After announcing, this fall, that it is moving its Miami-based international text and photo bureau to Bogota, Colombia, Efe News Service has reached an agreement with the News Media Guild to set the terms of that relocation and to negotiate a more than 5% pay raise for Efe employees.
The deal is the first that the union, which is a local member of the Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America, has made with the Madrid-based newswire. Aside from the increase in pay, the agreement also includes a retroactive 3% raise, spanning the entirety of 2006.
Regarding the relocation of Efe's international text and editorial department, the guild helped to negotiate enhanced severance packages for those who did not wish to relocate – approximately one month's salary for each year of service to the company – and complete relocation coverage for those who did decide to make the move. In addition, the union negotiated increased benefits for Efe's employees, including health and dental coverage, and extended vacation allowances.
News Media Guild President, Tony Winton, highlighted the benefits of the agreement for both Efe employees and Spanish-language media at large by saying that a fair contract will aid in attracting and retaining the best available talent. Winton told Portada, “Quality journalism transcends language; there are principals of journalism apply universally. By associating themselves with the Guild, union member's pledge to adopt the organization's code of ethics, which deals with appropriate use of sources and avoiding conflicts of interests.”
At the same time, Winton said that the Guild is committed to protecting journalists' right to engage in activities like participating at church and donating to charities of their choice: “It's really a fine line we have to walk. On the one hand, we fully support regulations that foster and strengthen quality journalism. At the same time, we do not want to enact regulations that would detract from journalists' ability to live their personal lives in an unimpeded fashion. I think our current code sufficiently addresses both concerns.”