By Julia Love
SANFRANCISCO -Workers of location data startup Mapbox said on Thursday that they had lost their bid to form a union to represent the company’s U.S.-based employees, in a setback for a unionization movement in Silicon Valley that has made recent progress.
About two-thirds of Mapbox’s eligible U.S. workers signed cards with the Mapbox Workers Union (MWU), but after the startup declined to voluntarily recognize the union, an election was held. In voting that concluded on Wednesday, 123 employees cast ballots against unionization, with 81 workers in favor, the Mapbox Workers Union wrote on Twitter https://twitter.com/MapboxUnion/status/1423326885967142916.
“Despite this, MWU remains committed to its purpose: to unify worker voices to promote solidarity, sustainability, responsibility, diversity, and transparency,” the Mapbox Workers Union wrote.
The Mapbox employees sought to organize with the Communications Workers of America, which has notched recent wins in organizing software startup Glitch as well as more than 200 workers at Google-parent Alphabet Inc who formed a so-called “minority union” that will not be able to force the company to collectively bargain over wages or other issues.
Mapbox Chief Executive Peter Sirota said in a statement the company had respected employees’ rights to decide on union representation.
“Today’s vote – rejecting the union – will allow us to recommit to our values and ensure that we continue to be a business that succeeds because of our diverse and innovative global team,” Sirota said.
The tech workforce was long considered out of reach for organized labor, but unions have made inroads in recent months. Workers at technology firms like Alphabet Inc and crowdfunding platform Kickstarter have formed unions to grapple with working conditions and business practices of big internet companies.
The CWA has other campaigns underway in Silicon Valley, said Wes McEnany, a CWA campaign lead.
“There’s a lot of energy in organizing in tech,” he said, adding that labor reform was needed to stop companies from influencing the unionization process in ways he believed were unfair.
He said Mapbox management held meetings in opposition to the union and crashed a Zoom meeting in which workers were discussing their efforts.
In a separate statement responding to those comments, Mapbox said, “We understand why disappointed union supporters might want a do-over in the press, but we ask that they respect their colleagues’ decision. The election is over.”
Asked whether the CWA would challenge the Mapbox result, McEnany said the union would “pursue options to hold them accountable.”