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Kickstarter To Workers and Project Creators: Drop Dead

Current Affairs | | Sep 29, 2019

kickstarter anti union - Kickstarter To Workers and Project Creators: Drop Deadnumber of workers at Kickstarter are currently trying to organize a union, an effort the company has actively opposed from the start. The CEO made it clear that the company doesn’t want a union and would not voluntarily recognize one. Several weeks ago, during the middle of the organizing campaign, Kickstarter suddenly fired two of the lead organizers. Sources inside Kickstarter confirmed to the press that the firings were not, as the company insisted, merely performance-related.

When the union organizers were fired, Current Affairs happened to be in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign. As a left publication, we were appalled, and didn’t want to publicly support an anti-union company. So we got together with our colleagues at Protean Magazine, Pinko Magazine, the Nib, and the Baffler (all of whom had done Kickstarter campaigns in the past) and released a statement condemning the firings and expressing solidarity with the union.

We invited other Kickstarter project creators to join us on the statement, which hundreds did, including well-known creators like Neil Gaiman, Anita Sarkeesian, Molly Crabapple, and Richard Herring. Collectively, the creators on our statement have raised millions of dollars on the platform (my estimate is $10 million, but I stopped counting around 5).

See:  Kickstarter accused of union-busting after firing workers

We were united in (1) appreciating Kickstarter’s staff and the great platform they have created and (2) being firmly opposed to the company’s anti-union activities and supportive of the workers’ rights. (If you have created a Kickstarter project, please consider signing. Read some of the statements people have made here.)

As our campaign took off and started to attract press attention, I received a message from Kickstarter’s chief communications officer. He asked me if I would like to talk on the phone so that he could address our concerns. I spoke with him, and explained that his company’s actions violated the core values of the creators on our statement. Not only that, I explained that Kickstarter was actually damaging its creators’ projects.

I had supporters of Current Affairs saying they were ambivalent about donating to our campaign because they didn’t want to support Kickstarter (who take a percentage of all funds raised). Pro-labor project creators who hadn’t yet met their funding goals were especially hurt. One creator was actually raising money for a game about union organizing, and felt he couldn’t in good conscience stay with the platform but didn’t want to lose the money he’d raised for his game.

After I told the communications officer this, he argued that Kickstarter was not, in fact, an anti-union company. I pointed out to him that since his company was in the middle of fighting against their workers’ union effort, they were anti-union in a literal and undeniable sense. I said the creators on our statement held very different values to those of Kickstarter. We did not resolve anything on the conversation, but he said the company was thinking through how to respond and he would be in touch.

Today, Kickstarter offered its response. The communications officer emailed me, and said he would like to share a statement from the CEO with the project creators. The statement said that Kickstarter:

  1. Stood by its decision to fire the organizers, and would be dispatching its lawyers to fight their claims.

  2. Would not voluntarily recognize a union even if the vast majority of workers signed in support of one.

  3. Would not pledge to remain neutral on unionization, and would continue to actively oppose the effort.

Read:  We stand with the Kickstarter Union Petition

The statement was the most blatant slap in the face imaginable to both the workers and the project creators. It says, in essence: drop dead. We do not care what you think. We do not want a union and we are going to try to stop one from forming. We will fire union organizers if we want to, and if they complain to the National Labor Relations Board, they will be facing our lawyers. Kickstarter heard the hundreds of creators who signed our statement, and they have said plainly and unequivocally that they reject our values and will remain an anti-union company.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Kickstarter To Workers and Project Creators: Drop Dead The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit:

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