Kickstarter employees vote to unionize, a first in the tech industry


Kickstarter has become the first major technology company to unionize.

Employees of the crowdfunding website voted in favor of forming a union on Tuesday. The vote was a culmination of 18 months of organizing. Kickstarter has proven to be quite popular with indie game developers as a crowdfunding platform for their projects.

According to NBC News:

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Kickstarter United will now be formally recognized by the management after a vote held by the National Labor Relations Board, in which workers voted 36 to 47 in favor of unionizing. It is the first union comprised of white-collar, full-time employees in the technology industry.

“What Kickstarter employees are organizing a union for is the agency to challenge management when management is failing the community,” said Clarissa Redwine, one of three union organizers who say they were fired or pressured to resign by the company in September. “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.”

The vote comes after a year and a half of internal organizing during which at least two lead union members, Redwine and Taylor Moore, were fired and at least two other workers who helped organize the union drive left after what they described as a tense and, at times, intimidating environment fostered by the management. One other union organizer was pressured to resign, according to five current and former employees at Kickstarter. The company said it has never fired anyone for union activity.

Et tu, gaming industry?

Some have argued game developers should unionize to boost pay and negotiate better working conditions, including curtailment of crunch time. However, efforts to form unions in the gaming industry have been met with resistance.

Could the news of Kickstarter’s successful union effort renew the push in the gaming industry? It’s certainly possible. Organizations like Game Workers Unite are trying to empower workers in the industry. Also, just last year, the AFL-CIO penned an open letter encouraging developers to organize. In the meantime, we’ll have to wait and see if they make any headway.