Categorized | Featured, News

Hawaii Tribune-Herald cancelling contract with employees

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspaper building in Hilo, Hawaii.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald newspaper building in Hilo, Hawaii.

Story and photo by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald employees were notified Tuesday (Dec. 1) that the company is cancelling the contract with the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, which represents approximately 50 newsroom and advertising staff members at the newspaper.

The last day under the current contract is Dec. 21. A separate contract with eight to nine pressroom workers, who are represented by the Graphic Communication Conference of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Union (GCC/IBT), will continue.

Wayne Cahill, administrative officer for Hawaii Newspaper Guild, said the Tribune-Herald employees have been working via extensions to a contract that expired in 2002 and wages have been frozen since Jan. 20, 2002.

Cahill said, “Management (Stephens Media) said the newspaper is making plenty of money.”

After Dec. 21, Cahill said, “management (at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald) can’t change pay, hours, working conditions or benefits for the Guild members. Management said they wouldn’t lock-out employees, but that’s still a possibility.”

Cahill also said a bargaining meeting with Stephens Media, owner of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, is scheduled for Jan. 20-21, 2010.

When asked what the employees may do if Stephens Media did not want to bargain, Cahill said, “a strike is possible. The employees could encourage a consumer boycott of Stephen Media on the Big Island since they also own West Hawaii Today. The employees could create an online edition of a newspaper. The Guild members would have to vote and approve these actions.”

Cahill said stumbling blocks in contract negotiations over the years include management wanting to use sub-contractors and charging employees higher fees for medical, dental, drug and vision plans, and new employees would start at lower wages.

Cahill said the Guild is especially concerned with the use of sub-contractors as it’s a threat to job security for current employees.

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild also represents the Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Maui News, Maui Bulletin and Pacific Media Publishing employees. Cahill said contracts with these publications are in mid-term and adjustments have been made due to the “tough economic times.”

Cahill said, “We (The Hawaii Newspaper Guild) don’t want newspapers to go bankrupt, that wouldn’t be in the interest of the employees.”

Calls to Ted Dixon, publisher of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, were not returned to Hawaii 24/7.

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