The employees of the Greenpoint-based tech company Kickstarter (58 Kent St.) voted to unionize on Tuesday, becoming one of the first U.S. tech companies to join a union.
A vote on Tuesday by employees of the crowdfunding website resulted in 46 in favor of and 37 against joining the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents over 100,000 white collar workers according to VICE.
— Kickstarter United (@ksr_united) February 18, 2020
A year-and-a-half process leading up to Tuesday’s unionization vote began in 2018 when Kickstarter employees and management disagreed on the decision to allow a campaign for a book entitled “Always Punch Nazis,” as NBC New reports:
The seeds for the Kickstarter union were sown in August 2018 during an internal debate about a comic book called “Always Punch Nazis.” Conservative news website Breitbart accused Kickstarter of violating its terms of service for approving a fundraiser for the comic book. Breitbart argued that the book, described as an “anthology about our country’s battle against racism,” violated Kickstarter’s rule barring projects that encourage violence.
Although the Kickstarter employees who reviewed the comic book project decided it did not violate company guidelines, the management disagreed and decided to pull the fundraiser from the platform. Workers grew concerned that their bosses were giving in to demands from far-right trolls.
Ultimately, the management reversed its decision and let the comic book fundraiser remain. But the company’s approximately 150 staff started discussing the possibility of starting a union.
Two union organizers at Kickstarter were fired in September of 2019 and filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board, “alleging that their rights as employees to organize had been violated,” according to the Washington Post.
“You discover it’s not just the neo-Nazis and unjust termination,” Taylor Moore, a former employee told the Washington Post. “It’s also some women saying there’s a gender pay disparity, someone saying they’ve had their sexual harassment claims ignored, another saying that working remotely is not fairly applied on their team. It really became clear that a union was not only a good idea but necessary.”
A statement from CEO Aziz Hasan posted to Kickstarter’s website on Tuesday says that the company respects the decision:
Today we learned that in a 46 to 37 vote, our staff has decided to unionize. We support and respect this decision, and we are proud of the fair and democratic process that got us here. We’ve worked hard over the last decade to build a different kind of company, one that measures its success by how well it achieves its mission: helping to bring creative projects to life. Our mission has been common ground for everyone here during this process, and it will continue to guide us as we enter this new phase together