A Message to Our Community

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To our community of creators and backers:

The many questions and concerns we’ve heard from you lately are a testament to how much you care about Kickstarter, the people who work here, and the importance of creative work in the world. In response, I felt it was best to talk directly about recent events and issues.

It’s important for you to know, and to hear straight from me, that we haven’t fired anyone for union organizing. 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.

This month, we made the difficult decision to part ways with two members of our team. This is particularly tough at a small company like ours where most of us work closely and collaboratively at our Brooklyn headquarters. Both of these employees were members of the organizing committee, as are other current staff members. This had nothing to do with their terminations. 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.

We know that we are asking you to take us at our word. Some have asked us to provide proof that these firings were not related to organizing. For privacy reasons, we don’t think it’s right for us to publicly share that information. We will, however, respond to the charges filed with the NLRB by providing clear documentation, which stretches back before March, when the organizing effort became public.

It is our responsibility to ensure that our staff can make their own decision on unionization in a fair, legal, and informed way, while we continue to run the business to the best of our ability. Every decision we have made has been with this key principle in mind.

Our staff has been divided on whether a union is right for them. And early on we had to step in when we learned that managers were involved in the organizing effort, in violation of labor rules. For those reasons, we’ve been clear that a secret-ballot election, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, is the only way forward that respects the rights of every member of our staff, and gives everyone a voice. We’ve said that if we are asked to voluntarily recognize the union, we’ll decline, and advocate for an election to protect the integrity of the process.

We have shared our perspective, in a staff meeting and follow-up Q&A session, that we don't think a union is the best tool to fix the issues we face at Kickstarter. We believe it’s important for employees to hear that perspective, so they can make an informed decision. We've limited our statements so we don't unduly influence or pressure the staff. Our perspective on this issue is born out of our work to build a new model for how a company can operate responsibly in society.

Kickstarter became a public benefit corporation in 2015. We took this unusual step to ensure that, for as long as it exists, Kickstarter will continue to serve its mission, not just its shareholders. When we make decisions, we are legally obligated to think about all of the other stakeholders involved, including our staff, the wider world of artists and creators, and society as a whole.

The PBC model is the best one we know of for breaking out of the profit-maximization mindset. We’re still actively building this new structure, and working to prove that it’s not only viable, but a new path forward. We want to do this all together, as one team.

The union framework is inherently adversarial. 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.

But again, the choice belongs to the staff. So where do things go from here? As the internal discussion continues, I want to make these commitments to you:

  • If an election is called, we will do everything we can to ensure that it is carried out in a fair and fully democratic way. 
  • In the runup to the vote, we will be transparent with staff and share our perspective on the issue, doing our part to create an atmosphere of respect and dialogue. 
  • Any meetings about this will be voluntary. If a majority of the staff in an appropriate bargaining unit votes in favor of a union in an NLRB election, we will fully respect that choice and negotiate in good faith toward a collective bargaining agreement.

I understand that some of you may not be satisfied with our approach to this issue. But I hope that by sharing our perspective, we can make clear that we are acting in good faith. Above all, we value the work you make and support as creators and backers. And we hope that we can continue to collaborate on bringing more creative work into the world.

Aziz Hasan
Kickstarter PBC

We’ve put together a FAQ to help clear up some questions about this complex situation and our response to it. We hope it addresses any questions you might have. And we welcome your feedback: thoughts@kickstarter.com.