Union: Jeff Bezos sends the message that Washington Post staffers are expendable

The Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild – in the middle of “extremely difficult” bargaining talks – plans to give Washington Post publisher Fred Ryan a petition on Thursday with 450 signatures “demanding a fair contract.” A brief rally in front of the Post building will follow.
contract
The Guild release says:

The Post’s new owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has seemed bent on sending the message that while the Post is once again on an upward path, its employees — the people who write the stories, film the videos, and sell the ads – are expendable. He has shown that the new media era is not so different from any other era of big business when corporations cite fierce competition to justify unfair treatment of workers. It’s 1 percent versus the 99 percent.

The Guild’s full background statement is after the jump.

BACKGROUND
These actions come as the Guild is in the middle of extremely difficult bargaining talks with The Washington Post. The Post’s new owner, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has seemed bent on sending the message that while the Post is once again on an upward path, its employees — the people who write the stories, film the videos, and sell the ads – are expendable. He has shown that the new media era is not so different from any other era of big business when corporations cite fierce competition to justify unfair treatment of workers. It’s 1 percent versus the 99 percent.

Since the talks between the Post and the Guild began last fall, the company has sought to freeze the pension, cut severance pay, cut health care insurance for part-timers (an expense to the company of about $35,000 a year for the small number of employees affected) and offer a pay increase so small it won’t keep up with inflation.

The Post has backed off on several harsh proposals, but has yet to relent on making cuts to existing retirement benefits or denying those existing benefits to future employees – despite sitting on a vastly overfunded pension account that Bezos inherited when he bought the company.

It’s worth noting that The Post’s struggle is everyone’s struggle. It comes at a time when employees at other media organizations, such as Gawker and Politico, have shown an interest in establishing unions to ensure fair conditions in the workplace as the media world changes and demands intensify.

The Post’s future looks brighter than ever because of the advances we’ve made in transforming our journalism for the digital age, but we’re not sure that the new owner and publisher have much interest in sharing that with the people who work here. That’s why so many employees have put their names on a petition, and why they have spoken out.

“What would you tell Jeff Bezos?”

“What the Guild is fighting for”


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