Employees at Glitch announced on Tuesday that they had signed a collective bargaining agreement with the company, the first ever such agreement secured by software workers in the United States. The newly-signed contract will cover a range of working conditions at Glitch—including a grievance and arbitration procedure, just cause for disciplinary actions, severance pay, and a right to recall for laid-off workers.
A Historic Win For Glitch Workers
“This is an absolutely historic win for us,” said Katie Lundsgaard, a software engineer at Glitch. “We love our jobs, we love working at Glitch, which is why we wanted to ensure we have a lasting voice at this company and lasting protections. This contract does that, and I hope tech workers across the industry can see that unions and start-ups are not incompatible.”
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Glitch workers voted overwhelmingly to join Communications Workers of America Local 1101 in March 2020, one of the first groups of tech workers to bring a union to their workplace, as part of CWA’s Campaign to Organize Digital Employees (CODE-CWA). Over the past five months, workers negotiated with management to create the current contract, which was also ratified overwhelmingly.
“We’re excited that Glitch workers have signed their first-ever contract, a milestone in this industry,” said CWA Local 1101 President Keith Purce. “CWA has decades of experience helping workers improve conditions at some of this country’s largest, most powerful corporations. We know we’re stronger when we fight together, and we hope this victory inspires other software engineers to organize their workplaces.”
The First Ever Collective Bargaining Agreement
This agreement comes as scores of tech workers have organized unions at their workplaces in the past two years: Workers with the Google contractor HCL in Pittsburgh joined together in a union in 2019, those at Kickstarter did so last year and are in the process of negotiating their own collective bargaining agreement, and Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are currently voting on union representation. In January, the Alphabet Workers Union launched with hundreds of members, and earlier this week workers at Floyd County Productions announced the formation of the Floyd County Productions Guild—both also projects of CODE-CWA.
The Glitch contract, however, is the first collective bargaining agreement signed by software engineers in the tech industry, a historic achievement in a sector that is notoriously anti-union. Tech companies frequently hire consultants to develop strategies to prevent workers from exercising their freedom to join unions, including frightening and even firing workers who attempt to join together to improve their working conditions..
Glitch’s management, which voluntarily recognized the union after it was announced, is an exception and should serve as a model for executives at other tech companies.
This contract is also a reflection of this turbulent time. The pandemic has been difficult for scores of companies, and Glitch is no exception: In May, a large number of Glitch workers were laid off and faced unemployment in the middle of a pandemic and recession. The union won a severance package at the time and won a right to recall for these former workers in the current contract, meaning they will be the first hired if their positions are re-opened.
The contract also does not focus on wages and benefits, which are already generous at Glitch, opting instead to ensure basic union protections for workers and a continued voice in the workplace. And because it will be re-negotiated in 11 months, this contract preserves flexibility for Glitch workers and management as they weather the pandemic.