IFJ Calls on Member Unions to Support Day of Action to Defend Workers Rights at Associated Press

Dear colleagues-

Five of our colleagues in Mexico City were recently dismissed by the Associated Press as part of a plan by the company to void the collective bargaining contract it has had with the Mexican Journalists’ union Sindicato Nacional de Redactores de la Prensa (SNRP).

AP representatives have told the Mexican union that they are simply following a company-wide policy that seeks to end collective bargaining agreements in all offices and replace them with individual contracts.

In an effort to fight this union-busting policy and to get AP Chief Executive Thomas Curley to say publicly that he will respect labor union rights, we are planning a day of action on Friday, December 9. The day is being planned to tie in with International Human Rights Day, which is on Saturday, December 10.

The five unionized employees, who worked as editorial support staff in the bureau, must now find other jobs. The Mexican union is launching a legal challenge to this action in an effort to maintain the collective bargaining agreement in Mexico and ensure that any replacement workers will still be covered by the agreement.

You can get more information about the situation on the IFJ web site (www.ifj.org) or on the SNRP’s web site (http://www.snrp.tk).

Please show your support for this action and solidarity with the SNRP by sending a letter to Associated Press Chief Executive Thomas Curley on Friday. We have enclosed a template letter below.

It is important that not only unions participate in this but also that union members at the AP participate as well. If you have members who work for the AP please ask them to sign a group letter or individually send their own.

You can contact Thomas Curley on Friday at:

Mr. Thomas Curley
President and Chief Executive Officer
The Associated Press
450 West 33rd Street
New York, NY 10001

E-mail: [email protected]

Fax: 212-621-1908

Telephone: 212-621-7550
Main AP Number: 212-621-1500

After you have sent a message to Mr. Curley, please contact the IFJ to let us know, either via email at [email protected] or via telephone at +32 2 235 2205.

December 9, 2005

To: Mr. Thomas Curley, Chief Executive of the Associated Press

RE: Respect workers’ rights and union rights at the Associated Press

Dear Mr. Curley,

I am writing to express my dismay over recent actions of the Associated Press that undermine the prospects for sound industrial relations in editorial departments. In particular, I am concerned at developments suggesting the Associated Press is seeking to eliminate agreements with unions representing editorial workers, calling into question the company’s commitment to respect the rights of workers to organise and to bargain collectively.

In co-ordination with other journalists’ unions around the world, I am asking you to make a clear and unequivocal statement that the Associated Press will not seek to terminate collective bargaining agreements it has with unions across the globe.

Your explicit assurance on this matter will allay fears that the Associated Press, one of the world’s leading news agencies, is intent upon a policy of anti-unionism that could damage the company’s reputation for fairness and respect for labour rights.

This request follows reports that Associated Press representatives in Mexico, where the five unionized staff members have been dismissed, have said they are implementing a global strategy to eliminate agreements with unions.

A company lawyer has told union officials in Mexico that Associated Press policy is now to end all contract agreements with unions around the world and to replace them with individual contracts that do not provide any labor protections.

As a union representative, I find this both provocative and counterproductive. Replacing union protection with personal contracts creates a precarious system of employment and lowers morale in the newsroom. The notion that the Associated Press plans to make such conditions a matter of operating policy comes as a shock to many within the industry.

My own union is deeply disturbed and I must inform you that we will do everything we can to fight this development, both in our own bureau and in a broader campaign of solidarity with fellow workers who resist this approach in other bureaux.

Tomorrow, December 10, is International Human Rights Day, a day when people all over the world are asked to recall the value of basic liberties and the right of everyone to live their lives in security and with dignity. It is an appropriate moment to ask you to ensure that your own employees are guaranteed their right to work according to international labour standards.

Respecting trade union rights and allowing Associated Press staff to work together in decent working conditions will guarantee a stable system of industrial relations and create an enabling environment for journalism of the highest quality.

I urge you to continue honoring the collective bargaining agreement that you have with the Mexican journalists’ union Sindicato Nacional de Redactores de la Prensa (SNRP) and make a fresh commitment to honor union rights in every country. I look forward to an immediate clarification of the company’s labour strategy in favour of respect for collective bargaining agreements and workers’ rights.