President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that it is a "great idea" for Washington Post employees to go on strike.
"Washington Post employees want to go on strike because [Jeff] Bezos isn't paying them enough," Trump wrote. "I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?"
Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn’t paying them enough. I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 17, 2018
More than 400 Washington Post employees signed a petition calling on Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos to pay fair wages, benefits for retirement, and other employee benefits. The employees argue that since the company doubled its number of digital subscribers, they should benefit from the paper's success.
"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 petition reads.
The specific demands in the petition are the following:
• Offering $10 a week in pay increases—or about 0.6 percent of the median salary and less than half the current rate of inflation—is unfair and even shocking from someone who believes democracy dies in darkness.
• Refusing to improve retirement benefits is unfair, particularly since you froze the traditional pension. The current retirement plans, including a 1 percent match on our 401(k), suggest that you place little value in your employees' future financial security.
• Pushing for the right to indiscriminately lay off anyone is unfair—and a recipe for future discrimination against older employees and minorities.
• Further cutting severance for people who face layoffs or whose job has been outsourced is unfair, particularly since management has already won the right to drastically cut severance for people who are let go for cause.
• Demanding that laid-off employees waive their legal rights to receive severance payments is an extreme demand and an ominous one—particularly in light of the Post‘s mixed record on fair treatment for women, racial minorities, and older employees.
Included in the petition is a video of several Post employees trying to persuade Bezos of the reasons why they should receive an increase in benefits and wages.
"What we've found instead is a profound unwillingness by the Post‘s top management to meet us halfway on a lot of the issues that are important to us," said Freddy Kunkle, Metro reporter and co-chair of the Guild at the Washington Post. "We've been met with unyielding resistance on almost every other issue important to us, and we've only basically managed to keep the worst things from happening."
Trump's encouragement of Post employees to strike is another part of the long-standing feud between the president and the richest man in the world.