The Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s management and newsroom workers have reached an agreement that combines voluntary staff departures and furloughs to achieve savings to help the newspaper navigate the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I sincerely appreciate the efforts by the Pacific Media Workers Guild and its local negotiating committee members for helping to achieve an amicable solution to reduce our payroll costs,” said Dennis Francis, president and publisher of the Star-Advertiser.
“COVID-19 has impacted our advertising business model greatly and we also recognize the significant impact it has had economically, not only to our own employees but to our many advertising clients as well,” he said. “Fortunately, this deal will allow us to retain virtually all of our reporters who are widely recognized as some of the best in Hawaii.”
A total of 12 journalists represented by the Pacific Media Workers Guild have agreed to be laid off, and the remainder will take unpaid furloughs totaling six weeks each between now and Feb. 28, the end of the fiscal year. The agreement retains most of the 29 reporters, photographers, page designers, copy editors, online staff and others who received layoff notices on June 11.
“We are pleased that we were able to avoid involuntary layoffs and keep talented staff who will continue to provide the comprehensive coverage our community needs,” said Susan Essoyan, a reporter with the Star-Advertiser and co-chair of the bargaining unit. “Negotiations were difficult but ultimately both sides came together for the good of the newspaper and Hawaii. We are sorry to be losing loyal and valuable colleagues, and we salute them for their sacrifice.”
Guild members agreed to defer a 1% pay raise that was due to them and to give up half of their vacation days for 2020 as well. The agreement guarantees no further layoffs during the remainder of the fiscal year.
The deal was ratified Saturday by the members of the Guild, with 96% voting to approve the agreement.