Staff at crowdfunding giant Kickstarter are unionizing in a potential first for big tech in the US

Kickstarter Office 20Hollis Johnson

  • Kickstarter's employees are forming a union called Kickstarter United.
  • If the union is recognized, Kickstarter would be the first major tech company to have union representation.
  • In a statement, the company did not indicate where it stood on the effort.
  • In 2018, BuzzFeed News reported that the company was in turmoil following the return of cofounder Perry Chen as CEO.

Employees at Brooklyn's crowdfunding giant Kickstarter are forming a labor union called Kickstarter United, which will aim to secure more rights for the company's workers.

In a statement, the group said:

"Kickstarter United is proud to start the process of unionizing to safeguard and enrich Kickstarter's charter commitments to creativity, equity, and a positive impact on society. We trust in the democratic process and are confident that the leadership of Kickstarter stands with us in that effort. Kickstarter has always been a trailblazer, and this is a pivotal moment for tech. We want to set the standard for the entire industry. Now is the time. Come together. Unionize."
If recognized by the company, Kickstarter would become the first major tech company in the US to have union representation.

In a statement provided to Business Insider, Kickstarter responded to the news by saying, "We're proud that everyone here at Kickstarter cares deeply about its mission and its future. We're aware that there are team members at Kickstarter who are interested in forming a union, and we look forward to hearing more about our employees' concerns."

Kickstarter employees are working with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153.

Kickstarter is notably community-minded for a tech company. Its charter classifies it as a public benefit corporation, which is supposed to make the company accountable to the needs of the community and society rather than profit and shareholders alone.

Read more: Disappointed backers who raised more than $1 million to fund a coffee startup are revolting and calling it the 'Fyre Festival' of French presses

In an email Kickstarter United sent to the entire company, which The Verge obtained, the group said the company had fallen short in delivering for its employees.

"Kickstarter's efforts are incomplete," the group reportedly said in the email, calling for increased inclusion, solidarity, transparency, and accountability. "These values have failed to manifest in our workplace. We can do better together - for ourselves and our industry."

In April 2018, BuzzFeed News reported that the company was in turmoil after co-founder Perry Chen returned as CEO in July 2017. At the time of BuzzFeed's reporting, nearly 50 of the company's 120 staff had reportedly left, including seven out of eight members of the company's executive team.

According to BuzzFeed, "employees said Chen strongly exerted his will on the company - making sudden changes to planned-out Kickstarter features, scrapping project timelines at the last minute, forcing out highly respected employees, and trying to shake up office culture in ways that struck the rank and file as simply bizarre."

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