Contract talks with AP to resume with new NMG mobilizations

Bargaining between the News Media Guild and the AP will resume in two weeks, with sessions scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 3 and 4. The Guild also has begun a new round of protests against AP’s unreasonable demands.

The two sides remain far apart on the key issue, health care costs.

AP has come down from its original proposal to shift $11.5 million onto employees over three years, through higher health insurance premiums, copays and deductibles. The company now is seeking nearly $10 million in savings. It’s scrapped the onerous high-deductible health plan it wanted to start in 2015 _ likely due to staff protests to date.

The Guild, meanwhile, has counter-proposed shifting $4 million onto staffers, a significant concession from our initial proposal to limit employees’ health costs to 5 percent of the total.

The union negotiators now are standing firm on that and many other unresolved issues, including refusing to accept AP proposals to slash severance payments and allow the company to force employees to transfer to another location _ or lose their job.

NMG also insists on retaining the current $15 daily mileage minimum and other reimbursements for mileage as they are now.

The union also is seeking contract language to address unreasonable workloads that have only worsened as more than 75 Guild-covered staffers, plus numerous managers, left the company in 2013, with few being replaced. The union’s proposal would require that when employees are given new work, a corresponding amount must be removed.