No backing down in Hilo
By Niesha Lofing
President, Pacific Media Workers Guild
The aloha spirit is certainly alive and well among Pacific Media Workers Guild units in Hawaii.
Executive Officer Carl Hall and I traveled to the islands recently to meet with members in Honolulu and Hilo to discuss negotiations, contracts and future plans.
While union business was at the forefront of our conversations, the trip also afforded us an opportunity to get to know our Hawaii brothers and sisters, who were generous in both their time and kindness.
The trip began in Honolulu, where we met with Derrick DePledge, vice president for Hawaii, along with fellow Star Advertiser staffers Mike Gordon, Dan Nakaso and Gary Chun and others to talk about working conditions post-merger. The Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin merged in 2010.
Then it was on to Hilo, where we met with members of the unit’s bargaining team concerning upcoming negotiations, and then held a brief meeting with members, where we asked for input regarding bargaining.
The gathering also was a chance to celebrate member Hunter Bishop’s return to the paper.
The Guild won a major victory last year when the National Labor Relations Board won on appeal of its finding that the Hawaii Tribune-Herald illegally attempted to suppress union activity in Hilo.
The judgment upheld the NLRB complaint that the company violated federal law in several ways. The company unlawfully interrogated employees about union activity, prohibited employees from wearing buttons and armbands in support of discharged or suspended employees, suspended and discharged employees and refused to provide the union information needed and relevant to its duties as a collective bargaining representative of employees.
After the unsuccessful appeal by the newspaper, Guild members Hunter Bishop and Dave Smith, both of whom had been discharged, were offered their jobs back. The NLRB also is pursuing substantial back-pay for employees including Bishop and Smith who were fired or suspended in connection with the case.
While Smith decided not to return to the paper, Bishop’s return was commemorated during the meeting with the Hilo unit.
Members brought a wonderful array of food and drinks to share and the gathering quickly turned into a celebration.
But the best thing served up that day – solidarity.