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Kickstarter’s Year of Turmoil (slate.com)
351 points by jacquesm 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 185 comments



Well that is gangsta. It's an unlikely coincidence that these three people had poor performance with such timing that led to firing in the same week or two. You gotta space out the firings to give the cover story more plausibility.


Regarding Moore,

> The company told staff that Moore had been on a performance improvement plan

He'd apparently been at Kickstarter for six years. Being on a PIP after that long seems unusual.

And Redwine,

> But current and former employees with knowledge of the firing told me that management didn’t establish a “performance improvement plan” for Redwine, despite her being told she would have one.

Not quite sure how to read the second. Was it being used as a formality so the firing looks genuine, or was she actually under-performing, and they just ripped the bandaid off?


I've known several people at different companies who departed because of performance reasons.

Every one of them got a PIP. The PIP was pretty much always pro forma, but I've never heard of a company letting someone go without a PIP, unless there's active malfeasance involved.

Rookie move on Kickstarter's part, regardless. Even if Redwine had basically decided to stop working, it's probably less costly in reputational damage and legal risks to go through the usual process and give them a couple months pay. I'm pretty sure if Kickstarter had a relationship with a good union busting firm, they would have handled this in a much less damaging way.


The inconsistency with Kickstarter is at best odd, and they either did wrong by that employee or screwed up hiding what they're doing.

But I've been at a place that fired without PIPs, so it does happen.


It just depends on the severity of the problem. Some problems can be fixed (PIP), while others don’t warrant the attempt - just use your imagination. If employer is an at-will, they certainly have more flexibility to fire quickly. They may increase the odds of a wrongful termination suit by doing this, but that’s what insurance is for. Nobody wants to pay a wrongful term suit though, and usually a company dousing an employee will have enough of a reasonable cause they can piece together after the fact. Shit gets dicey if employee age is above the mean or is on FMLA, but generally an at-will employer has a lot of flexibility to drop an employee.


My experience with PIPs is that they're essentially an advance notice that you're getting fired and a grace period while you finish up outstanding projects and look for another job.

There's a lot of flexibility with at will employers, but even for clear firings with just cause, it's often less risky to eat the cost of that grace period. Aside from the risk of (frivolous) legal costs, there are reputational and morale risks from departures that aren't adequately "managed." No one is ever walked into an office and fired on a Friday morning for performance reasons without lots of warnings, including a PIP.


Critics of unions would point out that under-performing employees are more likely to benefit from unions, so they're more likely to try to organize them.

I have no idea if this is actually the case. It certainly makes it hard to sort out what's actually going on, here.


I remember a story my father told me when he started working (in Belgium). It was a bit before 9am, and everyone was standing in front of their workbench. My dad, a farmers son, thought it was weird and started working on his task. A colleague came up to him and said "we only start working at 9". Since then he, like all the others, stood there doing nothing until it was 9 o'clock.

Unions have a "us vs them" mentality, where the boss tries to pay you as little and try to get as much work out of you, and you do the least amount of work for the most pay.

I myself like to see a cooperation more as a win-win situation, where you do something for me and I for you. The more we do for each other, the better for both of us.


Would the workers have gotten paid more if they started before 9am? If not, it wasn't a "the more we do for each other" scenario, it was a "the more the workers do for their employer, with no additional compensation" scenario.


When you are trying to build a friendship with someone, do you only pay for coffee if they did it for you before? Or do you out out a good faith effort and buy them coffee or lunch a couple of times? Companies and employees are the same way. Companies will sometimes overpay someone in the hope for extra effort, or an employee may put in extra time in the hope for future rewards.

A win win approach is much better than a zero sum mindset to relationships and employment.

My employees who have a win win approach have been massively rewarded over time, those with zero sum mindsets don't last long here or anywhere else and never get beyond entry level.


It's a total waste when you are there to not already start working. If you have such mentality, what is your boss going to answer when you ask "Can I leave earlier today?" It always works both ways. In game theory, tit for tat is still the best strategy.

My dad was always a hard worker, and he had a nice company car starting from the 80's, one of the first carphones, we got a computer from his work etc. So yeah, an employer does his best to keep the good workers, because if not, they will go somewhere where they are appreciated.


Three? Last I checked, there were only 2. Has a third person been fired?


Yes, it's mentioned in the first reply to the linked tweet.

https://twitter.com/taylordotbiz/status/1172260257613123608

Last week another member of the organizing committee, @ClarissaRedwine was also fired, and today a third prominent member of the union was told there is no place for him at the company. I stand firm in solidarity with my friends and colleagues.


> give the cover story more plausibility

Do they need to?

Many employers would rather publicize it: we don't tolerate a union.


Retaliating against someone for trying to unionize is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act, as well as New York state law (Kickstarter is headquartered in New York) – hence the need for a cover story.


Yeah, but for legal purposes it doesn't matter if "everyone knows" about the real reasons.

The company gets to have it both ways. Send a message that unionization isn't tolerated, while saying in court that unionization had nothing to do with the firings.


The whole court case will be about the plausibility of the company's performance claims. So, responding to the root comment: yes, the company very much needs to establish plausible reasons for firing.


You are so right and it's quite Machiavellian. Specifically, chapter 18 - "In what way princes should keep their word".


Yes, but.. if the employee is using work time and company resources to print recruitment material and disrupting meetings, etc., etc., that’s an actionable offense. I mean, an employer has a lot of leeway around disruptive employee behavior. The employee can probably get a settlement in such cases if they’re willing to fight long enough on the wrongful term suit. For example by showing that the company was generally tolerant of company equipment being used for personal stuff, etc. But behavior is a tougher matter.


Oh, interesting.

There was an episode of the U.S. version of The Office where an exec said they'd all be fired if they got "even a whiff" of unionization. And really openly to dozens of people, not in any sort of wink-wink way.

I figured this was a legit threat in the U.S.


IIRC, Jan didn’t threaten to fire them. She simply asserted that unionization would cause them they would lose their jobs because Dunder Mifflin would close down the branch if the workers unionized, as apparently had happened at another branch.

So not advocating that we use The Office (a sitcom) as a reference for American labor law, but I think Jan’s statements might be permissible. As long as her reasoning is that the increased cost of the workers being in a union will lead to the branch closing, not that the branch would be closed in retaliation, it would be fine.

Companies can and often do complain that if workers are in a union, the company’s operating costs will increase, which will consequently have adverse effects on the workers like layoffs, plant closings and so on.

To be clear, this is my understanding of legal issues in a sitcom. I am not necessarily advocating Jan’s point of view, our labor laws as they stand, or anything else.


That's a pretty fine line to draw:

"Due to increased costs (read: unions), we're reducing/eliminating employment."

"Due to decreased productivity (read: FMLA), we're reducing/eliminating employment."

I guess it works. I don't really understand this stuff.


"You don't look like us" - Illegal.

"We don't think you fit in with our culture" - Legal.

I think this is why any crime where the intention is part of it is so hard to prove, like discrimination, hate crimes, etc.


As someone who worked in insurance, legal decisions seem to live and die by fine distinctions. The difference between a payable claim and an unpayable claim could be a single word.

As they say: The devil is in the details.


Closing an entire office/branch for unionizing - legal.

Firing the individuals who are trying to start the union - illegal.


I'm guessing that in some states it might be legally questionable while not federally across the board


It's illegal anywhere in the US; the NLRA is a federal law.


Why are American companies so afraid of their employees unionizing? Because American unions have a history of creating an adversarial relationship between managers and employees. They’re self serving and have a zero sum game outlook where they try to grab as much as they can from a company. The unions were a major contributor towards the collapse of the American auto industry.

European unions differ in that they are more focused on building a collaborative relationship with managers and aim to ensure stability and sustainability for the business. To achieve this, you need a certain level of societal trust and unity, which just isn’t realistic at the moment in America.


The unions are so adverserial because in the past capital sent literal paramilitaries to murder union members. See the crap the Pinkertons pulled. So many of the labor rights we have are because brave men and women were literally willing to risk their and their families' lives to speak out against management.

And it's not somehow magically different now; the woman responsible for the Panama Papers got car bombed and it was just swept under the rug. Capital is more than willing to use extralegal lethal force to protect itself, to this day.


> American unions have a history of creating an adversarial relationship between managers and employees

But it seems like with this sort of reaction, it's the companies who are feeding an adversarial relationship. Companies responding to labor organization in the US have had crazy, even violent reactions. Perhaps rather than justifying why American companies are so afraid of unions, it would be enlightening to ask why American workers feel so positively about employers?


I don't think the perspectives on unionization in tech are representative of the perspectives of unionization in other industries. Unionization's primary purpose is to increase the price of labor (in the form of wages, or in the form of increased benefits) by constricting supply. The going rate for job Y is $X, but if everyone that does job Y goes on strike and demands $X + $N then they can get higher wages. In tech, though, the demand for labor is already considerably higher than the supply. In my experience, tech unions are not concerned with traditional union topics (working hours, safety, etc.) but instead fall into two camps:

* People that see the use of H1Bs as suppressing wages for American tech workers. This camp is often broadly against immigration in general, and is more closely aligned with the right. You won't encounter many of these in the Bay Area, but they do exist and are more prevalent in other parts of the country.

* People who want to make tech companies even more progressive, often wanting more aggressive diversity representation OKRs and abolishing interviews. Some good ideas are present here (like ending forced arbitration) but this camp is often adverse to meritocracy which runs contrary to the ethics of many, if not most, tech workers.

Really, software development and tech are fantastic jobs that pay well and have effectively zero risk of injury. Hours can be difficult in specific segments (e.g. Game Dev) but compensation as a function of work life balance is far better than the overwhelming majority of other industries.


> Unionization's primary purpose is to increase the price of labor (in the form of wages, or in the form of increased benefits) by constricting supply.

That's an interesting theory, but no, that is not Unionization's primary purpose. The primary purpose of Unionization is to make it possible for employees to collectively bargain about whatever subjects they see fit through a horizontal link between all employees in order re-balance the vastly asymmetric employer-employee relationship.


Right, and why is collective bargaining any more useful and individual bargaining? Because when individuals rejects the company's offer, the total supply of labor is nearly unchanged. When whole industries reject the companies offer, the supply of labor drops to zero (or to the subset of workers that aren't part of the union). Collective bargaining gives employees leverage over employers by drastically reducing the supply of labor available to the company if their bargains are not met.

Saying that unionization is about collective bargaining is a more long-winded way of saying the same thing.

Reply to your comment below, HN is not letting me respond:

So in the end, you don't actually disagree that constricting the supply of labor is the primary purpose of unions. I agree that this discussion has been non-productive, so why did you bother kicking it off by trying to claim that this isn't how unions operate in your first reply?


> why is collective bargaining any more useful and individual bargaining

Because collective bargaining means that the party with the largest resources and the power, in this case the company, will have to at least take into account their ability to operate.

> Collective bargaining gives employees leverage over employers by drastically reducing the supply of labor available to the company if their bargains are not met.

Exactly. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that when that power is used appropriately. As evidenced by a very long history that turned out to be an extremely good thing.

Note that such niceties as workplace safety; medical coverage and 5 day workweeks were in large part due to union involvement.

This whole discussion is right along the lines of 'what have the Romans ever done for us' from Monty Python.


> Note that such niceties as workplace safety; medical coverage and 5 day workweeks were in large part due to union involvement.

Those things always get brought up but that's history from 50-75+ years ago. Got any more recent examples?


Might have something to do with the weakening of unions ever since. You might consider the flip side—what has not having strong unions gotten us? Greater inequality? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_labor_law#/med...


The best 'more recent example' that I can think of is that even 50-75 years later there is still a continuous struggle to get basics such as healthcare sorted out in such a way that the outcome of the lottery does not immediately mean bankruptcy for those lower on the totempole. If unions were to be massively disbanded you'd be back to square one in a heartbeat.

It's a bit like marketing: if you stop doing it your marketshare will dwindle, even if you're top dog.


Medical coverage is still very much a concern; Whole Foods just announced they were cutting benefits for part-time workers.

Parental leave, workplace conditions, scheduling are other common things that are still very much up to unions to negotiate for, on behalf of their members.


You clearly don’t understand the history of the American labor movement if this is what you believe.

Unions in America have been both conservative (e.g. AFL) and radical (e.g. IWW). The radicals were crushed by big business and the US government, while the conservatives are still around, but haven’t fought back enough against the continuing assault on American workers because of this inherently conservative nature. Their strategy has always been to make the labor movement in America part of the establishment, but the corporate grip on America won’t let gains for employees last without a continuous fight. It’s greed by companies, not workers, that makes labor relations so adversarial.

What you perceive as “greed” by workers is workers asking for basic rights on the job. Why is it wrong for employees to ask for their share but right for companies to ask for as much as they can? I see this far too often on HN and I believe it’s a symptom of how corporatized our society has become.

Unions don’t just fight for higher wages, they fight for dignity and respect on the job. That means workers get a say in their conditions. That’s a good thing for both workers and companies—even if companies are too blinded by greed to see it.


> Unions don’t just fight for higher wages, they fight for dignity and respect on the job.

And they also fight for as much as they can get, sometimes to the detriment of the company. And they also fight to do what is best for the company because it's best for them. And they also fight for a wide variety of other things depending on the time and the place and the people. And sometimes they just fight; and threaten people.

Sometimes unions are good and sometimes unions are bad. There have been places where people would be in a much worse state had it not been for a union. There are other places where people are in a much worse state _because_ of a union.

It seems like most times people present an opinion on unions, they highlight either only the good or only the bad. Balanced discussion seems very rare.


Why would you expect them not to be? It's a big power shift no matter how you stand on it philosophically. They're probably not reacting much differently from any other entity in history that has had a certain amount of power, and has been forced by some entity with even more heft to give a chunk of it up.


> Why don't American's like unions?

Unions are a layer of bureaucracy, red tape and an entity that cares more about the Union than anything else.

Add to that, as a conservative and right leaning individual, the last thing I want is be forced to donate to left leaning organizations that go against my best interests.

Color it for what you will... I think there are cases where Unions do important things. But most of those cases are long in the past and most unions today are Yet Another Bureaucratic Mess that is useless and leaches off of society as a whole.


Well, great. Exactly 0 people are "forced" to pay into a union they don't want to be a part of! If you don't want a union job the solution is simple: don't take that job.

But I guess the numerous benefits you enjoy today because of unions don't matter all.


As of today... that may be true. It wasn't this way a few short years ago.

https://reason.com/2019/04/09/janus-211000-workers-fled-seiu...

And, as expected... those who aren't forced to pay - don't. Because the fees aren't worth it in most cases.

> I guess the numerous benefits don't matter

As I said... in some cases and at one point most unions did "Good Things (tm)".

But like most "Good Things (tm)" that time has ended - for most unions - and we are in a point where the unions are largely useless and extra baggage that causes more harm than good.

And again - your "Unions don't matter? /tear" doesn't approach what is personally my main problem: My inability to decide where union dues go to.


You aren't following.

Before that law if a worker saw a company that was unionized they had every right to not take that job. If the job decided to unionize while he/she was employed, that worker also had the right to leave. There is no "force" at play, at all, no matter what reason.com or breitbart tells you.

That lawsuit was about enabling free riders with the ultimate goal of kneecapping unions. Arguing otherwise is silly.


You say kneecapping unions... I say not being a slave to an institution that doesn't represent me.

You say "they have every right not to take the job"... I say "if Unions were worth the price, they wouldn't have to force membership"

I'm not following? I know what unions are and what they aren't.



Last time I checked no job was mandatory in this country. If a job is unionized, don't take it.

Sounds pretty simple to me.


If a union is worth the membership, why make it mandatory? Shouldn't it sell itself?

Reality is... that's obviously not true.


>Unions are a layer of bureaucracy, red tape and an entity that cares more about the Union than anything else.

These descriptors cover most human organizations. Churches, clubs, businesses.


The difference is whether you willingly join or not.

You choose to go to church, clubs or spend money at businesses.

If you're part of a union... chances are you don't have a choice.

The difference is that with the "churches, clubs, businesses" - when they do wrong... people go elsewhere (IE: Ask the Catholic Church).

With Unions? You're forced to stay with the Union if you want to keep the job.

IF the union is "mandatory" or the Church is - I think both of those situations are wrong.

If a union is truly worth the fee... it shouldn't be a the end of a gun (Government/Corporate/etc mandate, forced fees, etc).


A union is different from a church, club, or being a consumer some place because it is at your job and is part of how you generate income.

Non-union employees get the same pay raises union employees do, a rational actor in a non-compulsory union shop would not join the union because they don't want to pay dues. That is why joining a union is compulsory.


Corporations.


I might be missing something, but that's a plain out crime to do it right?


So's operating a taxi without a license or running a hotel in a residential area. If you can get enough investor money to ignore the consequences, laws don't stop this.


You are smuggling a connotation in with your denotation. When most people think of "crime", they think of robbery, assault, and other violent acts. They don't think of disregarding various business laws or (to use an example I think you'd agree with) possessing and using certain drugs. To give another example: By the technical definition, Martin Luther King committed crime by violating the racist laws of the south. Yet one should immediately become suspicious of anyone who says, "MLK was a criminal."

The technical term for this is the noncentral fallacy.[1]

1. https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/yCWPkLi8wJvewPbEp/the-noncen...


Nestlé straight up murdered a worker for unionizing, but sure, the problem is that the flagrant lawbreaking is not representative of corporate conduct, because only unpopular laws are publically broken.


I don't understand what you're getting at. Do you think I want union organizers to be fired from their jobs or murdered? I was simply pointing out that your argument is a cheap dig that could also be applied to pot smokers and MLK. People who disagree with you will see it as such and remain unconvinced by your arguments.

If you want to convince people, you have to figure out what would change their minds, not just hector them. Otherwise you're just wasting everyone's time.


Maybe by presenting examples of hidden and public corporate disregard for law in their pursuit of profit. If you don't like the idea of a law as an absolute, maybe the same examples, framed as being against the public good. I want sunion organizers negotiated with, not fired OR murdered. If you're willing to overlook hidden events as "improbable" and public events as "not that bad" I don't really know what would convince such a person.


The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr went to jail 29 times in his life for committing a crime. He definitely committed crimes and was willing to face the consequences of them.

And just as an observation, the comparison of the way that Kickstarter treats their employees and MLK is... stretched.


Did you intend to equate a unionbusting corporation with MLK? He is spinning in his grave at the thought.


Uber drivers aren't driving around picking up fares to take to an unknown destination. AirBnb renters don't have vacancy signs out front. There is a difference.


Neither cleanly pass the duck test, though


In the United States, it is not a crime to unionize. It's a crime to fire employees for trying to unionize - though if engaged in an at-will employment agreement (as in this case), then the employer can terminate the contract for virtually any reason, without recourse.


Yes, but the consequences are (AIUI) not very significant for the company.


What do you understand the consequences to be?


After months of investigation they may have to re-hire the worker and pay them back their salary.


No, they would pay out a settlement on a wrongful termination claim and send employee on their way. I’ve never seen a forced rehire outside of an existing CBA. And with those, have seen some pretty bad employees get back in the door. IME, most often CBA’s protect the bad more often than protect the ill-treated. Some say it’s a fair trade-off, but I have bags of bad examples and not a single good example. I’m not saying some companies don’t fire in retaliation, etc., but I’ve only ever seen the grievance process on a firing help bad employees IME. So am predisposed to be critical of them.


Slate published an article about this on Thursday that has a lot more information and background: https://slate.com/technology/2019/09/kickstarter-turmoil-uni...

Was submitted to HN here, but didn't get much attention: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20962696


Much better link, suggest replacing mine with this article.


The tweets are a good follow-up too, since the article only said that sources had told them that Taylor Moore had been fired, so it's good to see his confirmation and additional info from him personally as well.


Definitely seems fishy. But even with this article we don't have the full story.

The conflict going on in the background seems to be average office fare; a mix of common problems compounded by the fact that there's a power struggle.

Seems like it's possible someone retaliated; but who knows? I bet even people who work there are having trouble piecing together the bits and pieces.


Not a big fan of this headline - it's inflammatory and incomplete. This is one (unproven and completely unsubstantiated) accusation from one side of the story, made in a handful of tweets. Kickstarter also tweeted, and of course denies this:

https://twitter.com/kickstarter/status/1172230162588536833

The problem with this type of link on HN is that it's not a 'story' - there's no investigative reporting - heck there's no reporting at all. Unfortunately this is a story is that most people will look at it and believe whichever side lines up with their personal belief system, in spite of a complete absence of facts.

The pro-union people will believe this is union busting no matter what is said or proven, and the pro-corporate people will believe that this individual deserved to be fired for other reasons.


What are the chances of three people trying to unionize in a company being fired in a very short span of time for 'performance' reasons? Are you holding out until the company says 'Ok, caught, yes, we did fire them for trying to unionize'?


And 14 of the 15 people eligible out of the 28 people backing unionization at Kickstarter got a raise or promotion...

Hmm...

I know a handful of people at Kickstarter, including some of the union backers. A fair number of employees have concerns about how the folks trying to organize the union have acted. Seems they deliberately have gone to the press as leverage against the company rather than work to get employees to back their cause.

It's a 140 person company and they only have the public support of 20% of the staff.


What of it though? That's like saying only 5 out of 100 employees at a company are in the C-Suite and they've gone straight to negotiating with a bunch of VCs instead of involving all the employees in the financial decision-making.


So you are confirming they were fired for trying to unionize? Thank you. It is interesting that the 'going to the press' bit gets trotted out as if that is something the employees should not have done. Companies go to the press all the time when it suits them, but employees using the press as leverage is beyond the pale.

Of course they would go to the press, if retaliation is imminent that is one of the last ways in which an employee might defend themselves. It wouldn't be the first time that the press served to right a wrong, and it certainly won't be the last.

If 20% of the company supported unionization that makes it 150/5 = 30 people at most, 3 of which have been fired in a very short window of time. That's going to help a lot in the inevitable court case.


How do you even read that as that?

All I said was that 28 people in the company publicly stated their support for a union (there's 42 needed to establish one).

15 of those 28 people were eligible for a promotion or raise. 14 of those 15 received their promotion or raise.

Doesn't look like union busting at all to me, but thanks for putting words in my mouth.

My comment about the press was because the pro-union group is having a hard time getting those 14 additional people they needed to support them and in the meantime have created a ton of bad press for the company, which does impact the assets of the very employees they're supposed to be supporting the interests of.


Not critiquing you in particular, but it's not strategically unusual to fire one group of people, buy another off, and tell the rest that it's proof unions are nothing but trouble and if they play nice they might get a raise at the right time.

This is how power operates, you can see exactly the same dynamics at work in countries that have been through a military coup.


Aka plata o plomo. Not that the company would literally have anybody murdered but the prospect of 'promotion or termination' has much the same effect. It splits the camp.


> 28 people in the company publicly stated their support for a union (there's 42 needed to establish one).

It is not unreasonable to suspect that if 28 people are openly in support that there are 42 in total.

> Doesn't look like union busting at all to me, but thanks for putting words in my mouth.

You'd have to show that in the 'control' group of 120 other employees 12 or more got fired; not that 14 of the people in the group that supported unionization got a raise. They are - presumably - not the organizers, which is what matters here.

> My comment about the press was because the pro-union group is having a hard time getting those 14 additional people they needed to support them and in the meantime have created a ton of bad press for the company, which does impact the assets of the very employees they're supposed to be supporting the interests of.

And my point is that if you fire the organizers and get away with it that there won't be any union regardless of how many people would have supported it. If they took a vote and lost then that's that and business as usual, no need to fire anybody.


The company wants the union organizers to vote. It has said as much.

The union organizers don't want a vote, they want Kickstarter to voluntarily recognize them.

This is in the articles, man...


That still does not give the company the right to fire them, which is the law man... And the company could recognize the union if it wanted. So a vote is not mandatory.

Note the subject of the post: "Kickstarter employees fired for trying to unionize". That's either true or it is not and so far you have not brought anything to the table that suggests it isn't retaliation for exactly that, and in fact substantiated numerically that the chances that it is not retaliation are vanishingly small.


They aren’t independent samples though. They could all have gone on a downward spiral of disgruntlement at around the same time (on the order of months), and then once management finally got around to doing something about it, they started the termination processes at the same time (on the order of days).


I think pressuring for a vote early is of benefit because another vote can’t take place for some time period afterwards. The organizers want to stall a vote for as long as possible to work up support before this happens. While it’s illegal to fire a worker for trying to organize, it’s entirely legal to fire that same employee if they are violating company policies to further that organizing effort. I don’t know that this is what happened but is often the case I’ve seen. Misuse of company resources, disruptive behavior, not completing tasks, using paid time to do union work, bad for morale of other employees, creating hostile environment for other employees, etc.


I could definitely a envision a theoretical situation where three poorly performing employees decide to unionize to protect themselves, then eventually get fired for poor performance.

Is that what happened? I don't know, but I'm not going to trust two tweets from two parties whose interests are against one another.


Ok, fair enough. Then maybe do a google on this and read some more, see if stuff over and beyond the 'two tweets' is going to sway you that this is retaliation pure and simple.


If you're a poorly performing employee, why would you even bother going to all the effort of forming a union? Besides that, they'd been there for a very long time, awful weird that they suddenly have performance issues in tight correlation with the unionization effort. The employees were rightfully upset about the company protecting the feelings of Nazis and unionization would allow them to actually have a say in decisions like that.


You need to back up your claim with evidence. In order to establish a union, you'll need at least 30% of the workers signing a petition. Would you sign such a petition if your incompetent colleague put it forward to you in the hope of protecting their job? Honestly, your scenario is far-fetched.


In order to establish a union, you may need 30%, but how much do you need to TRY to establish a union? After all, they didn't succeed? How many of their coworkers signed?

Besides, there may be many people who think having a union is always a good idea, so they would sign without thinking about it much.


In order to establish a union, you'll need at least 30% of the workers signing a petition

Why do you, what's the reasoning behind that kind of law? And to whom do they petition - does the company have to agree, or rather, does the employer have the right to forbid employees from forming agreements between themselves? It sounds counterintuitive when you only need 1 person to start a company, or 2 people to have a contract, and when employers have no other control over who employees meet with and little control over how employees spend money (e.g. 'work dress code').


I don't know the answer to your questions, but it is simply the law unless the employer voluntarily recognizes the union. Obviously employers don't have much incentive for doing so.

source: https://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/whats-law/employees/i...


Shouldn't you be applying Occam's razor here? Attempting to make a conspiracy out of an attempt to unionize seems like a rather poor argument.

In this case, the employees coming out with this knowledge have everything to lose because they could easily be blacklisted from further jobs. Kickstarter has no reason to not deny their accusations and has everything to gain from it.

If someone is risking a their livelihood to say something like that, then perhaps we should take what they're saying with a larger grain of truth. Otherwise we'd be saying that whistleblowers and the PR arm of a company have exactly the same weight.


I don't think this is the best place to apply Occam's razor. Why would I want to rush to a conclusion based on a couple of tweets by someone I know so little about? I don't know his personal circumstances, I don't know what he wants to accomplish or what he stands to win or lose with those tweets, I don't really know what interest the company would have from firing him and the others or to lose from a union. I know nothing of this so I don't see the need to pick a side on a conflict that has little to do with me.

If a few months from now, I read an article about what just happened now and it turns out that the company ends up being fined or something because the motivations behind firing him are actually what he claims, then it's the moment we can start being outraged, not before.


From the slate article: "Afraid that they would be dismissed next—and that they didn’t have enough leverage to pressure Kickstarter over ethical issues the next time there was a disagreement—employees started discussing a union."

Sounds to me like they saw the writing on the wall.


Maybe they were trying to unionize to prevent being fired, as they already knew their performance was lacking?


After 8 years and counting for at least one of the three? If your performance is lacking you won't get around to unionizing because your co-workers will see through that ruse in a heartbeat. According to one - insider informed - commenter here about 20% of the company was in favor, not enough to put it to a vote but apparently enough of a reason to ask the company to recognize the union voluntarily. So this was not just a couple of people organizing a union to avoid their own termination.


Why did they want to form a union, after 8 years?

I think some people will always be in favor of a union, no matter what. It's also an ideological thing.


I don't know. Are you saying the odds can be calculated? Presumably it's not impossible, and so it's fair to object to the post on the grounds that it's one-sided and doesn't fairly expose other viewpoints on what happened.


'what are the chances' is a statement of incredulity indicating that the chances are likely to be on the low side which means the writer believes that something else is afoot.

The odds can't be calculated but I see no need for that, on a company the size of Kickstarter the chances of the three people who just happen to be busy trying to get a union organized after many years of otherwise uneventful employment are nil.

In theory pigs can fly, in practice, if you see a pig flying it is usually good practice to check which airborne vehicle they were tossed out of.


I know of no theory predicting porcine aeronautics :). In any case, the point is that it is not impossible that what you consider very unlikely is exactly what happened. So we wait for all the information before making judgements.


> So we wait for all the information before making judgements.

There is absolutely zero chance that 'all the information' will ever come out. The people directly affected will have nothing to lose, the remainder will be afraid for their jobs and will not talk or will only talk off the record. The company will claim it was nothing of the sort. And yet, magically, no union will ever be formed.


[flagged]


Maybe we'd be able to focus on our work better if we had a union protecting is from this kind of corporate behaviour.


>What are the chances of three people trying to unionize in a company being fired in a very short span of time for 'performance' reasons?

I don't know. What are the chances? Did anyone verify their stories?


Yes, somebody did. But of course nobody will come out with their name attached that still has a job to lose.


Maybe if I was having unrelated problems at my job, me personally, I might consider trying to start a Union so as to make my employer terrified of firing me.

I’m saying thus not theoretically, but a buddy just the other day was joking-not-joking about doing that at his job.

So who knows?


I think your buddy joking-not-joking about it is slightly different than someone who has worked somewhere for 8 years straight claiming that is exactly what happened to him and two other co-workers. Keep in mind that they are killing their chances of being employed by any other union-shy workplace which is 'most of tech'. So there is significant downside to this. Also note that he refused to sign an NDA that would have prohibited him to talk about it and which would have put money in his pocket, so there is some evidence that this person - by his own claims - is rather principled.

And then there is that other article linked in this thread which provides a ton more circumstantial evidence.


What are the chances that 3 of the 435 fired Uber engineers had considered the concept of unionizing as its a general topic now?

With that perspective I think its highly probable of such firings happening in a short time span


Did any of them step forward with those claims?

Are the numbers here 'Kickstarter fired 435 people and 3 of them claimed they were trying to unionize'?


>What are the chances of three people trying to unionize in a company being fired in a very short span of time for 'performance' reasons

Pretty good. The type of person looking to form a union in software dev where there isn't one is usually someone very unhappy at the company which as a very high correlation with not performing well (at least in the eyes of their manager).


[Citation needed]

I think you are crossing a sea of assumptions to get to "pretty good".


Why would you form a union if you are happy with the arrangement with your employer?


Really? I'd never dream of trying something like that except from a position of strength.


> unproven and completely unsubstantiated

Very little in this world is proven, but this is certainly substantiated.

First off, an on the record first person accusation from an involved party is by itself compelling evidence, secondly, the story has in fact been supported by credible journalistic outlets with multiple sources.


What a dysrationalist comment. I'm the last person anybody would call pro-union and I think this has all the smell of union busting.


What you describe is what I've heard summarizes the state of KS. Both sides are entrenched and talking past each other while the actual product and company continue to slide into the gutter.

Seems to me both sides would rather plant their flags and signal allegiance to the outside world than come up with a real solution.

Kickstarter is on its way out.


Very interesting theory. Virtue signaling instead of solution finding at the company level.


It's the same thing happening in Politics. But it's also why I'd argue people are realizing how fake this whole charade is as our society falls further into the gutter.

And truly it is more fun to work together solving hard problems rather than screaming past each other. We've been so isolated, our whole lives, only now are we realizing what it means to be in the public. Vulnerable yet strong (I may be projecting here).


> it's not a 'story' - there's no investigative reporting - heck there's no reporting at all.

https://slate.com/technology/2019/09/kickstarter-turmoil-uni...


> Kickstarter also tweeted, and of course denies this

Of course denies this. I stand with the workers.


This article was posted to HN yesterday or maybe the day before: https://slate.com/technology/2019/09/kickstarter-turmoil-uni...

It looks like unionization wasn't the only point of contention. In particular, a segment of Kickstarter's workforce conflicted with company leadership over an "Always Punch Nazis" comic book kickstarter project apparently made in reference to violence against Richard Spencer. Employees pressured leadership to reverse this decision.

The Slate article mentions that some employees saw a union as a means to exert more pressure over leadership on these sorts of decisions:

> Afraid that they would be dismissed next—and that they didn’t have enough leverage to pressure Kickstarter over ethical issues the next time there was a disagreement—employees started discussing a union. Since March, the organizers haven’t requested recognition from the company nor have they held a staff vote through the National Labor Relations Board. But the topic has been ever-present.

My guess is that the company leadership doesn't want to be associated with this sort of promotion of violence against purported "Nazis" and took note of which employees were most vocal in drumming up support for keeping the project. While there is a far left segment that likes this kind of content, most people are adverse to promotions of violence - even against purported "Nazis", given how liberally that term is applied these days. Kickstarter probably doesn't want to have to go through employee drama every time this sort of content gets taken down.

Reply to PorterDuff, HN isn't letting me reply to your comment:

The solution is to push back against tribalism, which is exactly what Kickstarter is doing here.


It's an interesting problem. There's some sort of rule of thumb here (it needs a name).

. Due to network effects, websites sites tend towards monopolies.

. Due to human tribalism, websites tend towards bias.

Even given some sort of publishing rules, I can't imagine how you veer away from this. The quest for wealth might keep you from choosing up sides, but not always.


I found this point very interesting. Let's accept this claim that the main impetus to unionize is to gain leverage in future "Always Punch Nazis" situations.

That is a radically different use of Unionization compared to the typical "Fair pay and safe working conditions" demands. I'm struggling to see why unionization is an appropriate way to secure this kind of power, and why workers deserve to have any more say besides voting with their feet individually.

Unlike compensation, which is on a continuous scale and has multiple axis (comp, profit share, benefits, PTO), these kinds of decisions are fairly binary and therefor have very little room for negotiation.

Is this something where workers deserve the power to collectively bargain? To me, whether or not to support "Always Punch Nazis" is a truly nuanced and difficult choice and I'm not sure going one way or the other qualifies for "exploitation" of the workforce.


Alternately, doesn't this mean Kickstarter censored satirical content due to a far-right hit piece?

Shouldn't people be decrying censorship at every turn? Because that's exactly what happened in this case when leadership decided to veto the decision and take it down.


Sure, but on the flip side this sets the precedent that promotion of violence is okay as long as it's "satirical". What happens when a far right group sets up a "satirical" comic about violently repelling illegal immigrants along the southern border? I'd hazard the guess that these same people would not want Kickstarter to host that content, and would pressure leadership to take it down - and the result is that Kickstarter is perceived as biased. Kickstarter probably doesn't want to get pushed into this corner.


Only in cases when it's very clear satire, I think. Things get tricky when the title of your book is easily interpretable as a call for action to assault people, especially when Richard Spencer has been sucker-punched in public before. If a book named "Always Punch Hillary Clinton" was posted on Kickstarter a month after someone sucker-punched Hillary Clinton in the face as she was walking down the street, I bet the listing wouldn't be up for long. Of course those two people aren't anywhere near the same level, and I have no sympathy for Spencer in general, but battery is battery.



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FWIW:

“All of us organizing with KSRU are committed to the mission of Kickstarter, and will continue to support creators currently on the platform and in our alumni network. We are not calling on creators who rely on Kickstarter to abandon live or planned projects.”

“That said, we deeply appreciate the support from our community. The work we are doing is not only in service of employees, but the artists, makers, and backers throughout the Kickstarter ecosystem. We’re all in this together.”

-https://mobile.twitter.com/ksr_united/status/117251195128248...


For the uninformed can you elaborate on why?


The union movement has a long history of solidarity, which amongst other things generally includes boycotting unionbusting companies.


This submission is a good start.


That is not a very helpful reply, thank you.


Indeed, I've stopped buying things from amazon because of their work practices


How about China?


as much as possible


[flagged]


And you’ve got time this weekend to do so thanks to unions.


Bullshit. Having valuable skills or something to sell that people want is what gives people freedoms and a good negotiation position. Not unions.

If you want higher wages and more holidays, create more demand for workers, by creating jobs. That's the proper way to do it. Unions only benefit some workers at the expense of others - the ones who don't get a job because of minimum wages or because of bankrupt companies don't benefit from unions anymore.


Can I ask, at what point in your employment did you negotiate for weekends off?


Not weekends, but I have often negotiated part time work, like only 4 days a week. Does that count?

Do you seriously believe people wouldn't get weekends off if it weren't for unions?


Unions are generally responsible for the standard being 8h/day, 40h/week. Here is a random link off the first page of a search that goes into this. https://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/sep...


Yeah but I wasn't making an argument about that particular arrangement. Also not sure I trust that link.

I wonder if unions also introduced the 20% time at Google?

Of course if masses of unskilled workers face a bad labor market, they'll have trouble earning good wages and good work conditions. They can unionize, that is, try to form a monopoly, to drive prices up. I think the same people who praise unions usually hate monopolies, which doesn't really make sense. All the issues with monopolies also apply to unions.

The proper way out of it is to increase demand and increase skills.

Unions may help some people at face value, but at the same time they hurt others. Minimum wages prevent some people from getting jobs - many of whom don't even show up in statistics as they are people earning just a few extra bucks. Maximum work hours hurt people who for whatever reason need more money and would like to work more. And other things.


Even if I cared, that would depend on the union demands. Why would I care for "salary equity, diversity in hiring, and wanting a seat at the table when it comes to company decisions"? That list of goals is 2/3rds evil, 1/3rd the exact opposite of what a content creator wants of their platform.

(Edit: that quote is of a Slate article)


I’m a content creator who has run three successful Kickstarters. It has generally been a great thing for me, I’ve been able to use it to make self-publishing comics a much less financially risky affair than it was before crowdfunding.

I do not think any of those goals for their employees are evil, or the exact opposite of what a content creator wants out of a fundraising platform. I am all for shrinking the gap between what the company heads and the lowest employee make; I am all for it not being nothing but straight white dudes (I’m not one myself), and I have no problem with their employees having a voice in how the place is run. Especially with KS having restructured itself as a Public Benefit Corporation rather than a pure-profit affair; there is a certain sort of “put your money where your mouth is, guys” thing going on once you’ve made that decision IMHO, and firing union organizers is really not a good look.


[flagged]


Was it a comment about running a kickstarter for these guys? Cos that's why I checked the comments, and was sorely disappointed :(


Wouldn't it be "start a GoFundMe" - I thought KickStarter was for projects, not causes?


re: Unions

If a software union only existed to deal with the following:

. Pensions . Health insurance

I can see the point.


It could use the Hollywood unions as a model, at least partly. The Screen Actors Guild for example doesn't limit actors' ability to negotiate salaries independently but does allow for freelancers to get health insurance paid through employment in a larger network.

There are other benefits too. Elimating crunch without overtime.


That's an interesting point. I have friends in the movie makin' business and should ask how their unions work in terms of benefits, negotations, etc. The jobs all seems to be split into individual films as independent businesses so to a software contractor there would be a lot of similarities.


And open office plans.

Edit: Also, compile times. Get your C++ devs a goddamn build server or else even I'd join the union.


Here in Sweden, engineers are generally unionized (including software engineers) as Sveriges Ingenjörer (Sweden's Engineers).

The union negotiates minimum benefits, such as working hours, overtime rules, vacation time, pension contributions, and so on. The companies are free to offer more.

They also collect salary statistics (which you can slice by industry, age, experience, area, and a bunch of other stuff), to help you decide whether or not an offer is competitive.


Kickstarter is not a damned tech company. This whole stinking “tech” economy can’t crash fast enough. A 2000’ish reset is needed to get rid of the dogfood.coms.


I know close to nothing about unions or the KS story but I am from the US and myself along with almost everyone I know tend to associate unions with extreme wasting of resources. This is coming at it from a spectator's point of view (ie. not a union worker / not a unionized business owner).

For example, I've witnessed an overpass taking over 2 years to finish (it was blocked off / limited access / under construction the whole time) which involved fixing about 30 feet of road from a unionized crew. Every time workers were on the site it looked really inefficient. Over a dozen people there, but half of them were standing around on their phones, etc.. I've seen countless examples of this over my life time living in the US.

If I were a company I would be terrified that such inefficiencies are protected by a union. Personally I wouldn't fire anyone due to trying to organize one but can someone more knowledgeable in this area explain how a unionized workforce benefits both employees and the business hiring them?


I think German industry is a good example, it is strongly unionised and the unions have representatives in the board that supervises the running of companies. Apparently the result has been better cooperation between employers and workers: where the employers invest in and are mindful of employees and the employees in turn see the "big picture" and are committed to making sure their employer is competitive. My German colleagues are happy to point out that the more unionised Germany has retained it's manufacturing industry while the UK's has withered.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codetermination#Germany

The union I'm part of in the UK regularly arranges on-site events for all employees and pushes for improvements on environmental issues as well as working conditions.


Yes German unions work really well. I think part of it is that after WW2 the whole system was designed to be a market economy with social elements (“soziale Marktwirtschaft “).


And because the Nazis explicitly went after trade unions. Postwar, people understood that preserving democracy in the workplace was an equally important bulwark against the return of fascism. Nazism wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful and horrendous without its business allies (in both Germany and the US), which is why it was important to check their authoritarianism.


Weird to get downvoted for a historical truth. Trade unions had their assets seized and their leaders thrown in concentration camps. But here’s the reference anyway...

“The Trade Union Movement and the Redistribution of Power in Postwar Germany”

Clark Kerr The Quarterly Journal of Economics Vol. 68, No. 4 (Nov., 1954), pp. 535-564

https://www.jstor.org/stable/1881876?seq=1#page_scan_tab_con...


Unions exist to improve the lives of workers and provide more work opportunities for their members, not necessarily improve the organizations said workers are employed by.

Unions are responsible for some of the benefits we tend to take for granted - weekends, 8 hours workdays, corporate healthcare, retirement plans, etc. At the same time, any organization with power can become corrupt, or at least have its interests diverge.

Some examples that come to mind are the myriad of stories my mom tells me about working as a teacher.

One thing that annoyed her to no end was the IT labor union at her school. Teachers, even ones with technical skills, were forbid from touching any of the computers (even so much as plugging keyboards back in if students unplugged them). When computer Labs were being set up, one worker would put in all the computers, but a separate worker would come in the plug them in. Seriously, they'd come in for two hours to attach power cables.

However, when the school started 'not renewing contracts' after 3 years of continuous employment but then 'rehiring' after a month, so that teachers wouldn't get tenure, the union got the school to stop.

The union's power base came mainly from holding the school hostage - you 'couldn't' work there without joining the teachers union, else the union would have the teachers strike...


I got the crap grieved out of me (well mgmt and my teams) multiple times over work protection and “past practice” issues. Won most of them, but it’s a good example of how I can understand the theory, but how the practice doesn’t support a nimble work force, evolution of skills, responsiveness, etc. plus the union habit of eating their young during layoffs means the codgers are the ones sticking around. Like, the company has a mission and it will die if we do not do a good job at it. We don’t have time to wait for crap like finding the computer plug-in guy. I think much of that stuff can be put back on management for not being involved and educated enough in crafting equitable bargaining agreements. It takes a lot, lot, lot of management involvement to get a good one, and you can’t just rely on counsel and execs, but you often need a lot of middle managers providing input on daily operations to avoid situations like the one you describe. Most private companies, much less public sector organizations, don’t put that kind of forethought into their agreements.


That type of inefficiency isn’t exclusive to unions, you realize that right?

You realize that maybe there were other factors involved that caused the bridge to take that long?

You realize that construction is often a very sequential process that can block other steps from being completed until the first is done?

Every part of your comment is completely anecdotal and could be due to myriad other factors.

> associate unions with extreme wasting of resources

sounds like 30+ years of anti-union propaganda working its charm.


As someone who also hasn’t worked for a union and not an owner of a company, my views are also negative in my experience.

In my opinion, unionizing teachers has created a perverse incentive to fuck around and do nothing once tenured and to screw over the newest members of the union when forced to downsize, regardless of performance for teachers.

For police officers, it’s incentivized understaffing to reward members with overtime as well as an unreasonable amount of legal protection for cops who do horrible things like kill innocent people due to “feeling threatened.”

For public transportation, we also have workers who somehow accrue all of the OT as it’s offered in tenure order. This ensures that remunerative benefits is only a function of time and not skill, and also somehow prevents the most reasonable solution such as hiring another worker.


> Sounds like 30+ years of anti-union propaganda working its charm.

I dunno. I see it all over the place.

Look at the US government. Most of the govt. run customer facing services are abysmal when it comes to efficiency (DMV, etc.). From my quick Googling the DMV is unionized. It doesn't end at the DMV either.

I know some types of construction jobs are usually sequential but I don't understand how in any circumstance it can take 2 years to fix 30 feet of road while it disrupted traffic the whole time. This isn't an isolated case either, I see similar things all the time.


Yeah because Comcast, EA, Verizon, and there are numerous private today constructions crews that aren't unionized and they are all known for great service. Unions have zero impact on quality or speed of work. All unions do is create a group of individuals to balance the power that corporations have. If unions had any real power in the United States, then wages wouldn't have failed to rise with the rate of efficiency for the last 50 years. Since Reagan went union busting wages have barely increased for the average worker against inflation. You know who has been getting more money? The corporate owners who have devalued all the public stocks while keeping the private stock for themselves. We don't live in a republic in the US anymore, we live in an oligarchy.

You know the single most efficient medical insurance? Medicare. Government doesn't need to be a bureaucratic mess, but when half of government is literally platformed on making government fail to prove government is broken, it's not really difficult to see why we're in the mess we're in. All I want is us to pay down our deficit instead of kicking the can down the road.


Aren't government contractors, which are private corporations that probably don't have unions, also notorious for inefficiency?


That's state governments, but I haven't heard much better about non-unionized federal offices.


My father was the owner of his company. My mother was in the union whose workers he employed. I’ve grown up around both sides and understand quite deeply that there are no absolutes in this. You can have good and bad unions just like you can have good and bad companies in the world.

I don’t have much else other than anecdotes to add about the benefits of unions for both sides. What I would like to point out is that if you flip your post and replace union with company, it still holds 100% true. Just food for thought.


> If I were a company I would be terrified that such inefficiencies are protected by a union.

You can't 'be' a company. You can run one, at best.

And if unionized employees terrify you in a country where unionization is legal then maybe simply do not start a company?

> can someone more knowledgeable in this area explain how a unionized workforce benefits both employees and the business hiring them

In theory - not always in practice - unions create a more level playing field in the asymmetrical relationship between employer and employee, it restores some of the balance of power. Collective bargaining means that employers can no longer reduce negotiations by serially negotiating with one employee at the time, but have the negotiate with all employees at once. This has had a remarkable effect on the division of the value created by those employees over the years that we have had unions.

Now, in practice, of course not everything is quite that simple and unions can be co-opted by the company, and there are plenty of examples of unions that ended up being self serving power structures in their own right but we - collectively, the voters - still believe in most countries that unions are such a big net effect that retaliation against employees for wanting to unionize is illegal under the law.


> Collective bargaining means that employers can no longer reduce negotiations by serially negotiating with one employee at the time, but have the negotiate with all employees at once.

Now I understand why my original comment is the most down voted comment I ever made on HN in about 5 years.

Based on what you wrote it sounds like union vs non-union seems very much related to a political topic of socialism vs capitalism which is usually a good idea to avoid talking about on public forums.

With that said, I'm bowing out on this conversation!


Unions are present in just about every capitalist society, in fact I'd wager they are far more effective there than they would be on the opposite side of that particular fence, simply because most capitalist societies have somewhat functional legal systems as well as democratic institutions.

In other countries union bosses are found dead with alarming regularity.


I appreciate your sensible take on this. From what I've heard from a KS employee, it's been anything but sensible, from both sides.

To add to that. Said employee described the lack of product leadership (constant changing vision, wasted efforts, etc.). At this point I would not bet or invest in KS.


"You can't 'be' a company. You can run one, at best."

FBN/DBA says otherwise.


I'm sure a construction worker could write an unflattering paragraph like your second, observing isolated flashes of workdays at a software company from his perspective, and, with equally broad strokes, paint the software world in a (IMO not entirely undeserved) bad light.


I don't know much about unions either, but found this recent NPR interview to be informative. Like many interviews, the guest is selling a book.

https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2019/08/14/labor-unions-beaten-...

Steven Greenhouse, author of "Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor." Reporter at The New York Times for 31 years, who covered labor and the workplace for 19 years. (@greenhousenyt)


that's an extremely biased point of view.

I'm from the US and myself along with almost everyone i know tend to associate unions with the reason they have a decent standard of living. I'm sorry you had to see some construction workers being lazy. I hope you're able to recover someday.


Aren't Kickstarter salaries quite high already?

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Kickstarter-Salaries-E49199...


Ignoring for the moment the non-salary benefits of a union: Look at it this way - aren't corporate profits quite high already? Yet they still merge and consolidate and cut costs and try to increase them further.

Why should labor not do the same?

Also, this seems like a reasonable question (with source for the claim!), that no doubt many others would share. I don't think the downvotes are warranted.


> "Ignoring for the moment the non-salary benefits of a union: Look at it this way - aren't corporate profits quite high already? Yet they still merge and consolidate and cut costs and try to increase them further."

Imagine your waiter at a restaurant found out that you are a well paid programmer and tried to charge you extra on the bill for your meal because "aren't programmer salaries quite high already". Does that sound reasonable to you?


It sounds like a ridiculous and misleading analogy.

I don't employ my waiter. The restaurant employs my waiter.

I would be perfectly fine with a restaurant paying a waiter slightly more in return for happier waiters - especially if it meant that I didn't need to feel that my tips were keeping food on the waiter's table, instead of the restaurant's pay.

But imagine this - suppose a waiter at a restaurant discovered the restaurant was making millions for the owners, while their pay was so low they could barely cover rent and other basics?

Does that sound reasonable to you?

That is exactly the situation many workers in the US and UK are in today.

Essentially there are two kinds of people - those who understand that this is a real problem, and those who don't.

The economy is run by those who don't - and it's much the worse for it.


I'm not saying that, because capital makes a lot of money, they should be charged more. I'm saying that labor and capital should be allowed to play by the same rules.

If you want to limit unionization only to jobs that are "bad" by some metric, fine - but then also limit the size of corporations unless they are struggling. Why should they be free to merge and consolidate and organize, but workers shouldn't?


>Look at it this way - aren't corporate profits quite high already?

Are they? What do you consider high?


Compared to labor, they are: https://www.epi.org/productivity-pay-gap/

But that's besides the point - regardless of how high their profits are, they try to increase them further. Unlike labor, they're not asked to justify this by showing that their board members and shareholders live in poverty.



Pretty sure I just lost most of my faith in my fellow liberal techies after reading these responses. It's amazing how little substance their is to the responses, and how much outrage and throwing out of the word "privilege" there is. When did being outraged become a valid stance, without having to back it up with any reason position?


I don’t know what the work environment is there, but I know that the work environment for a lot of software developers is pretty miserably: unpaid overtime, constant on-call, layoffs with no severance... they may be trying to tackle some of that.


Salary is not the only thing that unions bargain for. Don't be daft!


No, that’s not high, especially compared to FAANG.




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