By Steve Gorman and Helen Koster
(Reuters) – Unionized journalists at The Washington Post said they will hold a 24-hour strike on Thursday to protest staff cuts and what they say is management’s failure to bargain in good faith in 18-month-long contract talks. Are.
According to union officials, the planned one-day walkout would mark the first general work stoppage at the Post since the 20-week pressworkers’ strike of 1975–76, when Katharine Graham was publisher.
The latest labor conflict comes a little more than a month after former Wall Street Journal publisher William Lewis was named chief executive and publisher of the Post, as the venerable Washington daily newspaper projected a year-end loss of $100 million. Had been. Lewis is scheduled to take office on January 2, 2024.
The Post is one of many news outlets that have struggled to craft a sustainable business model for decades as the Internet has upended the economics of journalism and caused digital advertising rates to decline.
Executives at Post, owned by billionaire Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, said at the time of Lewis’ announcement that they were offering voluntary buyouts across the company to reduce employee numbers by about 10% and shrink the company’s size. Were. Newsroom for about 940 journalists.
The Washington-Baltimore News Guild, which represents more than 1,000 editorial, advertising and other non-news employees at the Post, said the previous publisher’s mismanagement led to the layoffs of about 40 people last year — half from the newsroom — and The company was now seeking to cut another 240 jobs through buyouts.
Representatives of the newspaper’s management did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the labor dispute.
According to the union, management has threatened more layoffs if too few workers accept voluntary severance packages.
“This means fewer posted workers doing the critical journalism that keeps our communities informed and holds our public officials accountable,” the guild said in an online statement.
Additionally, after 18 months of contract negotiations, the union posted on social media platforms “So on December 7th, we are walking off the job for 24 hours.”
An online video produced by the guild showed several Post journalists, including chief Ukraine correspondent Siobhan O’Grady, pledging to strike and urging readers to “respect our picket line by avoiding Washington Post journalism” during the walkout. Is.
They claim the company’s pay offers will fail to keep pace with inflation or competitors’ wages.
The minute-long video ends with the statement, “Because we are worth more, we are worth more than what our bosses are offering.”
Of the more than 1,000 Post employees covered under the News Guild’s contract, more than 700 are dues-paying members of the union, while about 750 employees have pledged to walk out, Sarah Kaplan, chief guild steward at the newspaper, said Tuesday. Said. ,
“The newspaper will suffer for a day, and that’s not something we take lightly,” he said, adding that the strike was intended to send a message that “staff cuts and divestment is not the path to success.” “
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Helen Koster in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler and Miral Fahmy)