AP, News Media Guild reach new tentative agreement

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The Associated Press and the News Media Guild have reached a tentative agreement on a new three-and-a-half-year contract that includes pay raises each year of the agreement and health care revisions.

The agreement comes after more than 17 months of negotiations and is subject to ratification of the union membership.

The tentative agreement will require employees choosing a premium plan to pay 20 percent of their health care plan costs by January 2022. The AP had initially sought the 20 percent contribution immediately. It also expands paid parental leave for new and adoptive parents, allows parents to use sick days to care for their children and adds coverage for mental health services.

"This was a very difficult bargaining but we are proud of the gains we made, particularly the increase in paid parental leave, the addition of insurance coverage for autism treatments and allowing employees to use sick leave to care for ill family members," said NMG President Jill Bleed. "We know the insurance increases are huge and the raises don't keep up with inflation, but we are also cognizant of what's happening at other news outlets."

Management expressed satisfaction that the tentative accord was reached.

"This new collective bargaining agreement is critical to the future success of the AP," said Senior Vice President Jessica Bruce, who oversees human resources at the news cooperative. "The talks were long and arduous, but conducted in good faith, and I'd like to commend everyone at the table for their commitment to reaching a deal."

The agreement addresses relocation expenses and expands schedule flexibility for journalists engaged primarily in newsgathering.

"AP journalists are the best in the industry, breaking news, making iconic images and delivering to customers richly reported enterprise and visually engaging video," said AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee. "This new contract ensures they are respected for their years of service as well as their experience and expertise."

The previous contract expired in September 2017.

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