Kickstarter Calls Itself Progressive. But About That Union.

From The New York Times:

Kickstarter, the Brooklyn-based crowdfunding site, has long tried to stand apart from Silicon Valley, seeking to portray itself as a socially responsible enterprise that cares more about improving the world than putting money in wealthy shareholders’ pockets.

Then came the union drive.

Earlier this year, a group of Kickstarter employees publicly pressed to form a union, calling for a larger say in the company’s operations. They were spurred to action after controversy over a Kickstarter campaign for a satirical comic book filled with images of people punching Nazis.

Kickstarter pushed back against the union, and as the effort dragged on, two of the organizers were dismissed last month in what they say was retaliation.

Kickstarter maintains it is not anti-labor, and has repeatedly said the firings had nothing to do with the union drive. It said the two workers were let go because of performance issues unrelated to their union organizing.

. . . .

But the firings provoked an outcry from political progressives that echoed across social media and stoked an emotional response from hundreds of the same creators who had been foundational to the site’s success, as well as high-profile supporters like the author Neil Gaiman, the cartoonist Matt Bors and the actor David Cross.

“People should partner with companies that align with their values,” said Nathan J. Robinson, editor of Current Affairs, a left-wing magazine that launched after a Kickstarter campaign in 2015. “When a company is union-busting, there is a very good reason not to give them a percentage of your money.”

Mr. Robinson has been an outspoken voice against Kickstarter. His magazine was in the middle of a second Kickstarter campaign when the controversy erupted, causing his pro-union donors to consider rescinding their contributions.

. . . .

“I have felt extremely conflicted, and at times deeply hypocritical,” said Steve O’Gorman, 33, a game developer from England raising money for an independent video game about unionization.

“The money from the Kickstarter is make-or-break,” he added.

. . . .

Labor organizers and tech industry observers are watching carefully: Will the workers be among the first white-collar employees at a major tech company to unionize?

. . . .

From the time the unionization effort became public in March, it was contentious within the company. Days after organizers announced their intent to unionize, three nonmanagerial employees sent an email to the entire staff voicing dissent. Organizers say that a majority of eligible employees now support unionization.

. . . .

In its charter, Kickstarter seemed to encode progressive values into the company’s DNA, promising to engage with larger social issues, including workplace inequality.

The Kickstarter organizers, who are working with the Office and Professional Employees International Union, said they want to ensure the company maintains that commitment.

“A lot of Silicon Valley places will tell you, ‘Oh, we’re changing the world,’” said Taylor Moore, the other organizer fired in September. “At Kickstarter, you can see the people’s lives you’re changing, the people who are helping change the culture.”

The organizers have called for greater transparency in decision making, diversity and pay equity. They have also demanded stronger protections for employees who disagree with management or who file complaints.

. . . .

“The union framework is inherently adversarial,” [Kickstarter President Aziz] Hasan wrote. “That dynamic doesn’t reflect who we are as a company, how we interact, how we make decisions, or where we need to go.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times

9 thoughts on “Kickstarter Calls Itself Progressive. But About That Union.”

  1. Ah, woke capitalism. Where you use your commitment to left-wing social values to conceal the fact that economically you act like the worst stereotypes of right-wingers.

    Because I guarantee you that there wouldn’t be a union drive unless there was already an adversarial relationship between labor and management.

    • I guarantee you that there wouldn’t be a union drive unless there was already an adversarial relationship

      If you hire from the deep end of the Tumblr pool, you’re bound to come across a wide array of the “perpetually offended.”

    • Laugh away.
      It’s basic human nature: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
      Always comes back to bite the holy.

  2. “Is it wrong that I had a LMAO moment reading this? The irony was too much for me.”

    Not wrong at all, though all I got out of it was a SMH (shake my head).

    Unions might be helpful if the boss/company is overworking/underpaying their little minions, but this seems to be something else …

    “The organizers have called for greater transparency in decision making …”

    Since when does the tail tell the dog when/how to wag? If you don’t like where a company is going it’s time to find a better company. (They gave the ‘woke’ ones an inch and now they’re here to claim the rest of ‘their’ mile.)

    With the union I’m placing bets there will be so many little diversions that it won’t be possible to get anything done.

    “The union framework is inherently adversarial,” [Kickstarter President Aziz] Hasan wrote. “That dynamic doesn’t reflect who we are as a company, how we interact, how we make decisions, or where we need to go.”

    Like a town that used to make a lot of cars, Kickstarter is on the road to destruction.

  3. I think Bernie had a union problem, too. He fought it until it garnered too much publicity. And even then, they dealt with it by cutting hours.

  4. IMPO, unions, both private and public, have horrendously affected lives/businesses. Once a necessary evil, now they continuously suck the life out of everything they touch (public with bloated budgets, unfunded pensions and a toady Democratic party at their beck and call; private with their push for $15 minimum wage which results in closed businesses, cut hours and automation).

    And before you call me an anti-union troglodyte, I am a proud recipient of Janus v AFSCME and have been a disgusting non-member of my public sector union since 2011.

    • One problem the unions face is that over the years they’ve been too successful in raising the floor of business behavior. There’s less bad players and the “bad” ones are nowhere near as bad as the historical villains. (It’s been a while since the days of massacres, armed strikebreakers, and slave-grade company towns.)

      So less people feel the to unionize and like any entrenched bureaucracy the union honchos feel a need to justify their existence by raising the bar of what “bad” is.

      And then, like too many in politics, they’ve become sound bite absolutists and lost a lot of nuance. They seem to have forgotten that a place like Ritz-Carlton can pay $15 an hour and raise prices to compensate but Jack’s Bistro can’t. Or that what is a fair wage in Nashville is way inadequare in SanFran so they measure everything by the same procustean yardstick. That does not earn tbem much sympathy.

      The mean well and can do good in some situations but they’ve been in bed with politicians so long they can no longer tell the difference between what is good for politicians and what is good for employees. There’s a difference and it’s getting bigger everyday.

      Too often they engage in activism for activism’s sake.

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