Employees at the LGBTQ dating company Grindr Inc. are petitioning to unionize, extending a wave of organizing among tech workers.
Workers filed a unionization petition with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board Thursday and announced the campaign to management during a previously scheduled all-hands Zoom. Pro-union staff say they’ve signed up the vast majority of a proposed bargaining unit of around 100 employees, including cloud engineering, IT, design, marketing and quality assurance workers.
“As members and allies of communities that are systematically oppressed, we know that strength lies in working together, not alone,” employees behind the effort wrote in a mission statement. “We’re already all in this together: we just want to DTR,” they added, using dating lingo for “define the relationship.”
Employees said the recent wave of political attacks on LGBTQ people and the rounds of layoffs in the tech industry brought urgency to their campaign. They are asking the company to voluntarily recognize and negotiate with their union.
By unionizing, employees say they want to secure existing benefits, such as trans-inclusive health care, and win new protections like pay transparency and job security. “We want a company built for queer people, not one built to extract wealth from queer people,” employees said in their letter. “And we want to build it together, united.”
Like Starbucks Corp.’s union, they are urging their company to add a worker representative to the board, a practice that’s common in Europe but rare in the U.S.
In an email, Grindr spokesperson Patrick Lenihan said, “We respect our employees’ rights and point of view, and we will continue to work together to make Grindr a great place to work for all.” The company didn’t elaborate on how it will respond to the campaign.
Grindr, which was sold by the Chinese firm Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. in 2020 after U.S. regulators raised national security concerns, went public last year via a merger with the special purpose acquisition company Tiga Acquisition Corp. The Grindr app, which shows customers a grid of other nearby users organized by how many feet away they are, had 12.8 million monthly active users as of March 31.
U.S. labor law allows companies to recognize and negotiate with a union as soon as it has signed up a majority of employees, or to refuse and hold out for a government-run election. That labor board election process can mean weeks of wrangling over topics such as which workers should be eligible to vote — time companies often use to campaign against unionization.
“We’re zero feet away,” the workers wrote.
The employees are organizing with the Communications Workers of America, which over the past two years has won union recognition among New York Times Co. tech workers, Microsoft Corp. video game testers, Apple Inc. retail staff and subcontracted Google Fiber sales workers. Unions have also recently secured new footholds at prominent, previously union-free firms like Starbucks and Amazon.com Inc.
“Workers across industries are realizing that they should have a say in the conditions of their workplace,” said Grindr product manager Quinn McGee, a member of the organizing committee. “This idea is having a resurgence, that workers can come together to make sure we can protect each other from the vicissitudes of the current state of things.”
—With assistance from Natalie Lung.
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