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Star-Advertiser workers, management agree

Most of 29 given layoff notices are retained; some concessions made

The Maui News

A threat to lay off more than half of its reporting staff did not materialize at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser as workers and management announced Monday the forging of an agreement that includes voluntary departures and furloughs.

The voluntary staff departures and furloughs would achieve savings to help the newspaper navigate the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, said a news release from the Pacific Media Workers Guild, the union representing the workers.

“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 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 for the paper.

The agreement retains most of the 29 reporters, photographers, page designers, copy editors, online staff and others who received layoff notices 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 percent 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 percent voting to approve the agreement.

The Star-Advertiser also announced Sunday that it will no longer be publishing its Maui Edition. The edition, published on Sundays, was aimed at filling the void left after The Maui News began publishing its Weekender edition on Saturdays about a year ago.

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