Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jonathan Chait disapproves of a liberal journalist's flip-flop on unions

In today's TNR:
New York has a mordantly funny piece about the effort by staffers at Harper's to unionize. The saga begins with gross mismanagement by owner Rick MacArthur, spurring the staff to organize. Then the left-wing MacArthur started to act a lot like a union-crushing boss.
I have a bit more sympathy for MacArthur. He's in a difficult situation trying to save a tremendously worthwhile institution. I tend to be very union-friendly but the situation can get murky when the business in question really is struggling to survive, not just making a play for sympathy. Given that my only source of information is the gossipy and badly written New York piece, it's difficult to assign much blame.

Besides, it's not like he attacked a fundamental role of unions like the right to protect their employees from unfair termination.

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