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Washington Post workers prepare for historic strike amid layoffs and contract negotiations

People walk by the One Franklin Square Building, home of The Washington Post newspaper, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 in Washington.
People walk by the One Franklin Square Building, home of The Washington Post newspaper, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2019 in Washington.

Hundreds of journalists and staffers at The Washington Post are going on strike for 24 hours on Thursday to protest recently announced staff cuts and frustration over thwarted contract negotiations.

According to a letter to readers posted by The Washington Post Guild, a protest of this size has not been staged at The Post since the 1970s.

“Taking this historic action is not a decision we came to lightly,” the Guild said in the letter. “We take seriously the impact it will have on the people, issues and communities we cover.”

What prompted the strike?

The union, which represents roughly 1,000 employees at the Jeff Bezos-owned newspaper, has yet to arrive at an agreement after 18 months of new contract negotiations with executives.

Post staffers are also dealing with a reduced workforces after executives announced in October that it aims to slash its workforce by 10% through voluntary buyouts in an effort to reduce headcount by 240, according to an article written by the Post at the time. The article said that interim CEO Patty Stonesifer told staff in an email that the Post’s subscription, traffic and advertising projections over the past two years had been “overly optimistic” and that the company is looking for ways “to return our business to a healthier place in the coming year.”

The Guild has asked readers to avoid reading or sharing The Post’s editorial content during the strike, which includes print and online news stories, podcasts, videos, games and recipes.

“On Dec. 7, we ask you to respect our walkout by not crossing the picket line: For 24 hours, please do not engage with any Washington Post content,” the Guild said.

"Instead of executives bearing the weight of this mismanagement, The Post repeatedly made workers pay the price," the union said.

According to the Guild, the company has laid off nearly 40 people in the last year, and more cuts are expected if buyouts don’t net another 240.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for The Post said that the newspaper will "make sure our readers and customers are as unaffected as possible.”

“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,” the spokesperson said.

USA TODAY has reached out to The Post for comment.

The Washington Post building is pictured in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 22, 2023.
The Washington Post building is pictured in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 22, 2023.

Which news outlets are cutting jobs?

Contributing: Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Washington Post journalists call for historic 24-hour strike