by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A group of full and part-time employees at Current Affairs, a leftist political and cultural magazine founded in 2016, were terminated for attempting to organize a worker co-op.
Editor-in-Chief Nathan J. Robinson, author of Why You Should Be A Socialist, fired the staff members for pushing for organizational restructuring that would limit his power over the company, the dismissed employees alleged in a statement Wednesday.
According to the co-signers, the staff had workshopped the idea of restructuring for nearly two years, and all, including Robinson, had indicated a real interest in fostering a more “democratic workplace where all voices were equally valued.”
“We discussed it informally, we tried piecemeal reforms, we did a full-organization survey and one-on-one interviews with editors and staff to try to find a consensus on a collective vision,” the letter affirmed.
The “Operating Structure” section of the website reiterates the company’s goal to establish a culture that empowers its workers. “With a small staff (five full-time employees as of Jan 1, 2021), a part-time pod-master, and a volunteer editorial board who are all very passionate about the project, we are working on becoming a truly democratic workplace,” it says.
Once the restructuring conversations shifted from brainstorming to implementation, however, Robinson’s tone changed. On a Zoom call on August 7 in which the reforms were being discussed, he became agitated and started accusing the employees of discarding the creative mission he outlined in Current Affairs’ first issue.
The next morning, Robinson requested that a number of employees resign and removed their access to the company communication channels, pledging to hire new staff members to replace those he had expelled “without warning.” He also eliminated a few positions, including that of freelance contractor Aisling McCrea.
When Managing & Amusements Editor Lyta Gold reportedly called Robinson and asked “Are you firing me?,” he replied, “Yeah,” according to the statement.