Striking Washington Post staffers walk off the job

Striking Washington Post staffers walk off the job

Hundreds of employees at the Washington Post, whose headquarter building in the US capital is shown here, are on strike over pay, remote work and other conditions
Hundreds of employees at the Washington Post, whose headquarter building in the US capital is shown here, are on strike over pay, remote work and other conditions. Photo: Eric BARADAT / AFP/File
Source: AFP

Hundreds of staff at the Washington Post, one of America's most storied newspapers, walked off the job Thursday in a 24-hour strike, their union said, after 18 months of contract negotiations failed to secure a deal.

The work stoppage comes amid a tumultuous US media landscape, which has not spared the national daily, owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos -- one of the world's richest men, whose e-commerce giant has aggressively pushed back against unionization efforts there.

The media industry saw some 17,500 job cuts in the first half of 2023 alone, according to Challenger, Gray and Christmas, a human resources consultancy. Over the past two decades, as the internet has eaten into traditional advertising revenue, some 2,500 newspapers have shuttered altogether.

Yet at the same time, outlets like the New York Times -- a Post competitor -- have prospered, with the Times recently hitting 10 million subscribers as it expanded into offering cooking recipes and games, as well as acquiring sports outlet The Athletic.

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The Post strike comes after failed talks to reach a new deal over pay, remote work, and other conditions.

"Because of our previous publisher's mismanagement, the company has tried to balance its books by laying off nearly 40 people in the last year," the union said in a letter announcing the strike.

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Media reports indicate that since reaching a high of three million subscribers during the frenzied years of Donald Trump's presidency, Post subscriptions have since dropped to 2.5 million.

Some 240 voluntary buyouts were offered this fall, and the paper "has threatened that if they don't get enough people to leave, more layoffs will be next," the union said.

The Post Guild has also accused the company of "refusing to bargain in good faith" and "breaking the law."

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The strike also comes at a moment of resurgent union activity and amid a tight labor market -- with everyone from Hollywood writers and actors to auto workers to baristas taking their grievances to the picket line in recent months.

Video posted to social media Thursday showed staff protesting outside the Post's downtown Washington offices, with workers estimating that more than 700 employees would be engaging in the work stoppage.

"Everyone deserves a fair contract (with) fair wages," one striking reporter wrote on X.

The labor action at the Post follows a strike earlier this year at America's largest newspaper publisher, Gannett, and a 24-hour action by New York Times staff a year ago.

Workers at the Associated Press staged a "short break" last month over their lack of contract. Their guild has rejected a two percent raise offered by management.

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Source: AFP

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