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.

The Guild’s proposal, which puts all employees and all new hires into the plan, is similar to the current pension in that it remains a federally insured defined benefit plan that pays a lifetime monthly benefit at retirement. Unlike the current pension, however, the accrual rate is adjusted each year to take market conditions into account. The plan also calls for AP to shift the investment strategy into more stable bonds.

The two sides also discussed scheduling, broadcast differentials, expenses, training, holidays, sick leave and life insurance.

Federal mediator Kathleen Murray-Cannon joined the talks Monday and will be with the two sides for the rest of the week.

Representing the Guild were: Tony Winton, Martha Waggoner, John Braunreiter, Don Ryan, Vin Cherwoo and Kevin Keane.

Representing the AP were: Michelle Ehrlich, Sue Gilkey, Kristin Gazlay, Hilda Auguste, Alison Quan and attorney Steve Marcri.

Bargaining resumes Tuesday.