New York, N.Y. (Feb. 18, 2020) – The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), AFL-CIO, is proud to announce today that 85 engineers, directors, analysts, designers, coordinators and customer support specialists and others at Kickstarter have voted to affiliate with OPEIU Local 153 in New York, becoming one of the first unions for tech workers in U.S. history.
The workplace issues that more than one year ago spurred the creation of the new union’s organizing committee, known as Kickstarter United (KSRU), are identical to the issues resonating with professionals throughout the unorganized tech industry. Kickstarter employees felt their employer, a public benefit corporation, should live up to the foundational progressive values it espouses by ensuring trust and transparency from management, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work, implementing more inclusive hiring practices and giving employees a voice in the decision-making process,
“We believe unionizing provides a path toward furthering all of our goals,” said Oriana Leckert, a KSRU spokesperson who is a senior journalism outreach lead at the company. “It was truly an honor to get to have deep conversations with so many of my colleagues around these issues. Utilizing our collective power to improve our workplace and our professional lives will increase Kickstarter’s ability to have a radical, positive impact on society by allowing us all to advocate for workers’ rights, which is a core pillar of the fight against inequality.”
After forming an initial organizing committee, KSRU chose to partner with OPEIU Local 153 because of the New York-based local union’s long history of representing a diverse array of professionals across industry lines, and its commitment to bringing economic justice to the workplace and social justice to communities. Though Kickstarter’s initial response to the organizing drive was disappointing, management ultimately refrained from any interference with the NLRB election process, ensuring employees were free to draw their own conclusions on the question of union membership.
“The tech sector represents a new frontier for union organizing, and OPEIU is excited to represent one of the first tech groups to successfully win collective bargaining rights and to be part of the labor movement’s efforts to improve the livelihoods of tech employees everywhere,” said Richard Lanigan, OPEIU president and OPEIU Local 153 business manager.
OPEIU Local 153 now will support the new members as they work to create an inclusive and transparent process to determine the employees’ bargaining proposals and priorities. Both OPEIU and KSRU members are excited to work together with Kickstarter management to negotiate a mutually beneficial contract, and to use the lessons learned during both organizing and bargaining campaigns to serve as a foundational roadmap for tech worker organizing in the future.
“Technical workers in the industry are put on a pedestal until they are no longer necessary, but every worker at a company makes it what it is – from your community outreach people, to your customer support people, to the people running your facilities,” said Dannel Jurado, a Kickstarter senior software engineer. “I’m overjoyed by this result. There’s a long road ahead of us, but it’s a first step to the sustainable future in tech that I and so many others want to see.”
“We hope to inspire all workers everywhere to fight for what they deserve: a healthy and safe workplace, both mentally and physically,” added Camilla Zhang, a Kickstarter comics outreach lead.