Kickstarter Settles Complaint That It Retaliated Against Union Organizer

The crowdfunding platform, which has tried to distinguish itself as a progressive alternative to Silicon Valley tech companies, has agreed to pay $36,599 to a union organizer that it fired in 2019.
October 6, 2020, 3:38pm
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Kickstarter

Kickstarter said Tuesday that it reached a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board over two charges filed against the company for firing a Kickstarter employee who played an instrumental role in a union drive at the company.

The settlement comes nearly eight months after Kickstarter employees made U.S. labor history, becoming the first tech workforce in the country to vote to unionize.

According to a copy of the settlement agreement obtained by Motherboard, Kickstarter agreed to pay the fired employee Taylor Moore $36,598.63 in backpay and promised to post a notice to employees about the settlement on its intranet and at its Brooklyn offices once when they reopen.

"I could not have done this alone," Moore told Motherboard. "I was only able to fight and win with the support of Kickstarter United and OPEIU. Alone we are weak, together we’re strong."

Kickstarter's decision to settle, which follows the National Labor Relations Board's finding of sufficient evidence last month that Kickstarter retaliated against Moore, could serve as a galvanizing force to other tech workers who are leading an unprecedented wave of organizing in the tech industry, and as a powerful deterrent to tech companies that consider pushing back against employees who organize.

In September, following the NLRB's determination that Moore's retaliation charges had "sufficient merit," Kate Bernyk, a spokesperson for Kickstarter said the company decided to part ways with Moore for "legitimate reasons" and was "confident that the NLRB will find our decision to part ways with this employee was for legitimate reasons" if the case went before a NLRB judge.

On Tuesday, Bernyk said Kickstarter stood by that statement, despite its decision to settle and not pursue further legal action. "We can confirm that Kickstarter has come to a resolution on two pending charges at the NLRB brought by the Union on behalf of former employee Taylor Moore. This, along with the recent withdrawal of a charge by the Union on behalf of Clarissa Redwine, brings all outstanding claims to a close with no complaints filed by the NLRB. We stand by our previous statements."

Throughout the union drive, the company held several meetings with employees where management explained why a union would be disruptive to the company and impede business. In September 2019, Kickstarter fired Taylor Moore along with another employee Clarissa Redwine, both who served on the union organizing committee at the crow-funding platform.

Less than a week prior to the union election in February, Motherboard revealed that Kickstarter hired Duane Morris, a Philadelphia-law firm that specializes in "maintaining a union free workplace" to advise on union matters. On February 18, Kickstarter employees voted 46-to-37 in favor of unionizing.

Under the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), it is against the law for employers to discriminate or retaliate against workers for union organizing activity.

Seth Goldstein, a senior business representative at OPEIU Local 153 and Moore's attorney said, "[this settlement] show organizers and workers activists and employees at tech companies that unions are willing to fight for their rights and that we will stand by them."

"Tech organizing is a very important matter for the future, not just for organized labor," he continued. "It is essential in making sure tech companies will be worker-friendly and will do the right thing for our society."