The Washington Post Finally Raises Its Crummy 401(k) Match

Photograph by Evy Mages.

Employees of the Washington Post have a lot to be grateful to owner Jeff Bezos for–new tech, many more jobs, reported profitabilityfree coffee–but management has finally sanded down one longstanding bone of contention: The Post‘s 401(k) match. The paper currently offers a puny 1 percent match on retirement accounts, and management refused to consider increasing it. As I wrote this past summer, the world’s richest man’s stubbornness on this issue was baffling to a lot of employees. (Now bring back the ombudsman, Jeff!)

But starting next January, the Post will now now match 50 cents on each dollar employees place in a 401(k), up to 6 percent of their salaries–effectively a 3 percent match. The news comes in an email to employees from the Post‘s Guild bargaining committee, along with a reminder of why unions matter: This increase wouldn’t have happened without the Post‘s Guild pushing on an issue that employees kept saying was a top priority. “The lesson here is that the collective voice of employees still matters,” the letter reads. “If you haven’t already, please sign up for the Guild. We are stronger together – a fact as true today as it was when the Guild began representing workers at The Post more than 80 years ago.”

In a separate email, Post VP of human resources Wayne Connell confirms the 401(k) news and outlines some other benefits for employees, including a vision plan, on-site flu shots, infertility and gender-reassignment benefits, and educational seminars.

Full Guild email follows:

The Post agrees to boost the 401(k) match — or why unions matter

Dear friends,

The Guild applauds The Washington Post’s decision today to meet the demand of employees for a better 401k match.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, the Post will match 50 cents on every dollar of gross income placed into a 401(k) account, up to 6 percent of salary. That’s effectively a 3 percent match, up from the current 1 percent match.

As those of you who have read our bulletins know, the Guild repeatedly proposed an improvement in the 401(k) throughout the recent bargaining process. The Guild’s proposals echoed what we heard in surveys from employees. This was everyone’s top priority.

The Post balked again and again. The Post’s position was that it would make no changes whatsoever on retirement. The Guild bargaining team kept pressing. The Guild pointed out that that the feeble 1 percent match was pitifully low by industry standards. It was hurting The Post’s competitive position in the search for talent. It was, indeed, embarrassing – and limited the ability of current employees to save for retirement.

Eventually, after much hard bargaining, management agreed to a contract provision stating that any increase in the 401(k) match for managers would automatically be granted to Guild-covered employees. The bargaining team viewed this as a signal that a change could be and would be made outside the bargaining process.

The Guild leadership remains committed to further improvements in the retirement package. But that’s down the road. Today is a day for everyone at The Post to celebrate a better 401(k) plan. The Guild extends its thanks to Post management and owner Jeff Bezos for this important move.

The lesson here is that the collective voice of employees still matters. If you haven’t already, please sign up for the Guild. We are stronger together – a fact as true today as it was when the Guild began representing workers at The Post more than 80 years ago.

–Members of the Bargaining Committee and Guild officers

 

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.