Jan 27, 2023 - News

Workers at Austin tech company look to unionize

Illustration of a dialogue box that reads "unionize" with a cursor aiming for the ok button

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Workers at an Austin tech company dedicated to connecting those in need with social welfare services are trying to unionize.

Why it matters: The union effort reflects worker unrest amid a wave of layoffs in the tech industry.

Driving the news: More than 150 employees at the company Findhelp — including engineers, business analysts and production support workers — have filed for a National Labor Relations Board union election, per a press release this week from the group.

  • They're seeking representation with the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 1010.

What they want: The workers aim to compel management to address what they consider internal pay inequities, unequal return-to-work office policies and overbearing workplace monitoring software, according to Keith Young, a company software engineer who is part of the union organizing committee.

Of note: Findhelp, previously known as Aunt Bertha, is a free online platform that aims to make it easy for anyone in the U.S. to find and apply for government and nonprofit help for housing, transportation, education, food and legal matters, among other needs.

  • "Originally it was a play on Uncle Sam — Aunt Bertha picks up where Uncle Sam leaves off," company founder Erine Gray told TEDBlog in 2014.

What they're saying: "People come to work at Findhelp because they care about their communities, their neighbors and each other," Young tells Axios. "It's the exact kind of setting where people would be inclined to pursue some collective bargaining agreement that helps build up their colleagues in the workplace and sets up a model in the tech industry for what the modern workplace could look like."

The other side: In a statement, Gray said the company would work through federal labor rules so that workers have "time to learn as much as they can about ... the impact of unions on start-up businesses. 

  • "We look forward to making our case to our colleagues that a direct relationship is best," he said.

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