The News Media Guild met with The Associated Press on Wednesday to discuss the editorial unit contract once again.
The company quickly said that it was withdrawing its proposal to eliminate overtime pay for employees assigned to international sporting events. The company said that it “heard the union” in our objections to the proposal, and cited the testimonies of sports writers Teresa Walker and Jimmy Golen as particularly moving.
Promptly on receiving the union’s Sick Leave proposal, the company disclosed its intention to provide sick leave and health insurance to new hires. Currently, new hires must wait 90 days before they are eligible for both sick leave and health care.
On health care, the guild received information regarding AP’s current policy on traveling to receive health care services if they are not available where an employee is located (including but not limited to abortion restrictions and gender-affirming care bans).
The company pointed to the current employee health care plan documents and cited the following language:
“Travel and Lodging (For Travel and Lodging related to complex medical conditions see Section 7: Clinical Programs And Resources) The Plan provides a Covered Person with a travel and lodging allowance related to all Covered Health Services. When such Covered Health Services are not available within 100- miles of your address, as reflected in our records. Travel and Lodging provides support for the Covered Person under the Plan. The Plan provides an allowance for reasonable travel and lodging expenses for a Covered Person and travel companion when the Covered Person must travel at least 100 miles from their address, as reflected in our records, to receive the Covered Health Services. This Plan does not have an allowance for incurred reasonable travel and lodging expenses and is independent of any existing medical coverage available for the Covered Person. An allowance of up to $1,000 per Covered Person per year will be provided for travel and lodging expenses incurred as a part of the Covered Health Service. Lodging expenses are limited to $50 per night for the Covered Person, or $100 per night for the Covered Person with a travel companion. Please remember to save travel and lodging receipts to submit for reimbursement. If you would like additional information regarding Travel and Lodging, you may contact us at www.myuhc.com or the telephone number on your ID card.”
The guild is still reviewing the details, though our initial reactions are positive. The negotiators ask members to read this policy because we believe many employees are unaware of it.
The union listed priority concerns for health insurance. It proposed that employes rates be frozen and that when those rates are unfrozen, there will be no “true-up” — meaning any losses during the period when rates are frozen will not be part of calculating new rates.
The Guild said reproductive health, transgender health, fertility treatments and the $50 charge for not participating in the wellness program, will be reviewed.
The company said it was not prepared to discuss the wage proposal or any other economic items.
The remainder of the meeting was mostly going over ongoing items and checking in on the information requests that were sent to the company.
There will be no bargaining during the rest of September. The Guild has offered some dates for negotiations in October.