NMG’s Executive Committee discusses bargaining, other issues at recent meeting

EC members Don Ryan, Linda Johnson, John Braunreiter, Martha Waggoner, administrator Kevin Keane, member David Melendy, RA chair Steve Karnowski and member Vin Cherwoo (standing) at the Executive Committee meeting Feb. 9, 2013, in New York City.

EC members Don Ryan, Linda Johnson, John Braunreiter, Martha Waggoner, administrator Kevin Keane, member David Melendy, RA chair Steve Karnowski and member Vin Cherwoo (standing) at the Executive Committee meeting Feb. 9, 2013, in New York City

The News Media Guild’s senior officers and administrator formulated plans for upcoming contract negotiations with The Associated Press and discussed potential bargaining issues, grievance cases and other topics during the union’s annual winter meeting.

NMG president Martha Waggoner, the other six members of the Guild’s Executive Committee, the Representative Assembly chairman and administrator Kevin Keane met in New York last Friday and Saturday.

With bargaining expected to begin in early summer, the Guild is about to begin a multi-pronged recruiting campaign that includes lining up and training more recruiters and activists around the country.

As an initial step, shop stewards and other activists will work on signing up staffers who don’t receive Shoptalk. The Guild also will increase the frequency of communications with members and nonmembers alike, with more frequent issues of WiReport and postings on Shoptalk, our website and our Facebook and Twitter sites.

The Guild will again seek assistance from its parent union, The Newspaper Guild, to help cover expenses of NMG’s planned mobilizing campaign.  During the last round of contract bargaining, TNG provided financial support to subsidize the Guild’s mobilizing expenses.

Bargaining preparation will begin soon with several steps. Those include distribution of a survey on bargaining priorities to Guild members around April 1, a call for members interested in serving as bargainers or members of the bargaining support team, and the drafting of the Guild’s initial contract proposal.

The officers reviewed grievance cases handled over the last year, some of which remain open, including one involving the company’s Mobile Phone Policy.  Other grievances involve issues from photographer jobs shifted to an outside AP majority-owned business to a challenge of “clarifications” of its ethics policy that appear to restrict rights guaranteed under the National Labor Relations Act.

The Executive Committee also reviewed the union’s finances and membership trends.  For the budget year that began in October, the Guild so far is running nearly $17,000 under budget. The Guild has lost 94 members over the past two years, to a total of 755, mainly because of continuing attrition and other reductions in the size of AP’s Guild-covered staff.

Examination of AP’s job postings shows a trend of more hiring overseas than in the U.S. The company has said that it believes its opportunities for growth are mainly outside the U.S.  AP’s financial picture has been improving and the company has been paying down its debt.

The officers also discussed trends in the news industry and the national labor movement, reduced office expenses, reviewed contract bargaining with EFE and discussed some proposed changes in the union’s bylaws. Most are housekeeping issues, but one involves the grievance appeals procedure. Members will vote on the 10 proposals in the near future.