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Harper’s Publisher Battles Own Staff

Take one magazine publisher who hates the Internet, add some staffers who have unionized because of the owner’s shady moves, and what do you get? Nothing good.

Gabriel Sherman at The Daily Intel reports that there is plenty of chaos at Harper’s Magazine, where John MacArthur, owner/publisher of the title, and staffers are tangled in a dispute that will only get worse. Apparently staffers at the magazine decided to unionize in response to several moves MacArthur has made – including firing Roger Hodge, the mag’s former Editor-in-Chief who sought to protect staff from cuts, and MacArthur putting his own name above senior editors on the masthead. When MacArthur found out about the union, he wasn’t very pleased, and now the staff is even more worried:

The Harper’s union has been locked in a bitter contract dispute with MacArthur since July. And now he’s trying to lay off Harper’s’ literary editor, Ben Metcalf, who’s worked at the magazine since the mid-nineties and who played a key role in the union drive — a move the union says is pure retaliation.

Oh and yes, there’s that whole hating the Internet thing. MacArthur flat out refuses to believe that their rival, The Atlantic, finally posted a profit only because it concentrated on boosting its web presence.

But MacArthur should keep doing what he’s doing, we’re sure fighting against staff and declaring the Internet worthless is a great model for success.

UPDATE:

Kathy Park Price, VP of Public Relations for Harper’s, just emailed us to say that there were some inaccuracies in Sherman’s report. You can decide who to believe. Price says, “The union was certified to represent Harper’s in late October.  Also, Harper’s agreed to meet with the union immediately, and has since waited for the union to schedule a meeting to begin negotiations.  The negotiations began one week ago, on January 7.  Rick [MacArthur] never contested the staff’s right to unionize.  He contested the inclusion of certain senior editors in the unit as being part of management.”

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