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BARGAINING: Guild proposes 5 percent annual raises

The News Media Guild advanced proposals Wednesday calling for 5 percent annual increases in wages and economic differentials in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The Guild also proposed adding Miami and Seattle to the list of cities that receive economic differentials because of higher cost-of-living expenses.

The Guild also proposed adding a new differential payment for employees who work on Saturdays. Now, an employee can receive differentials for working Sundays and between the hours of 7 p.m. and 6 a.m.

The Guild’s wages proposal also includes a new provision that calls on the company to adjust the pay increases upward in 2018 and 2019 if the Cost of Living Adjustment, as computed by the U.S. Department of Labor Consumer Price Index, exceeds the pay increase agreed to in the contract.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press introduced a proposal that would greatly expand the company’s use of news associates. Now, the company is allowed a total of 16 news associates to be located at its four regional hubs. Under the proposal brought forth Wednesday, the AP would have no restrictions on the number or location of news associates and they would no longer be limited to two years of employment.

The company proposal would also allow news associates to do original reporting and have bylines, tag lines and credit lines, but they would always receive the Class A newsperson “to start” rate of pay when performing that work. The company is willing to negotiate their salary rate, which is now the Class A newsperson “to start” rate.

Under the current contract, news associates are only allowed to do member pickups, daybooks, editorial roundups, calendars and the transmission of member photo pickups

The AP also proposed eliminating existing contract language that now says “News associates shall not be used to enable the layoff of other employees or the elimination of positions covered by this Agreement, who are engaged in the State News report.”

The AP also introduced its proposal on vacation time. The company proposal would maintain the current levels of vacation eligibility but would require employees to schedule 14 days annually of any vacation or personal days that have been carried over from previous years. Now, employees must schedule seven days annually of any carried-over time.

The AP also indicated Wednesday that it planned to later introduce its own proposal on severance pay, but the company did not provide any details. The Guild has proposed leaving that section of the contract unchanged.

Also Wednesday, the Guild and the AP reached tentative agreements to leave the dues checkoff and outside work portions of the contract unchanged.

Representing the Guild at the table 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; Hilda Auguste, human resources manager; Keisa Caesar, human resources generalist and project manager; Sue Gilkey; global director of employee benefits; Jean Maye, human resources director; AP’s attorney Steve Macri and David Scott, deputy managing editor.

Guild negotiators will spend Thursday preparing for the next negotiations session, now set for the week of Sept 18.