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BARGAINING: Guild, AP discuss job security

Job security continues to be a major topic of discussion as bargaining resumes this week between the News Media Guild and The Associated Press.

Both sides have been negotiating over job security concerns that arose over the life of the current contract.  Now, when staff reductions occur, an employee must be retained if he or she can perform the work of the lowest seniority employee in his or her classification in the business location.

Employees can rely on their past experience with AP or their experience with a previous employer to claim that retention is required. In some cases, a four-week try-out for a position must be provided.

The company has been concerned that in some cases it may not be doable if the senior employee’s technological or other skills are inferior to the low seniority employee.

Over the past decade, AP has been hiring employees with the expectation they have the ability to shoot video or handle video editing duties as the collection and distribution of video grows within AP. It wants its employees to use social media and work in multiple formats.  It becomes more likely that a senior staffer who lacks those skills may not be able to claim a low seniority job when a reduction occurs.

AP wants employees to be willing to learn new skills and to take advantage of training when it is available.

It is not a problem that is particular to AP. Rapid technological changes are occurring everywhere, and many employees are now expected to work in multiple formats, so the need to expand skills to protect job security becomes important.

The Guild believes these issues are real and that adequate training must be provided to employees to address the issue and that employees must utilize it.  It encourages employees to find training for these new and evolving technologies, whether it is offered by AP or is available elsewhere.

Also this week, the company agreed with the Guild that two current managers should be reclassified as bargaining unit employees. Under the contract, an employee must directly supervise three or more people to be classified as management. In this case, both managers supervised two people.

Bargaining resumes Thursday, when the Guild plans to present its health insurance counter-proposal.

Representing the Guild were Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports, technician Dave Herron of Seattle and Guild administrator Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were Alison Quan, director of human resources, technology and business operations; Steve Macri, AP’s attorney; David Scott, deputy managing editor; Jean Maye, human resources director; and Keisa Caesar, human resources generalist and project manager.