On Tuesday 85 engineers, directors, analysts, designers, coordinators, customer support specialists and others at Kickstarter voted to affiliate with OPEIU Local 153 in New York.
This is a major step in the tech field as these workers will become one of the first unions for tech workers in U.S. history and the first white-collar union at a tech company.
“We believe unionizing provides a path toward furthering all of our goals,” said Oriana Leckert, a Kickstarter United (KSRU) spokesperson who is a senior journalism outreach lead at the company. “It was truly an honor to get to have deep conversations with so many of my colleagues around these issues. Utilizing our collective power to improve our workplace and our professional lives will increase Kickstarter’s ability to have a radical, positive impact on society by allowing us all to advocate for workers’ rights, which is a core pillar of the fight against inequality.”
Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan commented over email,
“Today [Tuesday] 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. “
Agitation among tech workers has been building. In 2019, 80 Google contractors in Pittsburgh and 2,300 Google cafeteria workers in Silicon Valley unionized. In early February, 15 Instacart subcontractor workers in the Chicago area won the grocery delivery app’s first union in the US
KSRU faced significant hurdles throughout the course of their campaign. Vice reported that Kickstarter was working with a Philadelphia law firm specializing in union avoidance.
Vice also reported that “In September, the company fired two employees on the union’s organizing committee within eight days, and informed a third union organizer that he would no longer be needed in his role.” Thereafter denying requests by the union for voluntary recognition.
According to a statement from OPEIU
“The tech sector represents a new frontier for union organizing, and OPEIU is excited to represent one of the first tech groups to successfully win collective bargaining rights and to be part of the labor movement’s efforts to improve the livelihoods of tech employees everywhere,” said Richard Lanigan, OPEIU president and OPEIU Local 153 business manager.
“We hope to inspire all workers everywhere to fight for what they deserve: a healthy and safe workplace, both mentally and physically,” added Camilla Zhang, a Kickstarter comics outreach lead.