Saturday, November 17, 2001

Star-Bulletin workers
agree to pay cut

Newsroom employees vote 70-0 to
accept a cut to avoid layoffs

By Leila Fujimori

Unionized newsroom employees of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin voted 70-0 yesterday, with one abstention, to take an across-the-board 11.5 percent pay cut to save jobs that had been threatened.

"It shows these people stick up for each other," Hawaii Newspaper Guild union representative Wayne Cahill told Star-Bulletin Publisher Don Kendall after informing him of the vote.

Cahill said the vote showed tremendous unity.

Because of the agreement, none of the Star-Bulletin's 95 newsroom Guild members -- including reporters, clerks, photographers and copy editors -- will lose their jobs. The pay cuts are effective Nov. 15.

"I feel overwhelmed by the generosity of everybody because I know times are tough," said page designer Joleen Oshiro, who recently rejoined the paper and whose job was in jeopardy if there had been newsroom layoffs.

Reporter Mary Adamski, who will celebrate 40 years with the Star-Bulletin Dec. 8, noted, "It's a rare feeling of team that a lot of other places don't have."

Newsroom employees were told last week that Oahu Publications, which owns the Star-Bulletin and MidWeek Printing Inc., proposed about five newsrooma layoffs and temporary wage rollbacks of 5 percent for those making between $39,000 and $49,000, and 10 percent for those making $49,000 and above.

"When we crunched the numbers, we would have had to lay off eight people" using the union contract's last-hired, first-fired rule, said Star-Bulletin columnist and union representative Rob Perez.

Oahu Publications laid off 19 of its 480 nonunion staffers last week and implemented the pay cuts for most nonunion employees, citing the post-Sept. 11 economic downturn.

Kendall, who is also Oahu Publications' president, said he was pleased with the union's vote.

"Obviously this vote, I think, proves that it is fair for everyone here," Kendall said. "We're pleased that we don't have to lay anyone off here. It's good for the newsroom, good for the paper, good for the community."

Kendall said the newspaper had been doing well before Sept. 11.

"I think people judge this to be a problem exclusive to Honolulu or the Star-Bulletin. Hundreds of newspapers across the country have been forced to take this type of action in the last two months," he said.

Under the deal approved yesterday, the union and the company will re-evaluate the temporary wage rollback after February.

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