The new Arianna Huffington-run AOL news operation has fired scores of AOL business and finance freelancers, and is offering them the opportunity to work again—for free, according to reports from contributors. The popular liberal's controversial labor practices are triggering another uproar over AOL's multi-million-dollar acquisition of the Huffington Post, and have already spurred calls by journalists and union leaders for an "electronic" strike. Some of the canned freelancers are being offered staff jobs in the new operation, which is headed by Huffington, though numbers have not been revealed. All others have been told they can continue to write for free, reports the Business Insider.
The Huffington Post has come under intense fire from its own unpaid freelancers, who complain that they helped create the operation that Huffington sold to AOL for $315 million. A Huffington Post-AOL spokesman denied "mass terminations" are underway, and said the changes are part of a strategy to "shift from relying on freelancers and contractors to investing in full-time staff." Many AOL workers are stunned by Huffington's power in the new set up. "I've never seen someone buy a company and then give the keys to the safe to the people who run that company," an AOL staffer tells the Guardian.