Guild seeks retroactive contract

The News Media Guild proposed Monday the adoption of a duration and renewal clause, which calls for the contract with The Associated Press being made retroactive to the Nov. 30, 2010, expiration date if an agreement isn’t reached by then.

The AP announced when talks began that the contract wouldn’t be made retroactive should bargaining continue past Nov. 30.

The Guild also advanced its health and safety proposal, saying it intends to review AP’s program for the prevention of repetitive strain injuries, employee rights when handling hazardous assignments and other bureau safety issues.

The study of health problems suffered by photographers and video journalists because of the heavy equipment they carry and the conditions under which they work is nearing conclusion. The AP paid $70,000 for the study, which involves ergonomic specialists from New York University.

AP provided the Guild with information showing declining stringer expenses in the Denver bureau, prior to the termination of a photographer. The union believes that stringer expenses grew after he was terminated in July 2010, which amounts to his being replaced by the freelancers. The matter is still under review.

“Replacing the jobs of staffers with stringers is intolerable, especially after the AP and the Guild negotiated extensive job security language for the most recent contract,” said Vin Cherwoo, bargaining committee member. “AP should add language to the contract to say it can’t happen to resolve any ambiguity.”

The AP said it had no current plans to reduce the photography staff further.

The company announced it will advance proposals Tuesday regarding the technicians.

In addition to Cherwoo, others representing the Guild at the bargaining table Monday were: Martha Waggoner, chair of the bargaining committee; John Braunreiter and Don Ryan; and Kevin Keane, chief negotiator.

Representing the AP at the table were: Michelle Ehrlich, director of global labor relations; Sue Gilkey, director of global director of employee benefits; Kristin Gazlay,  vice president and managing editor, financial news and global training; and Hilda Auguste and Alison Quan of human resources.