Twelve journalists at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser will be laid off as the company grapples with advertising losses brought on by the pandemic, the staff announced on the newspaper’s website on Monday.
A compromise between newsroom management and the Pacific Media Workers Guild will spare most of the 31 workers who were on the chopping block earlier this month. Instead of losing half of the newsroom, a dozen of those journalists will leave voluntarily, and the others will take six weeks of unpaid furloughs between now and early next year.
Union members also agreed to put off a planned 1% pay raise and forfeit half of their 2020 vacation days. The agreement guarantees no additional layoffs for the rest of the fiscal year, the announcement said.
Those departing include graphic artists, photographers, online staff and reporters, said Susan Essoyan, a Star-Advertiser reporter who co-chairs the bargaining unit.
“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,” Essoyan said in a statement. “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.”
The deal couldn’t have happened without support from readers, Essoyan said.
“We want to thank everyone who spoke up on our behalf, including the four former governors who weighed in publicly,” she said.
Dennis Francis, president and publisher of the Star-Advertiser, said in a statement that the two sides came to “an amicable solution to reduce our payroll costs.”
“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.”
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