Guild, AP make limited progress in talks

The News Media Guild reached tentative agreement on two articles in talks with Associated Press on Thursday, while the company asked for additional information about the union’s innovative plan to protect workers’ retirement.

The Guild and AP agreed to changes in the contract article covering employee leaves of absence, adding an additional fellowship for environmental reporting. The two sides also agreed to keep the current contract language covering part-time employees.

Compassionate leave of at least three days will now be extended to mother, father, step-parent, husband, wife, same sex-domestic partner as defined under the eligibility provision for the company health plan, son, daughter, stepchild, brother, stepbrother, sister, stepsister, grandparent, grandchild, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law, brother–in-law or great-grandparent or in the event of a family emergency.

Compassionate leave of one day shall be provided to attend the funeral of an aunt, uncle, niece or nephew, provided it does not fall on a regular scheduled day off.

The minimum leave time for a sabbatical drops from nine to six months. Employees on union leaves will receive life insurance and disability insurance policies for six months after the start date of a leave.

The AP asked for additional information about the union’s “fixed cost”  pension proposal. NMG will be consulting with its actuaries about AP’s questions.

The Guild also raised issues concerning how employee sick leave benefits are described in AP’s third-party administrator deal with Liberty Mutual. The union says some of the terms conflict with the contract. AP is reviewing the issue.

Guild negotiators will meet with employees in several locations next week to discuss the bargaining and other contract matters. Some bargainers will return to work the following week because of prior commitments.

“We are being very thorough, so the pace of progress is slow,” said John Braunreiter, a union negotiator and union’s secretary-treasurer. “We remain committed to reaching a fair deal for employees.”

In addition to Braunreiter, representing the Guild were: Tony Winton, Martha Waggoner, Don Ryan and Kevin Keane.

 Representing the AP were: Michelle Ehrlich, Sue Gilkey, Carole Feldman, Hilda Auguste, Alison Quan and attorney Steve Macri.