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AP, Union Reach Tentative Agreement

After six months of talks, the Associated Press staff and the company have reached a tentative agreement for a new 33-month contract.

The contract would include three raises of 1.5 percent: one to take effect immediately, a second Sept. 1, and a third Sept. 1, 2012.

The contract also calls for a freeze in pension plans (with a small bonus for current pensionholders) and adds language that will prevent AP from laying off staff and replacing them with freelancers. There is also a severance bonus if a one-person bureau is closed, a promise to freeze health insurance rates for the life of the contract, and new vacation language.

The contract will be mailed out for a vote “shortly,” the Guild said in a memo.

Will staff vote yes? “The bargaining committee believes this is the best deal possible short of more intense mobilization activities, up to and including a strike,” so things could get interesting if they don’t.

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