AP to NMG: We don’t have list of overstaffed bureaus

The Associated Press doesn’t have a list of overstaffed bureaus, the company said Monday as it tried to explain the reasons for its job transfers proposal.

The company formally presented the language for forced transfers, which would allow the AP to move Guild-covered staffers rather than fire them and also to move people from overstaffed bureaus to open jobs.

The Guild told the AP that staffers are unhappy with the proposal and that its attempt to get employees who came to the table last week in Washington, D.C. _ Jill Bleed and Vicki Smith _ to push the idea with colleagues didn’t work.

“This proposal is destructive to staffers and staffers’ families,” Guild President Martha Waggoner said. “It’s an old proposal that the staff didn’t like years ago and doesn’t like now, combined with one that would ignore seniority rights and allow the company to force qualified long-service employees to accept transfers or be discharged.”

The AP said it didn’t have a list of overstaffed bureaus because the proposal is “proactive, not reactive,” meaning the company isn’t responding to a particular situation. The AP earlier gave the Guild a list of jobs for which it had no internal candidates as examples of jobs that it might have filled through forced transfers.

It also once again said its job transfers proposal is based, in part, to resolve staff concerns regarding understaffing and production standards. The AP said several times that it would be able to address those concerns more easily if it could just move people from one bureau to another regardless of seniority and if it can pay less severance to long-term employees.

The company also proposed reducing the amount it pays to move people who request transfers. The proposal sets a cap of $20,000 with the AP paying the first $5,000 of the moving bill, plus 80 percent of the remaining bills.

The two sides agreed to reword sick leave to conform with current practice to make it clear that Liberty Mutual, the company’s third-party administrator, is involved only with short-term disability and not sick leave.

Last Thursday (Aug. 22), the Guild and the AP agreed on language in two policies _ social media and news values/principles _ that makes it clear that employees have rights under the National Labor Relations Act to discuss issues related to terms and conditions of employment. The two sides also agreed on language that updates the use of business operating systems that makes it clear Guild-covered staff can use AP equipment to communicate with the Guild.