MIAMI, April 16, 2010 – The News Media Guild improved health benefits in reaching a tentative agreement Friday with EFE News Service in contract bargaining its employees in the United States.
The agreement maintains the freeze in the current wage structure and the percentage of retirement contributions until December, but lessens the burden of medical coverage for employees. The agreement now heads to members for a ratification vote.
In the medical insurance area, EFE will start paying 100% of the cost of premiums for medical and dental coverage effective July 1. Currently, employees pay a portion of the insurance costs through payroll deductions.
“We’re not happy about another year of wage freezes but this agreement does make medical insurance more affordable, and puts dollars in people’s pockets,” said Jorge Bañales, chair of the Guild´s bargaining team.
“EFE staffers should congratulate themselves for standing together in this bargaining climate,”¨ said Tony Winton, NMG president. “¨We will be ready to return in December to make sure the highly productive U.S staff at EFE is recognized for its their work,” he said.
In other areas, the agreement, if ratified, will:
• Add non-discrimination language to the wage article for merit raises. Although its scope is limited, it is the first time EFE has agreed to standard non-discrimination language in the United States.
• Provides a subsidy of $250 for training for up at least 20 employees, with up to 16 hours of training time being paid “work time.” For the first time, the training is open to non-editorial staff and not restricted to multimedia skills.
• Establishes “maintenance of merit” as staffers progress through wage scales.
• Counts previous company service in computation of wages if a lower classification employee moves to a higher classification.
EFE and the Guild will meet in December for renewed bargaining under a re-opener provision of the overall contract, which expires in December, 2011.
Representing the Guild were Bañales, Winton, and bargaining comittee member César Muñoz-Acebes.
Representing EFE were María Luisa Azpiazu, EFE Vice President, and attorney Rudy Gómez.