“Looks like greed is in STYLE. Just ask Washington Post executives,” reads one sign in a Metro station that references a blown-up photo of the Post’s Style section.
Other, similar signs are scattered throughout the District at other Metro stations, on bus billboards and in television ads. The Communications Workers of America Local 14201, a union representing 400 post-production workers at The Washington Post, is responsible for this District-wide effort to increase wages. The ad campaign began Jan. 1 and is meant to target the Post for stalling contract negotiations with the union.
“(The ads) get us into the media, which is exactly where we need to be” said Greg Kenefick, media representative for WashingtonPostUnfair.com, a Web site created to spread the union’s message.
Kenefick said he believes this campaign will “reach a tipping point and return the Post to negotiations” after five years without proper talks regarding a wage increase. The union members are production workers, the individuals responsible for assembling and preparing the newspaper’s physical pages.
The workers hope this campaign will produce public goodwill and sentiment in favor of what the workers need, Kenefick said.
“We want The Post to sit down with us and bargain in good faith, which we don’t believe they have done. They have pretty much given us a take-it-or-leave-it offer,” said Hunter Phillips, administration director for the CWA, according to a Washington Post article published at the beginning of January.
The Washington Post Corporation, the corporate parent of the newspaper, acknowledges but also criticizes the union’s strategies to disseminate its message.
“The union has chosen a public relations campaign rather than negotiations at the bargaining table to address the pension issue,” said Rima Calderon, senior director for communications at The Post corporation.
Though the ads have been on display publicly for about a month, Calderon said there “have been no further developments” between The Post and the union.
In the very least, the ads have caused a stir in the metro area. Aside from filling the walls of Metro stations, D.C. area blogs and YouTube have all picked up on the ads.
“While the Washington Post is our hometown newspaper, it’s also part of a larger corporate behemoth. And like many a corporate behemoths, this one is seeing some turmoil in the ranks,” according to a DCist blog post.
The next step for the Union? “Expect the unexpected,” Kenefick said. “(We) kind of want to keep The Post on their toes.”