Tech Workers Kick It Up at Kickstarter
February 19, 2020 | Lizanne Foley
Kickstarter just became the first tech employer with a union comprised of full-time, white collar workers. Kickstarter United is not motivated by the usual union demands–wages and benefits. As a Kickstarter organizer Clarissa Redwine said: “What Kickstarter employees are organizing a union for is the agency to challenge management when management is failing the community. Workers want to be able to participate in critical product decisions without retaliation, to change how the company handles sexual harassment, how it addresses gender discrimination, and they want to take on future challenges with a healthy power structure.”
Whoa. Watch out Google— who is also learning that gourmet coffee and warm cookies cannot buy worker satisfaction. To be sure, many of the issues brought forth by tech workers address traditional workplace issues like paid leave and benefits–particularly at Amazon. Discontent at Google and Microsoft however run the gamut from protesting against government surveillance contracts to a walk out over how sexual harassment is handled. Collective actions in the technology workplace are so widespread an online database has been created to document activity.
Whither Kickstarter goes all of tech? Kickstarter is a small enough workplace with enough common interests among employees to make a union work. Behemoths like Google and Amazon are a different story, plus they have been successful in their mighty efforts to stop union organizing. The National Labor Relations Board has become more employer friendly, making it harder to organize and vote for a union. But do not underestimate the convictions of millennials and the power of a tight job market. As special as they may think they are, tech companies are employers with the same dynamic. They can offer a seat at the table on important issues or wait for workers to kick the door in and take one.
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