Trump Backs Washington Post Workers in Pay Dispute With Jeff Bezos

June 17, 2018 Updated: June 17, 2018

President Donald Trump has stated his support for hundreds of Washington Post employees in their labor dispute against the paper’s billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, and criticized the newspaper.

“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,” Trump wrote on Twitter on June 17. “Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time! Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?”

The Post Guild, the union representing the newspaper’s workers, posted a public letter to Bezos on June 14 demanding pay raises, improved retirement benefits, and job protections. More than 400 employees, including prominent reporters, signed the letter.

The union has been negotiating with the Post for more than a year, according to Freddy Kunkle, Metro reporter and co-chair of the Post’s union. The letter to Bezos says that in the past year, the number of digital subscriptions doubled, online traffic increased by more than half, and the advertising team 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 states.

The newspaper offered employees a $10 per week raise, which adds up to 0.6 percent over the median salary and is less than half of the current rate of inflation, according to the petition. The employees called the offer “unfair and even shocking from someone who believes democracy dies in darkness.”

“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,” the petition reads. “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.”

Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million cash in 2013. He is also the owner of Amazon.com and is among the five richest men in the world.

Before and after the 2016 presidential election, Trump has repeatedly accused the Post of publishing false reports. The president has also argued that Bezos is using the newspaper to lobby Congress on behalf of Amazon because the online retail behemoth benefits from tax breaks and a Post Office parcel rate that saves it $2.6 billion a year.

“I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election,” Trump wrote in a tweet on March 29.

“Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!”

Trump’s Sunday message landed one day before the Supreme Court was expected to decide on a case that could impact roughly half of Amazon’s business in the United States. On June 18, Supreme Court justices are scheduled to vote on Wayfair v. South Dakota, a case that challenges a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that prohibits states from requiring internet sellers to charge sales tax on orders shipped into a state where those sellers have no physical presence.

Amazon benefited from the 1992 ruling for years by exploiting the state-tax loopholes created by the law. The company has since partly corrected this behavior and pays state taxes on direct orders in 45 states. That change in direction doesn’t apply to Amazon’s marketplace sellers, which account for roughly half of the company’s orders and pay the company a fee for each order.

 

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