Yesterday, Amazon CEO and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos had a really rough day after actress Rose McGowan accused him of covering up her rape, this being a major issue in a moment where the world is watching a Hollywood crisis after the Harvey Weinstein scandal. While Bezos thought his day couldn’t be worse, the Huffington Post published an October 6 memo wrote by the WaPo’s union bargaining committee, where it says that Bezos could basically “screw over” the workers in the worst way possible.
According to the memo, Washington Post’s management is trying to end the paper’s long-standing practice of across-the-board percentage annual pay raises in order to develop what the union considered an “unprecedented” merit pay system and cut severance benefits. Additionally, it refuses to increase the 401 (k) match from 1 percent.
Apparently, this merit system would potentially freeze even the inflation-adjusted increases in pay for some workers for up to 30 months while some others could get up to a 4 percent increase. Management has also proposed to cut severance pay and require any worker who accepts severance to waive their legal rights.
The Huffington Post reported that this would only benefit a few people, since they assured that when you do away with routine raises the greatest reporters are the employees who will wind up getting them. Apparently, this situation would leave video editors, copy editors and others who are not the face of the paper on the losing end and increase inequality within the Washington Post.
The company’s management has also offered a huge fallback proposal that will allegedly give employees a $600 payment in the first year and then a $8 raise per week in the second one. Naturally, this whole situation would put Bezos in a very uncomfortable position in the Washington Post, considering there’s nothing worse than having the company’s union against you.
The dangerous element in this situation is not only that it would harm his figure and the leadership of those who support him, but also the fact that this would open the possibility of some hit operations against Bezos from the same newspaper. Naturally, this would come in the form of some unpleasant news published by low-rank reporters who wants to execute some pressure.
Of course, in case the editor support the owner’s coalition and decides to prevent any kind of toxic publication, those who want to harm Bezos could always leak some delicate information about everything that is taking place within this liberal news outlet. In fact, they could easily send the information to a conservative outlet or especially the New York Times, which is the Washington Post’s main competitor.
This move would materialize the worst nightmare of any businessman, president, CEO, and director: the internal pressure. While they could resist any kind of threat that the game contains, it´s this one the more damaging and stressful, considering that its implications and collateral damage tend to be really harmful.
Of course, when Bezos decided to become the owner of the Washington Post he knew this was a possible scenario. While he’s not exactly the greatest fan of labor unions and has fended away every effort by Amazon warehouse workers to unionize since 1994, the news outlet already had 1,200 workers unionized with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild.
According to the memo, he and the management are making the greatest efforts to gut protections and benefits for workers in the latest contract negotiations. The memo said that under his ownership, workers fear a fundamental transformation is underway at the news outlet, a transformation the union described is already happening in some other workplaces around the United States.
In addition, the union believes this transformation is leading to economic insecurity for working people as though they are disposable or interchangeable elements in a machine.
— Mike Elk (@MikeElk) September 27, 2017
Apparently, this is nothing more than the latest spat between Bezos and the Post union, since during the first contract negotiations back in 2014, the owner and the management cut employee retirement benefits, which sparked a huge controversy within the news outlet.
Last month, the Post Metro section journalist and union bargaining committee member Freddy Kunkle sent an op-ed to the Huffington Post, explaining that Jeff Bezos was sticking it to his employees. Kunkle also wrote that the paper´s owner was trying to cover up his attempts to attack the union by touting his charitable giving.