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Honolulu Advertiser, unions reach tentative deal


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POSTED: Saturday, January 31, 2009

Honolulu Advertiser employees will be asked to accept pay cuts under a tentative agreement reached yesterday in labor negotiations between the company and five unions.

The agreement is "concessionary to help keep them afloat," said Wayne Cahill, head of the Printing Trades Council, which represents about 550 employees. Cahill declined to discuss the size of pay cuts until union members have been informed. He said the agreement provides that "pay will be restored if economic conditions improve."

The company had asked for pay cuts up to 31 percent, according to a November announcement posted on the unions' Web page.

A Feb. 8 meeting was set to take a ratification vote on the two-year contract, which would continue through Dec. 31, 2010.

Honolulu Advertiser President and Publisher Lee Webber said: "We sincerely thank all those involved in these negotiations for their patience and effort in seeing this through during these extremely difficult economic times.

"We can and will survive this economic crisis that grips our industry, nation and the world," Webber said in a printed message sent to employees.

Negotiators met for five days this week. Bargaining was done sporadically over the past two years to replace a contract that expired June 31, 2007.

In the past several months, the company imposed a series of buyouts and layoffs to reduce the work force, which Cahill said has been reduced by about 125 since December 2007.