Friday, June 22, 2007

Staff cuts move west to Hawaii

Seventy-four union workers are among 86 employees at the Honolulu Advertiser who are being offered buyouts packages that include a week's pay for every year of service up to 40 weeks, medical, dental and vision coverage for three years or until age 65 and two years of service credits toward the pension plan.

The Hawaii Newspaper Guild reports the buyout is being offered to workers 55 or older and have at least 20 years of service. The company seeks to eliminate 30 full-time positions, including up to a max of 20 union slots.

"We've seen a softening of the Hawaii economy over the past eight months and we believe it is prudent to adjust our staffing as we have other expense elements to provide us the flexibility we need to operate our business successfully," (Publisher Mike) Fisch wrote in a letter to employees yesterday.

Though Hawaiian papers haven't downsized to the extent stateside papers have, Fisch's comments are similar to the mantra we've heard from corporate owners coast to coast.

Sure, the newspaper industry is in the middle of a cultural and economic earthquake that's forcing it to develop a new business model. So why are companies still using an old business model: Need to save money? Cut the staff, slash the payroll! Result? The older, higher-paid employees are being replaced with younger (usually inexperienced), eager-to-work-for-almost-nothing folks while Corporate tries to figure out which new business model will generate the double-digit profits the industry enjoyed during the Nineties.

Employees shouldn't be considered liabilities needing to be eliminated. They are the real assets of every company.

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