HuffPost reporter: Kickstarter union a 'shot in the arm for labor'

HuffPost labor reporter Dave Jamieson is calling the vote to unionize by employees of tech crowdfunding company Kickstarter a “shot in the arm for labor.”

“Tech is generally pretty averse to unions. This is being watched closely,” Jamieson said in a Hill.TV interview about the impact on the labor movement which has historically struggled to unionize tech industry workers.

“It’s a small workforce, we’re just talking about a few dozen new union members, so it’s a drop in the bucket," he continued. "But it’s a big deal because of where it happened, the industry it happened in.

“It’s a toehold in an industry where they’ve got basically no density,” he added. Jamieson noted that the majority of tech organizing efforts involve service workers at corporate headquarters for platforms like Facebook rather than white-collar workers, such as those unionizing at Kickstarter. "This is new and it’s a big deal and it’s kind of a shot in the arm for labor."

Jamieson also noted allegations that management retaliated against workers looking to unionize. “Kickstarter had resisted this union, there’s a lot of conflict that became very public,” he said.

Kickstarter is the first major tech company to unionize. The move comes amid growing working activism in Silicon Valley with employees increasingly urging their companies to reform labor and HR practices and take a stand on issues including climate change and diversity.

Jamieson also addressed the conflict between Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump faces backlash after not committing to peaceful transition of power Bernie Sanders: 'This is an election between Donald Trump and democracy' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump stokes fears over November election outcome MORE’ (I-Vt.) campaign and Nevada’s influential Culinary Union ahead of the state’s caucuses. Union leadership blasted Sanders’ Medicare for All proposals as seeking to eliminate union-negotiated insurance plans. That sparked fierce pushback from Sanders backers. The union claimed the dispute had led to death threats from Sanders supporters, and ultimately decided it would not make an endorsement before the general election.

“I think like any union local, you’re going to have a membership that’s coming out for a bunch of different candidates,” Jamieson said, noting that when Sanders has spoken directly to culinary workers he has received a mix of reactions from individual rank-and-file members.

“I think a lot of people are going to like Bernie, the way we’ve seen in other places. We have seen a lot of locals come out for Bernie, and I think that’s part of his grassroots appeal,” Jamieson said. He noted that despite the Culinary Union’s decision, Sanders has won the backing of the state’s largest teachers union.