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Report: 500 AP Staffers Against Contract Proposal

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The Associated Press' largest union claims that more than 500 AP employees have signed a petition "urging the company to reverse course in contract talks…saying the company's bargaining stance threatens quality journalism."

The News Media Guild states in a press release that the petition signers "asked AP to change direction, finding the AP's contract proposals to the News Media Guild to be 'regressive.' In contract talks with the Guild, the AP is proposing a wage freeze, weakened job security, vastly larger prescription drug payments, increased medical plan co-payments, elimination of overtime pay for hundreds of employees, and a reduction of sick leave for new mothers."

AP Spokesman Paul Colford declined to comment on the petition or contract talks Tuesday.

The News Media Guild represents more than 1,400 AP reporters, editors, photographers, and support staff in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

"The petition notes that AP staffers have worked hard to expand their skills as AP adapts to the new journalism landscape," the release said. "AP workers previously embraced training and cross-platform work in the current labor agreement that is set to expire Nov. 30. The union is proposing even more widespread training to make sure AP remains relevant to the company's clients."

The petition effort comes a month after the union launched its bargaining for a new contract by aiming rather high in its initial contract proposal, which sought a two-year contract with 10 percent annual raises, more training, and improved retirement and health benefits.

The Guild’s current contract, which ends Nov. 30, is a three-year deal that included average raises of about 3.1 percent.

Union President Tony Winton said in today's release: "Quality journalism requires fair treatment and wages and benefits that attract and retain the best employees. While no doubt the global economic environment is placing strains on AP, the company itself says it is well-positioned for the future."

The petition and a list of those the union says have signed is found at: newsmediaguild.org.

It states:

We the staffers of The Associated Press are writing to express our dismay at the company's proposals that would undermine the world's greatest journalism institution. The men and women of the AP are the unsung professionals who cover the news, sometimes risking life and limb to keep the world informed. The AP staff is proud to be the "essential global news network." Staffers have embraced the challenges of 21st century journalism, expanding their skills to deliver accurate news in all platforms.

AP's proposals to erase decades-long job security protections, to increase employee health care costs and to delete long-standing benefits for new mothers are regressive and do not address the needs of all employees.

We ask the AP to reverse course and promptly enter into an agreement that invests in its employees and provides security and stability for both them and the company.