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BARGAINING: AP proposes steep increases in health care premiums

The Associated Press introduced a health-insurance proposal Tuesday that would increase employees’ monthly contributions for premiums for the medical plan next year by 52 percent while also increasing deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums and decreasing the premium plan coinsurance percentage paid by the plan.


The proposal would also eliminate the coverage of compounded prescription drugs, which the AP said are far costlier than the individual components of the drugs.


Under AP’s proposal, the annual increase in employees’ contributions for premiums range from $636 more next year for an employee-only premium plan to $2,592 more next year for an employee plus family premium plan. Read the full text of AP’s proposal.


Dental insurance would see even steeper increases under the AP proposal, with employee contributions rising by about 60 percent next year.

The AP did not provide exact numbers on premiums for beyond 2018. The contract expires Sept. 30.


The AP proposal also calls for:

  • Increasing the individual deductible to $500 from $400 and the family deductible to $1,000 from $800.
  • Increasing the out-of-pocket maximum for in-network service to $2,400 for individuals. It is now $1,900.
  • Increasing the out-of-pocket maximum for in-network service to $4,800 for families. It is now $3,800.
  • Decrease the coinsurance _ which is the amount the plan pays after a deductible is met _ from 85 to 80 percent on the premium plan.

The AP also introduced a proposal that would exempt U.S. employees covering international sporting events, like the Olympics or World Cup, from overtime and scheduling provisions of the contract. The AP also proposed allowing all employees _ not just solo correspondents or certain specialized reporters _ from willingly exempting themselves from scheduling requirements, if there is mutual agreement with management.


The company also proposed changing how it reimburses employees for moving and relocation expenses if they are transferred to another bureau. Now, the company reimburses the employee for specific costs. AP’s proposal would change that to a lump sum of $5,000, with higher amounts available if the employee is married, has a child or children or is moving more than 2,000 miles away. The maximum reimbursement would be $11,000.


Also Tuesday, the News Media Guild presented a proposal that would make employees eligible for more vacation days earlier in their tenure. Under the proposal, a new hire would be eligible for three weeks of vacation, instead of the current two, and employees who reach 15 years of service would be eligible for five weeks of vacation. Now, an employee must have 20 years of service before becoming eligible for five weeks of vacation.


The Guild introduced a proposal on holidays that would increase the number of personal days an employee receives each year to three from two, and add the day after Thanksgiving as an AP holiday.


Also Tuesday, the Guild introduced proposed changes to the news associates program. The Guild is proposing that those positions no longer be fixed terms of two years, and the Guild also seeks the removal of restrictions that now prevent news associates from receiving raises during their tenure or applying for other AP positions.

The Guild also advanced proposals on

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

Representing the AP were Alison Quan, director of human resources, technology and business operations; Hilda Auguste, human resources manager; Keisa Caesar, human resources generalist and project manager; Sue Gilkey; global director of employee benefits; Jean Maye, human resources director; AP’s attorney Steve Macri; David Scott, deputy managing editor; and Ellen Fegan, vice president for internal audit.

Bargaining resumes Wednesday.

Talks Resume With Federal Mediator

NEW YORK — The Associated Press told the News Media Guild on Monday that its main objections to the union’s fixed-cost pension proposal are costs and what the company called the “cumbersome” administrative burdens of the plan.

The company said that plan is too cumbersome because its actuaries believe the Internal Revenue Service would have to qualify the plan every year and that the company would have to send annual updates about changes.

The Guild’s actuaries have said the burdens are minimal, because the yearly letter could be a form letter that’s easily updated. The Guild’s proposal saves the AP $5 million over five years, but the company has said that’s not enough.
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