KHON’s unionized employees mull separation anxiety
After announcing plans for layoffs at KHON, the station's new owners have now offered unionized employees an extended severance package.
Montecito Broadcast Group LLC "sat down with the local union and they are intending to show concern on behalf of the people," said J.R. Rothschild, business agent of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union Local 1260.
Rothschild declined to offer any details of the package.
The union represents as many as 50 station employees, including news photographers, engineering and production staff. The number of them to be laid off due to incoming automation equipment has not been made public.
Montecito announced to 112 KHON employees in January that it would be laying off 35 workers, or about one-third of the staff.
Since then, nine top station managers have resigned, including former General Manager Rick Blangiardi. The departures were painful to colleagues who remain, but also provided a cost savings to Montecito, which may not have to fire as many people as initially planned.
Lori Silva, news director, said no extended severance packages have been offered to the news department and that there have been no layoffs in the department.
Ten o'clock news producer Kurt Tsue resigned last week, effective Feb. 22, but that position will not be lost to layoffs, Silva told staff.
KHON's new president and general manager, Joe MacNamara, could not be reached for comment about whether severance was being offered to other departments.
Workers who lose jobs in a downsizing will generally qualify for state unemployment compensation, but those who take a voluntary separation package would not qualify, said James Hardway, special assistant to state labor director.
A person fired for misconduct is similarly ineligible.
Unemployment benefits are paid at 66.7 percent of a person's average weekly wage and are capped at $459 a week.
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