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El Diario charged with threats against staff for Guild support

03/07/2014

Click here to download Press Release

For Immediate Release: Thursday, March 6, 2014

Contact: Raymond Rodriguez, 646-200-5309

El Diario, oldest U.S. Spanish-language paper,
charged with threatening its staff

Newspaper Guild of New York files charges with NLRB,
following threats by executive, controversial firings

 NEW YORK – The Newspaper Guild of New York has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against Impremedia LLC for threatening to fire employees because of their support of the union. Impremedia owns El Diario La Prensa, the nation’s largest and oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper, along with other Spanish-language papers and magazines throughout the country.

At a mandatory meeting of El Diario journalists and editorial staff members on Feb. 27, Impremedia Content Director Juan Varela made disparaging comments about the Guild and its contract with the newspaper. He said a majority of editorial staff members would not have jobs in six months. Later, he said the company would not follow the collective bargaining agreement. The employees who attended the meeting believe Varela’s veiled threats were intended to prompt them to leave, if not force them out.

The Guild’s charge, filed on Wednesday, accuses the company of threatening to fire union supporters by implication, saying it would not recognize the Guild and that supporting the Guild would be futile.

The incident follows a period of upheaval at El Diario marked by controversial recent firings. In February, longtime columnist and former editor-in-chief Gerson Borrero was fired without explanation by Varela. On March 5, Executive Editor Erica Gonzalez left El-Diario. Staff members believe she was forced out as part of a restructuring of the paper.

“At a bare minimum, we expect employers to follow the law of the land, if not the law of civility. Reporters and editors are the backbone of El Diario, and Mr. Varela’s threats against them simply because they support their union can only make the paper weaker at a time when it needs all of the employee support it can get,” said Guild President Bill O’Meara.

El Diario’s circulation has declined markedly in recent years. Some Impremedia employees believe Mr. Varela’s threats against Guild-represented workers may be part of a posturing strategy ahead of contract negotiations, which are expected to begin near the end of the year.

In recent months, El Diario has been at the center of a broader debate in the New York Spanish-speaking community over whether it is fragmenting its diverse readership, abandoning Caribbean and Central American readers in favor of the Spaniards and Argentinians.

The Guild, Local 31003 of the Communications Workers of America, represents 2,800 employees at New York area-based media organizations, as well as the staff of the Writers Guild of America, East, retail workers at Hudson News in Manhattan and English teachers at New York’s Kaplan International Colleges. www.nyguild.org.

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