“I’m speechless,” said Jorge Bañales, chair of the bargaining committee. “EFE has been telling us for years it didn’t want two forums for discrimination claims, so we presented a proposal that gave exactly what they asked for.”
“EFE needs to address this issue now and stop playing games,” he added.
The union is seeking contract language that would bar discrimination based on age, gender, race, creed, color, national origin, and several other categories, in keeping with standards observed by almost all U.S. news organizations.
In November, the Guild advanced a compromise proposal that would essentially give a worker a choice if he or she believed there was discrimination: use the internal arbitration process, or file a legal complaint with a state or federal agency. If a worker chose to file a legal complaint, he or she could not use the arbitration process, where issues are decided by a neutral person. EFE had initially proposed that employees could complain of discrimination, but could not arbitrate claims.
On the topic of medical care, the Guild and EFE met earlier this week with a representative from the UFIW-CWA insurance plan to discuss cost-saving options. EFE has sought a 15 percent reduction in the amount it pays for medical coverage. The company has shopped around the plan, but has found that the union-sponsored coverage is superior to other insurance plans. The union told EFE that it will propose a cost-savings plan once final numbers are in from the UFIW actuary.
EFE also revised its proposal on interns. The Company proposed that it be able to use an unlimited number of interns to prepare news items, but said that it would try to recruit interns from U.S. educational institutions. The Guild told EFE that it has been violating the existing intern program rules and that interns cannot take work away from Guild-covered employees.
In other developments, the Guild and EFE sought to narrow differences on several articles, including expenses, leaves of absence, sick leave, part-time temporary employees, and expanding several contract terms to include coverage for domestic partners. EFE and the Guild said they would work on a side letter that would specify how employees would notifiy the employer of a domestic partner so that benefits could be extended. The company also said it rejected the union’s revised wage proposal made in November, but did not offer any new wage proposals of its own.
No bargaining date has been set for the next round of talks, but both sides remain in contact over bargaining related matters.
Representing the Guild were Bañales and NMG chief negotiator Tony Winton.
Representing EFE were José Manuel Sanz, EFE News Services Vice President, and attorney Rudy Gómez.