And the ralliers agree with his assessment of the brand—the reason they all say they’ve sacrificed so far is because they love their work and believe in the AP. The day before leading the “Cheap, Cheap” chant, Johnson told me that while the AP has its problems, “I like a lot of things about working for AP, the most important being that I work with some phenomenal people. We have some just brilliant, talented, dedicated people. I enjoy that. And when you work for AP you get to help set news agenda, for the world.” Derella, taking a moment between chants, said, “The reason you work here is the people you work with. I’ve made friends around the world, been able to travel. AP has been good for us.”
The news wire has its annual meeting Thursday and negotiators are hoping to reach a deal soon.
Update: AP this morning forwarded me a summary of Tuesday’s negotiations sent late last night to the news wire’s news leaders and department heads by AP’s director for global labor and employee relations Michelle Ehrlich. The key points are that the Guild, according to the summary, conceded that the current defined benefits scheme is unsustainable and presented another counterproposal to AP’s negotiators. AP looks unlikely to accept it. From the summary:
Today [Tuesday], the News Media Guild took an important step and acknowledged that the old pension, a defined benefit plan which most other companies in our industry have phased out, was no longer sustainable if the AP is to remain competitive. The Guild presented a counterproposal which provides a freeze of the defined benefit plan and replaces it with a defined contribution plan.
Astonishingly, the cost of the Guild’s defined contribution plan—estimated to be $30.8 million over five years—is twice the cost of the company’s proposal. The Guild’s counterproposal further impedes resolution because its costs would only continue to grow beyond the initial five years, which is when AP’s plan would show the most savings. Since January the AP has explained that those savings would be used to stabilize and grow its position in the marketplace.
There were also signs of growing frustration at the protracted nature of the negotiations. Ehrlich wrote:
There is very little time left to solve this. A pension freeze must be in place by July 1 and will take months to administer under pension regulations, so the process must begin very soon. If the pension is not frozen, cuts will have to be made elsewhere. And as [Human Resources VP] Jessica Bruce said in her note to staff last week, personnel costs are the company’s biggest expense.
…The future of the company rests on a swift and reasonable conclusion to negotiations.