Washington Post staff plan 24-hour strike over layoffs, fair pay negotiations

The publication plans to lay off 10 percent of its staff, bringing the headcount to 940.

WrittenBy:NL Team
Date:
A picture of Jeff Bezos alongside a placard saying 'fair pay'.
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Hundreds of staff at The Washington Post may go on a 24-hour strike on Thursday after hitting a wall in their negotiations over fair pay, layoffs and working conditions, Reuters reported.

One of the most storied publications in the US, the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper has reportedly planned to lay off 10 percent of its staff, bringing the headcount to 940 journalists. Meanwhile, the newspaper’s union has been negotiating with the management for about 18 months to strike a contract “in good faith,” which the company has now refused. 

This comes a month after the publication announced that former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, William Lewis, will take charge as The Washington Post publisher from January 2024.

The 24-hour strike will be the first such walkout by the publication’s staff  in over 45 years and will halt the newspaper’s general operations. The newspaper’s staff had last gone on a 20-week strike in 1975-76. The Washington Post guild, which represents about 1,000 newspaper staff, said the “historic action” was not a decision that came lightly.    

Addressing The Washington Post readers in a letter posted on X, the guild said the management “repeatedly” refused to bargain in good faith, and “illegally shut down negotiations” over key issues.  “The Post cannot stay competitive, retain the best talent or produce the kind of elite journalism you rely on without giving its staff a fair deal." 

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Last month, the staff at Associated Press also staged a protest. Earlier this year, staffers at US newspaper Gannett had orchestrated a strike while the New York Times staff had held a strike last year over fair pay. 

The Washington Post guild alleged that there were nearly 40 layoffs last year because of “mismanagement”. The company is reportedly seeking to slash 240 more jobs through buyouts. 

The publication is reportedly staring at a year-end loss of $100 million. It is, however, only one of the many publications in the US that is struggling to devise a sustainable business model in the internet era.  

Newslaundry had earlier reported that National Geographic had laid off all 19 of its editorial staff writers and had planned to outsource the work to freelance writers, while also curtailing its photo contracts. The legacy magazine had also decided that it would no longer sell at news-stands. Read here.      

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