Tag Archives: Job Security

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AP contracts ratified by Editorial Unit, Technology Unit

Members of the News Media Guild’s editorial and technology units have ratified a new, three-year contract with The Associated Press.

The secret-ballot votes were tallied Monday by the Guild’s elections committee. About 83 percent of ballots were in support of the tentative agreement, which was reached in late January after more than a year of bargaining.

The new contract, which replaces an agreement that expired in September 2017, includes three salary increases and three one-time payments. The new contract will quadruple the amount of paid parental leave for fathers and adoptive parents and also allow employees to use sick leave to care for ill family members, including children, spouses and parents.

The deal calls for a $750 lump sum payment upon ratification. It also calls for a 2 percent raise on July 1, 2019; a $250 lump sum on Jan. 1, 2020; a 1.75 percent raise on July 1, 2020; a $250 lump sum on Jan. 1, 2021; and a 1.75 percent raise on July 1, 2021.

The contract also calls for for annual 20 percent increases in monthly health insurance premiums for the top-tier health plan. It calls for annual 15 percent increases to the basic health plan and the introduction of an optional high deductible health plan next year.

AP also agreed to the Guild’s proposal to add insurance coverage for applied behavioral analysis therapy, a commonly prescribed treatment for children with autism.

Rank-and-file Guild negotiators met with the AP bargaining team more than 50 times in New York City over a nearly 18-month period. The Guild was represented at negotiations by Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports, technician Dave Herron of Seattle, technician Ed Morsett of Denver, and Guild administrator Kevin Keane.

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BARGAINING: Guild, AP reach overall tentative agreement

News Media Guild bargainers reached an overall tentative agreement for its contracts with The Associated Press on Thursday. The Guild bargaining team believes it would need intense mobilization or a possible strike to make any more progress at the table, and for that reason, the Guild negotiators are recommending that these contracts for the editorial and technology units be approved. The final decision will be up to members.

Guild and AP bargainers have met 52 times since August 2017. The last contract expired Sept. 30, 2017.

AP has offered its final proposals, which the Guild bargainers cannot change at the table.  The Guild will announce a referendum election soon.

Here are the details, which include a few changes in wages and moving expenses from yesterday’s bulletin:

  • A lump sum payment of $750 upon ratification; a 2 percent raise on July 1, 2019; a $250 lump sum on Jan. 1, 2020; a 1.75 percent raise on July 1, 2020; a $250 lump sum on Jan. 1, 2021; and a 1.75 percent raise on July 1, 2021.
  • Increases of 20 percent to the monthly premiums on the top-tier premium health plan. The increases would take effect July 1, 2019; Jan. 1, 2020; Jan. 1, 2021; and Jan. 1, 2022. Lower increases to the basic health plan and the addition of an optional high deductible health plan. Another open-enrollment period would occur before these increases take effect, and the high deductible plan would be available beginning Jan. 1, 2020.
  • The contract would have an effective date of Jan. 31, 2019, and expire on June 30, 2022.
  • No changes to the amount of vacation or holidays an employee receives.
  • Merges the editorial, administrative and technology pension plans into a single plan to save on administrative costs. This does not change any pension benefits or the plan design.
  • No changes to severance pay, except in the situation described below when severance would increase.
  • Adoption of new job security language that was previously discussed at great length. Adoption of new job security language for technicians that says seniority can be measured within the virtual work groups of Global Help Desk and Customer Support, rather than business locations. Increasing the amount of severance paid to a laid-off employee in the editorial unit who is the only person in his or her organizational unit at a bureau.
  • Quadrupling the amount of paid parental leave for mothers and fathers upon the birth or adoption of a child (from one week paid to four weeks paid.) This is in addition to the short-term disability benefit for women who give birth.
  • Changing contract language to allow employees to use sick days to care for ill children, spouses and parents. (Now, employees can only use sick days for themselves.) The language change also allows mothers and fathers to use sick days after the birth or adoption of a child, which could extend paid parental leaves by an additional two weeks.
  • Adding insurance coverage for a commonly prescribed treatment for autism called applied behavioral analysis therapy
  • Adopting a lump sum reimbursement system for moving expenses. An employee who is relocating would receive a $7,500 lump sum. If the employee is selling his or her primary home, another $5,000 payment would be made, along with an additional $2,000 if the employee has a spouse who is moving and another $2,000 if the employee has a child or children.
  • Extending flexible scheduling to employees on the news side who elect to do so. This does not apply to employees who work fixed shifts, like desk editors, breaking news staffers or supervisors.
  • Restricting overtime for employees on overseas sports events like the Olympics. This limitation applies only to travel days flying to and from the international location. On those days, an employee would receive eight hours of pay. Once on site, the employee would still receive OT for covering the events and for time spent traveling to and from sports venues.
  • No changes to the number and location of news associates allowed under the contract, but changing language to allow news associates to apply for AP jobs prior to the completion of their two-year assignments. Also allowing news associates to search for, permission and prepare for publication user-generated content; and rearranging stacks within AP’s mobile app. No original reporting, bylines or credits are permitted.

Full details of the tentative agreement will be provided to members ahead of the referendum.

Representing the Guild were Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports, technician Ed Morsett of Denver and administrator Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were deputy managing editor David Scott, attorney Steve Macri, and senior vice president for human resources and corporate communications Jessica Bruce. 

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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.

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BARGAINING: Guild, AP continue discussion of job security

The Associated Press bargaining team on Wednesday told News Media Guild negotiators that its proposals on job security for the editorial and technology units are their best and final offers, barring any “significant compromise” from the union.

Both sides have been negotiating a rewrite to job security language for nearly a year, and the heart of the discussion all deals with layoffs. The Guild agrees that changes are needed to the current job security language, because in the past, senior employees facing layoffs have been offered jobs that weren’t at all comparable to what they were doing before. That led to the senior employee not passing a trial period and ultimately being laid off.

The Guild has agreed to many of AP’s proposed changes, including the creation of organizational units. Here is a breakdown of the current proposal:

SENIORITY AND LAYOFFS

No one “loses” seniority under this proposal – an employee with 30 years of experience today will have 30 years of service under the new proposal. The big difference is what happens during layoffs if a senior employee wants to bump a junior employee in a different organizational unit.

Hypothetically: A senior employee who works in U.S. News in Chicago wants to bump a junior employee who is a Health and Science newsperson in Chicago. If the senior employee had worked in Health and Science within the past five years, he or she would be deemed competent in the professional subject matter for the new job. If the senior employee can use the equipment and software needed for the new job, then he or she would get the new job.

The Guild has strongly objected to the so-called “five-year lookback rule.” AP says the news business is evolving quickly so some type of time constraint is needed.

It is important to note that employees wouldn’t be barred from a job in another organizational unit if they don’t have experience within the past five years. They could still get the new job if they can demonstrate professional competency in the subject matter of the new organizational unit. That can be demonstrated or described, based on past experience or outside education and training.

For layoffs within an organizational unit: an employee is considered professionally competent for all jobs within their classification in their organizational unit. (So a newsperson in Sports is considered professionally competent for all newsperson jobs in Sports.)

For many bureaus – especially those with only US News and Sports employees – the new proposal is very similar to current language.

TRIAL PERIODS

Under current contract language, a senior employee who wants to bump a junior employee can be subject to a trial period. AP has sole discretion over whether an employee passes that trial period (and employees rarely pass.)  AP says its new proposal is a big concession to the Guild because it gives employees an opportunity to exercise seniority rights without a trial period. However, AP would retain its right to sole discretion after an employee completes a four week training period in the use of technology.

SEVERANCE PAY

Severance pay would remain unchanged (two weeks of pay for every year of service, plus an extra week). For some employees in the editorial unit, it would increase. If AP lays off an employee who is the only person in their organizational unit in their bureau, then that person would get additional severance that’s also granted to solo correspondents. That extra severance would be: an extra four weeks of pay for fewer than five years of service; an extra eight weeks of pay for fewer than 10 years of service; an extra 10 weeks of pay for fewer than 15 years of service; and an extra 12 weeks of pay for 15 or more years of service.

TECHNOLOGY UNIT CHANGES

Now, Global Help Desk and Customer Support employees have limited job security because they are not attached to any business location. This proposal would allow for seniority to be determined within the Global Help Desk and Customer Support organizational units, regardless of geographic location. TU employees who are on-site techs would be part of the US Field Operations organizational unit and would be subject to the geography-based seniority that is part of the current contract.

Bargaining resumes Thursday.

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; Alison Quan, director of human resources, technology and business operations; and Steve Macri, AP’s attorney.

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BARGAINING: Guild, AP discuss technology unit job security

Bargaining resumed Tuesday between the News Media Guild and The Associated Press, with the AP introducing a counter-proposal on job security for the technology unit.

The proposal largely tracks changes previously introduced for the editorial unit. It would assign technology employees into one of the following organizational units: Customer Support, Global Help Desk and US Field Operations. Layoffs would occur within the organizational units. Under the AP proposal, a senior employee could exercise seniority rights in a different organizational unit if he or she has the qualifications and skills to do the new work.

Now, many technology employees who work in Customer Support or the Global Help Desk are not bound by geography or to a bureau. The Guild has proposed that seniority be measured within “virtual groups” of Customer Support and Global Help Desk, and the AP said Tuesday that it is open to the concept.

The AP proposal would also increase severance pay by up to 12 extra weeks if a technology employee is the only person in their organizational unit in their business location.

The Guild has requested a list of how current technology employees would be assigned into organizational units, and will pass it along to members once it’s received.

Representing the Guild were Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Vin Cherwoo of New York Sports, technician Ed Morsett of Denver and administrator Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were senior vice president Jessica Bruce and attorney Steve Macri.

Bargaining resumes Wednesday.