Guild Claims AP Writers on Byline Strike

The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America claimed tonight that reporters and photographers at the Associated Press “are withholding bylines and personal equipment in protest over the news agency’s proposals that would threaten job security, dramatically raise medical costs, and freeze wages.”

The protests come as talks continue between AP and the News Media Guild. The union represents 1,400 editorial, technology and support staff at AP.

According to AP spokesman Paul Colford, “AP’s contract with the News Media Guild specifies: ‘An employee’s byline shall not be used over his/her protest.’

“AP’s proposals to the guild are rooted in the desire to assure that we can maintain the maximum number of quality journalism jobs, and that these positions are compensated fairly and in accordance with the realities of today’s economic challenges. We’re hopeful that we’ll reach agreement on these critical issues.'”

“Staffers recognize the tough times, but they also understand that quality journalism at AP means attracting and retaining the best employees,” said NMG President Tony Winton in a statement. “They’re making it clear that AP’s future success means respecting its workers, not imposing huge medical costs and regressing on industry-standard job security term.”

The guild’s press release continues: “The Guild and the AP have been bargaining since Oct. 21. There has been agreement on a handful of articles, but the sides remain far apart. AP proposed a wage freeze in the first year of a two-year agreement, followed by a two percent increase a year later. The Guild opened with a 10 percent wage increase proposal, but has indicated flexibility at the bargaining table.

“The protest included other actions besides the withholding of bylines. Some planned to withhold use of their personal vehicles, cell phones, and other equipment, while others were “working to rule” to express displeasure at the company’s proposals. The protest began Sunday afternoon and is set to end later this week.”