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Harper's, that age-old magazine of dyed-in-the-wool liberalism, has an uncomfortable problem. In theory, its publisher John MacArthur loves the idea of organized labor. But when it comes to his own employees--not so much.

That's the word from New York's Gabriel Sherman who, on Tuesday, chronicled the venerable magazine's growing chasm between staff and publisher. According to Sherman, MacArthur's firing of editor-in-chief Roger Hodge and unwillingness to embrace the Web has rankled a number of employees. Those grievances came to a head in October when the staff formally unionized, joining UAW Local 2110. Officially, MacArthur says he feels "neutral" towards the union but Sherman tells a different story:


MacArthur contested the entire staff's right to unionize, arguing that editors and assistant editors who make up about half of the editorial team were management and thus did not qualify. 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.

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