MIAMI – Seeking to recover from years of painful wage reductions, Guild journalists at the world’s largest Spanish-language news agency started bargaining Tuesday for a new labor agreement. Both sides signaled a preference for a speedy deal, and management indicated it would propose some wage increases.
Reporters, editors, and administrative workers voluntarily accepted reduced wages for several years to help EFE and its parent company weather tough economic times. Last year, the two sides agreed to extend the contract a year with a wage freeze. The Guild represents U.S. workers at the Madrid-based agency, the largest Spanish-language news agency in the world.
“The time has come to regain ground, address a growing pay gap and address some basic fairness issues,” said Jairo Mejia, a reporter in EFE’s Washington, D.C., bureau. He referred to wage rates covering the company’s Miami employees that fall far short of rapidly rising living costs in the South Florida metro area. The union said it hoped to advance its initial proposals on Thursday.
EFE said it planned to offer a contract that would include a wage increase of 7 percent for Miami staffers over the life of a four-year agreement. It said it planned to continue the current medical plan and its cost structure. It said it would discuss wages for staffers in California, New York, and Washington at a later date. EFE also said however, that it might propose deletion of provisions guaranteeing minimum wages that are an industry standard. In addition, EFE signaled it wanted changes to contract terms preventing unfair discrimination and changes to the existing intern program.
The Guild and the Company also discussed EFE’s business plans. EFE said it was intent on expanding video and multimedia work.
The next bargaining session is set for Thursday. The current contract expires June 30.
Representing the Guild: Washington journalists Jauro Mejía, Jorge Bañales, and Miriam Burgués, Miami editor David Ronk, and NMG chief negotiator Tony Winton.
Representing EFE: Laureano García, vice president, Hernán Martín, Washington bureau chief, Marisleidys Mavilio, Miami controller, and attorney Arturo Ross.