Tag Archives: Winton

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EFE: No qualified U.S. candidates for news internships

The EFE News Service says it wants to scrap a program that allows U.S. college students to qualify for journalism internships because a three-year experiment failed to garner quality U.S. candidates. Instead, the Madrid-based news agency wants to offer its coveted U.S. internships exclusively to students enrolled at educational institutions in Spain. The Guild said it would continue to press for educational diversity in the program, because it’s often a pathway to full-time employment at EFE.

“We think a news organization operating in the U.S. should try to attract at least some U.S. citizens as journalists, and that starts with having an intern program recruiting from colleges in both America and Spain,” said Jorge Bañales, the bargaining unit chair.

After two initial sessions in June, the third bargaining meeting in Miami was the first to yield written tentative agreements. Some 18 articles were initialed during Monday’s session (full list below).

Among the unresolved issues is an employer proposal that could greatly increase the caseload of grievances, even for minor matters if they affect more than one employee at a time. If there were an office-wide safety issue that affected 20 people, for example, EFE’s language would require the filing of 20 separate grievances, with 20 separate grievance meetings, and 20 separate arbitrations. Since a first contract in 2006, no EFE grievance has ever gone to arbitration and all cases have been successfully resolved, including “class action” grievances.

Also on Monday, the Guild rejected EFE’s initial wage offer. EFE’s plan would abolish the current wage structure and replace it with a wage “pool” that it alone would control. EFE’s plan would mean that workers could have their incomes abruptly cut without cause or even explanation.  The Guild said it would advance a wage counterproposal in due time.

The union and the company initialed the following tentative agreements: Checkoff, Guild Security, Payroll Information, Probationary Period, Non-Discrimination, Seniority, Individual Bargaining, Hours, Overtime, and Work Schedules, Part-Time and Temporary Employees, Holidays, Vacations, Military Service, Sick Leave, Outside Work, Bulletin Boards, Miscellaneous, Indemnification Clause for EFE News Service, and a new article, Employee Integrity (which confirms an employee’s right to withhold a byline).
The parties had scheduled a meeting for Oct. 24th but EFE said it was not available for discussions. The parties said they would contact each other about setting a new bargaining date.

Representing the Guild were Washington journalists Bañales and Alfonso Fernandez, Miami editor David Ronk, and NMG chief negotiator Tony Winton.

Representing EFE were Laureano García, vice president, Hernán Martín, Washington bureau chief, Marisleidys Mavilio, Miami controller, and attorney Arturo Ross.

Guild Seeks Wage Restoration In Bargaining with EFE News

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.

EFE Proposal is “Take and Take”

MIAMI, May 1, 2013 – EFE News Services Inc. introduced a new set of economic proposals this week calling for large increases in employee out-of-pocket monthly health insurance payments and cutting its retirement contribution by 25 percent. The Guild also questioned the company’s proposal on non-discrimination language and a proposal for unlimited interns.

Wage and Benefit Cuts

The company is now insisting on steep increases in medical premiums – as much as 19% in 2013 and nearly 24% in 2014. The proposals given to the Guild are deeper than EFE’s prior proposal of a 15% reduction in medical premium costs.

That’s on top of proposals to cut staff salary by up to 9% of salary after five years of a wage freeze. Under EFE’s new proposal, the lowest paid employees would have wages frozen for two more years instead of a wage cut.

“Normally, contract negotiations are give and take,” said Tony Winton, the Guild’s chief negotiator. “With these proposals, EFE seems intent on pursuing a ‘take and take’ stance,” he said. Continue reading

EFE Introduces New Wage Cut Proposal

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EFE Guild members hold hands during mobilization in Miami Tuesday, Mar. 12, 2013

WASHINGTON, Mar. 14 – EFE News Services introduced a new wage cut proposal on Thursday that softened its earlier demand for payroll savings of 15 percent.

EFE proposed a tiered approach to wage reductions. Under its proposal, Employees earning in excess of $60,000 would see a nine percent reduction. Employees earning less than $60,000 but more than $45,000 would see a an eight percent wage cut. Employees earning $45,000 or less would see no wage reduction.

EFE General Manager Ignacio Sanz said the goal of the company’s proposal was to reduce costs by $124,000 annually. He described the news agency’s financial condition as critical and said that EFE, a state-owned company based in Madrid, was under orders from the Spanish government to meet the conditions of a solvency plan. Continue reading

EFE: No Such Thing As a Normal Workday

WASHINGTON, Mar. 12  – After 15 months of bargaining, EFE News Services introduced a new and far reaching proposal that would

Guild members stand united  outside the door to EFE's Washington, DC bureau before contract talks resume Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Guild members stand united outside the door to EFE’s Washington, DC bureau before contract talks resumed, Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

end the concept of a normal workday, all but eliminate overtime, and dismantle scheduling protections for workers. EFE also reversed course on the severance pay article, adding a new penalty for workers who could not accept a transfer.

EFE’s new proposals came after the Guild told the Employer it would agree to the company’s previous hours, overtime and scheduling proposal (with a minor change regarding using English in posted schedules) and EFE’s December severance proposal. At the time, both EFE and the Guild viewed bargaining over these items as largely complete.

“EFE launched today an assault on family life,” said Jorge Bañales, the Guild’s unit chair. Continue reading