Newspaper workers still trying to make sense of buyout - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Newspaper workers still trying to make sense of buyout

Wayne Cahill Wayne Cahill

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Employees at Honolulu's two newspapers are still trying to make sense of a buyout that could put them out of work. Both dailies employ 900 people and all of their fates are still up in the air a day after news broke the owner of the Star-Bulletin is buying the Advertiser.

Union leaders say it's still too early to tell how many people will be laid off. They say they haven't met with the new owners just yet. But they did sit down with the Hawaii Newspaper and Printing Trades Council and later on Friday, they met with Gannett officials, the owners of the Advertiser, to talk about the future of employees of both papers.

There are a total of nine unions at both the Advertiser and the Star-Bulletin that cover a total of about 600 employees, around 400 at the Advertiser and 200 at the Star-Bulletin.

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild represents employees from both papers.

"The company's obligated to bargaining with us, Gannett to bargain with us over the effects of the sale and how it affects employees," Hawaii Newspaper Guild's Wayne Cahill said.

We do know retirees will keep their pensions and all workers will continue under their current contracts for now.

"The company has the right to do layoffs under both union contracts," Cahill said. "They have to do any layoffs by seniority that is that most recently hired would be the first to be fired."

Cahill says Advertiser employees are guaranteed their jobs until the day of the sale.

But then all contracts and job security will be void. Union members will then be forced to negotiate new deals with the new owner.

"Can we tell the people that they're absolutely safe, there'll be no layoffs?" Cahill asked. "No at the this point, we certainly can't tell them that, we'd like to get to that point, but we can't tell them that now."

It's a situation Cahill says is very similar to the one in 1992. That's when Gannett sold the Star-Bulletin and bought the Advertiser.

"Most of the pundits say oh, nobody's going to buy it, but that's what they were saying back in 2000 and there was a buyer, so I don't think we should jump to conclusions right now," Cahill said.

If there is no buyer and the papers consolidate even more people will lose their jobs.

"There's a lot of uncertainties in this time all over the country," Cahill said. "This isn't a good time to be in the media business, but the media business is really important in a democracy."

Cahill says they're holding a joint union meeting for all employees on march seventh. Its purpose is to give workers consistent information as the situation develops.

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