Kickstarter’s CEO Aziz Hasan sent an email to staff this morning, explaining why the company fired two staff members and laid off another who played an instrumental role in organizing a union at the company.
“I wanted to begin by acknowledging that the last two weeks have been tough with the news articles that began to surface,” Hasan began. “We’ve also heard from our community of creators and backers expressing concerns and confusion about the news in relation to union organizing.”
Hasan explained that he was going to make a statement and post a FAQ about the unionization effort intended for all creators and backers who have used Kickstarter.
In his message to be posted today on Kickstarter’s blog, which was obtained by Motherboard, Hasan denied that the company retaliated against union organizers, as recently charged by fired workers Taylor Moore and Clarissa Redwine in a complaint filed with the National Labor Review Board. “It’s important for you to know, and to hear straight from me, that we haven’t fired anyone for union organizing,” wrote Hassan. “We respect our staff’s right to decide for themselves if they want a union at Kickstarter, and we are giving them the space they need to make that decision.”
Hasan insisted that the firings were related specifically to job performance issues, not union organizing. “We understood how these firings could be perceived, but it would be unfair to not hold these two employees to the same standards as the rest of our staff,” he wrote. "It’s worth noting that since March we've given raises to 14 people who have been public about their support for a union, and promoted three of them.”
Since the union drive first became public in March of this year, the company has made it clear that it opposes a union. In his letter, Hasan asserts that management believes a union would hurt the company and that union organizers have not made their complaints clear to the company. “The union framework is inherently adversarial,” he writes. “That dynamic doesn’t reflect who we are as a company, how we interact, how we make decisions, or where we need to go. We believe that in many ways it would set us back, and that the us vs. them binary already has.”
If Kickstarter unionizes, it would be one of the first white collar tech unions in the United States. This week 80 Google contractors in Pittsburgh voted to form Google’s first white collar union. Slate has reported that over half of Kickstarter’s non-management employees support a union.
Some Kickstarter employees have speculated to Motherboard that the company does not want to set a new precedent for the tech industry.
A Kickstarter employee told Motherboard this week that the union is contemplating asking the company to voluntarily recognize the union. Today’s statement from Kickstarter says, “we’ve said that it would be irresponsible of us to voluntarily recognize the union if asked.”