CAP Scraps ThinkProgress Relaunch After Firing Union Staffers

Center for American Progress accused of union busting

September 10, 2019

The Center for American Progress scuttled plans to relaunch ThinkProgress after recently fired staffers accused the liberal think tank of union busting.

On Friday, the entire staff of ThinkProgress was fired after CAP was unable to find a buyer for the site, leading many to believe that it would be taken out of operation. Navin Nayak, executive director for the Center for American Progress Action Fund, praised the site's writers in an obituary on Monday before delivering the news that the liberal think tank would continue to operate the site, albeit without any of the union staffers.

"We’ll be transitioning ThinkProgress back to its roots as a site that offers analysis on policy, politics, and the news," he said in a blog post. "You will be able to count on the new ThinkProgress to offer a proudly progressive perspective on the most important policy and political debates in the country."

The Monday evening post drew immediate criticism from the Writers Guild East, which represented ThinkProgress's 11 staffers. The union emphasized that it was able to deliver 12-week severance packages for writers and editors, but it was livid that CAP intended to capitalize off of the labor of the site's writers.

"We were blindsided by the revelation that CAP intends to continue operating the ThinkProgress site with its own labor, and use the ThinkProgress social media accounts to promote that work," the union said in a statement. "To take away our independent voice and use the wide audience built by ThinkProgress Union staff for other purposes is an affront to the ThinkProgress mission."

The union demanded that CAP put an end to the relaunch, while preserving the work of its writers. It added that it will pursue "legal actions" if the liberal think tank follows through with the plan.

"CAP has repeatedly said that the decision to shut down ThinkProgress was a financial one made in light of larger industry struggles.… We now know that this was never about money. This was always about power and control," the union said. "We ask that CAP management keep ThinkProgress alive as an archived site, but not co-opt the site for its own non-editorially independent analysis and articles."

The Center for American Progress did not return request for comment.

Nayak said in the Monday announcement that the stakes were too high to keep an outlet like ThinkProgress offline.

"We are sad to end ThinkProgress' long-run as an independent journalistic enterprise. But the stakes in the country right now couldn't be higher, and this is no time for us to back down," he said in the post.

A CAP spokesman told the Daily Beast that it was scuttling the site's planned relaunch just hours after the union's threat.