August 20, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
New York, NY—At City Hall on Tuesday morning former El Diario staff demanded that El Diario rehire them after the company fired eight veteran journalists in the spring citing economic reasons. But the Newspaper Guild representing writers and editors said the company is trying to bust the union.
According to the Guild, trouble with the company, which is the country’s oldest Spanish language newspaper, began back in February when the company’s CEO announced he would no longer abide by the labor contract and said he would fire union employees within six months.
In June, that’s exactly what he did. He fired the eight journalists and then re-hired eight new journalists, thereby contradicting the company’s claims of economic hardship.
The Guild said in a statement that it has asked the National Labor Relations Board to request a court order that would reinstate the fired employees, as well as provide Guild coverage of the new employees.
Nube Urgiles still works for El Diario as a sports writer and editor, but in the accompanying video interview she says she went to City Hall to show support for her former colleagues, but also because she’s worried too that her job might be in jeopardy.
“I am still working for El Diario but I don’t know until when because of the way management is handling the situation,” said Urgiles.
Annette Santiago worked for El Diario for 13 years until she was laid off on June 13. She worked in many different positions over that time and she feels she was targeted when she asked for a raise.
“I feel they targeted me to be one of the ones to be let go,” said Santiago.
She feels the company betrayed her because everyone in her family read the newspaper when she was growing up.
“When I started working at El Diario, I was ecstatic because I was working for the paper that my family knew and read, but it’s not like that anymore. They just crushed me, and took all that away from me,” Santiago said.
In addition to laying off eight journalists, 42 drivers with the Newspaper & Mail Deliverers Union are out of work because the company outsourced their work.
Tom Bentvena, the NMDU president, said the union was willing to accept $250,000 worth in concessions, even with a mediator involved in the negotiations. But the company outsourced anyway.
“We had offered the same cost savings that they would receive from a non-union delivery [outfit], and yet they still chose to go non-union,” said Bentvena.