Honolulu talks hinge on economics

Jan. 18, 2018

Bargaining Update

Honolulu Star-Advertiser Unit

Darryl Sclater, standing, a Seattle-based NewsGuild-CWA staff representative, advised Hawaii members during a break in Star-Advertiser negotiations Wednesday in Honolulu. Seated, left to right: Brad Sherman, Local 39521 staff representative; Joleen Oshiro and Susan Essoyan, both Star-Advertiser reporters; and Tom Callis, reporter at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and Local 39521 Hawaii Vice-President. Photo by Guild Staff 2018.

Guild and management negotiators significantly narrowed the issues blocking agreement on a new labor contract during two days of talks in Honolulu. But after a lengthy caucus that consumed almost an entire day, management wound up giving little hint that it was willing to meet our core economic demands.

Our committee managed to elicit a package proposal from the company that would drop many of the onerous proposals it made last year, such as reducing holidays and sick leave, absurd absenteeism terms, restrictions on shop stewards and a weaker grievance procedure.

But the company still demands the right to conduct random drug testing. The latest version of the company’s proposal would allow it to conduct random unannounced testing of 30 percent of the workforce as many as eight times in every 5-year period.

As for the money issues, after the company pushed for pay cuts in last year’s bargaining, we were able this time to persuade management to put a small raise on the table, but only in years four and five of a 5-year contract, and then only if we agree to shift a bigger share of health care premiums onto employees.

We ended with no agreement.

Our committee offered a compromise from our initial proposal that would raise pay 2 percent in the first year, 3 percent in the second year and 4 percent in the final year of a 3-year agreement. As part of the deal, we indicated a willingness to accept a drug-testing regime similar to the program already in place at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, which limits testing to 10 percent of bargaining unit employees, and allows only five rounds of testing within a 5-year period.

We made it clear that Guild workers are expecting pay increases after suffering through layoffs and two years of a de facto pay freeze. The management negotiator offered words that seemed to show it had heard us, but it has yet to match the words with numbers.

The Guild committee also offered a compromise on a management proposal restricting access to the premises by Guild officers and staff representatives. But the two sides remained at odds over some details.

The committee appreciates the support Guild members have shown publicly as we demonstrate that we are unified in our demand for a fair contract. We should be proud of the work that we’ve done. Membership support and participation in future actions will be essential.

At the end of two days of bargaining in Honolulu, the issues narrowed but agreement eluded members of the Star-Advertiser negotiating committee. Seated, left to right: Joleen Oshiro and Susan Essoyan, both Star-Advertiser reporters; Brad Sherman, Local 39521 staff representative; Darryl Sclater, a Seattle-based NewsGuild-CWA staff representative; and standing is Rob Perez of the Star-Advertiser. Photo by Guild Staff 2018.

Representing the Guild: Joleen Oshiro, Susan Essoyan and Rob Perez of the Star-Advertiser staff; Brad Sherman, a local representative of our San Francisco-based local, the Pacific Media Workers Guild and a former reporter at the Maui News; Darryl Sclater, Seattle-based staff representative of the NewsGuild-CWA; and Carl Hall, executive officer of the Pacific Media Workers. Before the talks began, we had a one-day steward training and bargaining prep led by Guild Counsel Sheila Sexton, attorney at Beeson Tayer & Bodine of Oakland, Calif. Participants in the training included Bargaining Committee members Oshiro and Essoyan; Tom Callis, a reporter at the Tribune-Herald and Hawaii vice president of the Pacific Media Workers; and Chris Sugidono of the Maui News.

Representing management: Ron Leong, Lani Narikiyo, Rebecca Stolar and Miki Sugikawa. The talks were conducted at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.


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Pacific Media Workers Guild

We are the Pacific Media Workers Guild, Local 39521 of The Newspaper Guild-Communications Workers of America. We represent more than 1,200 journalists and other media workers, interpreters, translators, union staffs and freelancers.