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BARGAINING: AP advances revised proposals on scheduling, transfer reimbursement

The Associated Press introduced revised proposals Tuesday on moving expenses and scheduling as the company resumed contract negotiations with the News Media Guild.

Earlier, AP introduced a proposal that would allow any editorial unit employee to be exempt from scheduling requirements upon mutual agreement with management. The AP said the proposal would allow more flexibility for reporters to cover their beats. The Guild responded that the proposal was overly broad because not every employee would be eligible for such an arrangement, like desk editors or breaking news staffers.

Responding to the Guild’s comments, the AP’s revised proposal said the scheduling exemption would apply to employees “who are primarily engaged in newsgathering” and that the following positions would not be eligible: regional desk editor, text editor, photo editor, video producer and breaking news staffer, as well as those assigned to the Nerve Center, Data Center, News Research, Sports agate and Corporate Finance.

Under the proposal, both the employee and management would have to agree to the scheduling exemption, and that agreement could be discontinued with six weeks of written notice by either the employee or manager.

The Guild’s bargaining team is reviewing the proposal and welcomes feedback from members.

Also Tuesday, the AP presented its revised proposal that would change how moving and transfers expenses are paid to employees who relocate for a new position. Now, the company reimburses the actual costs incurred by employees, but AP wants to move to a lump-sum system.

Earlier, the AP had proposed paying the following: a $5,000 lump sum, an additional $2,000 for the relocation of a spouse, an additional $2,000 for the relocation of a child or children and an additional $2,000 if the move was 2,000+ miles, or a maximum of $11,000.

The company’s revised proposal calls for: a $5,000 lump sum, an additional $5,000 if the sale of a primary residence is required, an additional $2,000 for the relocation of a child or children and an additional $2,000 for the relocation of a spouse, or a maximum of $14,000.

The AP said that over the past few years, the average cost paid out in moving expenses was $12,542 and the median cost was $9,830.

The company said that having “cost certainty” with moving expenses could lead to more money being available for covering the news.

The Guild responded that some employees would lose a significant amount of money under this proposal and that it could lead to some employees turning down promotions.

Also Tuesday, both sides reached a tentative agreement on the Part-Time Employees article of the contract with no major changes from existing language.

Representing the Guild were Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports, technician Ed Morsett of Denver and Guild administrator Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were Keisa Caesar, human resources generalist and project manager; Jean Maye, human resources director; attorney Steve Macri; and David Scott, deputy managing editor.

Bargaining resumes Wednesday.