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Washington Post Staffers Engage in 24 Hour Walkout

On Thursday, December 7, over 750 Washington Post workers walked off their jobs in what the paper describes as its biggest labor protest in 48 years. Editors and managers continued to work on the publication. The employees are union members in a bargaining stalemate. They have not had a contract in 18 months. The union wants a $100,000 minimum salary for reporters. The Post's current offer is $73,000, which says it is the "last, best and final offer to the Guild." The Post has offered buyouts to staff members, which the striking workers say are stingy and being made under the threat of layoffs. It is these offers that seemingly are the most significant point of tension and anxiety. Just 120 employees have accepted these offers.

The Post executives deny bargaining in bad faith and hope to reach an agreement by the end of the month. Many journalists and photographers withheld their names from their work in support of the strike. 75% of eligible Post employees have joined the Guild, up 40% from five years ago. The media world has seen an uptick in labor organizing, according to the Washington Post, including a New York Times strike one year ago.

Like many newspapers, the Washington Post is experiencing economic difficulties. Under Jeff Bezos's ownership over the last ten years, the company has experienced rapid growth. But they expanded too quickly and were too optimistic in their forecast. They need to cut back – the paper expects to lose $100 million for the year. As a result, top executives hope 240 individuals will take voluntary buyouts, equaling about 10% of the current staff. Half of the cuts should be from the newsroom. Come January, the Post will have a new publisher and chief executive to run it.