Around three weeks ago, I wrote about my sudden and unexpected layoff from the Star-Advertiser where 30 of my colleagues and I were let go on a Thursday night. I’ve been working as a freelance sports writer and part-time sports clerk for the past year, so I was devastated that I would no longer be part of the department. However, I’m incredibly thankful to have had the shortest sports layoff of my life as the majority of our staff was retained by the company in a bargaining agreement after 12 of our coworkers either accepted their original layoffs or volunteered to take them. Our sports department alone lost three of our most talented and kind writers in Cindy Luis-Wells, Nicholas Abramo, and Brian McInnis—all of whom have graciously helped and taught me throughout my short stint at the newspaper.
Thankfully, those of us who were originally laid off weren’t without support from the community and former and current political leaders. After a few of the Star-Advertiser workers reached out, Former Governors John Waihee, Ben Cayetano, Neil Abercrombie, and George Ariyoshi wrote and co-signed a letter to the owners of Black Press Ltd. and the Star-Advertiser publisher urging them to rethink the mass layoffs and save the newspaper staff. And on their own accord, Honolulu City Council members Carol Fukunaga and Ann Kobayashi introduced a resolution that called the Star-Advertiser higher ups to actively bargain with our union, Pacific Media Workers Guild, on an agreement that would preserve as many jobs as possible.
In order to make up for the additional funding that the mass layoffs would have provided, the Star-Advertiser reported that we also have to take rolling unpaid furloughs throughout February 2021, defer a 1% pay raise, and surrender half of our vacation days for the rest of the year. The same article shared a statement from the Guild: “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.”
I’m so fortunate that I had the shortest sports layoff and that I’ll be able to write about football and continue my clerking duties until at least February of next year. Without the 12 extraordinary people who gave up their jobs for the rest of us, I wouldn’t have been given back the position I love so dearly. Thank you all as well for your support and well wishes during that minuscule layoff moment!