In a letter delivered Tuesday, more than 75 photographers and video journalists told the Associated Press they wouldn’t use their cars for work if the company insists on a change to expenses that would cost some staffers thousands of dollars.
“Many of us look at the proposal, shaking our heads and wondering just how and why we are expected to supply what, in effect, is a fleet of lease cars out of our own pockets,” the letter reads. “The only alternatives for many will be to use rental cars, taxis and public transportation.”
Bargainers for the News Media Guild gave the letter, accompanied by 12 photos of the equipment that photographers and VJs cram into their cars, during bargaining.
Photographers and VJs now receive a $103.25 weekly car allowance. AP wants to cut that to a weekly, taxable stipend of $33. The company wants them to sign affidavits that they’ll make their personal vehicle available for business any time the company wishes for at least a year.
For other staffers, AP wants to eliminate the $15 daily minimum and instead pay the IRS business mileage rate, which is 56 cents for 2014.
The letter says photographers and VJs use their cars as rolling offices “that we are expected to make available 24-7. The company expects us to jump in the car and race to spot news and other assignments, often times with a reporter in tow.”
If the AP’s proposal becomes part of the contract and photographers and VJs don’t use their own cars, then they would have to leave camera gear in their bureaus and go there to pick it up when news breaks. “This is unacceptable but unavoidable if we are saddled with extra personal vehicle costs,” the letter says.
Also Tuesday, the Guild and AP were meeting off-the-record as part of an attempt to reach terms on an overall contract.
The News Media Guild resumed contract bargaining with The Associated Press today, after a break over the holidays. Bargaining sessions are scheduled in New York for this Wednesday and Thursday as well.
The Guild plans to discuss its latest health care proposal, presented during the last round of bargaining in mid-December.
Health care costs are the key issue in bargaining, and the AP has proposed shifting more than $10 million of its costs onto Guild-covered staff over the next three years. This would reduce AP’s health care expenses from their current level, but would cut living standards for nearly 1,100 journalists, technicians and other Guild-covered employees in the U.S.
During the last bargaining sessions, the Guild submitted a revised overall proposal that covers many issues. Those included language to address a key concern of Guild-covered staff: the worsening short-staffing in bureaus across the country. NMG’s proposal would require that when a staffer is assigned new duties, a corresponding amount of work is decreased. Continue reading
None of the 67 Guild-covered staffers who work in the technology unit will lose their jobs because of the Associated Press plan to outsource some work, the company told the union at the bargaining table Tuesday.
“It will not affect U.S. Guild staff,” said Jessica Bruce, vice president of human resources for the AP.
The company provided no details of the outsourcing plan, other than that it exists, during a conference call last week with the technology unit.
Also Tuesday, the company revised its proposal on the weekly mileage allowance for photographers, videographers and video journalists. Those staffers would receive a weekly non-wage stipend of $33 that would be taxable as required by law. They would not receive the stipend during weeks when on out-of-town assignments when they don’t use their personal car. Continue reading
In Arizona, Phoenix BNS Paul Davenport, tech David Beard, tech David Redfearn and Phoenix reporter Bob Christie show their response to AP’s draconian contract proposals.
Award-wining Springfield, Ill., staffers John O’Connor (left) and Kerry Lester protest AP’s contract offer and the company’s refusal to let staff talk to managers about their concerns that AP’s proposals would slash their standard of living.
Contract bargaining with the AP resumed today, along with a new round of mobilizations by our union.
The News Media Guild team _President Martha Waggoner, Secretary Treasurer John Braunreiter, Third Vice President Don Ryan and Administrator Kevin Keane _ will be sharing your feelings about AP’s contract proposals with the company’s bargainers.
Today’s session will focus on our grievance over AP’s majority-owned photography subsidiary, Invision, siphoning work away from Guild-covered staff photographers. This is an issue with dangerous ramifications for everyone’s job security.
Another session is set for Wednesday. The Guild will be presenting a revised version of the health care proposal we presented at the beginning of bargaining in July. That called for staff to pay no more than 5 percent of their total health care costs.
Stay tuned here and via our Facebook and Twitter (@NMGAP) sites for updates on bargaining and our latest mobilizations.
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. Continue reading