay raises, a modest increase in health care costs, better job security and other contract improvements.

The AP, despite repeated statements that it’s paid off its debt and is financially healthy again, is seeking to shift $8 million in health care costs onto employees, give below-inflation raises and slash severance pay for new hires, along with the health care givebacks and forced transfers.