Kickstarter workers such as "Google, Amazon & Microsoft" vote to form first union in tech industry
Feb. 19, 2020
The historic vote comes amid growing discontent among employees at technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft, who have started to organize.
Kickstarter United went public with its organizing drive. Employees at crowdfunding platform Kickstarter voted Tuesday to form a union, the first of its kind in the technology industry, after an 18-month battle with the company’s management.
Kickstarter United will now be formally recognized by the management after a vote held by the National Labor Relations Board, in which workers voted 36 to 47 in favor of unionizing. It is the first union comprised of white-collar, full-time employees in the technology industry.
“What Kickstarter employees are organizing a union for is the agency to challenge management when management is failing the community,” said Clarissa Redwine, one of three union organizers who say they were fired or pressured to resign by the company in September. “Workers want to be able to participate in critical product decisions without retaliation, to change how the company handles sexual harassment, how it addresses gender discrimination, and they want to take on future challenges with a healthy power structure.”
The vote comes after a year and a half of internal organizing during which at least two lead union members, Redwine and Taylor Moore, were fired and at least two other workers who helped organize the union drive left after what they described as a tense and, at times, intimidating environment fostered by the management. One other union organizer was pressured to resign, according to five current and former employees at Kickstarter. The company said it has never fired anyone for union activity.
Kickstarter United will now move to the bargaining table, and a committee of union members will sit across from the company’s leadership and negotiate a contract to address the union’s concerns, which include issues surrounding equitable pay, diversity in hiring and gaining a say in company decisions about how the platform is moderated.
The union is organizing with the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153.
“We support and respect this decision, and we are proud of the fair and democratic process that got us here,” said Aziz Hasan, the CEO of Kickstarter.
The historic vote comes amid growing discontent among employees at technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft, who have started to organize in an effort to get their employers to cease activity that some workers view as unethical.
In the past three years, employees at Google have successfully organized thousands of workers to petition the company to not renew a contract with the Pentagon to build artificial intelligence systems for drones and to scrap plans to build a censored search engine for China. Some employees even resigned in protest. Googlers also organized a 20,000-person walkout in 2018, successfully protesting to change internal policies about how the company handles allegations of sexual assault.
Workers at Microsoft, Amazon, Salesforce and GitHub have organized to demand their employers drop contracts with local and federal government agencies that engage in police surveillance and immigration enforcement and deportation.
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