Guild, AP settle expenses, make progress on new position

The Associated Press revised its proposal to create a new position of news associate, addressing many of the concerns raised by News Media Guild bargainers.

The Guild and the company also signed off Wednesday on an expense policy that maintains current language while requiring staffers who receive a minimum mileage rate to file their actual miles driven and pay income tax on any overages as required by law.

The AP has said it intended the news associate proposal as a positive one so the Guild sought more details about how the position would help the union-covered staff.

“The AP says it must have a way to deal with member needs for low-level news work and that it views the news associate proposal as responsive to Guild complaints about the workload,” Guild President Martha Waggoner said. “We agree that the staff has too much work in too little time so we’re pleased the AP is working to answer our concerns.”

The revised proposal says that news associates won’t be used to enable the layoff of other employees or the elimination of positions. It also says that if layoffs occur, the news associates will be considered the least senior employees in their business locations.

The revised proposal lists the duties that a news associate could perform and says they won’t get bylines, credit lines or tag lines, which will prevent them from doing newsperson work that requires such credit. It also includes normal language on overtime so news associates would receive OT after an eight-hour work day.

On expenses, the company originally wanted to eliminate the daily mileage minimum and reduce the mileage allowance. The company also wanted to exert greater control over personal vehicles of staffers who received a weekly mileage reimbursement by requiring them to sign an affidavit.

“Keeping our mileage rates is a big victory for the Guild-covered staffers, especially photographers, video journalists and video first workers, who stood together and told the company they would not accept its proposal,” said bargainer Don Ryan, a photographer in the AP’s bureau in Portland, Ore.

Bargaining resumes May 13-14 and May 27-29.