Unionized journalists at The Washington Post announced a one-day strike on Dec. 7, protesting the rejection of pay raises by their management.
In a short video published by The Washington Post Guild on X, several employees express their dissatisfaction with management saying they are “worth more” and that the paper’s management did not want to negotiate in good faith with them.
They were in negotiations with management for 18 months without reaching a deal that would be at similar levels to that of the paper’s competitors and suitable for today’s economic burdens.
They said that hundreds of employees would go on strike, and encouraged viewers to send a letter to their publisher and avoid Washington Post journalism during that day.
The minute-long video ends with the refrain, “because we’re worth more, worth more than our bosses are offering.”
The one-day walkout marked the first general work stoppage at the Washington Post since the bitter, 20-week pressmen’s strike of 1975–76, when Katharine Graham was publisher, according to union officials.
The latest labor clash comes a little more than a month after William Lewis, former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, was named chief executive and publisher of the Washington Post as the Washington daily newspaper was projecting a year-end loss of $100 million. Mr. Lewis is due to take charge on Jan. 2, 2024.
The paper is one of many news outlets struggling to devise a sustainable business model in the decades since the internet upended the economics of journalism and digital advertising rates plummeted.
Executives at The Washington Post, which is owned by billionaire Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, said at the time of the Lewis announcement that they were offering voluntary buyouts across the company in a bid to reduce employee headcount by about 10 percent and shrink the size of the newsroom to about 940 journalists.
The Washington-Baltimore News Guild, which represents more than 1,000 editorial, advertising, and other non-news staff at The Washington Post, said mismanagement by the previous publisher led to nearly 40 layoffs last year—half from the newsroom—and the company was now seeking to cut another 240 jobs through buyouts.
Representatives for the newspaper’s management did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the labor dispute.
According to the union, management has threatened to impose more layoffs if too few staffers accept voluntary severance packages.
“That means fewer Post employees making the critical journalism that keeps our communities informed and holds our public officials accountable,” the Washington-Baltimore News Guild said in an online statement.
Of the 1,000-plus Washington Post employees covered under the Washington-Baltimore News Guild’s contract, more than 700 are dues-paying members of the union, while nearly 750 staffers have pledged to observe the walkout, Sarah Kaplan, chief guild steward at the newspaper, said on Tuesday.
“The paper will suffer for a day, and that’s not something we take lightly,” she said, adding that the strike is intended to send the message that “cutting and disinvesting in employees is not a path to success.”
Reuters contributed to this report.