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BARGAINING: Discussion of job security stalls

The News Media Guild and Associated Press will resume talks next month on health insurance, wages and benefits after negotiations on job security stalled out Thursday.

Both sides are in agreement for nearly all of the proposed job security language for the editorial and technology units, which is attached here, but one sticking point remains. The Guild wants more protection for employees who choose to change departments (or organizational units, to use proposed contract language.) AP wants to institute a five-year lookback rule, meaning that an employee who moves from one department to another would retain professional subject matter competence in the first unit for five years. That would make it much easier for the employee to bump a less-senior employee in a different organizational unit.

If it’s been more than five years, a senior employee could still have the opportunity to exercise seniority rights in a different organizational unit, but he or she would have to demonstrate their professional competence and it would be subject to a manager’s discretion.

The Guild’s negotiating team has told the AP for months that five years is too short of a period but on Thursday, AP said it was done negotiating the language. The Guild bargainers oppose the company’s proposal as written, but it wants feedback from members on whether it is acceptable. If it’s not, employees must make that clear to the company.

Bargaining will resume Nov. 28.

Representing the Guild were Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports, technician Dave Herron of Seattle and administrator Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were Jessica Bruce, senior vice president for human resources and corporate communications; Sue Gilkey, global director of employee benefits; and Steve Macri, AP’s attorney.

AP has terminated NMG contracts — what happens now

The Associated Press has sent the News Media Guild notice that it is terminating its expired contract with its employees on Dec. 5, 2013.

Here’s how this works. When an expired contract is terminated, the National Labor Relations Act requires the company to honor the status quo terms and conditions of the existing contract until an agreement or impasse is reached. (More in impasse later in this post).

For example, AP cannot on Dec. 6 enact its health insurance, forced transfer, reduced dismissal pay proposals or any other proposals. It cannot adopt new policies that affect terms and conditions of employment without providing advance notice to the union so it can decide if it wants to negotiate. In the event of a staff reduction, AP must honor seniority and issue notice and severance pay. Continue reading

Sick Leave – sound off

The Guild is looking for “real life” stories about the new sick leave policy at AP. If you’ve had problems  — or positive experiences, please let us know.  Information like this is of great assistance to the Guild’s bargaining team. Please send your comments to: guild@newsmediaguild.org

The Guild plans on compiling these responses — but will withold member’s names on request