We probably won’t hear AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka comparing Arianna Huffington to Hitler; nor will we likely see Joey “BFD” Biden weigh in on the merits of collective bargaining in this case either. However, ever since Arianna Huffington
suckered convinced AOL to give her gobs of money ($315 million), a cushy new job, and some prestige for her rags-to-riches rise to the top of the blogoshpere, she’s had a bit of a PR problem. You see, on top of getting her millions on the backs of the 900 AOL staffers losing their jobs, Huffington appears to be turning into one of those evil, greedy, capitalist pigs she so often hypocritically excoriates on her website.
Now, an affiliate of the “Marxist Maulers” (the red-shirted union otherwise known as CWA) is calling on all of HuffPo’s bloggers to honor an “e-strike” until HuffPo bloggers get paid
their fair share.
Down with slave wages! [Oh! Wait…] Since its inception, as do most community-oriented blogs, the liberal Huffington Post has relied on content from bloggers who, for the most part, report and opine for free, for passion, or publicity. However, since Huffington fell into some money (again), some of the unpaid talent at Visual Art Source took exception to providing their work for gratis and went on strike:
When we were invited to become a Huffington Post blogger last year I understood that the company paid nothing. We surveyed our writers’ reaction to assess their willingness to have their material reposted there for no additional pay. Visual Art Source, ArtScene and art ltd.(http://www.visualartsource.com) form an umbrella art publishing company that is actually quite large by the standards of our very specialized field. The tens of thousands of readers and online users that we boast, however, are miniscule compared to the 26 million visitors per month that the Huffington Post currently draws.
Yet we are now going on strike. For now, at least, no more content from us will appear on the Huffington Post.
And just like the corporate titans of the American Right, it would come as no surprise if Ms Huffington, whom I am certain has a good heart and only the best intentions, were to assume the obvious position: Who needs these people anyway? They are not even employees.
Dahling, let them eat cake! Even as Huffington goes out speaking on “middle class” issues, her hypocrisy hasn’t taken long to evolve into union-busting nomenclature normally accused of 19th century “robber barrons”:
[Huffington] argued that blogging on the Huffington Post is equivalent to going on Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart or the “Today” show to promote their ideas.
And, she said, there are plenty of people willing to take their place if they do.
“The idea of going on strike when no one really notices,” Huffington said. “Go ahead, go on strike.” [Emphasis added.]
Enter the red shirts. Shortly after the VAS strike began, the Newspaper Guild, an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America, entered the fray. With its own business model and membership threatened by the amount of unpaid writers consuming the attention spans of the reading public, the TNG-CWA seemed only too happy to jump in.
At first, the TNG-CWA urged an e-campaign, asking people to fill in an electronic form asking Huffington to “help prevent independent journalists from having to settle for third-world wages.”
Then, on Wednesday, the TNG-CWA launched a full-fledged e-sympathy strike in support of VAS:
The Newspaper Guild is calling on unpaid writers of the Huffington Post to withhold their work in support of a strike launched by Visual Art Source in response to the company’s practice of using unpaid labor. In addition, we are asking that our members and all supporters of fair and equitable compensation for journalists join us in shining a light on the unprofessional and unethical practices of this company.
Just as we would ask writers to stand fast and not cross a physical picket line, we ask that they honor this electronic picket line. [Emphasis added.]
Solidarity? To Scab or Not to Scab?…That is the Question. As we know all-too-well, to the American Left, unions are the
jack boots on the ground in American politics. Without the unions’ confiscated dues money, the Left has no future. The question for those unpaid progressive bloggers is: Will you honor the electronic picket line in solidarity at the request of the union and the strikers? Or, will your solidarity with unions be more talk than walk and your individual greed for seeing your words posted on line turn you into scabs? What’ll it be, progs?
So far, management at Huffington Post is betting on the latter, that bloggers will become scabs on HuffPo and, in fact, is throwing it back into the TNG-CWA and strikers’ faces (even boasting that replacement-writers will be filling the void):
Bottom line: nearly all of our bloggers are happy with the arrangement, and happy to access the platform and the huge audience it brings, without having to build, pay for, edit, moderate or maintain that platform. Indeed, we are inundated with requests from people who want to blog. The proof is in the pudding: people are looking to join the party, not go home early.
We continue to welcome new voices from people who have something to say.
So, for all you allegedly-principled prog bloggers out there who are still writing for HuffPo, how does it feel to be a scab? [See Jack London.]
You really just can’t make this stuff up!
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776