Union upset by practices at paper
Recent discipline and layoffs are "union busting," an administrator says
HILO » Six union employees at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald have been disciplined or fired in recent months in events that the Hawaii Newspaper Guild calls "union busting."
A reporter was fired after offering to be a witness for another employee in a meeting with management, according to the union. Employees are guaranteed a witness under the 1975 "Weingarten" decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Another time, a typist was laid off after she turned down a computer job she did not know how to do even though the company refused to give her training, the union contends.
"This is the worst employer I've dealt with as long as I've been doing this job -- about 30 years," said the guild's Honolulu administrator, Wayne Cahill.
The Tribune-Herald, an East Hawaii paper with a circulation of about 20,000, is owned by Stephens Media Group of Nevada.
Publisher Ted Dixon could not be reached for comment, and Editor David Bock said he could not comment.
The case of the typist occurred in mid-2005. Although she was "laid off," new jobs opened similar to her old one but were not offered to her, said Hunter Bishop, now a union official.
Bishop, a veteran with 29 years of experience, including stints as editor and publisher, was the next to go Oct. 29 when he offered to be a witness for a salesclerk. Management was already unhappy that he did not write at least one article a day, he said.
Prior Tribune-Herald reporters told Cahill there was no one-per-day standard when they worked there.
On March 6 a part-time circulation employee was fired when he forgot to clock out properly, according to the union.
On March 9 another reporter was called in over the one-story-per-day issue. He was denied a witness but not formally disciplined, the union said.
The same day, another reporter called in over the one-per-day issue secretly taped his meeting with management. "It's not against the law to do that," Cahill said.
When management discovered the tape recording, the reporter was placed on indefinite suspension, according to the union. The reporter who loaned the recorder was suspended for 1 1/2 days.
Union employees have been on a contract extension since 2004, when their old contract expired. The company has demanded that a new contract contain a "management rights" clause that would allow them to replace union workers with nonunion workers, Bishop said.