During the one-month run of our recent Kickstarter campaign, where many of our generous readers were kind enough to pitch in and help us create our second issue, we were confronted with some disturbing news. Kickstarter is ostensibly a “public benefit corporation,” and in the past it has prided itself on its adherence to ethical principles. Yet management had just fired two workers for organizing activities with the company union, Kickstarter United.
Protean is a horizontally organized, democratically run nonprofit, and a number of our team are members of the IWW Freelance Journalists Union. We consider union busting unconscionable. We were immediately concerned about our association with the company and the conflict in values that it presented and asked our readers to halt all contributions until we could set up an alternative option.
Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs, who was running a Kickstarter concurrently with ours, reached out so that we could jointly release a statement, along with the excellent Pinko Magazine, in support of the union. Nathan was contacted by Kickstarter, and his conversation with the chief communications officer did nothing to assuage our concerns; in fact, it inflamed them. The company denigrated union activities and held firm in their refusal to recognize Kickstarter United. In the meantime, our campaign concluded, ending our dilemma for the time being.
We have decided that, echoing the stance taken by Current Affairs and others, we will cease all fundraising on Kickstarter going forward. We had come to rely on it as the primary source of revenue for our print issues, and the severance of that relationship throws the future of our magazine into uncertainty. However, we’re confident that an alternate route can be found in time to continue our regular print publication schedule.
We would like to thank Oriana Leckert at Kickstarter for her unending enthusiasm and support for our project, and we regret that circumstances keep us from working together further.
If you’re a Kickstarter creator and you support Kickstarter United, please sign this petition circulated by Current Affairs.