A two-day arbitration hearing concluded in Hilo Thursday that will determine whether full-time employees offered jobs by OPI in December will be paid severance because they were fired and forced to reapply under new terms of employment.
An estimated $180,000 in total severance pay is at stake in the case. A decision by Arbitrator Thomas Christopher is expected in late December.
The Guild’s severance pay grievance is a result of the sale of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald by Stephens to Oahu Publications Inc. on December 3. The Guild filed the grievance in November when Stephens, as owner of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, said it would only would pay severance to employees who weren’t offered jobs by OPI.
The Guild contends that all employees should receive severance, including those who were offered jobs, because everyone was terminated and required to reapply to work for OPI, with no seniority credit for past service. In addition, OPI cancelled the Guild’s contract, stopped contributions to the Guild’s pension plan, and granted no severance benefits to rehired employees.
Instead of closing arguments, each side will file written briefs on October 19 – one month after receiving a transcript of the hearing from the court reporters who transcribed the proceedings. The arbitrator has 60 days from the submission of briefs to issue a decision in the case.
Barbara Camens, counsel for The Newspaper Guild in Washington, DC, presented the Guild’s case, and called three witnesses: reporter Colin Stewart, former local administrative officer Wayne Cahill, and TNG international representative Darren Carroll.
L. Michael Zinser represented Stephens Media. He called two witnesses: Mark Hinueber, former general counsel for Stephens Media, and David Bock, editor and publisher of the Hawaii Tribune-Herald.
Anyone with questions about the hearing should contact Unit Chair Colin Stewart, Unit Vice Chair Marie Burns, or Hawaii Vice President Tom Callis.