Harper's At War Over Union: NY Mag

Harper's At War Over Union

Harper's, the venerable monthly magazine, has been torn asunder over the formation of a union by staffers, New York's Gabriel Sherman reports.

The employees at Harper's decided to unionize after the magazine's publisher, John "Rick" MacArthur, fired former editor Roger Hodge and installed Ellen Rosenbush, who was regarded as closer to him. MacArthur has also been dead set against putting more of Harper's content online, and staffers watched, aghast, as their rivals at The Atlantic raised their profile--and their bank accounts--by aggressively embracing the Web.

When he found out about the union attempt, MacArthur was not happy:

MacArthur contested the staff's right to unionize. Staffers couldn't help but chuckle at the irony: The staunch defender of unions, who in a 2009 Harper's piece called the UAW "the country's best and traditionally most honest mass labor organization," was now on the other side of the table as the "worst kind of factory owner," as one staffer put it to me.

MacArthur sent a letter to the staff, urging them not to unionize, but they defied him and formed one. Now, Sherman writes, staffers fear that MacArthur will retaliate against literary editor Ben Metcalf, who spearheaded the drive to unionize.

To read the full article, with more revelations about MacArthur's outraged reaction to the union, and the other factors that made the staff worry that the magazine was dangerously off course, click here.

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