Kickstarter Becomes First White-Collar Tech Company to Unionize

·        Funding-platform workers approve OPEIU as bargaining representative

·        Contract negotiations can begin for creative directors, designers

Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter PBC became the first white-collar tech workforce to organize a union when the National Labor Relations Board certified the Office and Professional Employees International Union as the workers’ labor representative.

Accountants, creative content directors, and senior software designers were among the employees who voted, 47-36, for union representation, the NLRB said Tuesday after votes were counted in the agency’s Brooklyn, N.Y., office. Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects including films, games, music, art, design, and technology, had 88 employees eligible to vote.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time full-time, white-collar tech workers have organized an NLRB-sanctioned union. But it comes amidst an uprising of mass collective organizing and action across the tech industry—in white-collar jobs, blue-collar jobs, and across white- and blue-collar jobs,” said Veena Dubal, a University of California Hastings associate law professor.

“I think that this win for workers reflects two important things. One, it shows that white-collar workers in the tech industry can and will find ways to form collective structures to best reflect their needs and visions. And two, the win underscores the importance and promise of worker self-organizing in the tech industry,” Dubal added.

OPEIU Local 153 asked Kickstarter to voluntarily recognize the union, which was declined, prompting mail balloting that started Jan. 23.

“So many people worked incredibly hard to earn Kickstarter’s employees a seat at the table, and now they have one. Kickstarter is now a place for collective action through and through,” Clarissa Redwine, a former Kickstarter employee who helped organize the workforce and was terminated last fall, tweeted after the vote.

The vote means the union and company will start negotiations on a first contract. Kickstarter CEO Aziz Hasan said the company supports and respects the staff’s 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,” Hasan said.

The new Kickstarter United union said its goals are equitable compensation across all positions, creating equal pay for equal work, along with diversity and inclusion in hiring, professional growth, and product development.

Kickstarter, since launching in April 2009, has helped raise $4.8 billion to successfully fund 177,558 projects.

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