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Hilo newspaper, employees hammer out two-year contract

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After six years of deadlocked negotiations, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald has reached an agreement with its employees, represented by the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, on a new two-year contract.

The pact covers all employees except pressmen, who reached a separate but similar agreement, and managers.

Under terms of the new agreement, which was ratified by 85 percent of union members, workers will receive a 1 percent raise in the second year of the contract, their first wage increase since 2002. While health care, retirement and union employment security benefits were untouched, the contract does provide for cuts to sick leave, mileage benefits, advertising wage scales and starting wages.

The agreement ends a protracted and contentious negotiation process during which the newspaper was found guilty of a dozen unfair labor practice charges by the National Labor Relations Board, including the illegal firing of union leaders Hunter Bishop and Dave Smith, both reporters.

Guild spokesperson Wayne Cahill, who previously served as the union’s administrative officer, said the turning point in negotiations came when employees began planning an island-wide consumer boycott of the newspaper.

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