Our contract negotiations with OPI were sidetracked Wednesday when, more than four months into negotiations, the company presented an invasive proposal that would require drug-testing of all Hawaii Tribune-Herald employees without cause and allow the company to search any employee’s vehicle parked on company premises.
OPI representatives said the proposal is a needed “deterrent” that would maintain a “safe” workplace free of drugs.
Your Guild bargaining committee described the proposal as “fundamentally intrusive.”
Most conventional drug-testing policies provide for pre-hire testing and testing of current employees for reasonable cause. Outside the newspaper industry, “safety-sensitive” employees like airline pilots and locomotive engineers are subject to random testing under U.S. Department of Transportation regulations. OPI’s proposal goes well beyond those basic elements, stating that “Periodic, routine or intermittent testing shall be conducted at different times and at different intervals for all employees, by department, to determine the use of any illegal drugs or alcohol prohibited by this Policy:”
On a separate issue, OPI continues to insist on the right to select employees for layoff based on its discretion, rather than seniority, stating that employees need to “trust” the company to make the decision that’s in the best interest of the business.
Other key differences include wages, past-service credit for calculating benefits such as vacation, and the percentage of premium paid by employees for family medical coverage. The company also opposes any severance pay for laid-off employees, and continues to propose that employees must provide a physician’s note for every occurrence of sick leave.
OPI’s current proposal for a five-year contract calls for 1.5 percent lump sum bonuses each of the first two years of the contract; raises of 1.5 percent in the third and fourth years; and 2.0 percent in the fifth year.
New bargaining dates are expected to be scheduled this week.
Your Guild bargaining committee includes advertising salesperson Marie Burns, reporter and Unit Chair Colin Stewart, and Guild representative Darren Carroll.
OPI is represented by attorneys Ron Leong and Lani Narikiyo of the Honolulu law firm Watanabe Ing, and Rebecca Stolar and Miki Sugikawa of human resources.
Tom Callis, Hawaii Vice President
Colin M. Stewart, Tribune-Herald Unit Chair
Marie Burns, Tribune-Herald Co-chair