Washington nearly two years of negotiations, the News Media Guild and EFE News Service reached tentative agreement Tuesday on a new four-year labor agreement calling for a two percent retroactive general wage increase, a revised wage grid, protections for employees on journalism visas, and other gains.
The contract now heads for approval by the Guild’s executive and contract committees, and then a vote of members.
If approved, the new new wages will come into effect on the first payday following ratification, with a retroactive lump-sum payment equal to 2% of pay for the previous calendar year.
EFENS and the Guild had reached the basic terms of a deal over a year ago, but after the union said it was ready to submit the contract to a membership vote, management sought new interpretations of important wage terms. A subsequent change in political leadership in Spain, where the government-funded news agency’s parent company is based, led to a situation where the Employer was unable to resume bargaining until a new management team was installed.
The tentative agreement reached Tuesday will contain a mechanism that will protect current employee’s over scale wages, including, for some workers, the award of additional experience credit time.
Recognition of experience credit, a standard U.S. journalism practice, has been sought by the Guild since the unit organized in 2005. The agreement marks the first time that EFE will follow this principle.
The agreement also creates new protections for workers from other nations who work in the U.S. under what is known as an “i-visa.”
“It was a complicated and bumpy road, but finally we managed to reach a deal that it is meaningful and substantial for EFE NEWS and its employees in the next two years,” Alfonso Fernández, a reporter in Washington DC, said.
If approved by members, the contract would expire in June, 30, 2021.
Representing the Guild were employees Jorge Bañales, David Ronk, Maribel El Hamti, and Alfonso Fernandez; Tony Winton, chief negotiator, and Kevin Keane, the NMG administrator.
Representing the EFE News Service were Hernán Martín, Washington Bureau Chief, Manuel Ortega, EFE’s director of business development for North America, and attorney Arturo Ross.