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“A Union Is An Equalization Of Power”

Fired From Kickstarter For Trying To Unionize, Jacobin Magazine Talks To Taylor Moore About The Crowdfunding Company’s Union-Busting Campaign, The Promise Of Tech Worker Activism & The Importance Of Democracy In Digital Platforms

Published Monday, November 4, 2019 11:00 am
by Meagan Day Interviews Taylor Moore For Jacobin Magazine
“A Union Is An Equalization Of Power”

When U.S. Workers try to Unionize, roughly a third of their employers engage in retaliatory firings and a Union Organizer today has a 1-in-5 to 1-in-7 chance of losing their job while trying to secure the ability to bargain collectively.

Last month, the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153 filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that’s what happened to Taylor Moore and two of his Co-Workers when they tried to start a Union at the Crowdfunding Tech Company Kickstarter.

Jacobin’s Meagan Day spoke to Moore about why Workers wanted to Unionize Kickstarter in the first place (the conflict began in earnest with management capitulation to Alt-Right pressure), what happened in the process (classic Union-Busting tactics), and whether it was all worth it (it was).

Where did the idea to form a Union at Kickstarter come from?

Things had been really unpredictable and frustrating at Kickstarter for quite a long time, but the “Always Punch Nazis” fight was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

This was a little over a year ago, and at the time the main project of White Nationalists and the Alt Right was de-platforming and public shaming of people they considered Liberals - and they were having great success.  

They got James Gunn fired from a Disney franchise, they tried to get Sarah Silverman fired from Netflix, and sure enough Kickstarter was next in line.

They found a project on Kickstarter, an anti-fascist comic book called “Always Punch Nazis,” that was about a week away from being funded.

It was going to respond to the tempest-in-a-teapot debate about whether or not it’s okay to punch fascists, which at the time was something on everyone’s mind

Breitbart saw it and said: “Hey Kickstarter, your guidelines forbid calls for violence against any other group of people, this is in violation of those guidelines and you should take it down.”

At Kickstarter we have a Trust & Safety Team, sort of like the judicial branch.

They decide when and how to apply our guidelines, especially to edge cases and controversial projects.

They looked at “Always Punch Nazis” and said unanimously we should not cancel this project, but their manager came in and said: “No, we are going to cancel it.”

The lawyer sided with him, of course.

Most people at Kickstarter were very angry about this decision.

I had never seen anything blow up like this internally, and I had been there for five years at the time.  So the leadership decided to have an emergency all-hands meeting, and the whole company went to this big meeting room where the leadership said they were going to cancel this project.  

Then they opened it up for comments and questions and the room stood up to them.

It wasn’t unanimous, there were some Employees that agreed with them, but it was very clear that there was a passionate majority of team members that thought this was an enormous mistake.

I spoke up.

Many other people spoke up.

What I said was that the project may be satire, it may not be satire - I don’t think it matters.

What matters is are we as a community going to make a decision that helps the White Nationalists and the neo-Nazi press machine, or are we going to stand against it?

Will our names be written down in history as people who helped their movement, or people who stood against what they were trying to do?

I was really angry.

Many of us were.

After that meeting was the first time I said the word: “Union.”

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