BARGAINING: Guild tells AP wages must go up after health increase, inflation

News Media Guild negotiators told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a break-even contract is a non-starter for their members, and that overall compensation must go up once salary, health insurance and inflation are factored in.

The Guild bargaining team presented more than 100 letters from members who stand to lose thousands of dollars under AP’s proposed insurance and salary offers, once projected cost-of-living increases are included.

The bargainers read one letter at the table from an award-winning employee who would lose nearly $5,000 over three years. He wrote: “My family was left in the rear view many, many times over my career, always done to benefit my AP family … I would hope The Associated Press would value my contribution to making it one of the most trusted news sources at a time when so many news sources are questioned.”

Another employee noted last month’s national jobs numbers, which found that average hourly pay for workers increased by 3.2 percent. AP has offered annual raises of 1.5 percent.

Yet another employee wrote to AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee: “I know you know how vital the newswomen and newsmen of The Associated Press are to keeping us one of the most valued and trusted news sources in the world. We can’t do that if the well-being of ourselves and our children are being jeopardized.”

The Guild bargaining team would like to thank all the employees who participated in this action along with data journalist Justin Myers, who created the calculator and answered countless questions from the bargaining team about it.

Because of scheduling conflicts, the bargaining teams will not meet Wednesday and will resume talks Thursday morning.

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

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