Over 400 Washington Post employees signed an open letter asking Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns the newspaper, for better pay and benefits.
Though the open letter states that employees at the newspaper “have been extremely grateful” that Bezos “stepped in to purchase the Post at a time when the traditional media model was collapsing,” the employees declared that, “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 continued, adding, “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.”
The letter also claimed it was “unfair” that Bezos allegedly refused to improve retirement benefits, pushed for “the right to indiscriminately lay off anyone,” cut severance for those who are laid off or replaced by outsourcing, and demanded that “laid-off employees waive their legal rights to receive severance payments” — the latter of which they described as “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,” they concluded. “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.”
Over 400 employees signed the letter, including account executives, managers, senior employees, editors, bureau chiefs, producers, staff writers, designers, drivers, and aides.
Several notable employees also signed the letter, including the Washington Post‘s White House Reporter Ashley Parker and politics reporter Dave Weigel, while some even appeared in a video calling out Bezos.
Working conditions at Bezos’ other company, Amazon, have also been criticized, with employees reportedly being worked to “exhaustion” while trying to fulfill “impossible” targets, and even urinating into bottles and trash cans for fear of being sanctioned over bathroom breaks.