Government Charges EFE News Services with Labor Law Violation

NLRB logoBALTIMORE – The U.S. government formally charged EFE News Services with violating federal labor law this week because of its conduct in bargaining a new contract with the news agency’s workers.

EFE, based in Madrid, is the world’s largest Spanish-language news agency; EFE News Services is its U.S. subsidiary.

The National Labor Relations Board filed the formal complaint on June 17. The agency is prosecuting EFE for violations of the National Labor Relations Act for failing to provide information to the Guild that is necessary for collective bargaining. EFE “has been failing and refusing to bargain collectively and in good faith” with the Guild, the government’s complaint said.

The Guild filed the unfair labor practice charge with the NLRB earlier this year after the employer refused to provide information about its interns program and data related to the Guild’s belief that EFE has for years engaged in systematic, widespread discrimination by national origin.

The agency moved forward with the complaint after it conducted its own investigation into the employer’s bargaining conduct. The matter now heads to a federal administrative law judge for trial. A hearing has been set for Sept. 16 in Washington, D.C.

“EFE is bargaining in bad faith,” said Martha Waggoner, the Guild’s president. “All Guild members call on EFE to abandon its unfair treatment of workers and reach a fair agreement.”

Meanwhile, the Guild is pressing its claim that so-called “interns” are actually employees and should be paid. EFE and the Guild have mutually selected an arbitrator to hear the claim. The arbitration is set for October 1 and 2 in Washington.

After a five-year wage freeze, EFE had proposed deep wage and medical benefit cuts, an end to overtime, unlimited use of interns, and at one point, the employer proposed stripping employees of their right to complain of discrimination in the courts. Many of the Employer’s proposals are regressive, as the Guild had earlier accepted proposals made by the employer, only to have the employer move backwards with more onerous proposals.

The Guild, recognizing the ongoing economic crisis in Spain, has proposed a temporary furlough program to reduce the Employer’s costs. According to data provided by EFE, the Guild’s cost savings proposals would meet or exceed the savings targets.