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BARGAINING: Guild discusses parental leave proposal for extension of paid duration

The News Media Guild on Wednesday urged The Associated Press to extend the length of parental leave offered to all mothers and fathers after the birth or adoption of a child to 12 weeks with pay. The union said that improving the benefits would help with its recruitment and retention efforts. Guild bargainers also told the AP that the policy needs to be updated to reflect the essential role of fathers, same-sex spouses and parents by adoption.

The Guild noted that the New York Times provides 10 weeks of paid parental leave, Bloomberg provides 16 weeks and the Guardian 10 weeks.

Under the current contract, a female employee who gives birth receives eight weeks paid of short-term disability plus one week of paid parental leave. Fathers, parents by adoption and same-sex spouses receive one week of paid parental leave.

The union also pressed the company to adopt contract language that requires AP to provide sufficient break time and private space for nursing mothers to express breast milk. The AP responded that it was committed to providing reasonable accommodations and to treating the breastfeeding mothers with respect and dignity.

Also Wednesday, the company agreed with the Guild that a current administrative correspondent should be part of the union, and several other management positions remain under review on whether they are properly excluded from the bargaining unit.

Bargaining resumes Thursday, when the AP says it will discuss benefits.