An ongoing labor negotiation between Washington Post publisher and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his employees has ramped up, as an open letter has been issued by more than 400 Washington Post staffers asking for better pay and benefits.
The signees included editorial, advertising, production, drivers and managers, as well as such prominent staff as White House reporter Ashley Parker and politics reporter Dave Weigel. The labor dispute between Bezos and the union that represents roughly 880 editorial and business side employees has been going on for the last year. Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013.
The open letter indicates the employees are grateful for what they have and for Bezos’s patronage. However, it notes, “In the past year alone, the Post has doubled the number of digital subscriptions and increased its online traffic by more than half; its advertising team has met or exceeded all its targets. All we are asking for is fairness for each and every employee who contributed to this company’s success: fair wages; fair benefits for retirement, family leave and health care; and a fair amount of job security.”
The letter indicated that Bezos, the world’s richest man by some calculations, offered “$10 a week” in pay increases. That, the letter said, “is unfair and even shocking from someone who believes democracy dies in darkness.”
The lack of an improved retirement plan and the Bezos push for more restrictive language on layoffs in the contract was called “extreme” and “ominous” in “light of the Post’s mixed record on fair treatment for women, racial minorities and older employees.”
“The Post is not just any business venture. But even if it were – this would not be the way to show that you value your employees. Please show the world that you not only can lead the way in creating wealth, but that you also know how to share it with the people who helped you create it.”