Read to the end: AP wants happy employees who are compensated fairly

The News Media Guild and the Associated Press discussed issues involving photographers Tuesday, including mileage minimums, workloads, the number of female photographers and Invision.

The company hasn’t provided a specific proposal for expenses for photographers but has said it wants to eliminate mileage minimums. The company said Tuesday it’s concerned with employee reporting under IRS guidelines because employees who receive the mileage minimum don’t record the first 125 miles they drive.

The company said the majority of staffers receiving the mileage minimum go over that minimum anyway.

The Guild said it would review the company concern.

Joining the Guild at the bargaining table was Lynne Sladky, a photographer based in Miami who’s also the photography representative on the NMG’s Representative Assembly.

She asked AP’s photography director Santiago Lyon and deputy director Denis Paquin about staffing for the NFL, with which the company has a contract, and the MLB, where the AP is competing for two contracts. AP said typical staffing for NFL games was two photographers and one editor, while one photographer staffs MLB games.

Photographers now provide 150 pictures from NFL games. Some photographers have received notes because of mistakes in captions, and the Guild reminded the AP that the contract says the company is aware that mistakes will increase when the workload does.

The company gave no assurance that staffing for MLB games would increase if the AP gets either the print or digital contract but would review staffing if that happens. However, the company said AP is making more money from downloads from MLB’s digital side because AP is providing more photos.

The Guild has asked the AP about the number of female photographers, which is 13 of 93. While the issue will be discussed later in the month at a meeting between the AP and the Guild’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee meeting, the union told the company that the numbers are glaring and should be adjusted when photographers are hired in the future.

Last year, the AP started a majority-owned company called Invision whose photographers shoot most of the entertainment events that AP photographers used to shoot. Sladky told the AP that Invision has caused job security concerns for photographers, and the Guild said AP could just easily start new companies that would take over work away from union-covered staffers.

The company said it couldn’t discuss the issue in detail because the Guild has taken the case to arbitration. The company said it’s committed to discussing and resolving the case.

“We want happy employees who are going to produce a high-quality product who are compensated fairly,” the company said.