“We were fired by the editor-in-chief of a socialist magazine for trying to start a worker co-op,” five fired staffers wrote in a letter posted on Tuesday.
Nathan J. Robinson, editor-in-chief of the socialist magazine Current Affairs, has fired most of its staff for trying to start a worker co-op, workers wrote in a letter posted on Twitter on Wednesday morning.
“We, the former full and part-time staff, write to you with deep sadness and disappointment about the recent events that have occurred at Current Affairs,” a letter signed by five fired staffers said.
“On August 8th, editor-in-chief Nathan J. Robinson (author of Why You Should Be a Socialist) unilaterally fired most of the workforce to avoid an organizational restructuring that would limit his personal power. Yes, we were fired by the editor-in-chief of a socialist magazine for trying to start a worker co-op.”
One of the fired editors, Cate Root, posted on Twitter about the firings. “It was a profound pleasure to help writers bring the best version of their work to the public. It brought me so much joy and meaning, and I will miss it terribly,” she wrote.
In their letter, the fired workers wrote that workers at the publication had recently been discussing new organizational models that align with its socialist values and had hired a business manager specifically to “help shepherd the magazine through the process of creating a more democratic workplace.”
Current Affairs was founded by Robinson in 2015 with the mission “to produce the world’s first readable political publication and to make life joyful again.”
“When we finally got around to discussing organizational models during a Zoom meeting on August 7th, Nathan became agitated. He instated that in our attempt to set shared internal values, we were disregarding his vision for the Current Affairs as published in the first issue,” the letter said.
“The next morning, he started removing people from the company Slack, and sent letters requesting resignations, eliminating positions, and in some cases offering new ‘honorary titles’ which would have no say in governance.”
Workers wrote in their letter that Robinson has tried to retract his statements and make amends with workers, and on Tuesday, agreed to pay workers through September.
Robinson, a prolific writer, speaker, Guardian columnist, Harvard grad student, and socialist persona, has spoken out against purportedly progressive companies, such as the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, that have retaliated against workers who tried to unionize.
According to an email sent to readers by the Current Affairs board of directors, Current Affairs will take a “short hiatus,” to “deal with this painful chapter.” “We as a collective remain committed to transparency, workers’ rights, and a better, kinder left,” the board wrote.
Robinson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.