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Honolulu employees have pay cut

Members of the six unions that represent 525 Gannett employees at The Honolulu Advertiser ratified an agreement announced Jan. 30 by a vote of 248-40.

The Feb. 8 vote approved a new contract that runs through Dec. 31, 2010 and reduces pay for most workers by 10 percent.

"Our members overwhelmingly approved a concessionary agreement," said Wayne Cahill, a spokesman for the Hawaii Newspaper and Printing Trades Council and administrative officer for the Hawaii Newspaper Guild, according to a post on the guild's Web site. "It shows the dedication of our members to the newspaper and the industry at a time when the economy is spinning out of control and the industry is struggling to reinvent itself."

The pay cuts are effective Feb. 15 and would be reversed, at least partially, depending on the newspaper's financial condition.

"For the highest paid members of the unions, the cuts will reduce their pay between $5,000 and $7,000 a year," according to the Pacific Business News. "The cuts would not reduce any worker’s pay below $11 an hour, according to the proposed deal."

In the agreement between Gannett and the six unions of the Hawaii Newspaper and Printing Trades Council, the unions earned the opportunity to "select a certified public accountant (CPA) of their choosing to examine company financial records every six (6) months, on or about April 2 and Oct. 1, each year until the company returns to profitability," according to The Hawaii Newspaper Guild.

The auditor would be able to verify that non-union employees are making the same pay sacrifice as union employees in addition to ensuring Gannett restores wages if the paper returns to profitability.

The Pacific Business News article also said the paper's employees have experienced four rounds of layoffs and buyouts since August 2007 and the elimination of 164 jobs.

Union leaders were hoping for a no-layoff guarantee, but instead were only promised Gannett would "make every practical effort to avoid involuntary layoffs during the term” of the contract, which would expire Dec. 31, 2010. Gannett did agree to give affected unions three weeks notice of any required time to inform employees that are part of layoff plans and allow the unions to propose alternatives to job cuts, according to the proposal posted by the Guild.

According to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "Negotiators met for five days" before the announced agreement and "Bargaining was done sporadically over the past two years to replace a contract that expired June 31, 2007."

• More details on the agreement are listed in a Q&A on the guild's Web site.

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