Kickstarter has become one of the first technology companies with an employee union, in what could be a watershed moment for the tech industry. The Brooklyn-based company’s employees voted 46 to 37 to approve joining a union. Kickstarter’s union, called Kickstarter United, is comprised of 85 Kickstarter employees, including engineers, analysts, designers, and customer support specialists.
The company’s employees will be affiliated with the Office and Professional Employees International Union. The workers will now be able to start negotiations for new contracts and agreements, discussing issues such as equal pay, diversity hiring and having more of a voice in the company. Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan backed the union in a statement, saying, “We support and respect this decision, and we are proud of the fair and democratic process that got us here.”
Kickstarter was one of the earliest online crowdfunding sites for creative projects. The employees and management began to clash over unionization after the company refused to support placing a comic book, entitled Always Punch Nazis, on the fundraising platform. While the company later backtracked on its decision, employees started an aggressive pushback and began to push to form a union.
The company has been accused of firing two people who participated in leading the union efforts. The fired employees have filed a complaint with the National Labor Review Board (NLRB) stating that Kickstarter illegally retaliated against them for trying to start a union. Two other employees involved with the union effort claim they were pushed out. Others claim that they also felt undue pressure from management.
The company insists that the firings were performance-related and had nothing to do with the organizing effort. A Kickstarter spokesperson added that Kickstarter has provided detailed documentation of the reasons for their termination to the NLRB, but did not share those reasons.