Ads lambaste Advertiser management
The publisher offers to open books to an accountant of the union's choice
Unionized employees of the Honolulu Advertiser are advertising against the paper, turning up the heat in more than year-old contract talks that continued yesterday.
Print and broadcast advertisements take the paper and Gannett Co. Inc. to task for proposing a small cash bonus while "demanding" that workers pay higher health care costs.
The higher costs will wipe out the bonus for most, the ad states.
The ad is being paid for by the Washington, D.C.-based Communications Workers of America on behalf of affiliated unions representing Advertiser workers.
The ad was "offered to the Advertiser," said Wayne Cahill, administrative officer for the Hawaii Newspaper Guild and representative for the Printing Trades Council, but didn't know if it had been rejected.
The recorded union commercial, which challenges the paper's management to "start treating its workers with fairness and respect," also aired on KSSK-FM 92.3 during the morning drive show hosted by Michael W. Perry and Larry Price.
The duo does live commercials to promote the paper, for which sponsors typically pay a high premium.
After a contract negotiating session was to begin at 10:45 a.m. yesterday, a memo from Advertiser President and Publisher Lee Webber was e-mailed to staff at 10:48 discussing "serious revenue declines" in "the newspaper business in general and the Advertiser in particular."
Rather than the improvement expected in early summer, "the opposite has occurred."
He predicted a continuation "unless we can, together, find ways to increase revenues or decrease expenses."
The paper has announced 81 layoffs since last month.
"No company, the Advertiser included, can operate at a loss," Webber said.
He did not respond to Star-Bulletin inquiries, so it was unclear if the memo was a response to the advertisements and whether the paper is operating at a loss.
Nevertheless, it said, "We have told the unions that we will verify our financial situation to an accountant of their choosing."
It was the first Cahill had heard that offer, he said.
A CWA accountant experienced in distressed newspapers likely would undertake the task in short order, Cahill said.