Categorized | Business, Featured

Hawaii Tribune-Herald signs contract with union employees after six year stalemate

By Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald and their employees, represented by the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, have finally signed a new contract after six years of frozen wages and negotiations.

In those six years the employee’s old contract had been locked in place with extensions until it was cancelled by the newspaper on December 22, 2009 leaving approximately 50 union members working without a contract since then. Although the contract was cancelled negotiations between the Tribune-Herald and the Newspaper Guild continued.

The Newspaper Guild employees held several informational picketing sessions fronting the newspaper building in Hilo and were joined by members of several other unions in a show of support. Wayne Cahill, administrative officer for Hawaii Newspaper Guild, had mentioned the possibility of a strike against the newspaper and a consumer boycott due to the impasse in negotiations during the picketing.

Sources tell Hawaii 24/7 that the terms of new two-year contract, which was ratified by 85% of the Guild members on Friday (July 9), provide no wage increases in the first year and a 1% increase in the second year which would be the first raise for Newspaper Guild members at the paper since January 1, 2002.

Cuts to sick leave, mileage benefits, advertising wage scales and a new lower starting wage also changed in the new contract. There were no changes to healthcare, retirement and union employment security.

Sources also revealed that the newspaper attempted to tie an ongoing case with two former union employees into the new contract with a settlement but was unsuccessful in doing so.

The case involves the firing of reporters Hunter Bishop and David Smith from the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. The newspaper was found guilty of 12 unfair labor practice charges and other violations by an administrative law judge of the National Labor Relations Board. The judge ordered both Bishop and Smith to be reinstated at the newspaper with back pay and benefits. The Hawaii Tribune-Herald has appealed the judge’s order and the appeal is pending with the NLRB in Washington, D.C.

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald is a daily newspaper in Hilo, Hawaii and is owned by Stephens Media which also owns many Big Island publications and websites including: West Hawaii Today, North Hawaii News, Big Island Weekly, Westside Weekly, 808Classifieds, Kamaaina Shopper, several cruise ship and home/real estate publications. Stephens Media is also partnered with Gannett in operating the website

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild is a local of The Newspaper Guild, a sector of the Communication Workers of America. The Hawaii local also represents employees at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the Maui News and the Maui Bulletin. The pressmen at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald are covered by a separate contract with a different union.

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