Dec 7, 2023 - Business

Washington Post journalists launch historic 24-hour strike

The Washington Post building exterior

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

About 750 Washington Post staffers walked off the job Thursday in a historic 24-hour strike.

Why it matters: It is one of the biggest labor strikes in D.C. in recent memory, and Posties are asking readers to not cross the picket line; in other words, to not read or engage with any Post content.

What's happening: The strike comes after 18 months of contract negotiations, and last week's warnings that layoffs could be imminent if more staffers don't take voluntary buyouts.

  • The Washington Post is dealing with a $100 million loss this year by aiming to eliminate 240 jobs, including many local positions, but only about 120 employees have taken buyout offers.

What they're saying: The Post Guild says that "management has refused to bargain in good faith." The union's concerns also include pay equity, raises in the face of record inflation, and remote work policies.

The other side: "We respect the rights of our Guild-covered colleagues to engage in this planned one-day strike. We will make sure our readers and customers are as unaffected as possible," said a Post spokesperson in a statement.

  • "The Post's goal remains the same as it has from the start of our negotiations: to reach an agreement with the Guild that meets the needs of our employees and the needs of our business."

Yes, but: The strike is worrying some leaders inside the 24/7 global newsroom as they try to fill a homepage and print newspaper.

  • "We have nothing in the cupboard," one section head told staff in an email on Monday, as told to Washingtonian. "If there is a sentencing, a bill introduction, an appointment — anything that even whiffs of news – do it. I'm serious. We need to hoard."
  • All the newspaper designers are expected to walk, according to leaders of the guild.

Context: Like other major publishers, the Post has struggled with an advertising slowdown over the past year.

  • The company has also lost hundreds of thousands of digital subscribers since its peak of three million subscribers during the Trump era.
  • The buyouts aim to trim the metro section by a quarter.

What's ahead: Former Wall Street Journal publisher Will Lewis will become the Post's new CEO and publisher on Jan. 2.

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