About 700 Washington Post employees walked off the job for 24 hours on Thursday, protesting stalled union contract negotiations and expected layoffs.

The strike is the first walkout at The Post since the 1970s, union leaders said, and comes as the publication grapples with stagnant subscription numbers and low morale.

The union, the Post Guild, said that it had been negotiating a contract for 18 months but that the Post’s management had “refused to bargain in good faith” and had shut down negotiations over key issues. The union represents more than 1,000 employees, including journalists and some people on the company’s business side.

In a statement, a Post spokeswoman said the company respected the right of its union members to go on strike.

“We will make sure our readers and customers are as unaffected as possible,” the spokeswoman said. “The Post’s goal remains the same as it has from the start of our negotiations: to reach an agreement with the Guild that meets the needs of our employees and the needs of our business.”

The Post, owned by the Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has struggled in the post-Trump era to gain paying online readers. Subscriptions dropped to about 2.5 million this year from a peak of three million in 2020. Earlier this year, The Post was on pace to lose $100 million in 2023, according to people with knowledge of the company’s finances.

Though it continues to be known for its Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism, The Post has also seen a mass exodus of top-tier journalists and business-side executives in the past two years.

In October, The Post’s interim chief executive, Patty Stonesifer, announced that the company would cut 240 jobs from its 2,600-person work force, citing business challenges. She replaced Fred Ryan, who stepped down as chief executive in June.

The 240 jobs were initially expected to come through voluntary buyouts, but Ms. Stonesifer told workers last month that layoffs might be needed to reach that number.

In early November, The Post named Will Lewis, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, as its next chief executive and publisher. Mr. Lewis will start on Jan. 2.

Sarah Kaplan, a climate reporter and chief steward of the Post Guild, said in an interview that one sticking point over the new contract was wages. The Post has proposed a 2.25 percent increase, which Ms. Kaplan said amounted to “a pay cut” when taking inflation into account.

“We see all of the ways that The Post as an institution is being weakened by mismanagement on the part of the company’s leaders with these buyouts and the insufficient contract proposal,” Ms. Kaplan said.

“What is driving a lot of us to participate in this is a feeling that we want to have a say in the future of The Washington Post because we care about this place, and we think it can be better,” she added.

The union asked readers not to engage with any Post content in print or online on Thursday, saying in a letter that “taking this historic action is not a decision we came to lightly.”