Contract talks resume at Advertiser
The number of planned layoffs from the Honolulu Advertiser has dipped, as the newspaper's management changed its position on some of the job cuts during contract talks yesterday.
Negotiations resumed between the paper and six employee unions, after 54 layoffs were announced to employees via e-mail on Wednesday.
Dispatch employees initially were targeted for elimination, but the company "decided it can't get rid of all of them," said Wayne Cahill, administrative officer of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, last night.
The total list of 54 job cuts may be shorter "by two or three," Cahill said. However, longtime editorial cartoonist Dick Adair is still facing the loss of his job.
Employees have been working under extensions of contracts that expired last summer and have authorized a strike, but have not filed the required 30-day strike notice.
There will be a union rally outside Advertiser offices from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.
Differing estimates as to the percentage of its work-force reduction resulted from company officials not returning reporter calls. Its own report cited 799 full-time and part-time employees and a reduction of just under 7 percent.
The agenda of a previously scheduled Hawaii Newspaper Guild meeting was changed Wednesday to accommodate Advertiser employees' concerns, though Union Administrative Officer Wayne Cahill had few answers to provide, he said Wednesday. He planned to collect questions and take them to a bargaining session yesterday morning.
Advertiser President and Publisher Lee Webber could not be reached, for a second day.
As Advertiser employees tried to absorb the impact of impending layoffs, publicly traded Gannett Co. Inc. got more bad news.
Its A3 investment rating, the seventh-highest available, may be cut by Moody's Investors Service, which cited concerns over Gannett's ongoing and deepening revenue declines.
According to news reports, Moody's is concerned Gannett's attempts to enhance revenue and reduce costs might be insufficient to prevent further cash flow erosion over the next year to year-and-a-half.
The rival Honolulu Star-Bulletin is privately owned by Canadian newspaperman David Black and is published by Oahu Publications Inc., which also owns MidWeek and other local publications. It has 400 employees.
"It's always tough to see folks lose their jobs, whether from competing media or other industries such as the airlines," said Dennis Francis, Oahu Publications president and publisher. Until 2004, he was the general manager of the Advertiser.
"There is no question that the economy is slowing for many businesses in Hawaii," he said. "Oahu Publications is not immune, but thankfully is not feeling the impact as severely as some," he said.
Francis did not reveal whether job cuts or other reductions in operational costs are under way or being contemplated. However, the company is preparing to repaint and replace carpeting.