Fair Employment Policy Discussed at EFE

MIAMI — EFE News Service again rejected the Guild’s proposals aimed at assuring fair treatment of its employees at the Madrid-based News Agency, after discussing several examples of bias.

The News Media Guild seeks a “fair employment” provision in the labor agreement, where violations of its terms are subject to possible arbitration should a case be deemed worthy. The company is willing to state that employees will not be adversely affected because of age, sex, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, nationality, national origin, legal citizenship status, political affiliation, disability, marital status, or status as a Vietnam Era veteran, but it wants to forbid rulings by an independent umpire if it fails to honor its commitment.

“EFE knows it requires a diverse workforce from all Hispanic nationalities and cultures, and that workforce needs to be treated equally and fairly, so it should insist that an enforceable policy be part of its contract with its employees, said Jorge Bañales, the EFE unit chair.”

The Guild has submitted ideas to cut costs and increase revenues, including suggesting new products and services. The union offered to develop an audiovisual training program through its parent union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) to meet EFE’s needs. It would help the company improve multimedia and information technology skills at rates far below those available on the commercial market. EFE utilized this training program previously and was pleased with the results.

Among other topics discussed in contract bargaining Wednesday:

The union advanced a new proposal regarding outside work, expanding the types of work employees could perform outside working hours.

The union and EFE discussed closing the expenses article of the contract and the hours and overtime article of the contract.

The union discussed the need for an “employee integrity” provision to give employees clear guidances to follow in instances which, in the employee’s judgement his or her integrity, or the news agency’s integrity, is compromised.

The union discussed the length of service issue as it pertains, particularly, to employees who have been working for EFE overseas and are required to forfeit their credit (seniority) when they become employees of EFE’s U.S. subsidiary. This is an important issue as it impacts vacations, wage scales, the amount of severance payment and the order in the case of layoffs.

The next bargaining meeting will take place in Washington, D.C.

The Guild was represented by Bañales, Winton, and rank-and-file members Sonia Osorio and Andrew Pierce. EFE was represented by José Manuel Sanz, Vice President, and attorney Rudy Gómez.