In between bragging, retweeting himself, and managing to repeat the phrase “Russian Collusion” four times in one tweet, Donald Trump found the time on Sunday to rev back up his ongoing feud with billionaire Jeff Bezos, who controls two companies the president hates: Amazon and the Washington Post. Though the president seemed a little unclear on the details, it has passed into his understanding that Post staffers are unhappy with Bezos’ management. So Trump insisted they go on a “really long strike.”
“Washington Post employees want to go on strike because Bezos isn’t paying them enough,” Trump (or one of his proxies) wrote. “I think a really long strike would be a great idea. Employees would get more money and we would get rid of Fake News for an extended period of time!”
“Is @WaPo a registered lobbyist?”, he added, referring to his longstanding—and, according to Post staff, unfounded—suspicion that the paper is merely a pawn for Amazon and Bezos in some kind of underhanded long war against his presidency.
Over 400 Post staff did write an open letter to Bezos this week saying that while they were “extremely grateful” he had dramatically improved the paper’s prospects by purchasing it for $250 million in 2014, they would maybe appreciate some scraps like “Fair wages; fair benefits for retirement, family leave and health care; and a fair amount of job security.” The letter is particularly pertinent because, as anyone even vaguely familiar with Bezos’ leadership at Amazon could guess, our sister site Splinter reported this year that management negotiating on his behalf was seeking “more leeway to fire staffers at will and cut severance pay in a new two-year deal with the guild.” Other allegations noted in the letter included “shocking” pay raises of $10 a week.
But there was no mention of a strike, and the Post’s union took the time to denounce Trump’s attempt to push them towards one.
Trump’s ongoing spat with the Amazon founder may be obviously motivated more by the Post’s continued reportage on his presidency (and possibly some obsessive rich-guy rivalry) than a pivot to labor consciousness. Regardless, there are numerous workers with legitimate workplace grievances against Bezos who are being leaned on pretty hard on a continual basis, and might want to pursue the option on terms not dictated by the president.