A Pregnant Pause At AP

By: Mark Fitzgerald

Updated at 12:45 p.m. EST

Some Wire Service Guild (WSG) members say The Associated Press offered to settle an arbitration case filed in November over its limited insurance coverage for contraceptives — its policy requires a doctor’s note that they are “medically necessary” — by expanding the benefit beginning next January. An April 25 e-mail message to members from WSG President and Administrator Kevin Keane outlined the apparent offer and said the union had accepted it.

But on May 10, AP management sent the union a letter saying only that it would negotiate the issue when talks on a new contract begin in November. Keane confirmed the union will go back to arbitration if the issue isn’t settled by Tuesday.

“I can see why some people can be all fired up about it,” Keane said last week. “I don’t think it’s time to be all fired up about it yet — maybe they should be next week.”

“It took six months to get them to arbitration — and then they pull this,” said one AP reporter, who insisted on anonymity. “They cover abortions, Viagra, vasectomies — all these things, but not contraceptives.”

An AP spokesman said the wire service does not comment on upcoming labor negotiations.

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