February 18, 2020

Kickstarter Workers Vote to Unionize

This is encouraging. Kickstarter employees just voted to unionize (congrats, Kickstarter United). It’s part of a growing trend in the tech industry (which encompasses a lot BTW), and Kickstarter United joins the likes of Buzzfeed, Vox, one Google office, and Instacart.

I’m from Metro Detroit and, as such, have seen unions do both good and bad via the automotive industry. For a while, I partially blamed unions for some of the auto industry failings and bailouts and generally thought they were a bad idea. As time has passed, I’ve seen that - while some unions do conduct themselves inappropriately - the right to unionize should be something that’s treasured and used liberally. So I’m glad to see more tech workers exercising that right.

There’s a lot of bullshit on Twitter and Hacker News about how tech workers are spoiled and unions are just introducing bureaucracy but I think most of those people are missing the point.

While tech workers are generally better off than most - with higher wages and better working conditions - that’s not the case across the board. You shouldn’t confuse your cushy job for everyone elses and, despite high salaries, many people face toxic working environments and toxic management teams. Unionizing and collective bargaining can help immensely here.

Finally, it feels like more people are realizing how dangerous capitalism and the growth-at-all-costs mentality is. That mentality is driven by leadership teams and can lead to disastrous results (i.e. FaceBook). Unionizing is a way for workers to have their voice heard and potentially shape a company’s values and methods. We shouldn’t overlook the importance of that.

Tech unions are an interesting and exciting development in the industry, and one I’ll be watching closely. Congratulations again, Kickstarter United. Hopefully it helps out.