Washington Post Writers Face Pension Cuts Despite Ivory Tower Status

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For decades now, The Washington Post has dispassionately used pension and healthcare cuts in other industries as a political tennis ball to score hits against private sector employers fighting to remain profitable in good times and bad.

To the post, if it bleeds it leads.

Now the union that represents writers at The Washington Post are calling management’s plan to cut pension and healthcare benefits for some employees cold, thoughtless and unnecessary. In a statement released on its website, the Post Guild said:

“We sense that it’s a pure power play, and that management’s fundamental belief is that it should be able to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, without resistance from the people who work here.”

The writers have been waging a pitched battle with the newspaper’s owner, Jeff Bezos and publisher, Fred Ryan, since last month when nearly 500 guild members delivered a petition to Ryan expressing their displeasure with the plan.

Bezos, who founded Amazon.com in 1994, bought The Washington Post in 2013 and was just named the 10th richest man in the world by Bloomberg Business saw Amazon increase the company’s first quarter sales by 15 percent elevating Bezos fortune to around $40 billion.

For its part, the Post Guild is asking Bezos why.

“Why on earth are you insisting on cutting retirement benefits when you’re sitting on a Scrooge McDuck-sized pile of cash?” “Why have you shot down every compromise offered by the union if there is zero risk that the company will ever have to use operating earnings to contribute to it?”

In addition, the writers oppose managements plan to freeze pensions and supports wage increases and healthcare coverage for part-time employees – both of which are on the company’s chopping block.

What the Post Guild doesn’t seem to understand is that, as a private company, The Washington Post is a profit making concern that – good or bad – doesn’t need a reason to cut costs, reduce or reassign personnel, freeze pensions and modify healthcare benefit packages.

The Washington Post Newspaper Guild persists saying WaPo’s pension fund currently has $371 million in assets and $169 million in liabilities – an “astounding surplus.” “There is no conceivable reason to cut benefits from a fund so hugely overfunded,” the guild says.

Again, the writers fundamentally misunderstand that a pension fund is a company asset and if it is “hugely overfunded”, it makes no sense to keep overfunding it. A recent compromise offered would have writers accept a freeze on pensions in favor of a cash balance pension plan for future employees that Bezos turned down.

According to a Guild Bulletin, there are other outstanding issues standing in the way of an agreement including a company demand to cut severance pay by half. The Post Guild summed up the situation this way.

“We sense that it’s a pure power play, and that management’s fundamental belief is that it should be able to do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, without resistance from the people who work here”…“if the Post can do such a radical and unfair thing now, imagine what it will do to you in the future.”

Now time is running out. If the two sides fail to arrive at an agreement, the company has the right, under U.S. labor law, to make a “last best offer” which the writers do not want to happen.

It seems that the liberal elites writing for The Washington Post prefer to describe others harmed by President Barack Obama’s economic policies as delusional partisans and parrot the Obama administration lie that the economy is growing – but only as far as their own wallets will allow.