Unions suspicious of Advertiser layoffs

Joaquin Siopack
Joaquin Siopack
Christina Falma
Christina Falma
Wayne Cahill
Wayne Cahill

By Mari-Ela David - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - More than four dozen employees at the state's largest daily newspaper are struggling to cope with the unexpected announcement that they're losing their jobs.

The Honolulu Advertiser is letting go 54 of its employees. Six unions represent the Advertiser's employees, which met the evening after the announcement.

A union rep came out of the meeting saying they have reason to think the layoffs are suspicious.

After eight months of bargaining, contract negotiations take an unexpected turn at the Honolulu Advertiser.

"I wasn't really surprised that this was happening. We've had a lot of bad news in the newspaper industry for quite a while. What I was surprised was that he would give me the news over the phone on my day off," said Joaquin Siopack, a photographer.

The layoffs affect departments across the board, from news to printing, distribution, and advertising.

"Very morose. It was just not what everyone wanted to hear. I mean who wants to hear that 54 of your colleagues are getting laid off as of august 10th," said Christina Falma, a photojournalist.

In a statement, publisher Lee Webber says, "We are not immune to the national trends affecting the newspaper industry, nor from the downturn in our local economy. We must take prudent action to ensure the long term health of the newspaper."

But a union rep says management is not being honest.

"Since they're telling us they're making money, they really didn't have any reason to lay off 54 people and our members are angry and they're looking to demonstrate that to the company," said union rep, Wayne Cahill.

Union leaders say they plan to do everything they can to prevent another possible round of layoffs.

The unions represent 600 of the Advertiser's employees.

Cahill says they plan to go back to the bargaining table on Thursday.