United States and Spanish Unions Link Up In Bid to Organise Workers at News Agency EFE

Staff at the U.S. headquarters of Spanish news agency EFE are leading moves for union recognition in a joint campaign supported by The Newspaper Guild-CWA and Comisiones Obreras in Madrid, both affiliates of the International Federation of Journalists.

Supporters of the campaign say that this joint action will improve working conditions and will enhance quality journalism in the rapidly growing Spanish media sector.

EFE, based in Madrid, is the world’s leading Spanish-language news agency, providing text, photos, and multimedia content to clients around the world. The North American operation is based in Miami, with journalists in New York, Washington, and other cities.

The News Media Guild http://www.newsmediaguild.org/, an affiliate of the TNG-CWA http://www.newsguild.org/index.php in the United States, this week filed a request for recognition for U.S. employees of EFE News, U.S. The agency’s workers in the United States are hoping to follow their colleagues in Puerto Rico, who organised with the Union de Periodistas, Artes Graficas Ramas Anexas in December. Bargaining for an initial contract there is under way.

The union is hopeful that their campaign will secure a swift result with backing coming not just from rank-and-file employees, but also EFE managers who have told staff that they respect the role unions can play in expanding the company’s business.

“EFE workers know the value of the work they do and how important the growing American Hispanic market is,” said NMG President Tony Winton. “They also know that fair contracts attract and retain the best workers, something that results in quality journalism in any language,” he said.

The IFJ has welcomed the co-operation between its affiliate and says that this is a sign of the growing tendency towards cross-border co-operation in organising newsroom workers. “Global media are a challenge to unions everywhere,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “This is a great example of how unions can join together to make sure media companies that operate across borders provide decent working conditions, whether at home or abroad.”

“We chose the News Media Guild because of its commitment to workplace democracy and high professional standards,” said Benito Garcia, a news editor in Miami and a member of the organizing committee. Jorge Bañales, an editor in Washington, added: “EFE is a decent employer that respects the union rights of its workers in Spain. We call on the company to do likewise here and begin bargaining a fair contract for its U.S. based staff.”

For more information contact News Media Guild President Tony Winton at 212-869-9290 or send email to: union@newsmediaguild.org