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Current Affairs

A Magazine of Politics and Culture

Tell Kickstarter To Recognize Their Union Now

The majority of workers have asked for recognition. The company must grant it.

I have written before about the unionization fight at Kickstarter. Current Affairs is proud to have produced a statement in support of the union now signed by 450+ Kickstarter project creators, who have collectively raised a staggering $50 million on the platform. We’ve tried to make it clear that by actively opposing unionization, Kickstarter is damaging its brand, hurting its creators’ fundraising, and most importantly, disrespecting its workers.

Yesterday there was an important development in the story: Kickstarter’s union formally asked the company for recognition. Up until this point, while the company had been discouraging workers from organizing, its workers hadn’t actually requested to be recognized officially as a union. When workers do make such a request, a company has a choice: it can either “voluntarily” agree, making the union official, or it can say no, in which case the company will only recognize the union once it is required to do so by law, after a long and complicated election process overseen by the Trump Administration’s National Labor Relations Board. 

So now that the majority of Kickstarter’s workers have petitioned for a union, we’re at a critical moment: Kickstarter can either follow through on its previous vow to deny recognition, or it can defer to the majority of workers and grant it. 

That means this is the moment we need to maximize public pressure on Kickstarter. They face a decision right now, and if we can convince them that granting recognition is in the best interest of the company, its staff, and its users (which it is), Kickstarter will immediately be a union company. 

If you oppose Kickstarter’s anti-union efforts, and believe that the union should be recognized, you need to tell Kickstarter. 

The CEO’s email is: [email protected]

Copy the union with your statement here and they will pass on as well: [email protected]

It is critical that as many Kickstarter users as possible tell the company what they think. Kickstarter must not follow through on its threat to deny recognition. They must grant it immediately. 

Here is part of the union’s statement

We’re asking you to join us in urging them to say yes: email [email protected], or anyone you may know personally in Kickstarter leadership, demanding that the union be recognized. Tweet at them expressing your support for Kickstarter United. Whatever channels are available to you, we ask that you activate them to help share our message of solidarity: Kickstarter is ready to be united, and senior leadership must grant us voluntary recognition. […] Your support and allyship have been instrumental in getting Kickstarter United to a place where we were able to ask for recognition. We are so thankful for you, our siblings in labor. Together, we can demand new standards for this industry, starting by making a fairer, stronger, more diverse, more trusting, and more successful Kickstarter. 

It is time for Kickstarter’s users to show support for its workers in every way they can. 

Below is my own letter to the CEO and Chief Communications Officer: 

Dear David and Aziz,

Now that Kickstarter’s union has formally requested recognition, I wanted to write to you to reaffirm the stance of the 450+ project creators who have signed our statement. Collectively, we have raised over $50 million on the platform, and many of us represent some of Kickstarter’s great success stories. We are all proud to have worked with Kickstarter’s excellent staff and hope to continue partnering with the company in the future. However, as I expressed to David in writing and on the phone, Kickstarter has consistently opposed its workers’ unionizing efforts and we cannot work with an anti-union company.

A refusal to voluntarily recognize the clearly-stated wishes of the majority of Kickstarter’s workers will make it impossible to return to the platform. And while our statement is signed only by project creators, we have also heard from many Kickstarter backers who also do not wish for a portion of their money to be going to a company that won’t recognize its workers’ union. I strongly recommend reading the statements of our signatories, plus many other comments by users appearing on social media. There are thousands and thousands of them. It is very clear where your users stand. We believe that workers who want a union deserve a union, and today your workers have said they want a union. 

We have been disappointed by Kickstarter’s stance up until this point. But before today, the union had not actually asked to be recognized. Today, it has, which means that it’s time for the company to decide what its values are: is it pro-worker or anti-worker? Will it fight its own staff in their effort to secure a union, or will it live up to its status as a public benefit corporation and honor their request? 

The creators on our statement have never wanted to criticize Kickstarter or publicly challenge it. They have not wanted to leave, they have wanted to stay and keep creating projects. Kickstarter’s actions up until this point have placed us in a position we did not ask to be in. The company has damaged its creators’ campaigns by taking a public anti-union stance and vowing not to grant voluntarily recognition. Now it has an opportunity to change course, and to show that it shares the values of the workers, creators, and backers who make Kickstarter thrive. 

We have hope that Kickstarter will do the right thing by its workers and grant voluntary recognition immediately. A prolonged fight will mean that users need to find other ways to support their projects. Kickstarter will regain its reputation as a company that takes its mission seriously, and recognizing the union will allow creators to return to what they want to be doing: making great ideas come to life through the platform.

All best,

Nathan J. Robinson
Editor, Current Affairs

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