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BARGAINING: Guild advances proposals on parental leave, job security

The News Media Guild introduced a proposal Wednesday calling for 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all parents upon the birth or adoption of a child _ including fathers, same-sex partners and parents by adoption. The Guild also introduced its proposal to strengthen job security, and the AP said it expects to respond later with a job security proposal of its own.

The Guild’s proposal on parental leave also calls for the ability for an employee to return from a parental leave on a staggered, part-time basis over the period of one year following the birth or adoption of a child, and it includes a new section that requires the company to provide breaks and a sufficient, private space for nursing mothers to pump breast milk at work. AP’s larger bureaus already offer separate lactation rooms and the Guild said it wants to ensure that the smaller bureaus have private spaces available, too.

Now, AP offers one week of parental leave for fathers, same-sex partners and parents by adoption, while women who give birth receive eight weeks of short-term disability plus the one week of parental leave.

“AP’s current parental-leave policy is not reflective of today’s families and it needs updating,” said Jill Bleed, chair of the Guild’s bargaining committee. “We look forward to productive discussions with AP on the matter.”

The Guild is also proposing a change to the company’s sick-leave policy that would allow employees to use sick time to care for ill dependents.

The Guild’s job security proposal calls for increased training in the event of job reductions _ including those caused by automation. The proposal also says that if an employee is being re-trained for a new job, “the Employer will make available to the employee during the training period a resource contact as needed outside working hours to answer questions and provide guidance regarding the training when sought by the affected employee.”

The AP introduced what it described as a minor change to the company’s pension plans. AP is proposing consolidating its administrative, editorial and technology defined benefit pension plans, which are frozen, into a single plan that would be called the Associated Press Consolidated Retirement Plan to save on administrative fees. AP said that would not change any current benefits.

Read full text of the Guild’s job security, parental leave, and sick-leave proposals, and the the AP’s pension proposal.

Also Wednesday, the Guild and AP signed tentative agreements to leave the following sections of the contract unchanged: payroll information, grievances, arbitration, health and safety, severability, military service and individual bargaining.

Representing the Guild at the table were Bleed, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports, Denver technician Ed Morsett and Guild administrative officer Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were: Alison Quan, director of human resources, technology and business operations; Keisa Caesar, human resources generalist and project manager; Sue Gilkey, global director of employee benefits; Jessica Bruce, senior vice president for human resources and corporate communications; Steve Macri, AP’s attorney; David Scott, deputy managing editor; Jean Maye, human resources director; Ellen Fegan, vice president for internal audit; and Sarah Nordgren, deputy managing editor.

Bargaining resumes next Tuesday.