Guild members at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald rallied outside the Big Island newspaper office Thursday morning to demand a fair contract.
Two days of Hilo talks start later Thursday and Friday.
Oahu Publications Inc. (OPI), which bought the daily in December 2014, has shown little willingness to reach a compromise after months of bargaining. OPI also owns the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, where contract talks are expected to begin later this year. The Hilo negotiations appear to be an early signal of what’s coming on Oahu.
The Hilo talks have dragged on despite modest differences on economic issues.
OPI appears to be sending a message that its workers are liars and cheats, with utterly no evidence.
Key issues include OPI demands for random no-cause-needed drug testing — the worst proposal the Guild has ever encountered on this issue.
The company wants a sick leave policy that demands doctor notes and waiting periods to be paid for a health problem.
A sick worker would have to struggle into the office or risk being fired after a couple of absences. Everyone would need to use up vacation time — also being slashed under the OPI proposals — or go unpaid for being sick a day.
“Workers should not be punished for using sick leave. It’s that simple, ” said Tom Callis, Big Island unit chair and Hawaii Vice President of the Media Workers guild local. “The company should realize its employees are its greatest asset; not liabilities.”
Severance, seniority and vacation also have been sticking points.
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