More than eight months after our contract expired, Maui News management dropped a new proposal onto the table Wednesday that calls for employees to pay 50 percent of the cost of family medical insurance premiums.
Management also proposed that all employees pay 50 percent of the cost of dental insurance premiums — a proposal it previously had indicated would be withdrawn, along with others.
Those concessions, coupled with a proposed reduction of three more holidays and cuts to sick leave, represented the latest turn of events in negotiations that informally began one year ago. Management withdrew a proposal for two-tier pay, but changed its pay proposal to make starting pay rates for new employees much lower — in most cases, below living wage levels. Its proposal allows for two pay increases, for top-scale employees only in pay groups 1-4, of 1 percent in the second and third years of the contract; and pay increases of 20-60 cents per hour for all except the top-scale employees in pay group 5. Those increases that would be offset — and then some — by higher insurance costs.
Your Guild bargaining committee, which has been attempting until now to work constructively with management toward a new contract, expressed anger and frustration over the introduction of the proposed medical concession, characterizing it as “regressive” and a breach of trust.
Management cited “changed circumstances” because of the loss of the Wall Street Journal printing contract, but your bargaining committee noted that management said one year ago that the printing contract almost certainly would not be renewed.
After management presented its latest proposal, your bargaining committee stated that its attempt to resolve the negotiations informally and constructively had broken down, and proceeded to introduce a formal written proposal for a five-year contract calling for wage increases totaling 15 percent and restoration of several benefits we agreed to give up in our last round of negotiations in 2012. We also proposed language calling for joint Guild-management committees to address the future of the Maui News as well as significant concerns in advertising.
Negotiations now are entering a new phase. Membership support and participation in planned actions will be essential. We will be talking with each of you in the coming days about our plans to secure a fair contract.
Negotiations will resume on Aug. 18.
Your bargaining committee includes Melissa Tanji, Wendy Isbell, Brad Sherman, and Darren Carroll of TNG staff.