Guild proposes language to address short-staffing

The News Media Guild made a revised overall proposal Wednesday that included language to address short-staffing in bureaus across the Associated Press.

The proposed language reads: “Adding additional work for any employee will require a corresponding decrease in the amount of work the employee previously performed.”

AP staffers across the country have been dealing with growing workloads at the same time as employees are leaving the company. Just this week, the Guild learned of three union-covered staffers who are leaving. The proposal would address some quality journalism concerns voiced by employees nationwide.

Guild bargainers questioned AP about its proposal to change the car allowance for photographers, video journalists and videographers and about its proposed affirmation statement that those staffers would have to sign to receive the AP’s proposed $33 weekly stipend. The AP said staffers who don’t receive the $103.25 weekly car allowance would not be asked to sign the affirmation.

The union proposed that the expenses article be continued unchanged.

The union proposed that the three-year contract be retroactive to the Aug. 31 expiration date and that an “evergreen” clause be inserted in the contract. An evergreen clause would keep the contract in place until a new contract is reached or impasse. That would prevent the company from terminating the agreement as it did on Dec. 5.

The Guild said that vesting under the defined contribution plan should be immediate instead of the current three-year wait and that it wants the company to contribute amounts that consider all employee compensation.

The Guild proposed that the advancement opportunities, temporary employees, transfers, hours, overtime and schedules and dismissal indemnity/severance pay articles be unchanged.

The union proposed that “which includes businesses” follow the term “independent contractors” in Article 1, Coverage, to clarify the language.

Other issues must be reviewed.

Bargaining resumes Thursday then goes on hiatus until Jan. 7, when the Guild’s health-care consultant returns to the table.