WASHINGTON, Dec 14th — The News Media Guild began contract talks Tuesday with the EFE News Service, proposing a 5% general wage increase for employees in the United States.
Workers at EFE have endured almost three years of a wage freeze.
“EFE workers have done their part to help the company cope with tough economic times, while increasing productivity and multitasking in new technologies”, said Tony Winton, the Guild president and chief negotiator.
“But the cost of living it continues to increase and EFE needs to make sure its employees don’t fall further behind,” he added.
Under the terms of the existing contract, the union and the company meet each December to revise wages, medical coverage, retirement benefits and training. The overall agreement expires December 31, 2011.
In addition to the general 5% wage increase, the Guild proposed:
-Increasing the 401K contribution from 1.5% to 7%, to bring EFE’s retirement plan in line with its competitors and with its co-workers who are covered by the Spanish collective bargaining agreement.
– A system of weekend, night and evening shift differentials for workers who are assigned to odd hours.
-That EFE absorb any increase in medical premiums for 2011.
-That EFE increase the amount of life insurance coverage to protect the families of employees.
– That EFE issue paychecks bi-weekly
-That a 10th year salary step be created. Currently employers reach top scale after 4 years. The Guild’s proposal would stablish a higher rate for workers with 10 years of experience. In addition, the Guild’s proposal would replace the current salary structure (based on length of service) with one that is based on professional experience.
The Guild told EFE that it will also propose adjustments to the current salary scale, and would have that proposal ready shortly. It also said it is reviewing the current training program and will advance a proposal shortly.
The company told negotiators that EFE continues to face financial pressures, and said it would make its response at a later date.
The Guild has represented EFE editorial and administrative employees since 2006 in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. EFE, based in Madrid, is the world’s largest Spanish-language news agency.
Talks are scheduled to resume January 11, 2011.
Representing the Guild were Winton, bargaining unit chair Jorge Bañales, Washington newsperson Teresa Bouza and Washington administrative assistant Winston Rodriguez.
Representing EFE was Vice-president Maria Luisa Azpiazu and attorney Rudy Gómez.