Saturday, May 24, 2008

Here's something you'll never read in our local papers!

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald is owned by Stephens Media, the same company that owns the West Hawaii Today, my former place of employment. The Trib is, according to inside rumor, the only paper in all of Stephens Media (which owns a bunch of papers on the Mainland) with a union, and that's because they had a union before it was purchased. It's not really a secret that the Stephens Media is evil. When I worked there, I once asked why the employees weren't unionized and people looked at me as if I asked for 1000 percent pay increase. Then someone pulled aside and told me never to mention it again.

Anyway, I'm glad the judge ruled against these bastards. It's just a shame that most people on the Big Island will never hear about it. (original source)

11 Mar 2008
Judge rules newspaper acted illegally
Fired reporters must be offered their jobs back

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild

The Hawaii Tribune-Herald violated federal labor law when it suspended and fired two reporters for their legally protected union activities, a judge for the National Labor Relations Board ruled on March 6.

The 41-page ruling released Monday also found the newspaper guilty of violating labor law for suspending reporter Peter Sur and taking disciplinary action against another employee, Koryn Nako. Sur and Nako were also disciplined for engaging in federally protected union-activities, the judge ruled.

Thirteen separate complaints against the newspaper were heard at a trial held in Hilo in October, including the firings and suspensions. The other complaints upheld by the judge included:

  • The newspaper’s ban on union-related buttons and arm bands in the workplace in support of the fired employees

  • Interrogating employees about their own and other employees’ union activities

  • Discriminating against union officials by requiring them to request permission before entering the newspaper building

  • Maintaining an overly broad rule prohibiting employees from making secret audio recordings, and

  • Failing to provide the union with necessary information about the actions taken against employees of the newspaper.

Judge John J. McCarrick ruled in favor of the Hawaii Newspaper Guild on 12 of the 13 complaints brought to trial. The judge ruled on one count that there was no effort by the company to lead employees to believe they were under surveillance, as the union alleged.

“It’s a big win,” said Wayne Cahill, administrative officer for the union, which represents about 50 employees at the Hilo-based newspaper.

Bishop, a union shop steward and former chair of the Hilo unit of the Newspaper Guild, was fired in October 2005 for insubordination after he intervened on behalf of an employee who was being taken into a meeting with management officials. McCarrick ruled, however, that Bishop was acting legally as a shop steward in attempting to ascertain whether or not the meeting would involve discipline against the employee, which would trigger the employee’s right to union representation under the Weingarten provision of the federal Labor Relations Act.

Smith, also a shop steward and member of the Guild’s bargaining committee, was fired in April 2006, after he secretly made an audio recording of a meeting with management because he believed the meeting was disciplinary in nature and that he would be denied union representation. Possible disciplinary action against Smith for low productivity was discussed at the meeting and he was denied a witness. When Editor David Bock learned of the secret recording, he suspended and then fired Smith. There was no company policy regarding secret audio recordings of conversations, and they are legal in Hawaii as long as one of the parties involved is aware of the recording.

The newspaper was ordered to “cease and desist” its illegal and discriminatory actions against Guild employees and their representatives, and to “make whole” employees who lost earnings and benefits due to the firings and suspensions. The newspaper was also ordered to expunge from the employees’ personnel files any record of the disciplinary actions.

The newspaper may appeal the judge’s decision to the National Labor Relations Board.

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