By Roger Mari
HONOLULU (KHNL) -- They're upset with the terms of a contract proposal, though management calls it a "final offer."
The vote was 358-to-17 in favor of authorizing a strike, which could include boycotting circulation of the paper. Union members believe the latest proposal offers too little to balance out the rising cost of living.
600 Honolulu Advertiser employees may go on strike if they can't agree on a new contract with management.
"Their proposal is a pay cut proposal. At the end of the day, our people would have less money in their pocket with the company's proposal that we have now. And that's hardly the way to reward the work that our people have been doing for the past several years<: said Wayne Cahill of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild.
The company's proposal calls for substantially higher health care costs including a co-pay increase from 10-to-15 percent.
"That's their line in the sand I guess we're just going to have to do what we have to do and try to get them back on the table," said Honolulu Advertiser employee Lance Kamada.
The advertiser's president and publisher says, "We have been working very sincerely with Mr. Cahill and the council and will continue to do so. Our belief is that we can come to an agreement.
The proposal we submitted was reasonable given the current and future economic conditions facing the newspaper industry our state and the nation."
Some members disagree.
"If this was coming from a company that struggling financially, we might understand their problem, but this is company that tells us that they're making money," said Cahill.
In addition to rising health care costs, the proposal offers a one percent pay raise and one-time 1.5 percent bonus. Members feel they deserve much more and no co-pay increase for health care.
"We're talking about pay raises in the range of three percent and no change in the H.M.S.A. plan which frankly doesn't need any change," said Cahill.
A landslide vote shows these 600 employees are not giving up without a fight.
"I think that the company needs to wake up and understand that they're in Honolulu, and this is a community that won't accept an employer acting the way that this employer's acting right now," said Cahill.